I just rejected this edit. IMO, it's not a good practice to edit so massively a question, since we know nothing about the author's intent, but I wonder if there is a policy about this?

Of course, for the site's purpose, it's not necessarily a bad idea to make a good question from a bad one, but I think a new question should be asked then.


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    $\begingroup$ I also rejected this edit for pretty much the same reason as you. Sometimes I approve such edits, but only if it is obvious that the edit was made by the same person as the original poster. For example, it happens (at least it did before the recent registration policy change) that the OP improves their question from a newly registered account, but asked the question as an unregistered user. I'm not sure this is the way to go even in this scenario though. $\endgroup$
    – Daniel R
    Oct 12, 2016 at 6:22
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    $\begingroup$ A few days passed and the reaction here on meta was that this particular suggested edit was useful. So if we agree that it is useful, natural thing to do is to edit the question. Since nobody did that, I went ahead and edited the question. $\endgroup$ Oct 14, 2016 at 8:06

2 Answers 2


I agree that in general it is preferable to ask a new question rather than to do, months latter, a massive overhaul of some question that is not ones own.

There are exceptions, however, and I feel there is an important detail missing in the description of the specific case. Namely, the question has two (good) answers, one of them accepted.

The point of the edit was (at least so my understanding) to preserve the existing answers. This is good practice.

In case of a question asked by an actively maintained account I would still recommend to check back with OP before making such an edit.

But the account that had asked the question was not seen since a long time, and has hardly any activity. What OP intended is not really all that relevant at this point. They accepted an answer, so it seems they got what they wanted, and left.

Our criterion now should be if the combination of the new Q with the existing A is a better and meaningful contribution to the site than what we have. If yes (and it seems it is 'yes' in this case), I think the edit should be approved.

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    $\begingroup$ I didn't envision it that way. It's a good argument in favor of the edit... Thanks. $\endgroup$ Oct 12, 2016 at 10:59
  • $\begingroup$ If the OP is active, aren't they notified anyway? $\endgroup$ Oct 12, 2016 at 21:08
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    $\begingroup$ @MarkMcClure yes, a user is notified of (non-minimal) edits to their (non-CW) posts. I still would recommend to check beforehand, as I have seen enough fights erupt over well-intentioned edits that were still not appreciated. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Oct 12, 2016 at 21:58

FYI, I'm the user who posted the edit that is being discussed here. I completely agree with quid's assessment above.

I made the edits because I thought the original question was a good one (even if not adequately described) and that the answers were good as well. However the original question was closed (due to lack of details) so I was just trying to add the missing details to the original question so that the answers could be preserved.

I did not, in my opinion, change the goals of the initial question. I simply added a figure (which the OP said they could do, but didn't) which just serves to clarify the question.

The only way I really went beyond the original question was to add some basic observations/equations. I did this because it is recommended that questions include some preliminary work at solving the problem. In addition, these provide some groundwork that the (existing) answers build upon.

What (if anything) should I do now? Repost the edits or post a new question, or simply drop the issue because the question is fine (even closed) as-is?

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the clarification. FWIW, I don't intend to reject the edit if you submit it again. That does not necessarily mean nobody will, but I think it may help if you put a link to this discussion, at least in the edit comment. $\endgroup$ Oct 12, 2016 at 20:10
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    $\begingroup$ If you resubmit this edit, I would vote to reopen. $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Oct 13, 2016 at 18:43
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    $\begingroup$ ricovox: I waited for a bit, to see whether you will resubmit the edit. Then I went ahead and edited the post. If you have time, please check whether my edit corresponds to what you wanted to write there. My guess is that this will quite likely lead to reopening the question. (It would probably be reopened just because of the edit, if it was approved. It is even more likely after meta post about the question.) We will simply have to wait a bit to see the outcome of the reopen review. $\endgroup$ Oct 14, 2016 at 8:51

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