Speaking from personal experience, substantial edits to existing answers are usually rejected because

  • the reviewer may not always be an expert in the topic discussed
  • even if they are, some are concerned that the edit will be mistaken as part of the original post
  • there is a chance it may negatively impact the author's reputation

the last two are usually the key that prevents outdated posts from being edited, at least by people with less than 2000 rep, like me.

But for posts made by deleted accounts, it no longer matters who made this post. If they deleted their account, it is implied that they lose the ability to edit the post as the original author, to receive notification about edits on the post, or to track what they have posted in the past. Neither will these posts be associated to their reputation (on SE or IRL).

It is, in my opinion, effectively the same as Community Wiki, only with a higher reputation requirement to edit. But in this case, enforcing a higher rep requirement on editing only prevents collaboration.

So, why not convert them to community wikis?

P.S. I have read why auto-converting to community wiki was disabled, but it doesn't mention anything about deleted accounts.

Edit: As @rene pointed out in his comment, converting questions to CW has the unintended effect of converting answers (including existing answers) to CW as well. So I'm going to limit this proposal to answers only.

  • 5
    it does open up such posts for direct edits for anyone with 100 reputation, that includes I think anyone with an association bonus. Maybe that needs some adjustment but in general I can see the merit of this suggestion.
    – rene
    Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 9:32
  • @rene Yes, but that's what association bonus is for, right? Because we trust edits from those who made contributions on other sites to be less likely to be vandalism. And as long as it is made in good faith, even if it's wrong, someone else (probably the next reader) can always revert it and leave a note. If they keep doing questionable things, they risk getting their account suspended (and lose the association bonus?). If this still doesn't convince you, maybe the issue is community wiki should have increased rep requirement for editing.
    – zypA13510
    Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 10:47
  • it looks like on SO proper alone we would be talking about roughly 521197 posts. It is worth mentioning that when a question is made CW all its current and future answers are converted to CW as well: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/11740/…
    – rene
    Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 12:53
  • @rene At least we can start doing this for all accounts deleted from now on? Btw, good point about converting questions. I've updated the description to only apply this to answers.
    – zypA13510
    Commented Aug 21, 2019 at 2:18

2 Answers 2


There's certain classes of deleted users where it is probably undesirable - not all user deletions are by request and a post by say a spammer shouldn't be touched at all. It needs to rot in the bitbucket.

the reviewer may not always be an expert in the topic discussed

True - but a clever reviewer is unafraid to hit skip, and more than one reviewers needs to review a post

even if they are, some are concerned that the edit will be mistaken as part of the original post

Which can be a thing. We do want editors to respect the intent of the original post

there is a chance it may negatively impact the author's reputation

If an account is deleted... who cares? There's no associated reputation for a post belonging to such an account

So practically - the system handles a lot of this, or some of these concerns don't reflect how the system works

I have a few other reasons to not agree with this with legit posts

  • community wikis are a bit of a legacy feature that hasn't really aged well. It is not something we actually actively use much.

  • you're only stopped from making trivial edits - and you can always make more substantial edits.

  • If clarification is needed, or the answer is well... no longer correct, you can correct. The association bonus does let you comment

  • We rarely want even users with a ton of reputation doing major edits

As such I'm not sure of the value of this.

  • 1
    I respectfully disagree, whenever I make some substantial edits, they get rejected because "this edit deviate from the intent of the original post" or "this edit is better addressed in a comment" or something like that. This is especially true for SO (I do find other stacks to be more forgiving on the extent of change). I asked on SO meta once about this issue (it is now deleted), and the consensus seems to be to create a new answer instead (with <10% change). So, you're only stopped from making trivial edits, on the contrary, I find trivial edits easier to get past review.
    – zypA13510
    Commented Aug 21, 2019 at 6:19
  • @zypA13510 if by substantial edits you include putting words in the author's mouth, then these types of edits should always be discouraged. If by substantial you mean, fixing several typos and/or spelling errors I don't think anyone with half a sane brain would reject that edit, unless it was a language site, in which case you are changing the author's intention (or the actual edit provides the answer). Commented Aug 21, 2019 at 6:27
  • @Mari-LouA more like updating outdated API calls in the example code. But anyway, I don't think this is the topic for this discussion.
    – zypA13510
    Commented Aug 21, 2019 at 6:30
  • In those situations - posting a new answer saying that the API was updated as of version X.XX and this would work would mean folks have both the old and new APIs, aiding in the question being a more useful reference.... Commented Aug 21, 2019 at 6:32
  • @zypA13510 "adding a comment is prone to being at the bottom of a long list of comments that no one really click expand" are those comments still relevant and/or useful? We don't need too many "Y is deprecated" or "this doesn't work" comments. Perhaps they should be moved to chat or cleaned up altogether, in which you can mod-flag the post. Commented Aug 21, 2019 at 13:25
  • 1
    The objective of this proposal is to make collaboration easier for lower-rep and probably new users, by making these "abandoned" answers CW so that they can edit. I think whether or not substantial edits are hard to get past review is only one minor factor of this. As a low-rep user myself, I can tell you my general impression is that it is hard, especially on SO. You can disagree with me on this, or you'd like more details but I'd prefer to go into details in a chat rather than a wall of comments here, since it is not the main topic, if anyone can show me how to start a chat.
    – zypA13510
    Commented Aug 21, 2019 at 14:09
  • 1
    @JourneymanGeek about your first point on spammers, wouldn't their answers (if they are spam) be deleted together with their account? Because I lack the knowledge of how this works so I can't really comment on this.
    – zypA13510
    Commented Aug 21, 2019 at 14:13

This seems like a lot coding for a small gain.

In the few cases where this might be desirable, ask a moderator to convert the post to a wiki.

  • Look, I'll tell you why I don't have much rep on SE: because usually I come here from Google, I find my answer (or piece it together from several answers), then I leave. When I find something I'm sure needs correction, I give it an edit, it's quick and it'll help people in the future. But from the reviews I get (like 50% rejection), I stop doing that, sometimes I find myself half way through editing and I ask myself, will this ever get past review, then I give up, I discard my changes and I go. But yesterday I came across an answer from a deleted user, and this is how this idea comes from.
    – zypA13510
    Commented Aug 21, 2019 at 14:24
  • Now back to your suggestion, if I need to ask a mod to convert them, I might as well give up entirely - flagging for moderation usually takes a long time, and I'm sure I won't come back to edit it even if the mod approves. Now here is the tricky part, you'll never know how many people could have contributed but for various reasons decided not to, and the site needs people to contribute. If you ask me, the more the better, as long as it's constructive. But of course, maybe I'm only speaking from my experience, and failed to see other aspects, and you're welcome to correct me.
    – zypA13510
    Commented Aug 21, 2019 at 14:31
  • @zypA13510 I think the answer by Journeyman Geek does a good job of explaining why your suggestion is unlikely to gain traction. The root of your argument seems to be that low rep (presumably less experienced) users can't get good edits approved because the higher rep user (presumably more experienced) are not experienced enough to see the value of the change. Assuming that you as a lower rep user, really does know what you are doing and that your edits are correct, how do you show that all of the other low rep users (not you) should be granted rights to make unsupervised edits on some posts Commented Aug 21, 2019 at 17:36

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