On most other Stack Exchange sites, answers are in second person. For example, if you ask a question of the form "Can I...?", your answer will be of the form "Yes/no, you can/can't, because you...." But on this site, I've seen some people answering these questions in the form "I can/can't do that, because I...." These people are often not the same person who asked the question, so I'm not really sure where the "I" is coming from or who it's meant to refer to.

(Not linking to examples because I have no desire to invoke the meta effect against these people.)

I find this style of answer confusing and hard to read. Should we edit them? Or is this an acceptable answer format that we should keep?

Obviously I'm not suggesting we blindly replace every instance of "I" with "you." This would need to be done manually and selectively by humans. In particular, we would need to exclude constructions like "Suppose I want to do X, then I need to..." which are not at all confusing and therefore not the subject of this question.

  • 2
    Is there really a meta effect around here? Not that many people browse around meta sadly, and personally, I feel that the benefits of providing an example would outweigh the "meta effect"
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 2:12

2 Answers 2


Should we edit them?

No. According to the help center, you should edit:

  • to fix grammatical or spelling mistakes
  • to clarify the meaning of a post without changing it
  • to correct minor mistakes or add addendums / updates as the post ages
  • to add related resources or hyperlinks

It's not a grammatical mistake to use a different perspective than is used elsewhere; it may be slightly odd, but it's still valid in the majority of cases.

This style is often preceded by something like "Suppose I want to do X...", in which case using I for the subsequent conclusion is not only valid, but the only grammatically correct solution.

In general, you are welcome to write answers using any sensible perspective you like, but you should generally avoid editing others' answers to make their style conform to your own.

  • 1
    "Suppose I want to do X..." - That's not what I'm talking about. I've seen answers that just lead directly with "I can(not) do X" without this introduction. Furthermore, in these cases I would view a change to second person as a clarification of the answer. Since it is not possible to edit an answer "without changing it," you will need to expand that bullet a bit to make more sense.
    – Kevin
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 20:10

I reckon I am one of the offenders there. I have for a while consistently answered using the first person. If you feel this is weird, I can very much change my style to you rather than I.

  • 1
    FWIW, since this post I changed my answer style to use "you" when I am addressing the OP and not "I" Commented Jan 27, 2017 at 10:32

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