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I just saw a few questions that were in itself perfectly valid, but badly worded. I do not mean the problem where the author is not native English and comes across rather harsh unintentially.

I mean for example this question about double escaping in PHP. Was it right to close this? I can very well sympathize with that, because you reap what you sow and the author asked for it. But that doesn't make the question any less valid, does it?

Another example is this question about disappearing content on eBay. Again, I think the question in itself is okay, just the author seemed to be extremely excited about this "Magic".

These are just two examples that just make me wonder: Are the tools that we have adequate and are they used in the right way?

I'm not saying that they are or are not, I would just like to know if there is really no better way to preserve a good question? Editing requires 2000 rep, while closing requires 3000. So in theory, everyone who could vote close could also edit it.

On the other hand, I agree we shouldn't support laziness and have to decrypt the question from the author. Then again, closing the question to "punish" the author for sloppiness also punishes the people who could use the answer.

People could just ask the same question when they run into the same problem though.

So in theory we have all the tools and options to punish "bad" users and to keep questions at a high quality level. But still I sometimes "feel" that something is slightly off-balance and could need fine tuning, but I'm not sure what.

Or am I just "overreacting" because of 1 in thousands of questions are wrecked that way?

(This is SO specific, no idea about SU or SF)

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4 Answers 4

Or am I just "overreacting" because of 1 in thousands of questions are wrecked that way?

Yeah. I mean, it sucks... But speaking as someone who does occasionally try to clean these questions up before they get voted into the dirt and closed, it's not always trivial: if you change too little, it does no good - the damage is already done, and any comments or answers posted before you edited silhouette the tone of the original question; change too much, you risk losing something the OP actually wanted (whether or not he should have wanted it is another matter, but you can't save folks from themselves).

And all the while, plenty of folks are out there asking decent questions. Questions that could maybe use a little help with code formatting or grammar but don't immediately put your teeth on edge and could probably be answered just fine without being edited at all, albeit with a bit more effort required from those reading.

I threw away a couple of edits yesterday because the questions involved had no answers and >= 4 down-votes: I doubt they would have gotten any attention even after being cleaned up. Sometimes, I'll still edit these - you never know what attention better tags + title will bring, and if nothing else there's maybe a chance that the original author will learn something and do a better job next time... But it can be hard to justify.

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The convention I follow is:

  • if the OP's intention is clear (albeit muddied with poor grammar and spelling), I will try to edit it.
  • if it is so bizarre it's not apparent what is being asked, I'll close as "not a real question", and in a comment suggest that if they edit the question to clarify the wording, I'll vote to reopen.
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I have to state, that I embrace both close reasons. Thanks, close voters!

I do not get your point, Micheal, sorry. The first one is offensive the second is very likely spam, a cheap trick to get more attention to the ebay offer.

If both, the offense and the spam was not intended, then the askers have to learn how to ask. I doubt they will get it, if experienced users edit out these kind of mistakes. Closing is the best thing to do here.

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The problem now is volume.

I've often tried to clean up and reword questions that I do understand, but are worded so poorly, or confusing, that it is hard to not jump on them.

The problem is that by the time I am able to finalized it and click the submit button, enough downvotes or close-requests have already been applied to damn the question into oblivion.

I think the right approach for these is to just accept that they will be closed quick, and then petition for a re-open, with a request that it be edited. The moderators would then be able to handle it.

If this is outside of the scope of being a moderator, then I'm afraid all hope is lost.

Perhaps the close requests could be changed so that once the question hits a close-threshold, it requires a moderator to apply the request, but until then, it stays open and can be edited. This would allow people to clean up the question before it disappears.

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