The intent of this question is to come up with some community guidelines on editing and on accepting edits. (Perhaps it might not warrant a meta post. I only see a 'problem' once in a few months.)

Users often post questions that are unclear or too broad. These questions are usually closed, sometimes an answer is given to explain why no clear answer can be given. But sometomes upon reading an unclear question you can think of a possible interpretation that would make the question precise. Should you edit the question to reflect your own interpretation?

I think there are both cons and pros to editing. Editing replaces a low quality question with what you deem to be a higher quality question. But the original question is kind of lost. Perhaps the OP meant another interpretation.

An example.
I think the new question is clearly of higher quality than the original but I also think this is a non-unique interpretation.

Under what conditions should we make such an 'interpretive edits'?


1 Answer 1


In my opinion we should never make such interpretive edits. The course of action I suggest is simple:

  1. The OP should be given a chance to clarify his own question. Call his attention to problems by commenting.
  2. If he chooses not to edit his question it should be closed.
  3. If the question made you think of a good question that you think would benefit the site, post that question. You can even copy from the body of the original one (it is nice to acknowledge this and give some credit).

My reasoning for this:
If the OP did not care enough to clarify his question he will probably not care enough to accept an answer to the edited question. This can confuse future users and also hurts site statistics.

Note that different problems may also arise if you edit a question that has already been answered. This may confuse future users and may also punish the persons who provided an answer to this question as their answer will be out of sync with the question and might get downvoted as a result.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ This fairly closely parallels my thinking on the issue. $\endgroup$
    – Ubiquitous
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 19:31

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