I've run into a minor irritation here lately where someone posts a question, and I post an answer that seems to answer the original question pretty well and receives upvotes and generally positive comments.

Later on the OP or someone else edits the question and removes/changes details or more often changes the general tone of the question.

Then my answer looks out of place, or somehow insensitive to the OP and I start receiving downvotes and rather harsh comments about "not answering the question" or that I assumed information that wasn't in the question.

This has tripped me up a few times, because it isn't always immediately obvious when I read these comments that the question was radically changed.

How should I respond in these cases?

I really don't want to have to radically edit my answers in each case where someone changes their question, largely because I can see a slippery slope problem there. We don't want people going "I don't like the answers I'm getting, so I'll change the question"

In one case I responded to a negative comment by linking to the version of the question I answered in the revision history, but that feels like burying the lead.

I'm not sure if we should be rolling these edits back, but it would seem reasonable when the new question invalidates answers.


How do I address my mother's concerns about my boyfriend's smoking?

How do I tactfully avoid interacting with a person I meet on the way to work every day, at a subway station?


Exit strategies for "chameleon questions"

  • 1
    @apaul34208 We need examples. Either you pick them or the people who answer will. If you pick them, we will be better able to actually answer in a way that addresses your specific concerns.
    – Catija
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 17:32
  • @Catija I really hate having to put other users in the spotlight on meta... I've added links. Is there perhaps a better way?
    – apaul
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 17:41
  • @apaul34208 Alright. I don't think your answer wasn't valid anymore. But I will talk to those who downvoted your answer and explain to them. I must admit asking this question wasn't easy and made me really anxious. I apologize. I edited my question a few times as I was getting more comments which made me realize additional things about my question. Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 17:49
  • 1
    @Tycho'sNose After editing a question significantly by adding additional info, it's a good idea to notify the answerers. That way, they can choose to update their answer. :)
    – NVZ
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 17:52
  • 1
    @Tycho's Nose I totally understand. Sorry about having to use specific examples here. I really wanted to address the general issue, rather than having to point to specific posts or users.
    – apaul
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 17:52
  • 4
    Perhaps it's time to revisit the sandbox suggestion?
    – 1006a
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 18:25
  • @1006a I think that would certainly help.
    – apaul
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 18:26
  • May I suggest @apaul34208 that users did not like OP's adverse assumptions about the newspaper vendor for which she could give no explanation but "gut feeling" -- thus some members of the community got focused on how her opinions were unfounded and her fears irrational.However OP is entitled to her views and it's a fact that some people want to avoid interacting with certain individuals. OP's motivations are clearly expressed in all versions of the question. Does the community need to agree that her concerns are well-founded before writing the sort of good practical answer provided by 3 users? Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 21:25
  • 4
    @EnglishStudent Ignoring the OP's fears is to ignore half the question. You don't want to ignore the fears because that makes the question a duplicate but you want the answers to ignore the OP's fears because they're entitled to them. Which is it? Either the OP's fears matter or they do not. If we shouldn't respond to the fears, then the question is a duplicate. If we should respond to the fears, it's reasonable to tell the OP that the fears are unfounded.
    – Catija
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 21:29
  • 1
    @Catija this is going on my list of reasons that I don't like using specific examples. We tend to get mired down and sidetracked in the caveats of the examples used.
    – apaul
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 21:32
  • 1
    Let OP's fears be unfounded, and let's tell OP that if needed, but the practical aspect of 'how to tactfully avoid interacting with an unknown person' will not change much @Catija, whatever be the motivations of OP, which is why 4 users have already given very good advice how to do so, in their answers to this question.Those 4 answers basically cover the full range of possibilities and Kate Gregory's excellent answer came after I edited to help reopen this Q. So I am not very concerned if it gets closed again, this time as a duplicate. Nor do I think OP will then try to get her Q reopened. Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 21:44
  • "but the practical aspect of 'how to tactfully avoid interacting with an unknown person' will not change much" So, why @EnglishStudent are you saying that it's not a duplicate?
    – Catija
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 21:45
  • 2
    It's not a duplicate @Catija because tactfully avoiding interacting with an unknown person involves some strategies that are different from politely telling a street vendor 'sorry I am not interested in your product'-- if you read the answers to the street vendor question and Kate Gregory's answer to this OP's question you will see that they are not really the same type of answer or the same type of advice.Why do we need to close a very differently worded and situationally quite different Q from another country, that specifically references cultural factors, as a duplicate of another question? Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 21:56
  • @EnglishStudent I'm not sure it's clear but I don't think they're duplicate questions but you, yourself, reduced the question down to "how to tactfully avoid interacting with an unknown person" and that is what I'm responding to. A street vendor is an "unknown person"... and this "unknown person" is a street vendor.
    – Catija
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 22:04
  • Thank you for seeing that it's not a duplicate. Users should read both questions and their answers and interpret it in context, @Catija. Specifically how Kate Gregory's answer differs in content and tone (the general strategy for avoiding interaction with an unknown person is apparently ignore, ignore, ignore) from the polite 'thanks/sorry but I am not interested' which is the consensus of most answers to the street vendor question.OP's question also now carries a clear message at the top how it's not a duplicate. If it still gets closed, OP will probably not try to get it reopened, I think. Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 22:22

