I'm trying to figure out why a question was treated the way it was. Here is my original:


2 days later:


Here is the question now.

I'm quite familiar with the Stack Exchange format, so I'm kind of curious why the following sequence of events happened:

  1. Title was changed (that's fine).
  2. Question was answered, with 1 answer upvoted and accepted.
  3. Question was closed as off-topic.
  4. Question was heavily edited.

If it was off-topic to begin with, why not just let me know and close it, instead of editing it to the point the question is completely different than the original?

  • I wouldn't say it's completely different than the original, but I suppose my opinion is biased, being the author of the 5th revision. I'll see if I can post later and tell you what I was thinking.
    – user3961
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 17:07
  • This has never happened to you before? It happens to me almost every time I post on Skeptics.
    – user3961
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 17:07
  • @fredsbendtheGrinch Please do, I would appreciate that as I find it puzzling.
    – Phrancis
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 17:29
  • There were times in my editing history where I thought the underlying idea was good but the question was not worded properly or appropriately for the SE, so I created attempts to salvage it, even though some topics were unsalvageable.
    – Double U
    Commented Jan 2, 2015 at 1:20

2 Answers 2


Disclaimer: I'm not a regular here, but am active on other SE sites. So, this is an outsider's perspective.

First, I would like to commend the editors for making the effort to salvage a question. Edits are good. Edits (generally) raise the quality of a site.

However, it is better to point out to an OP, particularly one who is new to an SE, how they can improve their post themselves when it is off topic. It's an important part of a new user integrating themselves into the community. Writing bad questions and then improving them is part of the learning process. Very little guidance was given to OP about how to make his question on topic. (To be honest, I still don't understand exactly why it is off topic. It seems like a clear and objectively answerable question to me, but I admittedly know little about your community. So, that's another matter entirely.)

So, edits are good. Closing and commenting a new user is better. Don't be so over eager to "help" a new user that you end up alienating that new user. Guide and push OP in the right direction rather than bomb the post with edits.

Now with my two cents out of the way, let's take a look at the original post versus the question as it is now.

text diff

I removed the first and last sentences from the original post to get a good diff on it. (They were mostly noise anyway and rightfully removed.) Once I did that, you can see that the question is not as different as the SE Revision history makes it out to be. In fact, they are very similar and the post has been quite improved. I do feel that perhaps the cultural part of the question was lost, which is concerning, but all in all, this is the same question that OP posted.


It doesn't look like disfiguring to me...

Originally, it wasn't clear what the question was - buried in the anecdote was "I'm wondering if this is something cultural"

Someone interpreted that (partially based on comments?) as "Is it a cultural focus for Christians to think that God is involved in the details of their lives?" and changed the title. You say that change was fine and it made the question match the first answer.

The most recent edit doesn't seem to change the question, it fixed some of the bad tags and is an attempt to make the question more specific and a better fit for SE. That's the whole point of allowing edits by anyone - as originally asked the question wasn't a good fit, the edits make it possible that it will be reopened.

  • "as originally asked the question wasn't a good fit" Isn't that when the community should VTC right then and there and save everyone all this work? Also, why bother editing a closed question?
    – Phrancis
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 17:16
  • 5
    @Phrancis Funny, I had a comment in my answer about the fact that closing doesn't always happen immediately, especially on a "smaller" site like this. And editing closed questions to make them better is something SE strongly encourages. Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 19:16
  • OK fair enough, thanks for taking the time to clarify.
    – Phrancis
    Commented Dec 30, 2014 at 19:48

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