Sometimes, when you answer a question, the person asking it realizes that the answer is not what they wanted, and the changes the question in a way that renders the already given valid answer invalid.

I call these chameleon questions (from a term coined by Aarobot), and while his definition is closely linked to morphing code questions, I think the term can be used more widely.

I dislike this, as it sometimes make you appear like an idiot when your carefully written answer suddenly changes into a non-sequitur.

Is there a way to discourage this?

  • Do you have any examples of these chameleon questions?
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 5:24
  • Looking at all 4 revisions, no specific license was described: There was a License A and a License B. The question had simply been edited to add extra details, in order to solve confusions. No separate question had been asked; it was simply narrowed down. I take that example as completely invalid.
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 5:31
  • Bring it to chat.
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 5:36
  • 1
    I can see no point in taking this to chat. We disagree about whether this is a change or not. However, this example has really no bearing on my question, so I see no point in chatting about the example. I only supplied it because you asked for it. Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 5:39
  • Personally, I see nothing wrong with the edit made my the author. I'm looking forward to seeing other perspectives from the community on this. If anyone is willing to discuss, I will most likely be found in chat (you can ping me if I'm not there). I will post an answer soon - after my well rested sleep.
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 5:39

2 Answers 2


If the question is bad quality or OP is being difficult (e.g. edit/rollback war, not clarifying), then take whatever action you usually do for low quality questions - usually downvoting.

However, with chameleon questions, it's important to differentiate incorrect SE usage like editing the same question to ask different questions, from unclear questions. When in doubt, or if you sense OP wants to ask a different question than the one that is currently written, ask the OP to clarify. Your linked meta post already gives some good solutions, which I generally agree with:

  • Keep updating and helping the OP edit the question as long as it doesn't drift too far
  • Chat with OP to ask for details
  • Leave a comment
  • If the questions are closely related, answer both; otherwise rollback the question and ask OP to ask a new question
  • Just walk away

About this, it's totally wrong. It shows a lack of respect and integrity on the part of the author. Asking two completely separate related questions shall, and will be dealt with accordingly. If you see this, we've got an effective mechanism for the community to handle this -> rollbacks.

As for the aforementioned post, it was simply clarification and expanding on the original answer. There's nothing wrong with this: In fact, it's actually healthy, as it demonstrates retention as well as collaboration and cooperation. If a question is narrowed down, it's much more specific.

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