A lot of questions start off with some self-help component or personal reference before getting to a valid question. Rather than closing the question, I usually just edit the question for the user. Is this a bad habit to get into? Should I let the users correct it themselves?

1 Answer 1


Short response: Effective editing of self-help questions into general questions improves the site and helps the OP have a question that wont be closed.

Longer response

I find that most such questions are asked by one-time or occasional users and that such users are unlikely to know how to edit such questions into general questions. In my experience, most such questions are not edited, if you request edits. And it ends up being a lot of work trying to keep track of whether the OP has made changes or not. Such changes may require multiple rounds of feedback.

I think that it benefits the person asking the question and the site if an experienced user is able to see the general question that is locked up inside the specific circumstances that a person is describing and then makes those edits themselves.

If these questions are not edited, they get closed, which doesn't benefit the OP.

I think it is also good to be sensitive to any comments that result, and naturally the OP is free to further edit and refine the question.

The edits also function as a form of feedback to the OP about how a more general question could be asked.

That said, I don't think anyone should feel obligated to edit a self-help question. Voting to close is a perfectly reasonable response. And not all self-help questions can easily be converted into a general question.

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