When doing reviews for new users' questions, I come across scenarios where the user has some basic question in the title and a 'description' in the question body, but no actual question.

I'm of the opinion that regardless of the title, the body should have a complete question, then the title should be effectively summarizing the body in a single sentence.

I came across such a question, and edited:


Is it recommended/allowed that a reviewer do this? If so, are there any things to keep in mind? Personally, I don't think I'm altering the question.

  • in cases like that when I am not sure about my rephrasing of the question in the title, I simply copy the title as is – gnat May 5 '16 at 12:34
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    @gnat That's the foolproof solution. :) – cst1992 May 5 '16 at 14:13

Short Answer: Yes :)

As long as you are retaining the intent of the question, then it's fine to bring the question from the title into the body and to then rephrase the title to be a summary.

However. The danger is that there is not enough information to properly understand the original intent. Often if I substantively modify a question like that, I'll leave a note to the author as a comment, asking them to confirm that I have not altered the question from what they are trying to ask.

Wherever possible, we should strive to improve the quality of this site. Making good edits that make questions easier to read and subsequently to answer (and therefore to attract better answers) is a great way of doing this.

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    Thanks. Asking the OP is good, but it may not always work. One person had a long wall of text. I reviewed his post to split the wall and he rejected the edit, and then asks why someone downvoted his post(I didn't). – cst1992 May 5 '16 at 11:26
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    @cst1992 Sometimes the OP just doesn't get it :) Keep doing what you're doing, for every poster that doesn't understand why it's being edited, you'll be helped dozens more. Remember, when you get to 3k, your edits are automatically applied. – Jane S May 5 '16 at 11:40

I don't think I'm altering the question.

That's the metric to use. As long as you aren't altering the intent of the question then it's fine to make an edit that improves the post and its readability. That's not to say that more substantial edits that introduce questions or guess at intent are always wrong, I only mean that the type of edit you describe is always fine. I call these minor edits but that term is very loosely defined and some consider only spelling and grammar edits to be minor.

So in short, yes, it's encouraged to make these kinds of edits. Highlighting the core question(s), clarifying the post and improving readability are all within the scope of an edit.

If the OP described problematic behaviour and simply left out the question ("How do I get X to stop happening"), it's fine to add that in, since it's reasonable to assume that that's his goal. Sometimes people get hung up on the lack of a question in a post and Vote To Close when they could just add it in.

If you can't clearly determine what the question is, you probably shouldn't guess at it because the OP might revert it, invaliding existing answers. Jane's answer mentions this but I wanted to point out that this type of major edit should only rarely be done. Most of the time you should leave a comment asking the OP to clarify and vote to close it as unclear to prevent answers from users who interpreted the question incorrectly.

I do sometimes make such a major edit when I'm reasonably confident that I got what the OP is asking, but for most such questions a comment and close vote is more appropriate.

  • I do agree with the revert part. I might go with gnat's suggestion to just copy the title into the question. That'll have a lower chance of getting reverted. But then I fear the edit will get rejected on the grounds 'this does not make the post easier to read; edits are superfluous'. – cst1992 May 6 '16 at 9:22
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    @cst1992 To clarify: reverting is only a problem for major edits that change the nature of the question! The kind of edits you're talking about are almost always fine. There's no need to stick to the OP's wording as long as you respect the original intent. I've rewritten entire posts where I only preserved 10% of the original text without actually changing the question. To be clear, that's a major edit, not a minor one and you'd best leave a comment if you make one, but it's still an edit that should be approved. – Lilienthal May 6 '16 at 9:35

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