Today the following question (<10K) was posted on MSE:

Screw loosener disolved
I have a question for experts in mechanics and people who like to build stuff. Is there any type of screw loosener product you can dissolve into a bucket of water so that you can just sink a component inside the bucket with multi screws and it makes them all loosened at the time instead of going one by one.

I left my pre-canned comment and close voted and down voted the question for being off-topic, low quality and not overly useful for future visitors.

However, one user pinged me and asked:

It can be made on-topic, if it were to be converted to a site-recommendation question. I have taken the liberty of editing it as such but IDK if I may have had overstepped the boundary on constructive editing or altering the goal of the OP

I was about to leave a comment when an employee interfered with their powers (but I keep that rant for another post).

I personally think that not every off-topic MSE post should be made on-topic in this way. Editing it into a site-recommendation is not very useful for future visitors. Closing and down voting seems correct. But I can see that by doing so we might have a lost a new user to the SE network by giving them a lousy experience, assuming that is a thing we should care about.

What is the guidance to follow when we encounter these not on first sight terrible but off-topic questions? Should editing be our first call to action?

  • I believe this applies... meta.stackexchange.com/q/155961/236563
    – Chenmunka
    Apr 6, 2017 at 9:34
  • I was contemplating asking this exact question when I saw the suggested edit to site-recommendationify that question
    – Cai
    Apr 6, 2017 at 9:46
  • @Chenmunka well, this is somewhat different as question here focus on specific kind of turds. :) Apr 6, 2017 at 12:09

1 Answer 1


There is no clear indication that the user was looking for a site recommendation. Just because we have that tag, and we know that such content is on-topic, doesn't mean we should assume that's what they meant to post. If we were to do so, we could take any off-topic question and put a "Where can I ask the following question?" at the front.

Now, in the hour between posting and deletion, the user could have come in and said, "oh apologies, that's indeed what I meant to do here". That didn't happen. Changing the post to something that could be on-topic, particularly for something as narrowly useful as a site recommendation, isn't something that should be done. I hardly expect there to be a large audience out there wondering where to ask their screw loosener questions.

Long story short, don't edit. Just close and possibly delete. The OP can either edit the question themselves, or ask again (but in the correct manner) if required.

  • I guess a suggested edit to do so should be rejected then? (which there was.. I just skipped it, not enough coffee at the time to think about it)
    – Cai
    Apr 6, 2017 at 9:49
  • I would have rejected it indeed.
    – Bart
    Apr 6, 2017 at 10:06
  • Am I correct that the lousy experience is not a consideration at all?
    – rene
    Apr 6, 2017 at 10:39
  • 3
    If a lousy question leads to a lousy experience ... It wouldn't be my main consideration, no.
    – Bart
    Apr 6, 2017 at 10:52

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