We have differences of opinion on what a good question is here. But generally we can find a common ground and constructive version for most questions worth saving. But editing them on the site is counter productive and sometimes creates conflict. Instead I propose if someone other than the OP wants to save a question that we discuss changes to the question on meta before actually making the edits.

This policy would not be need to be followed for correcting grammar or clarifying from op comments. But just for questions that have been closed (are about to be closed) and a third party wants to save them. I do not think it needs to be an official policy so much as a standing guideline that we follow.

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    I think a "discuss on meta first" policy would just decrease the effectiveness of community editing and reopening by tying it up in bureaucracy. My guideline for editing: Find a way to get the OP the answers they're looking for in a way that meets SE standards and doesn't invalidate existing answers. That's it. – Rachel Jan 15 '13 at 19:21
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    I think the biggest problem area is questions that already have answers. I don't think there should be a general case roadblock for under answered/single answer Qs. Many of the problems we've had in the past were often related to a long list of answers referring to various states of the question – Rarity Jan 15 '13 at 19:26
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    questions that need substantial edits should be closed quickly and reopened slowly, to let things settle without contention and, most important, without getting new answers that threaten to invalidate edits – gnat Jan 15 '13 at 19:40
  • @Rachel - I dont think that posting a suggested edits, getting some feedback, and then posting is really all that much red tape. The OP can always do their own edits, and I am not trying to prevent the obvious, just the edits that rewrite the question. Especially ones that were closed not constructive or not a real question. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jan 15 '13 at 20:06
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    @Chad I think enderland's answer provides some good guidelines about when you should come to meta to discuss a question prior to editing and trying to get it reopened. Writing up a meta question takes extra time and effort, and waiting for a response before making the edit can often result in more downvotes or comments on the question, and which makes it much harder for the question to get turned around and going in the right direction. So if your edit doesn't radically change the question, I don't think you need to come to meta first. – Rachel Jan 15 '13 at 20:18
  • Also don't forget you can always use The Workplace Chat if you're not sure about an edit. Users seem to be pretty active in there compared to some of the other SE sites, and are quite willing to offer their opinion on a potential edit or even help figure out a good edit for a question. – Rachel Jan 15 '13 at 20:18
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    @Rachel - Post the link to the meta in chat... you will get attention quick enough. A few hours closed is not going to hurt that bad. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jan 15 '13 at 20:20
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    @Rachel, suppose a link to a fixed question is dropped in chat. Do you think that would help? – jmort253 Jan 15 '13 at 20:36
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    @jmort253 Of course it would help, more visibility = more potential reopen votes :) But I don't think dropping links to fixed questions in chat was what we were talking about. Chad is proposing we make it an unofficial policy to create a meta post to discuss a potential edit, and he was saying you could drop a link to that meta post in chat for a faster response. I disagree with his proposal because I don't think you should need to make a meta post in order to make an edit to a question and try to get it reopened. – Rachel Jan 15 '13 at 20:45
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    Well I think the results here are going to be the final straw for me. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jan 15 '13 at 20:49
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    It's not a bad experiment, but I'd suggest only directing people to meta if it's clear there's going to be some debate on what's a good edit is vs a bad edit. Chad, if you see a debate starting to form, by all means, please drop a meta link like you did. :) But I don't think it has to happen on every single post. – jmort253 Jan 15 '13 at 20:49
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    @Jmort253 - I have a serious problem with question quality here. And we have vetern users editing questions that have been closed and making them less constructive... that is not a good thing. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. Something has to change. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jan 15 '13 at 21:20
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    Hi Chad, do you think it's possible to retroactively look at not-so-active questions, or do you feel these discussions need to focus on posts that are less than 24 hours old? Alternatively, I could ask SE to do a self-eval for us and randomly select 10 questions we can look at more closely. What do you think? – jmort253 Jan 15 '13 at 21:24
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    @jmort253 - I think in general <24 or maybe 48 hours is fine. I think its possible to do older but I do not know that there is any value in it. I am truely afraid of what an self eval would look like over the last 3 months. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jan 15 '13 at 21:29
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    I think a main difference between here and other SE sites is that here, oftentimes the "problem" is not so much a clearly defined problem but that people just don't know what to do in a situation. – enderland Jan 15 '13 at 21:37

I think it is a good idea to discuss on meta when:

  1. Salvaging a completely awful question (by Workplace standards) into something related but different in scope/question
  2. Changing the question causes existing answers to no longer be relevant
  3. Questions are super popular and get lots of drive-by votes/answers

I think much of the problem with questions here is when people ask really vague questions and don't provide additional details themselves or just provide implied questions without really explicitly stating them.

We can't really guess at their meaning when there is considerable vagueness. Then again, for the SE network, is this really necessary?

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    I'm also a fan of bringing the conversation to meta when there's debate about the question. I've seen that turn off new askers in the past, although I haven't seen that happen in a couple months... – jmort253 Jan 15 '13 at 20:37

It seems like this should be obvious, but if the choices are:

  1. Discuss on meta
  2. Start an edit war

Then yes, please discuss on meta and do not start an edit war.

Keep in mind that the rollback tool (as on Wikipedia) is better for vandalism-cleanup than anything, and to a well-intentioned editor is more like a slap in the face. If you can't build on another editor's changes without reversing them completely, then I'm all for encouraging all editors involved to come to Meta.

With that said, while "be nice" is official policy and that certainly applies, I'm not sure how we'd codify this into policy or how it would be enforced if it was.

Out of all the closed questions I don't think this is frequently necessary, so I don't think that's the right filter to avoid edit wars.

It's more of a general common sense and courtesy that we should keep with us at all times.

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