I'd like to ask if there is a problem in editing questions that look hard to read or lack an answer for many days?

I'm asking this cause some people think this is "ridiculous". I'm not afraid to be ridiculous if what I'm doing is helpful, but in case the community thinks isn't useful I can also stop doing this. (Editing questions is time consuming and I did this with the hope that this way the site will look as mathematical as possible, and not as a place for trolling maths.)


3 Answers 3


Whilst it's certainly good to have questions phrased in a clear way, if the question isn't unclear in the first place, it is perhaps best to leave it alone.

It only causes a "problem" because editing a question bumps it to the top of the active queue. For this reason minor edits are discouraged, since they may bump the question unnecessarily, and a slew of minor edits may keep the same question near to top of the active queue for extended periods of time. Because of this, if you edit many questions in a short period of time, users following the active queue will see a large proportion of the questions there solely because you have made minor changes, which they may find annoying.

On the other hand, if edits are more major, for example correcting errors in posts or making something genuinely hard to read appear much nicer are definitely encouraged. As long as you keep edits big they should be happily recieved!


In principle I feel like edits which improve a question, however minor, are still improvements and should be made by anyone who has the inclination to do so. This makes particular sense if your view of the site is not just the (increasingly) rapidly changing front page in which the latest questions are being answered, but as a repository of useful questions and answers for posterity. I think the latter is clearly more useful in the long run but harder to achieve: just look how often the same questions get asked and answered, for instance, before someone can track down the duplication.

I view the fact that even minor edits cause the question to get bumped as a flaw (or, if you like, suboptimality) in the platform. It is one of several site mechanics that seems more concerned with preempting some kind of pathological gamesmanship that has rarely or never actually occurred on math.SE. (Anyway, it would be easy enough to have minor edits be listed for review in a separate category and for people to flag moderators if they are done abusively.) At the moment the front page is pretty flooded as it is: I think it has reached the point where most serious users will miss questions of interest to them if they don't use the ignore and search options rather extensively (and I think that's a problem). Maybe bumps coming from minor edits will make things even worse; maybe things are already so bad that it doesn't really matter.

Always taking the philosophy to work within the site as it currently exists, I think the best current solution is for people to be very proactive about cleaning up questions in the hour or so after they are asked. A lot of people do this already (I noticed Michael Hardy doing it this morning, for instance). I think these people are doing us a great service and that even more of this would be even better.

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    $\begingroup$ Dear Pete, the bumping up of the questions after editing is certainly a flaw of this site, but we can't use this as an excuse for leaving the questions in poor forms. Maybe I understand wrong the goal of this site, and all here is transitory, so doesn't deserve too much attention (up to details). I'll think more seriously about this. Meanwhile, however, I can't accept that other user, no matter who is he, to tell me that I'm doing ridiculous things. $\endgroup$
    – user26857
    May 10, 2013 at 15:59
  • $\begingroup$ "[W]e can't use this as an excuse for leaving the questions in poor forms." I hope it was clear from my answer that I agree with this. "[A]ll here is transitory, so doesn't deserve too much attention (up to details)." And that I disagree with this. No comment on the "ridiculous" part, except to say: this behavior of yours does not bother me. $\endgroup$ May 10, 2013 at 16:33
  • $\begingroup$ @YACP I also would like to think of this site as a repository of useful knowledge for posterity. That's why I appreciate your edits, at least for questions that are worth it. The "homework" question of transitory interest are probably not worth spending time improving IMO. $\endgroup$
    – PatrickR
    May 14, 2013 at 4:16

It depends on the nature of the edits. There's nothing wrong with making lots of substantive edits that improve the questions, in fact it is encouraged. But making very minor edits is generally discouraged, especially on old questions. You might notice that one of the possible reasons for rejecting a suggested edit is "too minor", and in my experience this is one of the most common reasons suggested edits are rejected.

Looking at that edit specifically, I'd say the changes to the post body are quite inconsequential, and the additional tag (while correct) was also unnecessary, so there was no point to bumping the 3-day old question to the top of the active list. However, most of your other recent edits seem much more substantive and helpful, and I've certain seen users who edited more frequently. Overall I wouldn't worry too much about it.

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    $\begingroup$ Actually that particular question is 4-days old. ;) $\endgroup$
    – user26857
    May 10, 2013 at 14:22

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