I recently posted an answer to the question "How do parasites reprogram brains?". After editing, my answer described three different examples from neuroparasitology. In each of these, the way in which the behavior-altering parasite affected the brain of its host, or otherwise controlled its behaviour, was different in at least one way. (Even though researchers do not have a complete understanding of the mechanisms involved, quite a lot is known!)

I would like to come back and add more examples of neuroparasitic mechanisms, and (behavior-altering parasite/"zombie" victim) pairs that exhibit each one. However, I'm aware that this could lead to a very long answer, with the risk that interested readers might not know I'm updating it.

I'd like some guidance as to which of these the users of the site would consider best-practice:

  1. To change my answer into a community wiki. This would make it clear to other users that the answer was open to further editing, and to having more examples added, over time. On the other hand, it could still lead to the answer being a very long posting. And if I understand correctly I would lose the rep I've already gained from upvotes on that answer.

  2. Split my existing answer up into three separate answers. Then post a new answer for each successive means of behaviour control I've researched with at least one accompanying example. This has the disadvantage that the first answer now has more upvotes than it actually earned (upvoters were voting on the original answer with multiple examples.)

    It could also look as though I'm trying to game the reputation system, by allowing users to upvote each of my answers individually - whereas before there was only one vote on my one answer per user.

  3. Post a new answer for each new example as described above, but don't split up the original answer.

  4. Continue just to add new examples to the original answer, without making it a community wiki.

My thanks for any and all advice! I'm new to this site, so I do appreciate your guidance.


1 Answer 1


I don't think there's an "official" answer here, if that's what you're looking for.

However, if you think your answer(s) can stand on their own as each fully answering the question (in such a way that it/they follow(s) our answer guidelines), then I'd say splitting the answers is appropriate.

We could also turn toward Meta StackExchange for more guidance:

If we turn to Meta Stackexchange, we can find numerous posts on the subject of posting multiple answers. Perhaps the most prominent of these posts, What is the official etiquette on answering a question twice?, received the following answer with the most up-votes [my emphasis added]:

When you have two distinct answers, it's better to post two different answers than to put them both into one answer.

Some questions will be multiple-answer types directly, like in Meta topics where aspects of features are wanted as feedback. This allows the ones the community feels are the best/correct to float to the top.

Some computer languages have a lot of flexibility in how to solve any one problem, so by listing them both as separate answers (if very distinct) they can both be voted on by the community, and this will allow the better answer to float to the top. It also allows the comment threads to be more focused on each answer.

If you put two very different answers in one, then one could be a great answer, and one could be a terrible way to do things, but the upvotes (or downvotes) on the good (or bad) answer will drag the other along with it to the top (or bottom).

Regarding the etiquette of changing answers that already have received posisitve feedback, see the following post: An answer of mine was accepted. What happens if I modify it?. Again, quoting from the top-voted answer [my emphasis again added]

Of course, an edit will bump the post, so everyone browsing the active tab will see that you edited it. And anyone on the page can see when the last edit was. If they click on the revision history, they will be able to see what you changed.

Realistically, nobody cares enough to do that. In fact, it's likely that the OP doesn't care, either. As long as your edit improves the answer, you shouldn't feel guilty about it.

If you really want to preserve the content that your answer originally had, you can simply add the changes at the end of the post.

In other words, as long as your intentions are good and your post is not degraded below our site's standards, you should be ok. If a previous voter or acceptor now thinks your post is not so good, they will be able to see that you changed it and can now change their vote if they deem doing so is necessary.

No harm no foul.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thanks - especially for the effort involved in finding the relevant questions and answers on meta.stackexchange. Upvoted, and accepted! I'll split my answer when I next revisit that question. $\endgroup$ Dec 21, 2019 at 15:58
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ For this specific answer, I'd say that each example is not a complete answer on its own. One example might cover 80% of all known cases, the next 10%, then 5%, etc. It's better to have all this information in a single answer, especially when there can only be one "best" answer which users will gravitate towards. $\endgroup$
    – CJ Dennis
    Dec 27, 2019 at 2:01

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .