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Many questions that are asked on our site are subjective questions. Subjective questions are okay to ask, and there is a lot to learn from both the answers as well as the question. However, subjective questions can very easily stray across the line into "Not Constructive" territory and become a polling question.

Since it's so easy to push one of these questions over the edge, it's just as easy to recover the question and bring it back into the land of Q&A.

Everyone on this site can make a suggested edit to any post. Additionally, if you have at least 1000 reputation, you can edit all posts and approve suggested edits yourself.

So, what are some things we can do to improve questions through editing?

  • If you guys are still having trouble getting community involvement in closing questions you might want to check out Help Moderate UX yourself! and the stolen close vote guide from ninefingers – Ben Brocka Jun 3 '12 at 3:58
  • @ben Thanks for this resource. We'll work on adapting this to our site. – jmort253 Jun 3 '12 at 4:30
  • @jmort253 I'm going to spend a chunk of time working on questions and such -- would it be better to start with most recent and work backwards, or start with the old ones and move forward? – jcmeloni Jun 6 '12 at 14:33
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    The newest questions are the easiest, especially if we get to the op right after a post because we can ask for missing details. As the questions get older, they accumulate answers that, in some cases, make it more difficult to edit while still ensuring the answers make sense. With that said, start wherever you feel most comfortable. Every little bit helps. :) – jmort253 Jun 6 '12 at 16:42
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Editing is something that is encouraged on the StackExchange platform to improve both questions and answers. Here are some of the things you can do to help:

  • Turn questions that might be closed Not Constructive into Constructive questions by removing a few small key phrases:

    • "What do you think about X"?
    • "What is your opinion about Y?"
    • "Is there a better way to do X"?

If the context of the question hides more specifics, let's edit the questions to expose them. But if not, sometimes just removing these invitations to leave an opinion can help improve the answers that the question will receive.

  • Fix questions that have problems with the layout, grammar, etc:

    • Fix spelling and capitalization.
    • Fix grammatical issues such as commas, dashes, semicolons, colons, etc.
    • Add paragraphs to make the question/answer easier to read.
    • If resources are mentioned, add a link to a good, professional resource that expands on the concept.

There are other editing guidelines on this Meta SO question as well as under the Meta SO suggested-edits tag.

UPDATE:

Just to make editing fun, you could make it a goal for yourself to earn the silver Strunk White Badge badge. Anyone with 80 posts under their belt will receive this badge in his/her profile. There's also the gold Copy Editor Badge badge, which you can earn after editing 500 posts!

Additionally, to help make your edits run smoothly, here is a guide to comment formatting, which contains lots of handy shortcuts to use when commenting or making edits.

Good luck! :)

  • I like it, thanks for the summary – Zsolt Jun 1 '12 at 18:51
  • @Zsolt - I also want to add that I believe you can see the progress towards these badges in the review page: pm.stackexchange.com/review – jmort253 Jun 24 '12 at 3:23
  • my stats don't look very nice ;-) – Zsolt Jun 24 '12 at 11:52
  • @Zsolt - You may find this useful. In the "Users" section, click "editors" and you can see everyone's edit stats by week, quarter, year, and all time: pm.stackexchange.com/users?tab=editors&filter=quarter According to this, you're our top editor this quarter. We could definitely use more edits, and I'm wondering what we can do to encourage more people to make edits? Any thoughts? – jmort253 Jun 26 '12 at 7:05
  • I like the approach. Personally, I'm always in doubt that my edit is good or not. This is the typical dilemma of a person who isn't a native English speaker/writer ;-) are the exp. points connected to the edits? – Zsolt Jun 26 '12 at 7:26
  • @Zsolt - The top number is your reputation earned during that period for all rep-generating activities, while the bottom number is the number of edits during the period. Users under 1000 reputation earn 2 reputation points per approved edit, and users above 1000 can edit freely, but earn no rep for the privilege of doing so: pm.stackexchange.com/privileges/edit. With that said, I haven't seen all your edits, but the ones I have seen look very helpful. I encourage you to continue. :) Most people worried about their English, in my experience, actually do a good job! – jmort253 Jun 26 '12 at 7:32
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There are some people at PMSE who answer a lot of questions. Since their answers seem to be at least relevant it is a safe assumption that they have read the questions and spotted most visible issues (common mistakes, typos) as well as things that require clarification.

Why not just fix the question and treat is a part of answering it?

This is something I try to do with questions I answer and with other answers which are already submitted. This doesn't add so much hassle -- after all I'm doing something about the question anyway -- so I don't even treat it as a special effort.

It would be great to see more people doing that.

  • Editing is key to making the site look like a professional resource of knowledge in Q&A format. Your approach: Edit, answer, edit, is one that makes an impact on the quality. It's important to highlight that editing can take a question that feels like "Not a real question" or "not constructive" and turn it into one that fits StackExchange guidelines. – jmort253 Jun 26 '12 at 16:37

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