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I found a question with the title, "Why does a C++ class name stop being syntax highlighted when moved to a namespace in VS Code?". However, the question body contains:

EDIT: I just found out that it was the renaming of the type from foo_t to just foo that broke the syntax highlighting.

Thus, it seems clear that the question is now about the "_t" suffix, not namespaces. Furthermore, there is currently just one answer to the question, and it discusses the "_t" suffix, not namespaces.

I therefore thought it would be better for the question's title to reflect the current topic, and suggested editing the title to "Why does a C++ class name stop being syntax highlighted when the "_t" suffix is removed in VS Code?" (emphasis added to the new text).

That edit was rejected with the reason, "This edit deviates from the original intent of the post." That is in a sense true, since the original intent was indeed to ask about namespaces. But the author then changed their intent, and I think if that author were to re-ask the question now, they would mention "_t" in the title, not namespaces.

The editing guidelines say "When should I edit posts? Any time you feel you can make the post better, and are inclined to do so. Editing is encouraged!", and that among the reasons to edit is "to clarify the meaning of a post without changing it", which is what I thought my edit did, based on the current meaning of the post.

So: should one edit a question title to reflect the current topic when that topic has been changed by the author of the question? My interpretation of the guidelines would be "yes", but the edit rejection suggests "no".

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    If there are already answers, the title shouldn't be edited, but the original edit rolled back. – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Aug 31 '19 at 18:48
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    In this case, the edit that changed the post's meaning (May 6, 8:42) was made before the answer was added (May 6, 9:39), and the answer specifically talks about the new meaning, so rolling back that original edit seems wrong. – Scott McPeak Aug 31 '19 at 19:01
  • This question should be in Meta Stack Overflow, since it is specific to SO. – Cris Luengo Aug 31 '19 at 19:52
  • @CrisLuengo I considered that. I cited SO's edit guidelines, but for example the Stack Exchange edit guidelines are very similar, and the essence of my question does not seem specific to SO. When I googled "stack overflow rejected edit of title", the most similar questions were in meta.SE, so I tried to follow suit. – Scott McPeak Aug 31 '19 at 20:14
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I think the title of a question should always accurately summarize the question being asked in the question body so I would encourage editing of any titles that do not.

It sounds like the edit you propose is in line with the question as answered too.

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    It's a little weird for me to be deciding what the "right" answer to this question is, but not seeing any dissent after two days, I'm accepting this answer. – Scott McPeak Sep 3 '19 at 4:59
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Yes, generally speaking.

The title of a question is just a summary of the primary question. If the body of the question changes enough to change the focus of that primary question, the title may need to be edited to match.

However, note that substantial edits to the body of a question may change the focus of the question entirely. This can definitely cause confusion if the question already has an answer or two on it. If the focus of the question becomes unclear, it may need to be temporarily closed until the question can be clarified. Alternately, if the original question was fine as written but the querent simply realizes that their true question - the source of confusion - was some other matter, it may be better to revert any edits that totally change the focus of the question, and encourage them to ask it as a new question.


In addition: this is part of why "EDIT:" notes tacked onto the end of a post should be avoided. When a question or answer is edited, it's best to edit it as a whole to read as if it were always the best version of itself; anyone interested in older versions can always view the revision history. Otherwise, you could have one question at the start of a post, and then a totally different question at the end of it - making it confusing to figure out what the actual question is, and thus making it hard for answerers to make sure their answer addresses OP's actual question.

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