I did a wholesale rewrite of Why are capital gains taxed at a lower rate than normal income in an attempt to make it fit the site better. I might have violated the author's intent in asking. I've previously ignored questions like this one because I worried about doing just that, but I also didn't see a way to reopen it without that level of rewriting.

Did I go too far? Is this more helpful than harmful? Should I aggressively edit such questions in the future?

As an aside, I was one of the votes to close. You won't see that now that the question has been reopened, but I thought it relevant to the discussion that I knew why I voted to close, so I also knew that it needed a complete rewrite for me to be willing to vote to reopen.

2 Answers 2


In the spirit of member Ben's Miller's concern, that SE tends more towards deleting rather than saving, I'd say the edits were on target.

The last thing I want is another thing to address via FAQ, but I would suggest there's a distinction between:

  • The edit-reject reason that the edit conflicts with the author's intent vs
  • A wholesale edit that produces a valid question (Jeopardy-style?) to make a great answer remain on the site.

Members can always do a search using criteria such as

closed:yes duplicate:no answers:5 score:10

Which will show closed questions with multiple answers which have positive upvotes. This set of criteria yields 35 candidates for edit or final deletion.

As an example of one I'd delete, absent this post, Mortgage Refinance calculator seems to be product/service recommendation, with no way to edit, and the votes don't make it on topic.

Last - I like this site better when there's more, not less, challenging and discussion. If a dozen members said "I agree with Ben, stop deleting" I'd be happier than to feel no one is interested enough to care.

  • Would it have been going too far if I edited a question this aggressively that hadn't been closed yet? May 10, 2019 at 21:04
  • If I had a diamond by my name I would be very reluctant to do something like that. May 10, 2019 at 21:05
  • Yes. I'd say that the whole edit should be welcome/tolerated only as a question-saving measure. May 10, 2019 at 21:05
  • There are questions closed as not clear. If you clarify, by making an assumption or 3, and the top 3 answers are not rendered non-sequitur, I'm not going to object. The one about losing a property for the loan on a manufactured home, for example.... May 10, 2019 at 21:08
  • Whelp, I hope I don't step on too many toes as I now show less compunction in editing bad questions. :) Maybe you (and others) will decide to reign me after you see uninhibited Nathan L on the loose. May 10, 2019 at 21:11
  • If you have the time and inclination, I'd be happy to see questions rescued. (As would Ben, I'd imagine). Many closed questions are from non-repeat visit members, they are not around to take offense. May 10, 2019 at 21:15
  • In response to the last sentence of your answer, I just want to point out that my answer on your meta question currently is tied for the most upvotes, receiving the same number of upvotes as Joe’s answer. Don’t let the “0” in front of my answer fool you; there is some support for the notion of leaving questions remain. :)
    – Ben Miller
    May 11, 2019 at 4:20
  • I'm talking about the passion for the issue, either way. 3 members answering/commenting, and 6 people voting is more a sign that this issue isn't important enough to most members even to chime in on the discussion. On the other hand, Nathan seems to be very on your side, accepting the challenge to edit to reopen. Although, I see from other comments, you don't view as the ally I first thought. From my bell-curve way of thinking, I was hoping to have agreement to delete the 1/6 of closed questions that can't be saved, along with help from members to edit 1/6 that easily can. May 11, 2019 at 11:07

I do appreciate the effort, and in general I think this is not a bad idea. I have also made some major rewrites to questions in the past to try to keep them from getting closed or to try to reopen.

I haven’t reviewed any of your edits, but I want to share some thoughts about the practice. Again, I’m not saying that these apply to your edits on this question, as I have not reviewed it.

When editing a question that already has answers, make sure you don’t invalidate any existing answers with your edit. If a question requires such severe edits that all of the existing answers are invalidated, then the effort is sort of wasted. (The purpose, after all, is preserving answers.)

Preemptively editing questions that have not yet been closed is tricky. Yes, it is good if you succeed in keeping the question from getting closed, but the danger is potentially changing a question that is really good as-is, overreacting to a lone close vote.

I think these actions are valuable in general, but keep in mind that it is very labor-intensive. If the only reason we are doing this is to keep good answers from getting deleted, that is a shame, as it is very easy and requires no effort from anyone to just refrain from deleting the questions.

As well-intentioned users such as yourself begin the slow process of trying to rescue questions from the reaper, I would ask the mods once again to refrain from deletion. You can’t assume that a question that hasn’t been edited has no support. It could be that the question is okay to be reopened as-is, or that it just hasn’t been noticed yet, or even that it did indeed receive enough reopen votes, just not all within the required short time window. Deletion makes the question almost impossible for anyone to find and fix.

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