4 Answers 4


In general...

  1. If questions are closed quickly, this problem goes away. (Questions can be edited and later reopened).

  2. If someone is adding details to a question that change how the question should be answered, then that is a sign that the question did not have enough detail to be properly answered originally. Again, close, ask for clarification, reopen, and then write a proper answer.

  3. Minor changes in the tone shouldn't invalidate an answer. If minor changes do invalidate an answer, then the changes aren't that minor.

  4. If information is removed through editing, it is still acceptable to reference that information in your answer (so long as it isn't personally identifiable information). For example, if someone posts a question with a lot of curse words, and the curse words are edited out, and you think it's significant that the OP used curse words, feel free to reference that in your answer.

Looking at How do I address my mother's concerns about my boyfriend's smoking?, it seems to have been edited as a result of comments asking for clarification. Which perhaps is a sign that the question could not be properly answered until those clarifying questions were asked, since we weren't getting the full story. Which perhaps is a sign that the question should have been closed, then reopened.

To be honest, I don't care to much about any answers that make it through before the question is closed. The people writing these answers need to learn better before writing answers to questions that are unanswerable. Hopefully after one or two times people will learn and stop writing answers. If the now-invalidated answers are cluttering up the question, feel free to delete them. Otherwise, leave them be, or if you're feeling particularly nice ping the writer to tell them that the question changed.

  • Thanks for answering, but I'm not so sure that many of these questions should have been closed in their original forms. They seemed specific, detailed, and on topic enough to be answered. They were just changed later.
    – apaul
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 18:11
  • @apaul34208 I've only looked at the question about smoking, but it seemed to have been edited due to people asking questions in the comments. Which perhaps is a sign that the question wasn't specific or detailed enough.
    – user288
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 18:12
  • Or perhaps its a sign that the question shouldn't have been answered until those clarifying questions were asked and answered. Which means... close the question.
    – user288
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 18:17
  • I'm confused... you suggest in the other meta answer that questions should include examples but then you don't use the examples given here to support or explain your answer... part of why examples are necessary is to help answers do a better job of explaining.
    – Catija
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 18:34
  • @Catija I say that questions on meta should list examples. But answers don't necessarily need examples; examples are one way out of many to back claims up.
    – user288
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 18:40
  • Except you admit yourself you haven't even looked at the examples, so why bother posting them? One of the examples is specifically a question that was closed, edited and reopened... one could very easily say that this issue becomes extremely complicated when questions that are too broad or unclear get answers before being closed... how do we allow users to fix bad questions when doing so potentially invalidates the answers?
    – Catija
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 18:44
  • @Catija I haven't looked at one of the examples. I looked at the other. So yes, the examples were helpful. "One of the examples is specifically a question that was closed, edited and reopened... one could very easily say that this issue becomes extremely complicated when questions that are too broad or unclear get answers before being closed" then the community needs to do a better job of closing questions quickly, and not answering questions that should be closed.
    – user288
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 18:47
  • 1
    I don't disagree with that, but the point of this question is - at least in part - what to do when this happens. Telling someone "don't answer questions that should be closed" isn't helpful when the userbase doesn't always agree on which questions should be closed and it doesn't fix it after the fact. We need to consider a wide variety of situations, which is why I'm glad that there are two examples, as they are quite dissimilar from each other.
    – Catija
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 18:50
  • @Catija the point of this meta post is perhaps we can learn from the fact that questions change due to edits, and get some consensus based on actual data about what questions should be closed and what questions shouldn't be.
    – user288
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 18:52
  • Hmm... It seems like your approach would require users to be very patient mind readers. Holding off answering untill we're sure everyone has had a chance to poke at the OP and allow the OP to respond and edit and reedit would likely leave questions largely unanswered or unanswerable. How will users know if/when all of the comments and changes are in?
    – apaul
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 3:31
  • @apaul34208 well, if you're a high-rep user you should be able to read a question and decide whether the question should be closed. If you decide that a question should be left open, leave an answer, and come back to find that the question was completely changed in a way that invalidates your answer due to people asking for clarification, then in my mind you were incorrect when you thought that the question shouldn't be closed. Which hopefully means that people will learn from the question and come away with a better idea of what should be closed and what shouldn't be.
    – user288
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 3:35
  • Rather than shooting for this quick close, edit, edit edit, reopen model. Perhaps we could encourage users to dial in their questions to what they're really asking before posting, by setting them up in a sandbox?
    – apaul
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 3:36
  • @apaul34208 a sandbox might be a good idea (feel free to propose it), but the vast majority of people asking questions won't be using a sandbox, they'll just be going ahead and asking the question. The "quick close, edit, edit edit, reopen model" is what's worked on other Stacks, and it seems likely that it will work here.
    – user288
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 3:38

