This question, How can you identify an Airbus or Boeing from the inside?, was initially asked without much qualification, and received what I consider the best answer. It was a simple question without much qualification, and received a simple, but good answer. The original reading was:

How can you recognize a plane from the inside, when you are already sitting as passenger? In particular, is there a way to understand if you are inside a Boeing or an Airbus?

However, subsequent to that answer receiving some thirty-odd votes, the OP edited the question and inserted the qualification that:

Of course the question is related to the internal differences between the two companies, rather than on "check on your ticket" Vel "ask the hostess" Vel "read the evacuation pamphlet".

Now, I give all that as background to my question. This has occurred before, where the original good question receives good answers, which cause the OP to realize the question did not convey what they meant to communicate, at which point they change the question to something other than what was first asked. I suspect these occurrences are often tied to language barriers.

In a case like this, it would seem good to roll back the question to the original, and leave the option of asking a new question entirely.

Is it appropriate for an OP to edit a question from the original, answered version, to something substantially different? If not, how should this be addressed?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The funny thing is, from this question, I hit the rep cap for two consecutive days with the simple answer which only took me a few minutes. Honestly this is waaay outside of my expectation... $\endgroup$
    – kevin
    Sep 29, 2016 at 5:11
  • $\begingroup$ @kevin That's always the case. Simple answers to simple questions are understood by everybody and people can quickly say "Yep, that's correct." $\endgroup$ Oct 5, 2016 at 7:42
  • $\begingroup$ This has been referred to as "chameleon questions". See Exit strategies for “chameleon questions” on Meta Stack Exchange. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Oct 6, 2016 at 20:41

4 Answers 4


That particular edit is not appropriate. It has been reverted.

Passive-aggressive language that does not significantly clarify the question being asked and serves only to "invalidate" an answer the asker doesn't like is not the right way to deal with a poorly-worded question that isn't getting the specific answer desired: Either a new question should be asked, or substantial clarification should be made.


It's funny, questions like this remind that Stack Exchange is becoming more and more diverse as time goes by. I think that if this were Stack Overflow the answer would be "the OP can do whatever they need in order to answer the question they have." But here on Aviation.SE, I'm not sure that's the case.

Personally, I think that's because on SO questions are generally regarded as being the property of the OP, who has a real world coding issue that they are trying to solve. Stacks like Aviation.SE it feels like questions are more community owned, possibly because the questions are less (usually) less specific to a certain situation. Thus, they are more easily generalized and, as a result, more people can relate and, thusly thus, more people feel attached to the current phrasing of the question because it reflects something they find personal value in.

It's not right or wrong, it's just kind of a different way of doing things (that I generally approve of.)

So, in summary, people on this particular stack really shouldn't just go around editing their question all willy nilly. Especially if the question is already highly regarded (up votes galore!) and the answers are well though out.

Rather, I would suggest to most posters that they should just add a horizontal rule to the bottom of the original text and post a clarification (or two or three). Or, as voretaq7 commented, if the post is already quite popular, then just let it go and ask the question again in a new post.

Clarification: But maybe that's just me.


I think it's appropriate - "useful" would be a better word - for the OP to edit the question based on comments and votes, to make it clearer or on-topic. I don't think it's useful to completely change the meaning of the question after it's already got upvotes and good, well-received answers. Doing that deprives everyone of useful information, even if that information was gathered 'accidentally'.

I'd encourage the OP (as you did) to ask a new question instead. That way everyone should be happy: we keep a good question with good answers, and the OP gets some community guidance on how to ask a second good question. (Which also gives the OP a chance to earn more rep points, if they care about that.)


To me Kevin's answer is marginally correct, but I'm glad he got all this reputation at once, as I'm sure he deserved more on his other answers.

But let's be honest: If someone asks about how to recognize from the inside an A380 or a B747, every one will mention the engines or the two levels... and if someone just says "look at the safety card!", comments will pile up.

The OP was looking for a way to "recognize"; about the safety card, I'd see it this way: "You know when I entered the cabin I wasn't able to recognize the maker, I had to read the safety card to know, what a shame after spending two years on StackExchange" :-)

Reading the emergency instructions is not a way to recognize, and as they later explained (well a bit hard), this is like asking the crew. I'm in agreement with that. When asking on this site, which is a kind of reference according to Google ranking, then you're probably looking for technical answers.

The meaning didn't change with the edit, the edit was just to prevent other similar answers. The OP selected a better answer which had been submitted before Kevin's one.

Maybe next time clarifications could be requested before answering, but other than this, things have followed an appropriate way.


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