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On a different SE, a new user asked a very poorly constructed question. This individual asked a legitimate question within the scope of this SE but the user doesn't know how to write paragraphs and has twenty indented sentences. The user also started by stating he was "noob" and had no idea what is going on. The inexperienced user then proceeds to fill his legitimate question with very amateur and redundant parenthetical statements that not only obscure the clarity of the question, but also reveal the OP lack of general familiarity with the subject.

I don't want to alienate new users so I made a few readability edits while leaving the question intact. I also made a comment with a few pointers.

I'm not sure if what I did is the best course of action. Should I leave the user to fix these major stylistic issues or should I do it for them? For the sake of the question, I wanted it be answered but the user really needs to learn proper style.

Also, the user signed with a silly (a failed attempt at humor) hashtag -- I really have no idea what to say. I personally think such unnecessary additions should be omitted but seeing that I am only a plebeian user, I feel like removing such things may be outside my jurisdiction.

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In order to provide our wiki-style posts with a professional, and straight to the point, appearance, I think editing to improve them is very important.

Improvements via editing that I would encourage are to:

I think doing the above will usually remove most if not all that may appear stylistically egregious.

Whatever editing you do should not negatively impact the quality of the content as it relates to that one important question that the asker is wanting to have answered.

I think it is kinder to edit a user's first post in this way, and to remind them to take the Tour if they have not already, than to leave chit chat and slang there, where it may instead result in their early experience being one of receiving downvotes.

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    "noob" can usually be replaced with "new to <whatever subject>" (or that part removed altogether as it is meta information). – Peter Mortensen Mar 22 '18 at 8:13
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As long as you respect the content - editing the post is probably the best course of action. Go as far as you need to and I go with "Hi, I've done a few edits to improve readability, you might want to add on anything I've missed" as a comment. This does a few things - it lets the user know you've edited, but lets them know they still have control of the post.

also reveal the OP lack of general familiarity with the subject.

This might actually be important, but one needs context.

Also, the user signed with a silly (a failed attempt at humor) hashtag

There's a whole meta post about it - tldr: go ahead

In short, as long as the core of the question is maintained, streamlining a question, with just necessary context is fine.

However we do not criticize, except constructively. I'm a big fan of doing so by fixing things, which is the nicest way of doing that IMO.

  • What do you mean by "doing to" (last sentence)? – Peter Mortensen Mar 22 '18 at 8:08
  • It should have been a that. Oops. – Journeyman Geek Mar 22 '18 at 8:13

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