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I was wondering about the following situation:

  1. You read a question
  2. You answer the question
  3. After people comment on your answer you notice that it is possible that you have misunderstood the question
  4. You still know the answer to the real question
  5. Your answer is partially correct

Should you in this situation

  1. Edit the answer by adding to the previous one
  2. Delete the previous answer and write a new one (also deleting the comments with it)

Above options are for the case when other answers cover another solution than what you would write. In case your solution would be the same should you:

  1. Delete your answer (and all comments) since it is partially off topic
  2. Leave the answer as it is since the comments lead to understanding the question

What would be the correct way to proceed?

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If you were, essentially, answering the wrong question, you should create a new answer and delete the previous one.

Edits are supposed to incrementally improve the post. Remember that the voting on your post was to help vet and rate that content. If your edit substantively changes what you said, you are rendering any votes cast invalid (whether they were up-votes or down-votes).

You need to wipe the slate clean and let the new information stand on its own merits. You don't want to intentionally create a situation where the voting is largely meaningless.

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