I think we should try to prevent them from becoming chameleon questions in the first place.

Disclaimer: We will probably never be able to do this completely, but what follows is what I think to be a good start/ best practice.

  • Like @Hamlet said, part of the problem can be solved by quickly closing questions. But this requires a consensus on what should and shouldn't be closed. And a large user base that can vote-to-close quickly if necessary. We need more meta questions to determine our scope, and to determine what is and what is not welcome here, to fix this. As we narrow down our scope, situations like the one in the second example question are hopefully occurring less often.
  • I like the comment under the second example question, telling the user that the question is being discussed on meta. I think we should do this more, and even expand it a little to invite the OP of a question to take part in the discussion. And we should be careful not to vote to reopen before the meta discussion is finished, and the question addresses all the feedback meta generated.
  • We're here to teach user's how to fish (in my opinion) and not to throw them a fish. This means to me, that we should not edit other person's questions into a chameleon question. Correcting spelling or grammar is okay, removing offensive language is so as well. Editing a question to such an extent that it invalidates existing answers is something an OP should do, not us (see the subitem). When the question is closed we can give OP feedback and guidance, and I think this also is where the sandbox suggestion comes in. Although I'm not sure how we are going to get new users to use it. OP's have a lot of time to improve their question based on our comments once a question is closed.
    • Subitem: I've found this link on meta that contains useful information on when and how a question should be edited by other users. I've based this point on that: "to clarify the meaning of a post without changing it". So the community should not be the ones editing questions into chameleon questions.
  • I think there might always be questions that are closed after they are answered. In this case, it's in my opinion up to the OP of the post to notify users if the question is reopened after extensive editing. Sadly, we can't completely rule out disagreement on what is and what isn't a clear question. So, if a question is edited to deviate far from the original question (especially after being closed and reopened), please take your losses gracefully.
    • Edit your answer to say that it's no longer appropriate after the edit, and delete it
    • Or edit your answer to take into account the recent changes
    • Or leave a comment to your answer/edit your answer, stating that the question has since changed, and explain why your answer was valid to begin with.
  • That said, I think it's fair to complain if a question is edited to such an extend as to become a chameleon question AFTER it has been reopened. We don't expect extensive edits to a reopened question since, after all, the reopened question should be good enough. If a reopened question is attracting a lot of comments and close-votes again, this is a sign that the reopened question probably wasn't good enough after all. I think this is closely related to down-voting sooner, in that we need more experience with our scope to determine wether a question is good enough or not.

Especially the third point is important here. Since in the first example, the OP of that question did edit this question into a chameleon question, I think we could be

  • Either leaving a comment to OP after the edit, that this is a big change and to ask them to notify all current answers that the question has been changed (or at least those answers that are based on edited parts of the question)
  • Leave those comments ourselves. This way, answerers might get feedback quicker.

As for the second example, these edits should have been done by the OP herself, after the question was closed, and should have taken into account the comments/questions the original question generated better (in my opinion). See again point three, and it's subitem. We should not edit a question to such an extent that the original meaning changes, that is only for an OP to do.

