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I posted an answer to a question which was completely wrong. It was (I believe) sane, well-reasoned, formatted, and so on, but it answered a slightly different question to the one asked.

The original poster pointed out my elementary comprehension mistake in a comment, and it was immediately obvious to me that this was indeed the case. I upvoted the comment and then deleted my answer.

I then wondered if that is an ok thing to do? Maybe someone else would think of answering the same way, and the presence of a massively downvoted answer (mine) would prevent them doing so. Maybe it is somehow unethical here to hide your mistakes in this way?

Any clarification on this matter is gratefully received.

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    A feature of SE is that you are able to delete your own answer. I think it is up to you whether you want to remove the downvotes from your rep, or if you want it to stay as a sign post that your answer is in fact not the right one, which may be useful information to later readers. It is up to you. – Mitch Nov 30 '14 at 2:48
  • Heh! I didn't even know it did that to your rep. – Dan Sheppard Nov 30 '14 at 2:58
  • Not only that, but you even get a badge for deleting your own post with a score of -3 or lower. – phenry Nov 30 '14 at 18:05
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A feature of SE is that you are able to delete your own answer.

I think it is up to you whether you want to remove the downvotes from your rep, or if you want it to stay as a sign post that your answer is in fact not the right one, which may be useful information to later readers.

Yes, there is sometimes the feeling that one is covering up a failure by deleting, but rather than worry about that, just consider if your wrong answer will confuse people or fill in an obvious gap (that it would be weird to not be present) or be a signpost to avoid. Sometimes a wrong answer is just plain wrong and shouldn't be there, sometimes it is informative (still wrong, but informative).

So it is up to you. If it is so egregious, others may do the job for you, but taking responsibility for yourself is also an option.

  • What is not mentioned here is that too many downvoted answers will activate a system trigger to prevent you offering any more answers. Deleted answers are counted. A better course of action would be to attempt to improve downvoted answers [and, indeed, questions, for the same reason], although if an answer is actually wrong that may be difficult. The best course of action is not to post wrong answers. – Andrew Leach Dec 14 '15 at 9:51

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