I think the practice of heavy question editing, especially after answer(s) have been provided, especially if the edit contains new facts that the questioning person (or user(s) that have already answered) might not have known, should be discouraged.

The user who is tempted to do such heavy edit with new facts, considerably different structure representation or partial answer should rather provide a comment or answer.

UPDATE, Semi-hypothetical example:

An experienced chem.SE user sees following structure image

enter image description here

and is temped to replace it with nice:

enter image description here


enter image description here

(which won't even be considered a heavy edit).

However, there's already a comment

You are ignoring strain in a cyclobutene ring …

and the question author might have been unable to realize that. So the redrawn structure with fundamentally better quality and color (which are irrelevant), should preserve the original fine double bond graphical representation detail:

enter image description here

The information content of the question should not be altered by the question edits.

(Inspired by What is the stability order for these octahydrobiphenylene structures?)

Of course, I am not talking about questions converted to community questions.

My opinion will be probably wrong if chem.SE (*.SE, SO) should be considered rather e.g. knowledge base, than reputation-oriented question/answer service.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Just to clarify: You are not talking about typical chameleon questions; you are talking about edits made by other users that significantly change the question? $\endgroup$
    – user7951
    Jan 16, 2019 at 17:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Loong Good point. No, I am talking about edits by other users. I have updated the question, “UPDATE” text included, to minimize its chameleonicity. $\endgroup$
    – mykhal
    Jan 16, 2019 at 18:09
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Heavy question edit completely changes its meaning and even this is sometimes good idea. OP literally give their posts to the site (you can check out licence). And yeah, this is rather a knowledge base then "service" - we can help single people - various OPs, but they come and go and questions stay for anyone who comes to learn. $\endgroup$
    – Mithoron
    Jan 16, 2019 at 22:34

1 Answer 1

  1. There is a slight disconnect between what you are asking, and the example edit given.

    • Heavy edits tend to change the meaning of the post, and this is generally discouraged on SE: https://chemistry.stackexchange.com/help/editing You are also correct that extra care should be taken after answers are posted, as any such edits risk invalidating the existing answers.

    • On the other hand, the example edit is very minor. Although I can see why you could argue that it changes the meaning, I personally think that the difference is so trivial that it is not worth making a fuss over.

  2. I am of the opinion that as we currently stand, there is not enough editing. I would prefer not to discourage well-meaning editors from improving questions/answers as they see fit. The value of an edit should generally be judged on a case-by-case basis.

  • $\begingroup$ We don't answer plain homework questions, rather encourage thinking. My moderate example was to illustrate that even non-heavy edit can alter artifacts of the questioning user thought process. And also, heavy editing can make some already existing answers irrelevant/obsolete (for comments we have flag button for that, OK). $\endgroup$
    – mykhal
    Jan 16, 2019 at 21:38
  • $\begingroup$ … I agree that question edits like fixing typos (e.g. mistyped citation) is OK and desirable. But not in cases where the typo (in the original ref) is crux of the question and directly led to it. Fixing it in the question would be nonsense of course, it should be done in the answer. But it is somewhat at the other extremity side. $\endgroup$
    – mykhal
    Jan 16, 2019 at 21:50

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