I agree with some users that the second example was answerable in some ways before all the editing. I can see why people were hesitating to close it, or wrote an answer. After all, there was a frame to challenge on that question. But if you really narrow the original question down, it came to 'I don't want to interact with this new-vendor, how do I dismiss him' with a lot of fluff about being afraid, police that should not be trusted, and acid attacks. I'd like to refer you all to the revision history of another question by op on workplace.se.

Here, the original question was edited shortly after posting (within 3 hours), and just removed all the fluff. I think we can learn from that. If we had done that right away, the question would have become a lot more the obvious duplicate of the same question it's now being vtc'ed for. And then we could have just closed the question as a duplicate, without all this hassle.

And we could have worked from there, together with the OP, to create another question that would not be a duplicate, and that might help her with her real problem. Because right now, her real problem is being overshadowed by well-meant edits and meta-discussions, lingering opinions based on previous versions of the question and users that are pissed that their carefully crafted answers are no longer of use. (And I'm willing to admit that except for the answer one, I'm also guilty!).

  • Your answer is very detailed and eminently sensible. However, in the context of this particular edit, "all the parts about gut feeling, cultural background, fears, acid attacks, interactions with cops etcetera" are extremely pertinent to OP's perception of the situation and cannot be edited out without changing the fundamental nature of the question, @Tinkeringbell. Indeed this question is not about the vendor so much as it is about OP, but she wants practical advice to negotiate a delicate interpersonal situation and it is within our scope to give the type of good answer written by 3 users. Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 21:08
  • The way I read it, the fundamental aspect of this Q is that OP does not want to interact with this man due to her anxiety and fear of unknown men, and his being a newspaper vendor is not so significant here, @Tinkeringbell. So how can OP tactfully avoid him?The details about acid attack fears, anxieties and cultural factors tell us why OP wants to avoid this interaction with an unknown person. OP herself confirmed my this interpretation of her question. Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 21:19
  • 1
    Okay. But the question has had 5 close votes, 5 reopen votes, 3 close votes. And a lot of comments. It has attracted quite a 'negative aura'. Can you live with letting this question die, and starting over with a shiny, new one? As I've said in a comment to your answer: "I can see your point of view as well, and a new question would not be a bad fit for IPS SE".
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 21:26
  • @EnglishStudent I loved discussing this with you (you're very civil in your discussing, thank you for that!). But I'm getting really tired (you've kept me up for 2 hours past my regular bedtime). So I'd like to go to sleep now. I hope you can be as patient with me as you were with editing that question, and wait for further replies (if needed) until tomorrow :)
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 21:32
  • I am glad you see my point of view. Many women are insecure in interacting with unknown men because of bitter past experiences. But OP already got 4 good answers that cover the range of possibilities. Of which Kate Gregory's exceptionally good answer was written after this Q got reopened. So the question, closure, editing and reopening achieved our community goal of getting good answers that are helpful to OP and useful to future readers. Legitimate concerns were also discussed here at meta, which is good. If the Q gets closed again I don't think OP will try to get it reopened, @Tinkeringbell. Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 21:34
  • @Tinkeringbell honestly, if I have to leave Stack Exchange and go do something, I just leave. Stack Exchange is one of the least important things I do. I don't really feel bad about this; there's no reason why everything online needs an immediate response, and there isn't even a reason why everything needs a response.
    – user288
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 3:10
  • 1
    @EnglishStudent "The way I read it, the fundamental aspect of this Q is that OP does not want to interact with this man due to her anxiety and fear of unknown men, [...]" That's why it should have been (and stayed) closed from the beginning - the OP needs professional help and that's beyond the scope of IPS. Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 6:01
  • Your point is well taken @Anne Daunted but unlike suicidal thoughts, etc, it's not clear-cut that OP needs professional advice, and that her case is beyond the scope of this site.We don't even have the custom close-reason "needs professional help" which is under discussion in another current meta question. Simply the fact that OP dislikes interaction with unknown men due to fear & anxiety is not yet a reason to refuse to give her good advice here, nor a reason to close her Q (was therefore reopened).So we need the close-reason "requires professional help" and clear guidelines how to apply it. Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 6:12
  • More "needs professional help" questions are coming in @Anne Daunted. As I said in a recent answer, it's not psychological services only but can be medical/ legal/ law enforcement or social services: anything professional. We need to define which cases would be deemed to really need help which is beyond the scope of this site. Prolonged debates are erupting as in 'newspaper vendor.' So we must revive that meta question and positively make it an official close-reason! Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 6:42

If a question is answerable before the major edit (that deviates from the original question), then the edit invalidates high quality answers, I think we should advise the OP to ask a new question.

