Recently a user joined the site asking a question that was an equivalent of the routinely closed, "hey guys please solve my homework for me". Here's the specific question I'm talking about. An existing user then proceeded to edit the question to make it more fitted to our site, and I voted to reopen the challenge due to this fact.

When asking in The Nineteenth Byte the overall consensus was that a challenge should not be edited to alter the original poster's intent. My few questions pertaining to this topic would be:

  • Is it okay to take a malformed "closed" challenge from a new user like this and repost it as your own in a valid format?
  • Is it okay to edit the question to make it 'valid' maintaining the original user's intent of solving the problem but making it relevant to our site?

My main discussion point here is:

  • A new user posts a question without knowing the rules of the site.
  • The question is actually a nice challenge that's not a dupe.
  • The question is off-topic for one reason or another and gets closed.
  • What do we do if we want the challenge, but well-formed?

Discuss correct courses of action please.


1 Answer 1


Stop editing programming questions to make them on-topic

Note that this is solely my opinion about the problem. In case the post was initially a general programming question, I think we should not edit them to make them on topic for the following reason:

  • Although (usually) obnoxiously inefficient and esoteric, the answers here still provide some sort of reference for the OP to use when solving their homework / whatever else they want to solve.

  • This incentivizes posting off-topic, programming-related help questions, which is not ok.

  • The poster is then rewarded through upvotes, thanks to a significant edit made by another user, and this might make them think it's perfectly fine to just post a question which is then edited by someone else, and eventually also answered in a manner that is at least somewhat helpful to them.

We should close such questions as off-topic and leave them closed, without bothering to make them on-topic by editing. But we should still be welcoming to the new user and explain why the question is not well-received, and how things work around PPCG, additionally pointing them towards the Sandbox. After we provide all the necessary information, we might want to ask the OP if they want to reword their question themselves to make it on-topic (this would be perfectly fine, I think). If they don't want to modify their post or don't reply to the comments after a certain threshold (e.g. a couple of days), some other member of the community can take over their challenge and post it separately, of course mentioning the original post.

  • \$\begingroup\$ If they don't want to modify their post or don't reply to the comments after a certain threshold (e.g. a couple of days), some other member of the community can take over their challenge and post it separately I don't think they actually have to wait for any threshold, due to how content all over SE is licensed (CC-BY-SA 3.0 With Attribution). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 21:01
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I didn't say they have to wait, but I think they should, to give the OP a chance to edit, if they are interested in that of course. \$\endgroup\$
    – Mr. Xcoder
    Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 21:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, what you say there means they have to wait, the condition being that a certain threshold has been met and the OP hasn't edited their question yet. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 21:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ How about suggesting the direction to edit? When I tried to suggest turning an off-topic question into a code-golf (without editing the question) another user replied me with the link to this meta post. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Mar 5, 2018 at 7:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ no u, i will break the rules and edit off-topic posts because it helps the site \$\endgroup\$
    – Joao-3
    Commented Oct 2, 2022 at 13:07

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