I noticed that there is a recent habit of a particular user to edit old questions and add his own questions on the topic instead of opening a new question.

I suppose that this is a precaution to avoid the question being closed as a duplicate, but then again if one asks a question and points out relevant links and why that is not a duplicate... to my recollection would not merit a closure as a duplicate.

You can find an example here.

On the other hand, editing your own question into other people's posts is bad on two accounts:

  1. It greatly modifies the original question, especially old questions which have received (and possibly accepted) answers.

  2. It disallows the user to accept an answer to their question.

  3. It can be used as a method to circumvent the daily limit of questions.

I wanted to get some input from the rest of the community, to see if I am the only one bothered by that before starting to roll back.

  • $\begingroup$ I wasn't sure whether or not to add the [specific-user] tag, this behavior is a characteristic of only one user, but the intent of this question is to be a general inquiry about this behavior. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 23 '13 at 8:55
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    $\begingroup$ Agree with all the points. I don't think that the user necessarily has any questionable motives (nor did you claim that to be the case). It is possible that they think this way they can improve the signal-to-noise ratio on the site. IOW: ignorance rather than malice. Nevertheless, we should not allow this. For the listed reasons. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 23 '13 at 9:09
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    $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen: A straightforward way for this particular user to increase the signal-to-noise ratio would be to leave the thesaurus on the shelf when posting here... If you feel the need to concatenate three complicated words then you should look for a simple word that does the job :) $\endgroup$ – Martin Dec 23 '13 at 9:54
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    $\begingroup$ A more pressing issue is this user's turgid prose. $\endgroup$ – Potato Dec 23 '13 at 10:01
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    $\begingroup$ And the use of color, for me. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 23 '13 at 10:03
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    $\begingroup$ @Potato: "Turgid is a three-dollar adjective". I think that they are trying to graduate to five-dollar adjectives. Or higher. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 23 '13 at 13:36
  • $\begingroup$ And if you want your revenge, you can suggest to me which season of Futurama I should get my hands on (looking for DVDs). $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 24 '13 at 22:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Jyrki: All of them of course... $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 25 '13 at 0:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Jyrki: Well, I caught up from that link to the current point. Tomorrow... we catch up from the start to the Turgid strip. :| $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 26 '13 at 3:18
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    $\begingroup$ Roll it back... $\endgroup$ – copper.hat Dec 27 '13 at 17:58
  • $\begingroup$ @Jyrki: You're right. It is hard to get used to that. Not only I didn't have 500 strips to read today, I also have to wait for tomorrow to get just one. Ugh. No fair!! $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 29 '13 at 23:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Asaf: Done with two first seasons of Futurama (a friend had them on DVD). $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Feb 7 '14 at 22:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Jyrki: Do remind me, the DVDs are by production season or broadcast season? $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Feb 8 '14 at 6:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Asaf: IDK. The seasons had something like 12 and 16 episodes respectively. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Feb 8 '14 at 6:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Jyrki: Well, if my memory serves me right, the first two seasons are pretty much the same in production and broadcast seasons (even if not exactly the same order); but the third-fourth-fifth broadcast seasons are actually a permutation and a repartitioning of the third and fourth production seasons. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Feb 8 '14 at 6:14

When it happens to someone else's post, it's defacement. The edit should be reverted and the user should be instructed to post a new question. I don't think this is malicious, so punishment is unwarranted. But their behavior should definitely be corrected.

This user also has a habit of editing their own recent questions to ask for clarifications to answers, apparently because they dislike the comment system. I've been the answerer in this situation and have been happy to oblige these small requests. I don't find this behavior problematic. The additions are never big enough to warrant a new question.

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    $\begingroup$ Editing your own Question is particularly justifiable when a terse Answer, perhaps described as a "hint", gets upvotes, but requests for clarification by Comments are not fully replied to. Those (requests for) additions to the Answer will benefit future Readers. $\endgroup$ – hardmath Dec 23 '13 at 15:52

Update Dec. 25, 2013. I should make explicit that I'm referring to edits that are based on the existing question and answer. Viz I'm referring to edits discussed at Clarify an old answer. I agree with Asaf that not every edit should be added to a question.

I just ran into this problem myself. At first, I thought about editing to add my questions. Then I read Clarify an old answer. This was never a duplicate asks different things. Bill Dubuque explained it perfectly. Asaf Karaglia is right about citing previous questions. I'm sorry I forgot hence I just added the reference. I didn't forget it for this.

Unfortunately, This was never a duplicate was closed quickly. Hence are there benefits and pros to edits based on the existing question and answer? Can you talk about them please? So far I came across these.

  1. It would save a lot of hassle, time, and trouble that all users have to suffer through when a question is wrongly closed. Bill Dubuque had to write his paragraph and I'm waiting for votes.

  2. Reading the old and new posts would be a lot easier. When new questions are posted separately, you'd have to keep on flipping between the websites. Even then it is hard to compare both pages because of the constant opening and closing. This is awfully inconvenient.

  3. If a question like mine that is not a duplicate can get closed this quickly, what about questions like the one you linked to? Then we are just back at point 1 and have to pain through the fuss.

