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Should questions that are closed for being off-topic be edited for formatting, grammar, retagging, or other issues that don't resolve the reason the question was closed?

Is this a valid reason for rejecting suggested edits?

The argument against these edits is that they have several negative consequences:

  • In many cases, it causes the question to be pushed into the reopen review queue. The edit didn't help resolve the issue that caused the question to be closed as off-topic. So, this creates unnecessary work for reviewers (since the question doesn't really need a review for reopening at this point). Having unnecessary reviews in the queue can decrease users' motivation to help out with reviews.
  • Users can only vote once in each direction (close, reopen) on any question. It's not clear to me whether "Leave Closed" votes in the reopen review queue count as voting once in the close direction. If it does, this means that by unnecessarily reviewing a question following edits that don't resolve the reason for closure, users are prevented from voting to close this question again if it becomes necessary. Given that we currently have fewer than 50 active users who can cast these votes, this is a cause for concern.
  • If the user proposing the edit does not have enough reputation to apply edits unilaterally, then it will go into the suggested edits review queue. This is also demoralizing to reviewers, for the same reason; it's a waste of effort for questions that are going to be deleted, anyways.
  • Edits bump these posts to the front page. If the edit makes the question a candidate for reopening, that's a good thing. But if not, it looks bad to have many closed off-topic questions on the front page; I'd rather not bump these if we can avoid it.

The argument in favor of these edits is that they may turn out to be useful if the question is also, separately, edited to make it on-topic, and it is then reopened. However, it seems to me that it might be preferable to do these formatting, grammar, or other edits only after the issue that led to the closure has been resolved.

I am especially thinking of edits to posts that are not likely to be reopened because they are shopping questions or one of the other off topic questions listed in the help center. For example,

(Not suggesting that users who made these edits were doing anything wrong, since until now we have not had a site policy on the matter.)

  • I usually reject this kind of edits as "too minor". – user102 Sep 9 '14 at 8:23
  • @Charles you rejected one of the edits I gave as an example with the reason "I don't see the point of tagging a question that will be deleted anyway." Sounds like you have an opinion on the matter :) – ff524 Sep 9 '14 at 8:24
  • I completely agree with you, I almost raised that question on meta, but then I felt lazy :) – user102 Sep 9 '14 at 15:45
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We recently discussed this on Computer Science meta. Consensus was that edits to closed/on-hold questions that do nothing to address the reason for closure should be avoided and, if made, they should be rejected as "No improvement whatsoever."

For me, this applies even if the question could be suitable for reopening if improved. We don't close questions just because they're badly formatted or have poor grammer. By the same token, we shouldn't refuse to reopen a question that's been edited to make it appropriate for the site, even if it's still badly formatted or still has poor grammar. To be honest, it seems unlikely that somebody would make the question appropriate for reopening without also improving the formatting and grammar but, if they did that, somebody else can always come along and fix those minor issues once the question's been opened again (or even while the reopen vote is in progress).

In my experience, people who do make grammar and formatting improvements to on-hold questions are usually well-meaning new users. A polite "Thanks but please don't do that because XYZ; here are some useful things you could do instead" message always seems to redirect their energies to something productive.

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    If they're mostly well-meaning new users, then unless it's a real problem for the mods I'd be inclined to let it be for encouragement of the new users. When these come past me, I generally just say "approve" and move on. Likewise, they're infrequent enough in the reopen queue that I have no issue with them there. – jakebeal Apr 23 '15 at 14:05
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I think too often closed questions that are salvageable do not get the attention that is required to reopen them. In my opinion anything that people are willing to do to try and move a question closer to being reopened is a good thing. Editing the title and tags can help attract attention from the "right" people who may be able to edit the question even more. Editing grammar and formatting can also be helpful. Sometimes questions are so poorly written that it is difficult to know where to begin in terms of salvaging the question. Other times the question is going to need rephrasing and improved grammar/formatting before it can be reopened.

  • I was referring more to questions that are not likely to be reopened, like shopping questions, programming questions, etc. – ff524 Sep 9 '14 at 8:13
  • When a salvageable question has been edited, I try to improve the edit if that would help. But that depends on on much I know of the area, and if I have a bit of free time. – vonbrand Aug 5 '15 at 20:46
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I would restrict editing to the titles of closed questions, since this is the information that is most readily visible to the user (in Web searches, internal searches, and the front page).

My argument is that the front page is your "advertisement" to stick around. If there are a lot of typos and poorly worded titles on the front page, it gives a bad impression of the site overall.

  • Perhaps we should then restrict these edits to actual corrections of the titles, excluding wordsmithing. – ff524 Sep 9 '14 at 6:18
  • Well, we can't really restrict people from editing things, but we can at least recommend that they not do so. – aeismail Sep 9 '14 at 10:35
  • I think the question I meant to ask was, "is this issue a valid reason to reject edits." No plans to restrict people from making edits :) – ff524 Sep 9 '14 at 10:36
  • In that case, yes, it would be a valid reason. – aeismail Sep 9 '14 at 10:36

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