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When writing questions on Stack Exchange, sometimes the questions get altered or modified by moderators (to "make them better"). Sometimes, to such an extent that the final question bears little or no resemblance to the original question.

If this occurs, there should be an easy way for the original poster to either

  • retract the question if they no longer think the question represents their original post (not possible if someone has already answered it)
  • withdraw their name (avatar) from the question

Although at the bottom of the question it does say "edited by..." and the name of the editor, but most people would take this to mean minor spelling corrections. This creates the impression that the questioner has asked a question that they haven't.

There should be a simple button for someone to "disown" a highly-edited question. The question would still be visible. But then it would say "question by Anon (disowned). Edited by XYZ."

Alternatively, it should say at the bottom whether the original poster supports or disavows a particular edit.

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    We're trying to build a high quality repository of knowledge. Collaborative editing is critical to that goal. You can disassociate yourself from a specific post by flagging it as other, but, generally, you need to be comfortable with others editing your posts to really contribute here. – fbueckert Aug 29 at 18:34
  • You can always rollback edits you don't like – rene Aug 29 at 18:36
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    @fbueckert. But the point is accountability. If someone posts a question "Why are elephants so big?" And a moderator changes it to "Is it true that elephants are big?" for example. The original poster should be able to have their name remove from the question as the new question is not what they asked. So why should it have their avatar attached? – zooby Aug 29 at 18:36
  • @rene shouldn't it be the other way round? Like the questioner should be asked before the edit is accepted? – zooby Aug 29 at 18:37
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    Sure. So request a disassociation. Editors are trying to make the question better, and thereby, help future readers. Why does it matter if your gravatar is attached to it? Posters have the final say on how their question looks, but community members are allowed to downvote and close questions that don't meet standards, so it's usually in everyone's interest to not be stubborn about it. – fbueckert Aug 29 at 18:38
  • @fbueckert The same it way it matters to writers who disassociate themselves from movies when the director changes the script. If it doesn't matter why have gravatars at all? – zooby Aug 29 at 18:39
  • No, why? With the full edit in place you can judge better if that is correct. And for posts where the OP has gone these edits never gets through then. – rene Aug 29 at 18:39
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    Then...request a disassociation? What's the problem? – fbueckert Aug 29 at 18:40
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    There isn't, because it's not supposed to be a common process. Flag --> Other --> Add the request into the text box. – fbueckert Aug 29 at 18:41
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    @fbueckert My point is to have a button. How is anyone supposed to know they can dissasociate? I feel like too much power has been given to editors. And too little power is been given to contributers. Either get rid of gravatars altogether or only associate gravatars with the original post someone made. Anything else is misleading. I don't see how anyone can disagree with that. – zooby Aug 29 at 18:45
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    your question is a bit, I don't know, combative in tone and seems personally motivated. That are often not good drivers for a change that impact all users across 170 sites. – rene Aug 29 at 18:51
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    @rene I think people are reading too much into it. I think in general 99% of edits are good. But this is for the 1% of times that it goes too far. Especially if the title itself is edited. – zooby Aug 29 at 18:54
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    If it is only for 1% of the edits, all the mechanisms are there. Rollback, you can see who approved edits, you can reject a suggested edit that got approved, you can ping someone who edited and tell them they did something wrong, you can flag for a mod, complain on meta. Let's try to prioritize features that cause a problem for 99% of the cases. – rene Aug 29 at 18:58
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    @zooby: "I wonder why that post got 42 upvotes." Probably because it's about advertising an existing feature, rather than about creating a new feature. Also, dissociating posts is almost never done due to edits, while your post is specifically focused on "moderator edits". – Nicol Bolas Aug 29 at 19:02
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    @zooby thanks for the compliment but I beg to differ ... – rene Aug 29 at 19:04
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There is no need for a user to easily be able to disown a post of theirs because of edits. "Moderator" edits aren't special (outside of specific cases where real moderators lock posts and make them uneditable). If someone edits your post, and you don't like what they changed, you have the ability to revert the edit.

If an edit war happens, then the question gets locked and the users are encouraged to take the dispute to the site's Meta, where the dispute can be discussed and hopefully resolved.

And broadly speaking, we don't allow people to make radical alterations to the nature of a post in general. In the edit review queue, we even have a rejection reason specifically for this case. So if someone makes an unwanted edit to a post that turns it into a fundamentally different post, odds are good that they've done something wrong.

Post disassociation is usually not invoked due to editing. It's usually done because someone posted something they shouldn't have or they are embarrassed to have asked such a thing or some such. Editing is solved by more editing, not by giving up on the question.

Overall, we already have the tools and rules in place to handle such exceedingly rare eventualities. No "disown" or "retract" button is needed.

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    Hmmm. One problem is if a person is away from the site for a while and their question get's changed without their knowledge. Another problem might be that a new person might not want to start a edit war by changing it back. – zooby Aug 29 at 19:29
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    @zooby: The first one would be a "problem" even with your idea, since all of your ideas are predicated on explicit action. And the second one is just a cop-out; we shouldn't make features on the assumption that users don't actually want to use the site. If someone makes an edit to your post that you don't agree with, you undo it. That's the correct response. – Nicol Bolas Aug 29 at 20:14

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