Lately I've noticed that lots of low quality questions with little to no effort from the OP get immediately edited by high rep users, making them more acceptable.

A common case of this is: a new user posts a problem-statement question that only contains a screenshot of the problem, and two minutes later some user writes down the question in MathJax. I was wondering what are your thoughts on this behaviour.

In the short run it improves the quality of the questions, but it doesn't encourage new users to make an effort to learn MathJax or even type down their questions, so they keep posting low quality questions (which keep being edited by others into somewhat decent questions).

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    $\begingroup$ I'll delete this comment later - I just want to point out that it might be useful to add some reasonable tags to this question. Some candidates would be (editing), (new-users), possibly also (low-quality-posts), (best-practices), (context). (In some of them it is perhaps not completely clear whether the tag is great fit for the question, but there are only five slots anyway - so only some of them can be used.) $\endgroup$ Sep 8, 2019 at 14:53
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    $\begingroup$ Personally, I would consider helping new users with MathJax as a positive thing, I think this was discussed before. See, for example, this answer and other posts linked there. Perhaps also some other questions tagged new-users+mathjax. $\endgroup$ Sep 8, 2019 at 15:01
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    $\begingroup$ Similarly I would consider some improvements to grammar, helping with MarkDown, correcting typos, etc. as a positive contribution. Edits that change the actual content of the post are probably for a separate discussion. $\endgroup$ Sep 8, 2019 at 15:01
  • $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak I was actually referring to the latter, users that just type down the question inside the screenshot without even referring the OP to the mathjax tutorial page. Maybe I didn't express myself correctly. $\endgroup$
    – Yagger
    Sep 8, 2019 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ until questions hit research level I rarely see anything worth editing other than MathJaX or tags. $\endgroup$
    – user645636
    Sep 8, 2019 at 16:57
  • $\begingroup$ I’ve been known to transcribe a short image to mathJax. I don’t add context or extra information, just replace the image with text/MathJax. Then again, when I indicated to someone not to post images and explained why, and then a person decided to start telling new users that as well... with my own words as if they were their own. $\endgroup$ Sep 10, 2019 at 4:20

1 Answer 1


If we are just talking about transcribing a new users posts in MathJax, I would say this can be a good idea.

There are different approaches on how to get somebody to adopt something. The idea to show a user by way of example how they should use the site seems in principle reasonable to me. Maybe even the not telling them what is not that bad. Every moderately attentive person ought to get curious what happened and maybe they'll be more motivated in a state of "Wow, how did my post get to look so good?" then in a state of "Argh. Read this, read that. On hold?!"

It is possible that some miscreants take advantage of the kindness of others in this way. But on the one hand some are more optimistic and positive and maybe do not want to think in this way, and on the other hand, if a user does this on a regular basis others will pickup on it, and if not sometimes they will be out of luck and run into users that hava a different approach to the subject and will close and down-vote the post, which is also a valid approach (especially if the user is not brand new).

I think we need to accept some variance in the approaches. Some users just do not want to operate with actions they see negatively such as downvotes etc. If the choice is that somebody does nothing about a bad post, or they objectively improve the post, I tend to prefer the latter. (I might make an exception to this if it seems to be done mostly to spite other users or to undercut their approach to moderating, but that's not that frequent I think.)

  • $\begingroup$ What about "hijacking" the question in order to bring context if the poster seems to be not responsive? Is that encouraged/discouraged? Some examples, just in case: 1 and 2. $\endgroup$
    – Zacky
    Sep 9, 2019 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ It seems that if the OP's user acc is already deleted, then most users agree that a third party can do the editing freely. Otherwise, there does not seem to be a consensus. Users might even disagree on what is "not responsive". @Zacky $\endgroup$ Sep 10, 2019 at 2:08
  • $\begingroup$ @Zacky There is a discussion about this from 2015: Editing someone else's question to add context. You can probably find a few other related discussions on meta, for example, among the posts linked there. $\endgroup$ Sep 10, 2019 at 10:42

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