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It happens that a user asks a question that is not a good fit for Parenting.SE. Reasons can be that it contains multiple distinct questions or none at all, for example. I will only concentrate on theoretically salvageable questions.

In these cases, the question is put on hold. The OP is expected to edit it until it's a good fit. After the edit, the question enters the reopen queue. Now, the OP has realistic chances to get their question reopened.

But this process is not that easy. The mechanism is explained in this post. The decisive part is:

  • Only the first edit to a question put on hold pushes it into the reopen queue.

And now we come to the core of this post. I noticed several times that users other than the OP edited questions put on hold to correct minor mistakes (spelling, grammar). They were not enough to reopen the question. Yet, the question entered the reopen queue in this state. No further (substantial) edit will push it into the queue again.

Such edits are therefore not helpful to the OP, at all. Quite on the contrary, they are detrimental to their case. From then on, they will have a harder time getting their question reopened. But this cannot be our goal, if our goal is to help people.

When notifying a user who had done just that of the effects their actions had on the OP, their answer was somewhat discouraging (from a now deleted comment):

In the meantime, the rest of us will continue editing poor grammar where we see it. If [OP's name] comes back in a week or a year, it can still be reopened via flag, request, &c.

I don't have anything against edits to improve posts, even if it's just grammar or diction fixes. But to me it seems that giving an OP the chance to edit their question into shape takes precendence over edits that are not substantial, at least while their question is less than a few days old.

That's why I want to start a discussion on how to handle them. Two cases seem important:

  1. User has enough reputation to directly edit a question.
  2. User can only suggest edits.

In the first case, users need to be aware of the consequences of their deeds. If they decide to go on with it, there's probably not much we can do.

In the second case, the edits need to be approved. This leads to the question of how to deal with suggested first edits to a question that are not substantial?

It's rare but possible that an edit not done by the OP is substantial enough to make the question fit for reopening. A realistic scenario is when the OP clarifies the issues in comments only, and a user edits the question according to the information gathered therein. But such edits are easily distinguishable from those where only i is changed to I and some commata are added.

  • The first edit pushes a question into the reopen queue but it doesn't prevent a question from entering the reopen queue through other means (flagging, someone casting a reopen vote, etc). Since their question isn't prohibited from being reopened, I'm not sure what the problem is. Many times, I've found that someone who has taken the time to parse through a poorly worded post can make it far easier to read and discern what the needs of the OP are. They aren't always ready to go at that point, but they go from nearly unsalvagable to something that just needs a tiny bit more work to be good. – Becuzz Jun 22 '18 at 12:13
  • @Becuzz It's about giving the OP of a question put on hold the chance to get it reopened as soon as possible by editing it in such a way that the close reason is removed. It's about posts that are not salvageable without the OP providing further information, so neither the edits you describe will suffice, nor the minor edits this post is about. – Anne Daunted Jun 22 '18 at 12:34
  • So I guess my question is what is wrong with having them edit their question then flagging for reopening / flagging for moderator attention / writing a meta post to draw attention and ask for help / etc.? What is it about the existing solutions that you find inadequate (I understand they aren't as automagical as you might like)? What would you propose and how could we do that (I saw your idea of creating a community mindset around giving the OP first dibs on editing (they may or may not ever come back to fix their own question or just leave a lot of comments instead))? – Becuzz Jun 22 '18 at 12:48
  • @Becuzz My question is: What is wrong with giving them the chance to be the first to edit their question into shape? Instead of having them start a discussion on meta (takes time and effort and they may easily lose interest in the whole process), having mods do the work and/or explaining flags to new users or "patrol" the site to flag improved questions oneself - all because someone needed to capitalize that letter right now or couldn't stand reading "i said / did / [whatever]"? – Anne Daunted Jun 22 '18 at 13:08
  • @Becuzz "(they may or may not ever come back to fix their own question or just leave a lot of comments instead))" A question is on hold for 5 days, then it's closed. This is about questions on hold, not closed questions. If they never come back to clarify, the question will have to remain closed forever - for sure, they could be "improved" by an edit, but it won't be enough to reopen them, so what purpose would that serve? If the OP clarifies everything in comments, another user can make use of them to substantially edit the question so that it's fit for reopening - a different case. – Anne Daunted Jun 22 '18 at 13:11
  • Now I've some explaining to do: I came across the question in question and another one and thought that both were too broad for Parenting.SE in principle. So I cast a close vote both times. When I returned much later, the other one had long been closed, while this question not only had upvotes, but also an upvoted answer and still only my, single close vote. ... – Anne Daunted Jun 25 '18 at 6:21
  • ... So I thought that people disagreed with me and decided to suggest an edit, especially since the title was not descriptive. This edit was suggested long before the question was closed (proof is, for example, that it was first reviewed already 5 hours before it was closed.). – Anne Daunted Jun 25 '18 at 6:27
  • The above post was edited after the closure and pushed into the reopen queue. Since my edit was suggested prior to the closure, the system must have "understood" that it wasn't the first edit - pretty clever! – Anne Daunted Jun 27 '18 at 14:17

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