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I'm not a user that been on Stack Overflow for long, but I think that kind of edit shouldn't be done. The edit in question is this one.

I can agree that the question is rather low quality and something should be done, but this kind of edit shouldn't be done in my opinion. Repeating the question title in the body and adding nothing more would be closed very fast if it was a new question.

Am I right in thinking that this edit is bad and shouldn't have been done?

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    The question was very poor to begin with. The edit actually makes it readable. I don't really understand your objection. – Mat Aug 22 '13 at 14:00
  • Having a question that only have the question title in the body is rather poor IMHO. – Marc-Andre Aug 22 '13 at 14:01
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    That's the asker's problem. The editor made something readable out of what little material was present. – Mat Aug 22 '13 at 14:02
  • So if an edit like that in the future it's ok? – Marc-Andre Aug 22 '13 at 14:03
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    Edits that improve things are ok, yes. – Mat Aug 22 '13 at 14:04
  • I was in the impression that repeating a question title in the body was something bad to begin with. So, in my head doing a edit that does exactly that was bad. But I guess that you're right it does improve a bit the readabilty of the question – Marc-Andre Aug 22 '13 at 14:06
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    Not edit it and flag to suggest closing instead, maybe? Seems like a waste of time. – Wooble Aug 22 '13 at 14:08
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I feel you on this one; it's probably one open to a bit of opinion.

One way to look at it is to separate the post itself from the edit. That is - did the edit improve things? I would say the edit did improve the question... but...

Another thing to consider would be one of the rejection reasons; the one you chose: "Too Minor". That is - the edit did not address all the obvious issues in the post. But, that said, it was basically impossible for the editor to address the most glaring issue - the lack of any real content in the first place.

I can see this edit being something that people would legitimately differ on reviewing. I probably would have skipped the review, and just gone to close the question directly. But, that's just me.

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    Looks like the editor is searching for "I want to ask if" and cleaning up those questions. Fortunately, it looks like he is at least attempting to clean up the entire post. – psubsee2003 Aug 22 '13 at 14:19
  • Thanks I'm still in the process of determining when it's good to edit and when it's not. I guess I wont try to edit those kind of old question for the moment, since it's not that clear to me. – Marc-Andre Aug 22 '13 at 14:20
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    @Marc-Andre My own principle on editing is that if there's no way to edit a post to make it acceptable, it's probably not worth editing, but instead taking different action on. Again, that's just me. – Andrew Barber Aug 22 '13 at 14:21
  • The question is from 2008. No purpose was served by editing it and it should have been rejected. – user7116 Aug 22 '13 at 15:20
  • @user7116. Huh? I honestly don't see how the age of a post factors into the equation at all. Content is content, and all content should be judged by the same standards. That's one of the core and oft-repeated principles of this network. – TRiG is Timothy Richard Green Aug 22 '13 at 18:18
  • @TRiG: a long since abandoned worthless Title Only, one liner post from 2008 should not be edited. – user7116 Aug 22 '13 at 18:25
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    I don't really get what you're saying here. It is not open to opinion. This is a great edit. Rejecting it for any reason would be totally wrong. There is absolutely no valid objection that can be made to this edit. "Too minor" is nonsense—the editor improved all parts of the question. There is no way that can be "too minor". – Cody Gray Aug 23 '13 at 4:00
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Judging by the comments, I might be in the minority here, but I do not have a huge problem with this specific suggested edit.

Is this a poor question that probably should be be closed? Absolutely!
Did the edit fix everything wrong with the post? No, but he made a good attempt. The question is bad enough that is would be impossible to fix everything

However, what should he have done instead?

Flagging is of course the appropriate action, but if he only flagged the question, and not edited it, you still have a very poorly written post now with a flag on it it. We have 71+ thousand questions in the review queue. That means someone would have gotten around to seeing in a 3 years from next Tuesday.

The time frame for the review is an exaggeration based on the size of the review queue, but in generally, flagging (or voting to close) does not guarantee that the question will get closed. If the question was kept open, then there was a wasted opportunity to at least make the question look better, or at a minimum, it can at least look like a real question, while the flag is waiting for review.

And as an indirect result of the edit, the question has had more attention from people who can actually doing something about it. Ultimately the question will (hopefully) be closed due to the edit (3 close votes as of this writing) was closed so the edit was helpful.


My more general answer to this situation is I believe it depends on the context, but if the edit fixes as much as it possible with the post, then it should be judged on that that criteria alone.

The quality of the post and the age shouldn't be determining factors as the editor will not be qualified to make those judgements on his/her own.

Now, if someone is zipping through old posts making numerous small edits and leaving other problems in posts, that is a different story. This editor does appear to be doing targeted editing, looking for posts that have the phrase "I want to ask if", but he is making an effort to fix everything, not just removing that specific phrase.

  • I see now that this edit is not a "black or white" kind of edit. What I meant is I see that everyone agree on the closing part, but there is still a good marge of opinion on the edit itself. – Marc-Andre Aug 22 '13 at 17:01
  • When you go to the close vote queue recently flagged content gets precedence over the old content. That's why you see a handful of stuff from the past day or two, then nothing for like 2 years, then a bunch of stuff from 2+ years ago. Flagging a post will result in attention from the queue immediately. The queue is also shrinking, so new flags tend to get processed reasonably fast, it's just that the huge number of flags from before the queue existed is going down very slowly. It will take a long time for the 3+ year old flags to be handled, that's all. Flagging is the correct action. – Servy Aug 22 '13 at 17:20
  • @Servy I thought I recall reading somewhere that the age of the post is also factored into ordering. However, I never said flagging wasn't correct course of action. I only said that editing was not an incorrect course of action. I will clarify that point – psubsee2003 Aug 22 '13 at 17:23
  • I've been doing a bunch of similar targeted editing recently, notably looking for thx and framwork, but, like this editor, I try to fix as much else as possible while I'm at it. I think it's a good thing to do. – TRiG is Timothy Richard Green Aug 22 '13 at 18:17
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A lot of people look at it as a quick and easy 2 points. I've seen edits to my post where they literally just deleted and re-typed the word. When I see that, I reject the edits. The OP of that question is free to do the same, and the review process should have weeded it out if it was an insufficient edit. That is why the review process exists!

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