Recently, we seem to be getting a lot of edits to closed/on-hold questions that do nothing at all to address the reason the question was closed. For example, edits that improve the formatting or grammar of a question that is way off-topic. Quite a lot of these edits are being accepted.

I'm sure these edits are made in good faith but they should be rejected. They waste reviewers' time in the edit queue. If accepted, they waste reviewers' time in the reopen queue by triggering a vote that can only result in the question being left closed (of the four entries in the reopen queue today, three were of this type; in the past, it was unusual to have four reopen votes in a week). They bump the question to the top of the front page, cluttering it up with closed questions and pushing on-topic questions onto the second page. And I see no benefit: sure, they make the question easier to find and read but nobody will ever benefit from finding or reading the question because it is closed and will never be answered.

I would like to ask people to be more careful when reviewing edits. Please reject edits to closed or on-hold questions unless there is a realistic chance that the question would be re-opened as a result of the edit.

Does this seem reasonable?

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for raising the point! I never really though of it that far. $\endgroup$
    – Juho
    Mar 8, 2015 at 19:14
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    $\begingroup$ Apologies to all, some/most of these are probably my doing. In my defence, without trawling through and picking out particular examples, I was trying to pretty them up in order to either make them more readable (in the cases of illegibility or poor English), or in preparation for their presumed migration to a more fitting SE site (in the case of wrong-question-wrong-site). I was trying to help OPs who just made an innocent/uninformed mistakes in asking poorly formed, or placed, questions. I (now) understand that editing "on-hold" questions causes cluttering, and shall refrain. Sorry again. $\endgroup$ Mar 11, 2015 at 6:03
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    $\begingroup$ @Greenonline Thanks for caring! In the special case of cleaning up a question for migration, you should then also flag for it! (Arguably, migration first and edit on the target site would be better, but still.) $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Mar 11, 2015 at 7:46
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    $\begingroup$ OK, gotcha. Understood. I did wonder about the flagging, but didn't want to spam the moderators. Cheers. :-) $\endgroup$ Mar 11, 2015 at 8:02
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    $\begingroup$ @Greenonline No worries at all, thanks for spending time on improving our content! $\endgroup$
    – Juho
    Mar 16, 2015 at 13:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Raphael - I finally understand your comment regarding "Arguably, migration first and edit on the target site would be better, but still." Yes, because the points earned editing, prior to migration, are lost... See confirmation in my question Are reputation points, earned from an edit, lost when the question is migrated?. It's a good job I was only editing for altruistic purposes. :-) $\endgroup$ May 28, 2015 at 14:45
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    $\begingroup$ @Greenonline I was less concerned with rep points than with needless bumping of questions and different editing standards across sites. ;) $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    May 28, 2015 at 14:49
  • $\begingroup$ That edit is very ironic. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Mar 5, 2017 at 13:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Raphael Sure but we've had a bunch of such edits recently, so it seemed appropriate. $\endgroup$ Mar 5, 2017 at 13:33
  • $\begingroup$ Sure thing, raising awareness is okay. It's just that the platform would rather have us use bounties or new answers. ;) $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Mar 5, 2017 at 16:49

1 Answer 1


If an edit to a closed question falls far short of giving it a better chance of being reopened, please reject it as “no improvement whatsoever”.

And to editors: please don't make such trivial edits. For example, if a question is an off-topic programming question with badly formatted code, don't bother formatting the code. If you like to do this, there are thousands of badly formatted programming questions on Stack Overflow waiting for your attention. And there are plenty of open questions and their answers here that could use some improvements to formatting (especially of mathematical fragments), spelling, etc. Please use your editing energy productively!

On the theme of clutter through closed questions, the intent of closure is to be a transitory state, not a permanent one. A closed question isn't helpful; either the question should be improved and reopened, or it should be deleted. There are automated rules to delete unanswered, closed, low-scoring questions after a while. If you see a question that doesn't match these criteria, but nonetheless stands no chance of being reopened, and you have at least 2000 reputation, please vote to delete!

Here are guidelines on what to do when encountering a closed question:

  1. If you think it should be reopened, vote to reopen. Do edit it first if you can think of any improvement that would make the question clearer. You may want to leave a comment to explain why you're voting to reopen, or upvote an existing one; this helps other people decide whether they want to add their reopen vote.
  2. If you think the question should be closed in its present state, but could be reopened if the author improved it, please leave a comment to guide the author.
  3. If you think the question should be closed in its present state, but the question has useful answers, consider editing the question to make it a clear, on-topic question which matches the answers. In such cases, preserving the answers trumps preserving the original intent of the question. After editing, vote to reopen. If you can't vote to reopen but you're confident that the question should now be reopened, flag the question with a short explanation of why you think the question should be reopened (“bob's answer is the clearest presentation of homeomorphic endofunctors mapping submanifolds of a Hilbert space I've ever seen, and I edited the question to match”).
  4. If you think the question should be closed in its present state, that it has answers that are definitely worth preserving, but you don't know how to edit the question to match, consider asking for help in chat or on meta.
  5. If you think the question should remain closed forever and the answers, if any, are off-topic, redundant or not exceptionally interesting, then vote to delete if you have enough reputation to do so; if you don't, leave the question alone.
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    $\begingroup$ Those guidelines about what to do with closed questions are very useful. They might be easier to find if you made a new meta question ("What should I do about closed/on-hold questions?") and moved that part of the answer there? $\endgroup$ Mar 7, 2015 at 18:03
  • $\begingroup$ ad 5) You can flag for mod attention regarding deletion. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Mar 7, 2015 at 19:24

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