Today I faced a poorly written question (from a quite fresh user). However, the intent of the OP was clarified in the comments that followed.

I choose to answer the question, and I proposed an edit when the user confirmed by a comment that I caught his meaning.

What is the best way to teach such a user how to ask question? Is rewriting an acceptable way? Will the OP be notified of this edit?

Beyond fresh user teaching, I am faced with an uneasy ethical concern: is it acceptable to edit a question toward an answer you have provided ?

  • If you edited the post according to the original intent of the OP and your answer happened to handle that then its a win win situation. – Lix Apr 19 '12 at 17:24
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    [status-train-wreck] – user102937 Apr 19 '12 at 17:24
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    you can leave a comment to let the OP know you edited the post, they will automatically be informed. I'm so meta right now... – Shep Apr 19 '12 at 17:57
  • @RobertHarvey meta.stackexchange.com/questions/129788 (asked a question for reuse purpose) – FabienAndre Apr 19 '12 at 17:58
  • @Shep Thank you for fixing grammar (and for the meta advice to complete the edit with a comment) – FabienAndre Apr 19 '12 at 18:10
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    With a stick! – F'x Apr 19 '12 at 23:00

If it's what you've gleaned from the comments, go ahead! Leave a comment letting him know what you've done, just in case.

If the question is unclear and comments don't help, I'd say it's better if you poke him with a comment asking for clarifications.

Though if the clarification seems unambiguous and sufficiently obvious, then go ahead and edit it, and leave a comment detailing what you did, how you interpreted it, and an invitation to revert if that's not what the OP wanted.


You can edit the question, provided your edit retains the meaning and spirit of the original question. That intent may be difficult to divine, however, on a poorly-written question.


We have quite a few of those everyday in Ask Ubuntu and what I try to do (and a lot of other editors, I am sure) is to edit them as soon as possible.

If you keep the essence of the question and improve formating, words used or even change it a lot to be easier to read and follow, there is nothing wrong with it.

Community editing is part of the site, as long as your not destroying content and you are actually improving it you are free to do so.

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