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Here is the answer:

https://security.stackexchange.com/a/172951/149676

After the user updated his question, it became clear that I completely misunderstood. He was asking about email validation on the register form submission, but for some reason I thought that he was talking about verifying that an email is real after registration.

As a result, my answer is just completely wrong: not that the answer is wrong, but it doesn't answer his question. I'm thinking I should just delete my answer. Is there another way to handle this though?

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    You could ask the question you thought you were answering, then answer your own question. Saves wasting all that typing :) – paj28 Nov 7 '17 at 18:03
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    As a note, this is why we try to quickly close questions that are vague; once they get edited to be less vague, we can reopen them and not waste people's time answering the wrong question. – Xiong Chiamiov Nov 7 '17 at 21:58
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To be fair, the original question was totally vague.

I have had a few instances where I spent a long time writing long, detailed answers, only to have the question change underneath me, and I delete. It sucks.

Other times, I have written long answers only to have a Bear post an answer just before I was finished (and then, what's the point, really?)

It's one reason why I am so quick to try to get people to clarify their questions and to make sure they are asking what they think they might be asking.

To keep things in the spirit of on-topic Q&As, I would recommend deleting off topic answers.

But this situation has now changed. You kept the off-topic parts while editing the answer to be on-topic. As there is now an evolving history to both the question and your answer. I think you did the right thing to section off the old part.

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    It was vague, but I thought that I understood it properly anyway. Live and learn. I'll just delete in the future, and I thought about deleting the off-topic part when I edited my answer, but I think it has some relevancy as it is at the moment. – Conor Mancone Nov 6 '17 at 23:19
  • @ConorMancone personally I believe that is even better than deletion, if it had valuable information to begin with. – AviD Nov 7 '17 at 8:41
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    a Bear? What animal is that? – Jan Doggen Nov 8 '17 at 14:21
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    @JanDoggen Not sure if you're serious or not, so I'll perhaps make myself look dumb :) and point towards Thomas Pornin/Tom Leek, who despite splitting answers between two accounts still has both of them with far more rep on security.SE than anyone else. – Xiong Chiamiov Nov 8 '17 at 21:13
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    @XiongChiamiov Yes, I was serious. Thanks. I suggest you edit your answer so that others don't need these comments to understand it. – Jan Doggen Nov 8 '17 at 22:53
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    Why such criticism against bears :( honestly I don't see why bears shouldn't have the right to contribute to this site as long as they do it correctly... – EKons Nov 9 '17 at 16:29
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    @JanDoggen It's not my answer, I was just passing by. – Xiong Chiamiov Nov 9 '17 at 21:44
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    @ΈρικΚωνσταντόπουλος Yes, bears, spam-bots, and all others should be allowed to make constructive contributions! – jpaugh Nov 10 '17 at 20:49
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    @XiongChiamiov Wait. Wait wait wait. Thomas Pornin and Tom Leek are the same guy? My brain. It hurts. – Mike Ounsworth Nov 16 '17 at 16:40
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I basically agree with schroeders answer, with a minor modification.

When updating the answer, in most cases I would not keep the original answer but instead just edit it out when replacing with a new one (perhaps leaving a comment explaining what I did). The reason for this is that I want to avoid questions having "history". It makes it very confusing for visitors who arrive from Google trying to solve a problem. To me, everything that is not "well formed question" or "answer to that question" is noise.

Sometimes though things are so messy in general that this isn't possible or require more work than it is worth - e.g. if the question itself contains "history" then it might be easier to understnad if your answer does as well.

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