Consider the following situation. User A asks a terrible question. It is attracting close votes. User B edits it to a decent question and the question starts receiving upvotes. User A receives the reputation from it but it's really user B that did all the work.

Why is this fair?

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    $\begingroup$ This is not fair, of course. However, I once got over 200 reps from answering a silly question about set-theoretic identity, meanwhile another user was writing a great and insightful answer on elliptic PDE and got only 2 upvotes. The situation is not similar to yours in the sightliest but perhaps it indicates that the voting system was never meant to be fair... $\endgroup$
    – BigbearZzz
    Jul 24, 2016 at 16:47
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    $\begingroup$ I don't see this as a major problem, and you can certainly refrain from upvoting such questions. If the editor invested a lot to that thread they may have also posted a useful answer, in which case there is an obvious solution. Also, many users are more concerned about their Reputation as opposed to the reputation points :-) $\endgroup$ Jul 24, 2016 at 17:43
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    $\begingroup$ I agree there is a certain lack of fairness, but this is inherent in the system. I just choose not to upvote in situations like that. If the editor posted an answer, I will consider upvoting their answer, though. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Jul 24, 2016 at 18:08
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    $\begingroup$ A crap question turns into a decent question, and the site has benefitted. Who cares about rep? Even if you do, isn't this just a tiny ripple? $\endgroup$
    – rschwieb
    Jul 24, 2016 at 20:40
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    $\begingroup$ @rschwieb one concern one could have is that points incur privileges. If now the connection between positive contributions and points becomes to weak this can create problems. That said, I agree the numbers are usually too low to be concerned. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Jul 24, 2016 at 21:42
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    $\begingroup$ If it’s really intrinsically a poor question, editing it into a good one would require changing its substance, which is in general not acceptable. If it’s merely asked badly — it’s hard to read because the OP didn’t use MathJax, the OP hadn’t the rep to include an image, it’s phrased badly enough to require some experience to interpret, it wasn’t clear until after an exchange of comments, etc. — the editing didn’t change the intrinsic worth of the question: it just made the question more accessible. I think of such editing as a public service. $\endgroup$ Jul 24, 2016 at 23:16
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    $\begingroup$ it's really user B that did all the work. Really? But user B didn't make the original post, right? $\endgroup$
    – JRN
    Jul 25, 2016 at 0:37
  • $\begingroup$ @quid Sure, but I don't believe anyone can make significant amounts of rep or privileges using this stratagem. $\endgroup$
    – rschwieb
    Jul 25, 2016 at 1:22
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    $\begingroup$ @rschwieb no real disagreement there as I wrote in my answer: "A couple points here and there are irrelevant." If there is any problem in this regard it is with users that somehow "win some jackpot"; there is a user with closing privilege with 7 q and 1 a or thereabouts. AFAIK it did not cause any problem but abstractly it's not as intended. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Jul 25, 2016 at 1:42
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    $\begingroup$ How does user B feel about this? If he gets no personal satisfaction from rescuing an interesting question, would he bother to edit in the first place? $\endgroup$ Jul 26, 2016 at 1:08

2 Answers 2


There used to be a mechanism somewhat against this, namely when many users made many edits, the post became Community Wiki and no more points were gained.

This state of affairs had its own set of problems to it and thus it was abandoned. It is not very clear how the problem could be solved in an automated way.

The general line in all this is that the points are a vague measure. A couple points here or there are irrelevant.

If you personally have a problem with it, depending which one it is, just do not do the edit or do not upvote the edited post.

In extreme cases you could consider flagging the post for moderator attention for it to be made CW. (I am not sure how I would react as moderator, but since CW-ing questions is still sometimes done on this site it seems like a possibly plausible course of action.)


Either the question was not terrible - just unclear - or user B has altered the question from its original intent. Either way, editing the question doesn't really "deserve" the upvotes, although certainly I appreciate people making good clarity edits, especially assisting new users who are still learning the ropes.

In particular I will edit a question to incorporate clarification given in comments for new users, if it seems that the user isn't aware of the edit function (which - no matter how obvious it seems to established users - is actually not that easy to find), and help out with formatting - line breaks are a typical stumbling block that can make a valid question appear incomprehensible.


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