So I was browsing stackoverflow and came across a question that sounded pretty interesting. I clicked through and the quality of the question was pretty poor. I immediately set out to giving it better tags, removing salutations, formatting code, and giving it a more descriptive title.

After doing that and pushing submit, I realized that this question was posted in 2009 by some anonymous user.

Is it OK to edit questions like this or not? If it's not OK, should there be some kind of warning when editing very old questions?

  • 3
    If you are improving the question and not changing its meaning, I do not see any problem with it. – Josh Mein Feb 25 '13 at 20:09
  • @JoshMein in some cases it can be hard to judge what the original meaning was, making improvements hard to tell if they are changing or sticking with meaning. I'd think that "not changing meaning" is a rule all edits should abide by, but in this case there is no one to defend the question if I do accidentally change the meaning – Earlz Feb 25 '13 at 20:27
  • If the question is answered but does not have a selected answer, and the OP account is deleted, one thing that could be done is to repost your improved edit as a question, then close and merge the original in. Don't think that has ever been discussed let alone done, but it would seem a good solution in this case. – Won't Feb 25 '13 at 22:03
  • nvm, question has a selected answer. – Won't Feb 25 '13 at 22:04
  • @Won't the notion of "create duplicate and close old question as duplicate of new question" has been discussed a lot in the past. I've done it exactly once in the past. However, this is definitely not behavior most people think is "appropriate", even if most of the people at meta do think it's a good solution – Earlz Feb 25 '13 at 22:22
  • btw, @Won't, I nominate you for best profile page of the year. – Earlz Feb 25 '13 at 22:25

If you feel the question merits interest, in that it drew your attention, then it's inherently a worthwhile question (if only to you and the person who initially asked it). As it's a worthwhile question it's also deserving of care and attention.

The age of the question might may, potentially, make the subject-matter somewhat historical (an older version of an IDE, reference to a now low-use browser), and, of course, the original poster may no longer use the site (though you can tell that from the greyed-out avatar on the question itself), so there may be no 'accept' points rewarded for providing an answer, however the edits will promote the question, and there may yet be up-votes to reward the answerers.

It's worth remembering that that while editing might raise awareness of the question, it might also prompt others to close the question (the criteria for a 'good question' have changed over the years from 2009 to 2013). This does not, however, reflect badly on your edits (any help you can give a question is worthwhile to my mind), but on the nature of the question itself.


Yes, it's always best to clean those up. People will find them just like you did and it will give them an impression of the site. They even offer a badge for that, Archaeologist.

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