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Today a question was posted, which was a little confusing. The question was put "On Hold" temporarily for being "unclear" while the community and OP worked to clean things up. The OP, who seems new to SE, ended up re-posting the question with some minor edits. Presumably this was done to help clear up the confusion surrounding the earlier question.

How would this situation best be handled? Should the new version of the question be deleted? Or the old "unclear" version? Or some other option?

In my opinion the original question is the better of the two.

Original: Family emergency Re-post: Workplace misunderstanding

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I don't have any reference to back this up, but I believe the guidance has always been to close and delete the second post and try to edit and improve the first post. This is especially true in this case, where the original post had already been edited and improved somewhat. I would say there is some leeway for situations where the new post is much better than the first, but even then I'd be likely to just copy-paste the content back over to the original post. That way the entire edit history is preserved.

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    I am more on the side of burning down the first post (delete it) and writing a new one more clearly. It is really difficult to "bring back a Q from the -3 zone", even though you do all the best edits in the world, there is few chances it will reach positive score and audience. This affects OP as he/she will not be able to obtain as great answer as it could if the post had a good start. First impressions matter. – DarkCygnus Apr 18 '18 at 22:49
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I don't have any reference or precedent to back this answer up either, but I wanted to suggest the opposite approach (somewhat in line with @DarkCygnus in their comment on your answer).

To be clear: the hypothetical scenario is: a (new) user posts a question that isn't clear/is poorly structured/otherwise is hard to answer. People comment and downvote on it. The user comes back, and posts a second question which is essentially asking the same thing, but is better worded/structured and meets general SE criteria.

The problem with keeping the first question and deleting the second one is, you end up with a lot of baggage - even if the actual text of the first question can be revised (by copy-pasting from the second post or direct editing) it's hard to overcome not only the negative votes, but also the comments, which now make no sense after the substantial edits.

If the second post is substantially better in terms of being a clearly worded and on-topic question, keeping it open (and closing the first) avoids the issue of having to clean up the noise and overcome the negative votes. In other words, it gives the user a better chance at actually getting positive attention and good answers.

If the desire remains to keep the edit history from the first post, you could always link to it in a comment on the second post.

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  • I appreciate this perspective. I think we all are looking to preserve the best question, and I hadn't thought about this consideration before now. Good point! – Lumberjack Apr 20 '18 at 13:17
  • +1 But I'd replace the final paragraph with "close the first post as a duplicate of the second post". – AndyT Apr 20 '18 at 15:05
  • @Lumberjack I'd have to go look to test this. If you close "A" as a duplicate of "B" is there any evidence of that if you're looking at "B?" Or just if you look at "A?" If A is the new post, and B is the older one closed as a duplicate, I think the people wanting to preserve edit history would want you to know that B exists when you're looking at A. – dwizum Apr 20 '18 at 16:01
  • @dwizum yes there is :) they show up in the linked questions. See workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/111/… for a random example – Belle-Sophie Apr 23 '18 at 12:21

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