Sometimes I write answers that may help the OP to solve the actual underlying problem, but match the question as stated only tangentially.

That can work out great, like when the answer matches the OPs XY-problem so it get's accepted, or it gets voted to the top because reader think it's useful even with some change in scope.

Normally, it works out ok, maybe getting some upvotes indicating that the alternative approach may indeed be a good idea.

Sometimes I think the answer could be really useful - in the context of the right question.

In the case that the answer is good in answering a useful question, but one that is too different from the original question to be regarded as a good answer,
I could create a new question matching my answer (or find an existing one), delete my answer from the old question and use it to answer the new question.

I would like to know whether that is acceptable as described, or in some variant?
(e.g.: not deleting the old instance of the answer)

As an example of the problem, see this answer on Dealing with file names with special first characters (ex. ♫), which is proposing a more general approach that could solve the OP's task, but would create much overhead when used for this task.
It is useful anyway because it can solve many tasks related to the OPs question.

  • 2
    I agree that this is acceptable, but I would suggest that you leave your initial answer alone as long as it does answer the original question. – G-Man Oct 9 '14 at 17:38

I think this is perfectly fine to do and would encourage you to do so. So long as your Q&A is not viewed as a duplicate of some other question that already exists, I can't really think of any reasons why this would be a bad thing.

NOTE: I've actually done this myself on a few occasions when a question has moved away from what it was originally asking, and my answer no longer was as good a fit. Other times I've misunderstood a question and did not want to waste a perfectly good answer, so I've gone and created the more niche question to house the answer.

Lastly I'll add this: the Stack Exchange sites are for the communities around a particular topic. So if any individual has energies around creating content that fits within this model, I'd strongly encourage you to speak up about it. Don't feel that you have to rely on the "regular" users to do 80% of the content, while everyone else simply sits on the sidelines and watches.


There are many ways to participate, creating questions that fill in holes within the back catalog of Q&A on the site is probably the most important thing that anyone can put energy towards. Editing content and maintaining our tag wikis is still another. Think of this site as a resource that if everyone puts there 1% into, they'll get back out many times their investment in being able to use the resource when they need answers.

Other projects

We're always trying to tend to the site through a variety of means. The meta site and the chat room are good resources to start with if you're looking for things to help out on. Here's a rough list of some other things that go on from time to time.

In no particular order
  • Canonical Q&A
  • Editing
  • Re-tagging projects
  • Closing unanswerable or abandoned Q's
  • Our blog (yes we have one and it needs writers + editors)
    • meta discussions for blog topics - #1 & #2 & #3

Yes, you should. In fact it will be encouraged from now on:

  1. Encourage both askers and answerers to fix questions they care about. We're taking baby steps in this direction with some new badges, but we could be doing so much more: how about a message shown to folks answering these questions warning them that their efforts may be wasted if they don't take a minute to also fix the question itself? And, combined with #1, a message shown to folks revisiting questions that are languishing, encouraging the same?

And then there would be a do edit or die if you don't fix the question. Finally, if your answer is interesting, but either a) doesn't answer OP concerns, b) question is too crappy and salvageable, is recommended to write a clear and concise Q&A pair in which your knowledge could live on.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .