The question starts with

I know that this isn't the first post with this problem, but I am stuck with this for a day (total, not 1 day in a row). Somehow I can't get this to work, maybe it is just 1 little adjustment that I need to make, but I can't seem to find it :(

I'm sure the question would be better without this, both for immediate answering and for people later having the same kind of problem.

But I'm afraid removing it might be considered rude by the asker as he might see the question with the introduction both more humble and more accorded to his personal writing style (especially in a case where the code follows immediately after this introduction).

Should I proceed and remove this lengthy useless introduction or just not bother ?

  • 5
    I'd say remove it and leave a comment (possibly linking to the FAQ entry) explaining it. The OP is more likely to get answers that way, so you're helping. Jun 12, 2012 at 7:45
  • 1
    @JoachimSauer Seems like a very mechanical way of approaching the issue. Wouldn't it be better to voice your opinion to the OP, and let them decide?
    – Hassan
    Jun 12, 2012 at 7:50
  • The problem I see is the risk to add verbose and personal exchange in the comments. Jun 12, 2012 at 7:51
  • 6
    @Hassan: to be honest: the OP doesn't usually know this site and its goals all to well. More often than not the OP doesn't really care (and IMO he should not need to care too much) what SO wants to achieve. He has his goal in mind and not that of SO. Jun 12, 2012 at 7:52
  • 1
    @JoachimSauer True, but in this case, I think you can call this verbose intro a "grey area" at best (in terms of question quality). So whether it helps SO's goal or not is a matter of preference, and I think the OP should have priority in matters of preference.
    – Hassan
    Jun 12, 2012 at 7:58
  • Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/131009/…
    – jrturton
    Jun 12, 2012 at 8:37
  • 1
    possible duplicate of Why can any user edit any other user's question or answer?
    – ChrisF Mod
    Jun 14, 2012 at 10:11
  • The link is dead and I cannot seem to find a replacement. Do you have any pointers? I only found stackoverflow.com/help/on-topic which does not seem to answer the question. Jan 22, 2014 at 7:37

3 Answers 3


Yes - it's best to edit and remove it.

That bit of copy is superfluous to the question in that the question is the same with or without it. It adds nothing of any value and just increases the noise-to-signal ratio. If the OP protests the edit you can link to this other discussion to help them understand why.


Questions should contain the relevant information necessary to answer it; any secondary, or not so relevant information should be given after the most important information.

There is then information that better suits in a comment, or that should not written at all, such as:

I have looked for a similar question, but I could not find it. If this is a duplicate, feel free to delete it.

This question is not a duplicate of that question; they are similar, but I have different requirements.

@Downvoters: Is this question so bad?

In the specific case, that text seems only to have the purpose of avoid the question is closed; it doesn't add anything useful to the question, and removing it seems correct, to me.

  • "If this is a duplicate, feel free to delete it." Oh, don't worry; we will (:
    – user164291
    Aug 6, 2012 at 1:53

For the question you illustrated I would suggest you leave it. Why? While it adds nothing tangible, it does add at least a little bit of context - in this case the OP is kind of describing what effort they have put in so far. So while you could remove it, your removal doesn't add a lot to the overall value of the question.

Let me re-word this: if the preamble adds context to the question, then leave it alone. If it was totally redundant verbal fluff, then by all means remove it, much like you would for unnecessary signature lines.

  • 10
    It is totally redundant verbal fluff. And it would occupy the whole pop-up question preview from the front page, reducing the chances of people opening the question, so its removal does add value.
    – jrturton
    Jun 12, 2012 at 8:39
  • 5
    It eats up space on the summary in lists of questions which makes it harder to judge if it's going to be an interesting question without viewing it. At the very least it would be better not being the first paragraph.
    – Flexo
    Jun 12, 2012 at 8:39
  • @jrturton I thought my third sentence was quite clear, but maybe not - it adds some context, even thogh it isn't the best context. You are correct that it would use up the entire preview panel, however a solid block of code at the start would do the same and be just as unpalatable.
    – slugster
    Jun 12, 2012 at 8:53
  • 2
    It is clear, I just disagree :). A solid block of code would also be bad, but that's just another problem with the question.
    – jrturton
    Jun 12, 2012 at 8:57
  • 1
    This is exactly the kind of intro paragraph that I would remove. It is completely useless. Nobody needs to know whether you've been stuck on a problem for 5 minutes, a day or a month. It's just clutter.
    – user229044
    Jul 6, 2012 at 20:29
  • @meager - Was I not clear enough? The preamble in this particular question could be removed. If it adds context then don't remove it. Obviously people will have different opinions on what is in context. If in doubt, don't delete - your opinion may not always be right, and while you can edit other's posts you shouldn't do it unless you are contributing something positive to it, don't do it just because you can and you think you should. OK, this is an old issue and I think we've flogged this dead horse enough.
    – slugster
    Jul 7, 2012 at 2:37

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