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I have a set of questions which are much related to editing closed questions.


When I asked one of the moderators on the site I participate for off-topic editing guidelines, He said:

See meta SE posts. There's no hard rules for editing off-topic questions. If a post is useful to community, we can save it.

when I searched for guidelines for them, I couldn't find any.

There are very clear guidelines when to edit a post.

From help center, the common reasons are:

  • To fix grammar and spelling mistakes
  • To clarify the meaning of the post (without changing that meaning)
  • To include additional information only found in comments, so all of the information relevant to the post is contained in one place
  • To correct minor mistakes or add updates as the post ages
  • To add related resources or hyperlinks

Are the above ones the only rules? Are there any special conditions where we need not to follow these while editing a post?

I got this doubt when I have come across some users with editing privileges who did not fulfill the above criteria(specially second and third points).

Below are my questions:

  1. Do these rules hold for all the users including users with editing privileges and diamond moderators? Or the moderators are given a special exemption?

  2. Do these rule apply for closed question too? Can a user take liberty to add or remove sentences from OP's original question without asking clarification?

  3. Is an off-topic question eligible for reopening if the diamond moderators or users(with editing privileges) modify the question by adding sentences and make it eligible for reopening without asking clarifications from the OP(also consider when the OP was inactive after posting the questiom) and finally sound it on-topic?. Should we consider improving their question to fit the rules of the site?

I have come across the third situation recently where an off-topic question was edited by users and was reopened. The users found a single word and modified the question based to make it on-topic.

  If a question has one word or a single sentence which alludes to something (which can make a question on-topic). Is it fair to make such edits in general by other users? Is it fair to add sentences into questions without OP's intention?

According to SE, What are the guidelines to be followed to modify a closed or on-hold question to make it eligible for reopening?

  • "Is an off-topic question eligible for reopening if the diamond moderators or users [..] modify the question [..] and make it eligible for reopening[..]?" What is your question for point 3? A question is obviously eligible for reopening when it was made eligible for reopening. – Tom Jun 24 '17 at 13:15
  • @Tom I clarified what I was asking. Is it allowed to make changes when OP was inactive? Can one take liberty to add or remove sentences from the question? – Nog Shine Jun 24 '17 at 13:21
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    That's already covert in "To clarify the meaning of the post (without changing that meaning)". When you don't know what OP is currently asking, then you also shouldn't edit the question to add your own interpretation. The correct behaviour is to either flag the question as "unclear what you're asking" and/or request clarification in the comments. Then you just can wait. – Tom Jun 24 '17 at 13:25
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    There can't even be, in theory, explicit rules for this. For example, if someone posts the question on SO "what's the fastest way to make money with very little effort?", that question is blatantly off topic and can never be salvaged by editing. A question which is Too Broad can be salvaged, maybe, by making it narrower, but how that is accomplished with be specific and particular to each individual Too Broad question. Ditto Unclear; to fix it, clarify it. How? Depends on the question. Maybe it needs an MCVE, maybe it needs tags saying which language. There is no "standard" answer. – Dan Bron Jun 24 '17 at 14:25
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    In other words, there is an infinite number of ways to be wrong, and only a finite number of ways to be right. Salvaging edits have to collapse that infinite space down to the right finite space, and so that collapsing function cannot be captured in a finite number of words. Edits can only save questions if they make the question a good fit for the site, among other constraints (like not putting words in OP's mouth). – Dan Bron Jun 24 '17 at 14:28
  • @DanBron My question is not about unclear questions and too broad questions. It is about clear questions which are off-topic(depending on sites). One of the users found a single sentence and spun all the questions to sound it off-topic. After reopening, only one sentence remained from original version. Are such edits welcome? – Nog Shine Jun 24 '17 at 14:39
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    @Tom SS. No, such edits are not welcome. We have a similar struggle over on EL&U. The top reason for closing questions is "insufficient research", aka "did you check a dictionary first before asking us what yellow means?". Sometimes, regular users try to forestall closure on the question by editing in the dictionary definition of the word being asked about, which of course defeats the purpose of the closure, which is to stop OPs from asking questions which are already answered without the site. Also of course such edits abuse the format: they put an answer in a question. – Dan Bron Jun 24 '17 at 14:46
  • @DanBron Was it a mistake that you tagged me in your last comment? Or which of my comments are you referring to? – Tom Jun 24 '17 at 16:43
  • @Tom Yes, it was a mistake. My apologies, must have been a tab-autocompletion misfire on my end. I meant to tag OP (SS.). – Dan Bron Jun 24 '17 at 16:44
  • @DanBron Ok, no worries about that. Btw, you don't need to tag the person who wrote the post you're commenting, he'll get notified anyway. – Tom Jun 24 '17 at 17:05
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I got this doubt when I have come across some users with editing privileges who did not fulfill the above criteria(specially second and third points).

There may be some reasons for that kind of action. If you can't find any reason and if you think that the edit is redundant, give a rollback request. If the edit is harmful to the post, raise a mod flag and clearly explain the scenario.

Do these rules hold for all the users including users with editing privileges and diamond moderators? Or the moderators are given a special exemption?

Yes. Users with editing privileges and Diamond Mods are bound to this. This can't say as a strict rule. There are more things like Tag Edit, Title edit, and so on. But it should be followed.

Do these rule apply for closed question too? Can a user take liberty to add or remove sentences from OP's original question without asking clarification?

No. Only OP know what does he want. Your edit, without asking clarification may differ from the original purpose of the post. Feel free to ask for clarifications. In rare cases, if you are 100% sure, you can edit it.

Is an off-topic question eligible for reopening if the diamond moderators or users(with editing privileges) modify the question by adding sentences and make it eligible for reopening without asking clarifications from the OP(also consider when the OP was inactive after posting the question) and finally sound it on-topic?. Should we consider improving their question to fit the rules of the site?

Sure. We welcome such efforts. If a question is closed as off topic and if the OP is not available and if you think that can be a good question if edited, feel free to edit it.

But your edits should

  1. Make the post perfectly on topic.
  2. Include an MCVE if necessary.
  3. Must be with a clear and valid problem statement.
  4. Remove redundant tags

And when someone see the post after your edit, it should be a perfect question. That's all you have to follow while editing a closed question.

Grammar mistakes and such edits on closed questions will be normally rejected.

  • "If the edit is harmful to the post, raise a mod flag and clearly explain the scenario." Actually, it the mod who reopened the post. I posted here because the explanation from mod was not satisfactory. "In rare cases, if you are 100% sure, you can edit it." What are those cases? how can we add or remove sentences from OP's original revision without his intent? (I am not asking from SO point of view. looking for other sites) You said we can't take liberty to edit posts and in the next sentence, you are saying such edits are welcome. I am unclear about your answer – Nog Shine Jun 24 '17 at 14:36
  • if you are 100% sure that the edit won't differ from the actual meaning, you can edit it. For example let's take a problem with a code. From the code, it is clear that OP already tried some things which may solve the error and the error still exists, and OP didn't mentioned it in question, you can add it. – Optimus Prime Jun 24 '17 at 14:39

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