I currently have a bounty active for When was the word "bias" coined to mean $\mathbb{E}[\hat{\theta}-\theta]$?.

The answer is correct, except the article that is cited is wrong, as it can be seen here. The person who wrote the answer is an unregistered user, and it's been about a week; the user is not active. I originally tried editing it (which I know is definitely frowned upon), and my edit was rejected.

What does one do in this situation? This seems similar but not identical to What to do if an accepted answer is wrong but author of accepted answer and OP are not active on CV any more? in my eyes - mainly in that there's a bounty also involved.

Here are the options that I've thought of:

  • In 17 hours, the bounty will end. If someone posts an answer with the correct article title (hint hint?), I'll award it to them.
  • Answer the question myself with a corrected answer, bounty goes to no one.

I don't feel comfortable awarding the existing answer the bounty or marking it as a "best answer," as comments (i.e., my comment attached to it) can be much more easily deleted than answers.

Thoughts on this?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ FTR, I rejected the edit. I sympathize with your situation, but you should not edit to change / correct someone else's answer. I think your comment is appropriate & will be clear enough for future readers. You can always hope someone else posts an answer. You can even post your own answer; however, I don't think you can reward your own answer w/ the bounty & half the bounty will be automatically awarded to the highest voted answer, if you don't award it to another answer yourself. $\endgroup$ Dec 10, 2017 at 14:18
  • 10
    $\begingroup$ @gung Whence the dictum not to edit to correct an answer? Although it's rare for somebody to venture a correction, this seems like the kind of situation where the ability of the community to correct a post would be of most value. $\endgroup$
    – whuber Mod
    Dec 10, 2017 at 16:59
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I think you should award the bounty to the existing answer and edit to correct/update it. I did not see your edit but I think if done well it can go through (cc @gung). Maybe use <strike></strike> or write something like Correction by @Clarinetist: etc. $\endgroup$
    – amoeba
    Dec 11, 2017 at 8:56
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    $\begingroup$ If the answer moved things further for you, even though it may have been incomplete or even wrong then it could be up-voted (=This answer is useful) and so I do not think, by the same sort of reasoning you can withhold the county. Equally leaving it unedited seems wrong to me so I support @amoeba suggestion. $\endgroup$
    – mdewey
    Dec 11, 2017 at 11:39
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    $\begingroup$ I have to say that I find it remarkable that anyone thinks it should be OK for people to edit existing answers & change the contents just because the potential editor thinks the answer is incorrect (irrespective of whether the editor is right). When I have sufficient time, I'll post an answer addressing this. $\endgroup$ Dec 11, 2017 at 17:10
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    $\begingroup$ @gung Correctness of answers is marginally more important than purity of content ownership. If the original author disagrees, or the community is divided on the correctness of the correction, then the balance shifts. But abset controversy or disagreement, correctness should win. SE primary goal is to present awesome questions and awesome answers to those questions; treating answerers well is part of this, but isn't paramount. $\endgroup$
    – Yakk
    Jan 4, 2018 at 17:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Yakk, how does that work? As long as a potential editor believes an answer is wrong, they should edit to change what it says? What is the purpose of downvotes, then? What signal is sent by a set of upvotes for an answer, when they were given when the answer stated something else? Changing the content of answers is not a solution to anything. $\endgroup$ Jan 4, 2018 at 17:20
  • $\begingroup$ @gung In this case, the answer was substantially right, there was one error, and the original writer was both anonymous and missing. And you should be certain, not just belief. The problem is "how do we generate awesome and useful questions and answers", and changing the content of answers can help solve that. When the primary author is present, I'll edit and let them know (if I assume the edit isn't enough) to correct small errors. $\endgroup$
    – Yakk
    Jan 4, 2018 at 17:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Yakk, so in the future, shall we ping you to provide the requisite certainty that that the answer as written is wrong-but-almost-correct, and the various other conditions are met, so that we can change the content of existing answers by other users? $\endgroup$ Jan 4, 2018 at 18:06
  • $\begingroup$ @gung I am sorry if I am unable to provide you with what you seem to require, which is hard and fast bright line rules. Every edit you make to another poster's answer is changing the content of an existing answer. We disagree about where the line should be, and what factors weigh in; unless you truly believe that no edit of anyone else's answer is acceptable? $\endgroup$
    – Yakk
    Jan 4, 2018 at 18:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Yakk, here is the list of editors on CV. Somehow, it must be possible to edit a post without changing it's content to say something different from what had been there previously. $\endgroup$ Jan 4, 2018 at 18:32


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