You've found a poor question that you really think has some merit to it. What things are needed to successfully do this transformation of making a poor question into a good one?

The Atwood transform is first mentioned in Should I give more information to this question? How to improve and refers to the changes done to a question to make it a good one in Q&A is Hard, Let’s Go Shopping!

1 Answer 1


Ok to completely change it

It is acceptable to completely change the question and what it asks. Note that this is something that can only really be done if there are no answers. Ideally, this also comes with the guidance of the person asking the question to make sure that it is still helpful to them.

Make sure that its a good question

If you are 'just' fixing it up and adding context to the question that you create, it is necessary to make sure that the resulting question is a good one.

Consider the question:

I'm looking for books about design and software architecture. Also, what are some jobs that make use of this?

Converting this into a well worded question...

I've been studying software architecture and lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Integer ac turpis nec massa pretium euismod. Donec rutrum sapien id quam porttitor, ut volutpat est facilisis. What are some good books for this?

I've also wondered what careers are available in this field. Quisque venenatis facilisis ornare. Sed ac dictum ante, porttitor auctor turpis. Sed semper dui enim, sed congue odio faucibus nec. Cras vulputate quam vel pharetra.

Any insights are appreciated.

This is a better question in general, but it still fails at several points about being a good Stack Exchange question. It still asks a question for book recommendations (off topic) and still asks about career advice (which is also off topic). Furthermore, it doesn't fix the issue that there are two questions being asked in a single post.

However much this is transformed without radical rewordings its just polishing a turd. While its possible to really polish it... its still a turd. The question would still be closed if it was asked fresh in that state.

Fixing formatting isn't enough

Sometimes, people just go through and suggest edits that change "a" to "a" or the like. While this can stylistically help in reading the question, it doesn't fundamentally change the question in a way that would merit it being reopened.

I will point out that this isn't saying don't do it. It is possible that the original poster will see the changes and understand more about how to make a question look better in the future... but if there are other issues, they should be fixed as well. Fixing only formatting while leaving other glaring issues may be marked as 'too minor' with a review.

Disappointment results

For many people doing these changes, they are still getting the +2 rep from a suggested edit being approved. If these questions get deleted, that +2 rep will get deleted too. Taking a -4 score question and tweaking it, even if the resulting question reads better, looks better - if its not something that can be reopened will likely get deleted at some point.

Sometimes, the thing to do is to close it

If the question is something that the OP has dropped in the question box and gone away with no activity, close (or flag it) the question and leave the comments to try to find out the real problem behind the question asked that you can work through and create a better question. If the OP doesn't come back to help work with the question, realize it is something that may have been asked in the past or will be again asked in the future and let it go.


  1. Its ok to really change it.
  2. Make sure you change the question into something that can be reopened
  3. Don't just fix the format
  4. Sometimes you need to just let it go

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