  4. It is more convenient to combine and keep similar things in one page. Like Trevor Alexander says in http://meta.math.stackexchange.com/a/4110/53934,

More questions is more search results, which need to be human-parseable. More answers is more knowledge in a convenient place.

Bill Dubuque talks more about this at http://meta.math.stackexchange.com/a/4110/53934.

Gerry Myerson wrote at http://meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/4108/clarify-an-old-answer
A comment will not bump an old question to the front page and probably won't be seen by anyone except the person whose question or answer receives the comment. Yelling at people for bumping old questions is reserved for those who bump by making trivial edits; substantive edits shouldn't upset anyone.

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    $\begingroup$ Frank, first of all your question was nothing like "Here are some previously asked questions. And these are unhelpful to me because ..." sort of question. Much like how people who just post a problem are likely to be given a solution that they have already tried; citing previous questions is part OF YOUR RESEARCH AND WORK. To the various "pros" that you have given I will write back later on, since I have to teach in a couple of minutes. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 24 '13 at 11:52
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    $\begingroup$ Alright, now that I have a bit more time, let me reply to each of your points. I'll try to be brief, since this can easily spawn into a mega-multi-comment-chat. And I don't want that. So without further ado, I give you (without introductions) the unabridged version of my reply to your pros. Here goes. (1) As I remarked in my previous comment. There was no wrong closure. The burden of writing a clear and informative question is on the OP, not on the reader. If you would write "This was asked before here and here, but these are not the answers I want because ..." it is unlikely to be closed. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 24 '13 at 14:44
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    $\begingroup$ (2) As someone who is experiencing a headache for over a decade now, let me tell you that if you switch tabs in a speed that causes you to have a migraine then either (a) you are doing that way too fast for actually reading, or (b) you are about to get a migraine without the help of MSE and the internet. In the first case, slow down; in the second go to bed. Reading new posts is not harder than reading old posts. In fact reading an old post requires me to understand how the addition is... and addition, and why the current answers don't address it. That's harder, not easier. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 24 '13 at 14:46
  • $\begingroup$ (3) First of all, requests for clarifications may just as well be duplicates themselves; secondly, my previous points stand. If you explain why previously asked questions do not answer your question, then it is not a duplicate anymore. (4) I agree that having all the questions in one page is convenient, but so is not having to read anything and have it just injected into your brain. I'm not saying this is not a pro, but it is a minor one, and it doesn't come close to the problems created by allowing this behavior. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 24 '13 at 14:49
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    $\begingroup$ There are problems of not being able to close the additional questions as duplicate in the case that they are in fact duplicates; not being able to accept an answer to the additional questions, which makes it harder to find out whether or not that part was answered or not; all the real negative sides like supporting the continuous bumping and "threading" of more and more information onto one thread (at what point do we say that a new thread is in order?), circumventing the daily limit of questions, and the possibility that the OP finds the addition distracting and confusing to their questions $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 24 '13 at 14:54
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    $\begingroup$ Frank, @Asaf is asking about "editing your own question into other people's posts". That's certainly not what I had in mind when I wrote, "substantive edits shouldn't upset anyone." $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Dec 24 '13 at 17:13
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila Thanks for writing back. I'll try to keep it short too. I'm glad we agree on some points that I edited my answer about. 1. Like I wrote, I agree about citing previous question. But my question does fall under and was like "Here are some previously asked questions. And these are unhelpful to me because ..." I just forgot to write this. I fixed it now. Let's hope it is reopened quickly. $\endgroup$ – NNOX Apps Dec 25 '13 at 6:22
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila: 2. I am aware this is subjective, hence I removed medical terms from my post. I admit I should kept it generalized. Sorry to hear about your headaches. 'Reading new posts is not harder than reading old posts.' I'm referring to flipping between the new post and old post to try to read both. This is different from reading a standalone question and harder for me. Again, this is subjective so I'll move onto 3. But 'requests for clarifications may just as well' not 'be duplicates themselves'? This can go both ways. Hence isn't 'defacement' too strong and negative? $\endgroup$ – NNOX Apps Dec 25 '13 at 6:23
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    $\begingroup$ 4. I just find 'having all the questions in one page is convenient' to be a giant advantage. If the goal is this pro, then the post is surely not a defacement. Of course not every question should be added in. But I'm only referring to meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/4108/…. In your linked example all the questions are based on an existing answer. Surely there's a better way than having two separate pages about a question that's based on the existing answer? $\endgroup$ – NNOX Apps Dec 25 '13 at 6:36
  • $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson I just clarified that I'm only referring to editing questions based on the existing question and answers like meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/4108/…. I don't know if Asaf is asking about editing any question into other posts. That's not what I'm referring to. Do you want me to do anything about your quote in my answer? $\endgroup$ – NNOX Apps Dec 25 '13 at 6:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Frank: I am talking about adding your own [possibly related] questions into someone else's post. For whatever reason. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 25 '13 at 12:38
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    $\begingroup$ It's perfectly clear what Asaf is asking about. One only has to read the question he posted to see what he is asking about. If your answer isn't about the same thing Asaf is asking about, then it isn't an answer to Asaf's question, and shouldn't be posted as an answer to Asaf's question. Whether you do anything about my quote, or about your answer, is up to you; I think anyone reading through the comments will be able to piece the situation together. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Dec 25 '13 at 16:19

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