If they do that, that's great! If not, invalidated answers should be deleted by the owner if they don't want to revise to the current question.

However, we should aim to preserve high-quality answers!

  1. Post a new question, with the same wording as the original question
  2. Link to the revision of the question
  3. Optionally, give a short explanation why this is different from the linked question.
  4. Ideally, move the invalidated high-quality answer to the new question.
    If this cannot be done I believe this is called "merge"?, then delete the original answer, and post the copy of the answer on the new question.


The OP

He gets to get answers useful to his problem.

The Answerer

This prevents downvotes and negative comments, while still preserving the upvotes, even though his answer is deleted.

The Community

High-quality answer(s) is preserved and will be useful to other visitors in the future.

  • Can you stop recommending something we don't have? At this point there is no sandbox so it makes no sense to recommend it.
    – Catija
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 13:10
  • @Catija Sandbox is not the main idea. If you feel I need to remove the sandbox part from my answer, you can point that out :)
    – Vylix
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 13:22
  • Which is why it should be easy to remove.
    – Catija
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 13:23
  • @Catija done now.
    – Vylix
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 13:23

It is my opinion that if a question clearly has defects it should be edited and improved even at risk of invalidating some answers or some parts of answers. Why? Because it will be read by future visitors to the site, and a flawed question cannot be well-answered.

Of course radically editing the content or scope of a question so as to change it entirely is not good, but in the cited recent 'how do I avoid this newspaper vendor' question, my editing retained most of OP's relevant content; improved the question by removing apparently biased statements and less relevant details; and requested users to give good advice for negotiating a delicate interpersonal situation, rather than focus on OP's motivations and assumptions.

It was also necessary at the time because that Q had been closed and such editing would have been required to convince users to reopen. Which it was, and has since inaccurately received 3 votes to close as a duplicate of an unrelated question.

The objections in comments were to the tone of the question and some users felt that OP was biased against the newspaper vendor for no reason, calling her fears irrational. The purpose of editing was to make it neutral in tone and less biased towards an unknown person. No major changes were made but the tone became neutral, invalidating at least one answer. My editing was entirely based on OP's statements and also well-approved by OP.

If there are worries about 'invalidating answers' I am willing to edit in a disclaimer such as

New readers should note that this question has been substantially edited in focus and tone (but not in content) since the earliest answers were posted. Please keep in mind that the members who kindly wrote these answers are not responsible for any confusion caused by the later changes that were necessary to improve this question to community standards.

So why not improve a question that has potential? I was looking at the good generic Q buried there (not specifically asked by OP but part of women's life experience everywhere): "I had a bad experience with a man and feel that women are not safe anywhere. How can I tactfully avoid interacting with this unknown man I keep meeting every day on the subway on my way to work?"

I couldn't ask that question myself because I am not a woman. So the next best thing to do is to help save this similar question from getting closed repeatedly for dull reasons.

I am glad to see that @Kate Gregory wrote a great answer to this question after I had edited to help get it reopened. So I am less concerned now if it gets closed again, this time as a duplicate.

