I have an idea that part of the way we might improve Server Fault a little bit is to take questions that just are not that great but maybe have potential and edit them.

I think if when users with enough rep reach for the downvote button, maybe if we edit them into better questions that will have a little more depth to them it might help out some of frustration with some of the not-so-great questions.

People often do this in their answers anyways. Because the person is struggling a little to ask the question anyways we answer the question .. and then some.

I know some people are very worried about stepping on the authors toes or changing their intent. However it the question might get closed you are helping them, and I believe they can always just edit it back (hope I am not mistaken about that). So I say, if you feel like it, go for it.... Thoughts?

  • This has the potential to artificially inflate someone's reputation when they otherwise do not deserve it. I have seen this happen once or twice but editing on this scale does not occur frequently.
    – Warner
    Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 21:28
  • @Warner: I agree with Farseeker's #2 on that one, I wouldn't think the inflation will matter to much. Unless someone just keeps asking crappy questions in which case people will probably get peeved and stop helping them and just downvote anyways... Commented Jul 26, 2010 at 22:04
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    I think it happens very commonly that the author grossly misunderstand the subject matter. Editing the question so it makes sense removes the original misunderstanding. People answering the question will no longer realize this fact, and the answer may no longer help.
    – Chris S
    Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 18:05
  • Are there any SF-specific editor guides lines besides the FAQ on MSO? N00b 2K'r here. Would like to contribute helpful edits.
    – jscott
    Commented Jul 28, 2010 at 10:41

3 Answers 3


There's been occasions where I've virtually re-written a question from scratch. I've got a lot of experience dealing with people who have english as a second language so I'm usually pretty good at re-writing a question coherently without changing the intent.

I frankly don't care if peoples rep gets inflated because of my edits for two reasons:

  1. They're often hit-and-run users who don't come back a 2nd time
  2. I believe question rep should represent whether or not the question is a good question, not whether it was written coherently or clearly

Other things I've done are fix incorrect terminology (captive portals seem to be one a lot of people get confused with) that actually changes the context of the question, but because the original terminology was incorrect the question had an incorrect context in the first place.

Not a single one of my edits has ever been chastised by the original poster, so I say go for it.

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    I couldn't force myself to resist the edit! Commented Jul 27, 2010 at 3:13
  • just another note on these hit & run buggers. I reckon if you go to the trouble to edit their question into a reasonable one, you should be able to pick the right answer. Most open questions are from hit & runs weenies who never bother to pick a right answer. Commented Jul 28, 2010 at 5:44

If i can figure out the intent of the question I've re-written more than one from scratch as it was a good question to begin with. On the flip side I won't edit a question I've figured it out and it still is a bad questions, I'll just vote to close.

If I can't figure out what exactly the person is asking, I'll try and go in and clean up grammar, spelling, and CapiTaliZatioN mistakes to give someone who is more knowledgeable in the field that is being asked about a better chance of cleaning it up further.


Here's a question that I didn't know how to ask, so I asked it as Community Wiki in the hope of getting it edited to a decent question with useful answers. It would be useful if people could edit that as an example of "how to edit a question to make it better", and "does Community Wiki actually serve a useful purpose".

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    The way I see it, Community Wiki does serve a purpose because it allows questions to be asked (and answered) that really have no right or wrong answer and would otherwise be too subjective and possibly be killed off. Commented Jul 28, 2010 at 5:17
  • @John What would you do with this CW example, edit it or kill it?
    – Andrew
    Commented Jul 29, 2010 at 3:07
  • as the question isn't on one of this trilogy's sites, I am unfamiliar with the site on which it is asked and I'm unfamiliar with the topic itself it's not an easy one to respond to. However, my first though was that it could well stand being edited into something a lot more meaningful. The wording looks to me to be the result of a language problem more than anything else. In short, killing it would not be my first response. Commented Aug 2, 2010 at 5:09
  • @John that was a hypothetical ServerFault question; this is what I'd edit the question into. Perhaps a bad example as it's too close to a real question.
    – Andrew
    Commented Aug 3, 2010 at 5:03

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