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Some questions seem destined for closure but have, at their core, something decent trying to get out.

Obviously it's fine to edit someone else's question to correct grammar, spelling or whatever, but how valid is it to rework a question because you think there's something worth saving and it's obvious it's not going to survive in it's current form?

For instance here: Best industry to work for as a developer

Different industries do conform to type with regards to working practices, and do so in ways which are specific to developers. For me there is a core of a good question here but the edit it needs goes beyond what I feel is polite to do to someone else's question.

Or am I just wrong and it's a bad question?

EDIT: I have now edited this at Walter's prompting so you'll need to look at the edit history to see the original question.

10

With one click, the original author can revert any changes you make. But it takes considerably more effort to re-open a closed question.

Therefore, if you think a question risks being closed (and your example clearly did) and you think you can edit it into shape, you shouldn't hold back - if the author accepts your changes then everyone wins, and if he rejects them it can still be closed.

This isn't anyone's personal blog. Yes, the name of the original author appears below the post... But so does the name of the last editor. As an editor, strive to make the author look good, or at least competent - failing to do that purely out of fear is little better than actively vandalizing a post.

6

If a question is destined to be closed, but has some kernel of a good question inside then I think that there are a couple of options available.

The first and least intrusive is to post a comment and ask the OP to edit the question with your suggestions. The second is editing the question.

In this case the user may/may not have an account on PSE so there's little benefit to commenting. I would go ahead and edit the question. I would much rather have a good question survive in place of a poor closed question. I don't think that all questions are savable but in this case I think there's a pretty good chance.

The other thing I might suggest is posting a comment with your reasoning for editing the question. That would give a Mod (and other users) the opportunity to back up your choices (assuming you did a good job) as well as let the OP know how to construct a better question next time.

1

I've been told by a mod that this is a bad idea and doing so is a not so good, although for the life of me I can't see why. I've had good success in coaxing the asker to improve his or her question in the past.

But...

Since this is a migrated question I think you should be able to do whatever you want to it. I answered the question because I think it does have an answer. The problem with that particular question is that it is too long. It would be improved by redaction and I think that's probably always admissible.

  • Good point about the fact it's a migrated question. Also took on board the length thing and I've stripped out a lot of the background. – Jon Hopkins Jan 17 '11 at 17:33
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    Whoever told you that needs to read the FAQ - beat them with a stale waffle until they do. Editing to salvage a bad or borderline question isn't just a good idea - it's a core part SE. – Shog9 Jan 17 '11 at 17:55
  • @Mr. C - Here's the stale waffle batter. meta.programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/510/… – Peter Turner Jan 17 '11 at 18:01
  • @Peter: wow... I'm not sure your edit helped the question much, but at least you made an honest effort to relate it to the site. Unless the OP himself objected, I would consider that a very good thing. – Shog9 Jan 17 '11 at 18:15
  • Heh, I get downvotes on meta even if I post a legit answer echoing the advice of a mod I disagree with. – Peter Turner Jan 17 '11 at 20:33
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    @Peter - Down votes on meta indicate disagreement. It seems someone thinks that the mod you're echoing is wrong, something I'm sure you have sympathy with? – Jon Hopkins Jan 17 '11 at 21:45
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    The mod, me, told you to not put words in the OP mouth. Rewording is not the same as change the question's content like you did in the past. – Maniero Jan 17 '11 at 23:17
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    @bigown: re-wording often is changing a question's content. There's no getting around that; when a question's content is unclear, incomplete, ambiguous or insulting, then it becomes necessary to alter it. Sometimes this is impossible for anyone other than the original author, but in other situations it can be done - on SO for instance, an expert in the target language or library may be able to recognize and therefore clarify the problem. These are not sacred texts; you will not be damned for altering them. Users who are uncomfortable with this are invited by the FAQ to go elsewhere. – Shog9 Jan 18 '11 at 0:09
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    @Mr. CRT - That doesn't mean the editor should have carte blanc to make changes though. There's a difference between necessary changes (to introduce focus or clarity) and those which might change the tone or direction of a question. – Jon Hopkins Jan 18 '11 at 10:05
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    @Jon - but there is a lot of interpretation as to how that is applied. For instance, I think you hurt the quality of a post by making a large EDIT section near the bottom, that info ought to be conveyed by the comments in the edit (not added to placate the overbearing mods) and in my edit, wherein I was accused of putting words in the mouth of the OP, my intent was to preserve the first person perspective of the question. I really have no desire to appease any moderators, nor should I or you. Do what you think is right and they ought to leave you alone, if they don't they'll be replaced. – Peter Turner Jan 18 '11 at 13:32
  • @Peter - Interesting point about the first person perspective. In terms of the edit block it wasn't about placating them, I saw it more as a courtesy. Having moderated elsewhere my experience is that that a feeling that you need to placate someone is normally an indication you're doing something you shouldn't so I use it as a guide that I should instead alter my actions. – Jon Hopkins Jan 18 '11 at 13:56
  • @Peter, @Jon: Whether or not you should maintain the tone of a question will depend on whether or not the original tone was appropriate for the site: an excessively chatty or argumentative tone probably should be changed. Avoid including meta-information into the question text itself: the revision history and comments should suffice for describing and discussing changes, unless they're somehow important to answering the question. There's a reason revision history is on a separate page: it's not actually important to the vast majority of readers. – Shog9 Jan 18 '11 at 18:07

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