In this community, there is often a sense that authorial intent is important, and that editors should strive to change an author's words as little as possible. I strongly agree with this sense, but have noticed what I think is an exception case when editing in an attempt to salvage a closed question.
First, let me note that such editing is spurred by the general stack exchange policy towards closed questions: eventually, most should be either edited and reopened or deleted. Some really crappy closed questions draw very good answers, however, and what I have noticed is that those answers often seem to focus on an answerable "heart" in the question. If we ignore authorial intent, then such a question may be converted into an answerable state.
Examples where I have done this recently:
- Should I add the “presenter certificate” to the paper presented at a conference?
- Is there a recommended font and size for a job application?
- Are there any research careers except professorship for a person holding PhD in pure mathematics?
- Comparing a career in medicine vs. medical research?
My question: should authorial intent be preserved when editing to salvage a closed question? I provide my own answer below, to see if it agrees with the sense of the community