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I asked a question about a specific Java library last night, which was quickly voted closed without any comments about why it was wrong.

I've realized that I committed a couple of SO sins in the asking of this question:

  • The question visually has a bit of a tl;dr block-text quality to it
  • The title starts with a lower-case letter
  • the title could be more readable to a browsing user
  • [please insert your own criticism here]

Despite this, I strongly feel that it doesn't fit the "off-topic" category - this is a question that definitely has an answer, it's a problem that I'm currently facing, a helpful answer would not need to be very long.

I'd like to rework the question and hopefully get it past the review queue, but (as I see it) I have two choices - delete the question and start from scratch, or edit the question and hope it gets voted to reopen.

Editing the existing question intuitively seems like the "honest" way to go about things, but since the question has already been closed, I'm pessimistic that this will be an effective way to get interested eyeballs on the (shiny, new, improved, on-topic) question.

What is the ethos of the StackOverflow/StackExchange community in this situation? If there isn't a preference for one way or the other, is there any rep advantage to editing the old question?

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To clarify, I'm not petitioning for a reopen of the linked question at this point, but just want to understand the best way to participate before I continue. Any criticisms/suggestions for improving the original question would appreciated, though. –  Drew Shafer Oct 16 '12 at 20:30
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Depends. If you're close to a question ban, you definitely don't want to delete it and start over - even if that's usually the easier way. –  Mysticial Oct 16 '12 at 20:30
    
Interesting point. I'm assuming I would know if I were close to a question ban? –  Drew Shafer Oct 16 '12 at 20:42
    
You don't know because they keep the algorithm secret to prevent exactly this type of gaming. Assuming you don't have any deleted questions, (which only mods can see from your profile) you don't appear to be close to a question ban. –  Mysticial Oct 16 '12 at 20:44
    
Thanks for the info. I don't think I've deleted any of my own questions, so I'm probably safe. Regardless, the feedback I'm getting is "edit the original", so it's a moot point. –  Drew Shafer Oct 16 '12 at 20:49
    
In this particular case, since you don't have a large pile of downvotes, I would also suggest that you edit. The only time a question becomes difficult to salvage is when it's at like -4 or lower. –  Mysticial Oct 16 '12 at 20:51
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3 Answers

Edit! Always edit!

This is something that's frustrated me for a long time: closed is a misnomer, and (depending on the site) too many closed/deleted questions can rob you of your privilege to ask questions. Closed really just means "kicked back to drafts," and means that your question needs to be improved using the advice in the "close reason".

ALWAYS EDIT and then flag for moderator attention so that a mod can reopen! It will behoove you long-term as well, because it will (hopefully) teach a user how to write questions well, which is the greatest skill SO can teach anyone.

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Interesting that you feel frustrated... what's your opinion on this discussion Tim Post resurrected earlier today? –  Pops Oct 16 '12 at 20:45
    
@PopularDemand I'd need to catch up on that discussion, but I think revisiting it is a great idea, and it's an important concept that we should never stop talking about. "Closure" sounds so final when it's truly a transient state. –  Aarthi Oct 16 '12 at 21:07
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If you haven't attracted much activity in the form of answers, and to a lesser degree comments and views, and to an even lesser degree votes, go ahead and edit. "If a tree falls in the forest," you know. It doesn't help anyone when a question is on its way to Tumbleweed town, so you might as well use that space in the database for something positive.

As for questions that get closed, all I can add is that editing to improve is an encouraged behavior.

Regarding your question specifically, I'm a little surprised that it was closed as off-topic. I would have voted to close it as not constructive, since your question

Should I just port the recurly bits of our web-app to a maintained API?

is necessarily a request for opinion. The other thing you asked, what happened to the library, is better, but the answer to that question alone probably won't help you very much.

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Thanks for the feedback. The heart of my question was the "what happened to the library" part - if it is truly abandoned, then I likely will port to an open/documented recurly library. A bit of that internal dialog made it into the question as an afterthought just before I posted it, but it's definitely not central to what I was asking... –  Drew Shafer Oct 16 '12 at 20:58
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I've edited your question. You can also do the same.

While it doesn't appear you're close to a question ban (though admittedly I don't know the criteria, only what it looks like once it's happened), you're better off not deleting posts, because once they're deleted, you can't get back to them easily.

A few notes:

  • Don't put meta stuff in the body of the question itself (Like "Attention Downvoters"), all it does it create a lightning rod on the question itself. Posting a link to the meta post in the comments is fine.

  • Keep backstories as short as possible. No one really cares that you're caring for your Aunt Edna's cat after she met a horrible end at a diner with a clown. What they do care about is the problem you face currently.

  • This is a borderline 'off topic' or even 'too localized' question. Off topic because it really belongs in the support forum for that software (but there isn't one, leading you here) and too localized because it appears to only users of a particular library (while there look to be replacements available) at a particular time.

That having been said, I don't think it should be closed, and edited it and re-opened it. If it gets closed by the community again, then you've got your answer as to its appropriateness on Stack Overflow.

I do hope you get an answer to your question. Good luck.

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