  • I am glad to see that @Kate Gregory wrote a great answer to the 'newspaper seller' question after I had edited to help get it reopened. So I am less concerned now if it gets closed again, this time as a duplicate. Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 19:31
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    I think I'll disagree with you on the "my editing retained most of OP's content;" etc. To me, the extensive editing feels more like an attempt from OP to weasel out from every criticism at this point. I admire your attempt, but I'm afraid they're too much here. I'd like to see OP edit her question, not us. We're here to 'teach her how to fish'. Especially the last edit should have waited, in my opinion, until AFTER the question was closed again as a duplicate. And in my opinion, adding a disclaimer and then continuing to talk about a news vendor doesn't remove the duplicate part.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 19:39
  • So maybe we should remove the whole mention of the person being a newspaper vendor, @Tinkeringbell? I did reflect OP's fears and anxieties more or less as originally expressed. Would you like to point out any major elements that I added into the answer which were not present in OP's question or stated by OP in comments? And would you prefer to see this question remain closed in its original form rather than being improved to community standards?These edits came after a new user's own attempts and were approved by OP. There are no radical changes IMHO. SE users edit other people's questions. Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 19:51
  • 1
    I don't disagree with editing other people's questions. I'm writing an answer to incorporate that as well. But well... I've seen another question from this OP on workplace.se (it's on her profile). Same thing here, a lot of unnecessary info had to be edited out, and it read like it was almost an attempt to be offensive. There, the question was fixed by another user, but within 3 hours or so after posting. It just seems she hasn't learned anything from the experience. I don't know how this revision history came to be, if the editor had a talk with the OP or just did a hero-edit on it.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 20:04
  • "improved the question by removing apparently biased statements and less relevant details" -- please see whether I am factually mistaken in saying so, @Tinkeringbell. As I said before it is not my mission to help this OP but to correct flaws to preserve a potentially relevant question about valid fears faced by many women all over the world. Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 20:04
  • 1
    I'm thinking all the excessive editing here AFTER the question had been reopened should not have been done.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 20:04
  • I'm not saying that the question hasn't improved. I'm not saying that you didn't remove the biased statements and less relevant details. Although I still think there are biased statements and irrelevant details in this question. You're editing did, in my opinion, not retain 'most of OP's content'. It completely edited out the assumptions on which 2 answers were based.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 20:07
  • Now, if you'll excuse me for a while, I'm writing an answer :)
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 20:07
  • Please take your time. Now edited this to say "retained most of OP's relevant content." I mean I didn't introduce new material myself. OP's assumptions that were unfounded needed to be edited out to make it a better question. I'd also clarify that my edits coincided with the casting of the last reopen vote. I edited and then saw it has been reopened. If the Q was reopened without improving it (you rightly rolled back OP's radical edit) then it would have been closed by another 5 users for the same reasons. The disclaimer about duplicate is meant to avoid another closure for inaccurate reasons. Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 20:08
  • please see my answer, and especially the link to the workplace post by the same OP. Although I really admire your effort (I myself would never have had the patience for it!), I think this is a prime example of how the question should have been edited. To me, that would exclude all the parts about gut feeling, cultural background, fears, acid attacks, interactions with cops etcetera. And if you leave all that out (especially from the question as it was first posed), it is just a question about 'dismissing a street vendor' (what it's now flagged as duplicate for).
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 20:59
  • As I've mentioned in the last paragraph to my answer, this question has changed so much, and gone in so many different directions (first OP won't edit out her fears or elaborate on them, but when her question is closed, she adds disclaimers stating that she has a right to be afraid. Then, the question is edited by a well-meaning, exceptionally patient community member, but still includes the specific example of the news vendor. All close-reasons are sort of overlapping. I think it's best to let this question go, and help OP formulate a nice and shiny new question.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 21:01
  • 1
    But my point here is, that if we wan't to address the things you are seeing in this question (which are not that bad for a good IPS SE question), I think we should do so in a new question, and not just keep editing the old one. Let the old one die, and the 'negative aura' it attracted die, and start over with a shiny new question. 2/2
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 21:24
  • 1
    @EnglishStudent, you've mentioned that you find the answer by Kate Gregory exceptionally good. I can't really see this. It does (in my opinion) not offer any different advice than the suggestion under 'how to dismiss street vendors' (no eye contact, no talking, step aside if cut off). Even though the question recognizes that fear may be a valid reason to want to avoid an interaction, the rest of the answer proceeds just as in 'how to dismiss a regular street vendor, fear or not'. That makes me think that in this case, the fear is not an important factor to the question.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 8:05
  • 1
    @Tinkeringbell in answer to your most recent comment: Yes, yes, yes! Gregory does explain "how" to ignore someone well, but staring at the ground, pretending to do something else, and generally not looking at the vendor's gaze is what everyone but one answer suggested. The accepted answer suggested that the OP politely speak to the vendor and tell him to leave her alone. And I'm the one who lacks empathy... for suggesting that the OP seek professional help, first and foremost.
    – user3114
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 13:43
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA, the treatment you received for writing a well-meaning answer to that question was not okay. Your answer was just as valid as the other answers there (before all the edits). You're absolutely not lacking empathy (but you know that). I particularly want to mention the fact that a comment told users not to 'gang up on a new user', but afterward, people ganged up with that 'new user' against you. That's not okay guys! We have up and down-votes to express your feelings on an answer, and comments to ask for clarification. NOT FOR FIGHTING!
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 16:49

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