The difference between a poor or meh question and a stellar question can often simply be someone understanding it and providing it a great answer. I can't begin to count the number of times I've justified re-opening a question as a moderator by saying:
Look at the answer it got, though. This isn't something we want deleted, this is something we want fixed, because it's obviously valuable. Someone with domain knowledge can easily edit that question based on the answer it received.
This doesn't only apply to borderline-poor or poor questions – sometimes a good edit means the difference between 100 and 10,000 people finding something through typing things into Google. Good titles are hard.
We think we've come up with a way to provide incentive for good, opportunistic edits to happen more often, ideally without questions needing to go through closure or collecting a centimeter of dust before they do. What if we simply rewarded folks that answered and edited questions with a special, relatively difficult to earn badge?
Let's say that you answer something, and:
You edit the question 12 hours before or after answering it. This allows you to edit now, answer later — or answer now and edit later, when you have the time.
Your edit isn't rolled back, or outright rejected if it was a suggested edit
The question is not closed for any reason, even simply being a duplicate
Your answer has a score of 1 or higher
… then you've done something that we probably want to recognize. You understood something, you provided the knowledge that you have, and then you provided an edit to make sure that more people in need of this knowledge can find it, while raising the overall quality of the site.
Here's the proposed tiers for the badge (within the above stated criteria):
- Explainer (Bronze): Answered & edited 10 questions
- Refiner (Silver): Answered & edited 50 questions
- Illuminator (Gold): Answered & edited 500 questions
We think this is going to be pretty hard to game. You can't go leaving streaks of terse snark all over the place on questions you know are going to be closed anyway, and junk edits aren't going to fly.
We're talking about rewarding folks that take a tiny bit more time out of their day just to write a more descriptive title so that folks can find the awesome answer that they wrote. Just doing that alone can make a big difference. Sure, it's a tad hard to get at the gold level, but it's supposed to be. If you routinely edit questions that you answer and have done so for some time, you'd probably get it the day we roll it out.
What do you think? What did we miss? What could be better about the idea?