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I've spent some time editing other people's posts to fix various trivial errors, and I was wondering what kind of standards make sense for our site as to what types of edits are appropriate for our community. I have some thoughts but would love to hear everyone else's.

What seems 100% appropriate:

  • Spelling and grammar fixes that do not change meaning
  • Formatting fixes that make reading difficult
  • Adding tags

What seems inappropriate:

  • Anything to dramatically change meaning of question/answer

Discussion areas:

  • Adjusting question titles to be more descriptive of actual question. Should we do that or let the tags handle it?
  • Dramatic fixup of text. Take a look at How to Create a Game?. Iain's edits were very helpful and appropriate but to what degree should we fix up poorly written questions?

What should the standards be for our community.

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We should definitely be proactive in editing questions to be more to the point and more correct.

For example, this question had a bad title.

This question probably should remove references to a specific language.

Most questions with pointless intro/outro text should probably be removed (i.e. "Hi", or "Thanks").

I'd even go so far as to correct capitalization of proper nouns, i.e. Unity instead of unity.

Sometimes I'll even go in and remove potential flamebait subjectivity, even if it's seemingly harmless. See this example.

If you think of questions as things that people are much more likely to find by searching at some point in the future instead of a discussion group, it makes sense for people with the time and the reputation to treat edits as a copy editor would. Or think of it like wikipedia, where lots of people touching topics incessantly somehow creates a reasonably high quality resource. Granted, I'm only really coming from my personal experiences with StackOverflow, where most of the time I don't have to ask questions because somebody before me usually did and I was able to find it easily.


On the flip side, I'm less inclined to drastically edit poor questions, especially if the person obviously isn't a professional or enthusiast (i.e. the target audience for a site like this). If I saw the question in your example before the fixups, I'd just vote it down and maybe even vote to close it as off topic (although honestly I'm probably going to do that anyway since broad, newbie questions like that kind of go against the whole point of stackexchange sites). Some people will argue that there's sometimes a good question buried beneath the cruft, but I don't think it's worth the trouble.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 couldn't have said it better myself. I agree about the horribly bad questions, they create a false sense that behavior is alright when voting turns around. \$\endgroup\$ – Jesse Dorsey Jul 29 '10 at 0:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ I mostly agree, although I'm not sure about the assertion that we should remove references to specific languages. Certainly, that question in your answer asks for an algorithm, and then asks wrt a specific language; but my thought would be that if they've tagged it with a certain language, they probably mean "I'm trying to implement it in this language"; and if anything, it's the word "algorithm" in the title that needs changing, rather than the language tag. Just my thoughts. \$\endgroup\$ – Smashery Jul 29 '10 at 5:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ My opinion on that question is mainly the tagging, honestly. I don't write/care about flash games so I have flash/actionscript/etc tags marked as ignore, but yet that question is still interesting to me. The algorithm can (and should) be mostly language-agnostic, even if the person who asked the question is going to be implementing it in actionscript. That's just me, though. I'll concede the point if only so that the bulk of my thoughts on the matter aren't derailed by this particular example. \$\endgroup\$ – Tetrad Jul 29 '10 at 5:53

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