I voted to close this question earlier today, and I see it was indeed closed. But then a substantial edit was made.

The problem I have here is there's no indication the original poster had any say in this. Specifically there's no comments that indicate the link or quote were derived from the original poster. If they did not supply it, how can we have them meaningfully engage in any answers?

Is this acceptable?

  • 1
    Semi related, do we have rules on copying someone else's question? If someone thought that was an important question to ask, but didn't want to edit it, do we allow them to ask the same question themselves, but with the added research?
    – divibisan
    Jun 9 '20 at 14:03
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    I would ask that separately, but if someone asks a closable question, and they don't try to make it on-topic, it's fair game to ask a question that is on-topic using that as your basis
    – Machavity
    Jun 9 '20 at 14:10
  • @Machavity - That were we differ. I believe credit should remain with the user who asked the question.
    – Rick Smith
    Jun 9 '20 at 14:49


We should allow as much work as any well-meaning non-OP editor is willing to give away for that post. Within very few and wide limits.

A significant well-meant edit is a chore the editor offers, why should we prohibit or inhibit this generosity?

Questions can be edited, and for a reason. Sometimes OPs change the content and aim and scope quite significantly. Hopefully for improving the quality also significantly.

Questions can be edited, by other-than-OP users, and for a reason. And if there is something significantly 'wrong' or a good chance to improve the post, then it should be edited.

The only problem I see here is that the guidelines simply say that edits should not deviate too much from the original intent of the OP. 'How much deviation' is a question for which the answer is not easily inferred from guidelines: That's vague in the first place and on the other hand: how should anyone of us really know the 'true' intent? Sometimes an OP is just a bit hapless and lost for words, ending up quite grateful for a good edit, even if it seems to deviate a lot from the original.

I wish we had some simple heuristics to go by here.

But I disagree, to a degree, on this:

The problem I have here is there's no indication the original poster had any say in this.

Not "any say" seems incompatible with the OP having the 'power to accept' the edits and the 'power to roll back' if they don't? That is more obviously 'a problem' if these users then disappear.

These two powers are fostered if in case of newbies explanatory comments highlight the fact that they are encouraged to either accept the edit or have it their way, since such changes can seem unfriendly or intimidating to newbies.

That looks like an easy fix. If the edits are indeed well intentioned. If OPs are still around that is. Such significant and deviating edits appear inherently more problematic on old questions…

An edit is perhaps well meant but not well done if it completely changes and the question and OP disagrees on a fresh question, or if community members disagree on an old question, or the changes invalidate the answers on an old question.

Thus, if it is obvious that the OP has had the chance to improve (active on site: has read the criticism) and especially if an OP was obstinate to fail to improve (trolling, arguing in comments, rollbacks…) and a 'good core' was present, then we should encourage others to re-use the seen-as-valuable' good core or topic and then post 'a good question' based on it.


The above assumes a default of well-meaning question and poster. The situation changes if the post is really bad in the sense of not a good-faith effort. In such a case a 'good edit' enables the wrong. Such a 'good edit' will give reputation points to a contributor for which the system was initially designed to prevent those kind of users from getting any rep and privileges.

This kind of 'rep for bad effect should be prevented' is of course quite difficult to put into a decision heuristic on what to do with a post, but it should be kept in mind when evaluating.


Questions that are quickly closed are clearly low-quality. As a low quality question, it may be edited to improve content, if the editor can make sense of the question.

The user asked two questions:

  1. How accurate is the statement: racism breeds war?

  2. Are there historical examples?

The first question is opinion. The second question depends on a description of the statement. In other words, more was needed than a hashtag, as a source. The first question would have been answered, if there was an example and the question was not closed; therefore it was removed from the body. The request for an example did not change with the edit.

In effect, all I did was edit a low quality post to make it more acceptable.

See also: Are any governments promoting work from home as an effective solution to decreasing CO2 emissions?, to which I also made a substantial revision.

In both cases, the users have had the opportunity (visited the site after the edits) to review and comment on the changes. Neither has commented.

Bottom-line -- if low quality posts are not to be improved by higher rep users there should not be a queue to improve such posts; but, since there is, I have to assume that substantial edits are permitted. And, if Politics SE is to be a site for learning about politics, questions must be available with answers, not closed.

  • 2
    You missed my point entirely. I think the edit did improve the question. That's not at issue. My problem is you added context that wasn't there from the original poster. Was that the quote they were thinking of? The comment they left seems to indicate that it's not. It's just a general perception that I've experienced from some anti-racists, when confronted with the idea of "racism as something good, rather than bad". In other words, you put words in their mouth.
    – Machavity
    Jun 9 '20 at 15:00
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    What concerns me here is someone could come along and wholesale edit questions they themselves would like to see, under the guise of "improvement". Worse, if the post starts garnering downvotes, was it really of service to them?
    – Machavity
    Jun 9 '20 at 15:04
  • @Machavity - In other words, you put words in their mouth. Or, did I help the user by finding words their research might have revealed? I'm torn!
    – Rick Smith
    Jun 9 '20 at 17:16

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