Let's assume the OP asks something regarding an issue or a plain question without any suggestion towards a solution to how.

E.g. revision 1 of this example question:

Add repositories to synaptic

I would like to synaptic to have access to the repository files on this website: http://www.tug.org/texlive/debian.html

I have tried typing in the web page in the appropriate place, but that does not seem to work.

There is a further problem: When I do the apt-get install texlive it goes right to the 2009 version. If I add the 2012 version on the website, does that mean that it wont work with 12.04?

Clearly, the OP expects to get TeXLive 2012 by adding a repository being the informative web page. This is not the case, it's just an informational page stating how to get it compiled and what versions are available in which distributions.

Then, a good answer came in:

The directory listing linked on the page you linked does not show the available backports for 12.04(precise).

In order to get the "2012" version of texlive, you will need to add the backport repository from here.


While this isn't the only way to get TeXLive 2012, it's a good (maybe even best) option. I even upvoted it for this reason.

But them some time later the answerer edited the question specifically targeted to his answer:

How do I add the latex backport PPAs to synaptic in 12.04?

body still the same

I'm very ashamed that I clicked "approve" too quickly in reviewing the suggested edit!

Is this still a fair game being played? Other options, like including Quantal repositories and appropriate pinning, compiling from source, etc. are out of the question.

I've put my opinion in an answer.

  • 2
    Why not just fix the question to be more generic? Maybe the person was just trying to edit the question to make more sense; "Add repositories to synaptic" was a poor title. Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 17:05
  • @JorgeCastro Good suggestion for an answer. Added it as such.
    – gertvdijk
    Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 17:21
  • 2
    Actions here are pretty obvious, no need for fuzz I would say. This is the base of our work: edit, approve, clean, revert, fix, make it better... I wouldn't spend time thinking about it. Just revert the edit and move along. Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 18:31
  • 2
    If it makes a difference, I only changed the title once my answer was accepted by the OP and upvoted a couple times. Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 18:52
  • @maggotbrain Ah you've found your way here. :) Even if your question was accepted, it wasn't the original question of OP (too specific) and therefore more than an improvement with at least a suggestion to write towards your answer. But that detail about accepting first is important indeed to point out in this case. Thanks.
    – gertvdijk
    Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 19:21
  • I fail to find any discussion about this amusing, sorry peeps. Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 23:11

5 Answers 5


As always there are two sides of the medal

  1. We should not change a question to fit our answer.
  2. We should edit bad question and close dupes.

In the first place the question chosen by the OP was not a good one. It was open, and could easily be closed as a dupe to any other question asking for how to change our sources.

But the OP did ask for a repository, and also he did ask for a LaTEX repository. Therefore the title needed to be edited. It is probable coincidental that the answerer also proposed the edit, as he was the person who did read and understand the question first.

If however the question was asked different in the first place, i.e. if we were not asked for a repository but any way including compiling from source to install LaTEX we should also have said so in a title edit. Then it would perhaps become obvious that we already have this question here:

What we do see here is that this question is answered the same - so in any case rather than discussing this edit we should go on and close this question as a dupe.

  • Yeah, sort of agree, but the title should not have become the almost-answer. And yes, it should be closed for dupe instead.
    – gertvdijk
    Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 17:27
  • +1 I think the edit in this case was OK.
    – Seth
    Commented Jan 15, 2013 at 22:55

Flaggability is Orthogonal to Ridiculousness

Like Jorge (and you) said here, the solution to a bad edit is to revert or improve.

Except to handle a pattern that needs moderator attention, flagging when editing does the job should be avoided.

  • If there's an edit war or a pattern of actions that change the meaning of questions without good reason, or that game the system, then of course flagging makes sense. In isolated cases, though, it's hard for me to see what flagging would accomplish.

Remember, all of us encounter problems with posts from time to time that we think are ridiculous. So we edit them (or submit edits for review).

It is by design that there is no "This is ridiculous!" flag reason. Posts that need moderator attention should be flagged for moderator attention whether the problem arose from ridiculousness or reasonable action. Similarly, any post that does not need moderator attention should not be flagged.

When the Post is Edited to be On-Topic

That's not quite the situation here, but this meta question will be referred to again in similar situations.

To expand on what Takkat said, remember that it's usually better to help a post be on-topic so it can be answered, than to close a post as off-topic:

Don’t hit them over the head with your scope, help them tailor their question to fit into it

Shog9, "Respect the community – your own, and others’", SE blog

While that was primarily focused on closing questions that might be considered better-suited for another SE site, it applies to any question that's potentially valuable to the community, where on-topic answers could be helpful to the OP.

So sometimes someone will contribute by editing a question to refine it and establish it as within the scope of our site, which is a contribution that benefits us all. Sometimes someone will contribute by posting properly scoped answers to questions, which is a contribution that benefits us all. Sometimes someone will do both.

Whether the change is for scope, clarity, "questionliness," or any other important variable...

Sometimes someone will edit and answer a question inappropriately, in a way that does not benefit anyone. That doesn't always mean ill intent. They may have been trying to do two very right things, and ended up doing two slightly-to-moderately wrong things instead.

You will see users refining a question because they understand it, and answering a question because they understand it. Most of the time, doing both these things is good, not bad.


As per Jorge Castro's comment:

No need to be upset. Just revert the action by the editor yourself! If it needs improvement, improve it in a generic way.


Yes, it's OK to edit a question to narrow it down to your answer, as long as these conditions are met:

  1. the original question was vague or badly asked or not the actual issue
  2. your edit to the question still remains general enough to be useful to lurkers
  3. your edit to the question matches all other existing answers

I think this is ridiculous and should be flagged for moderator attention. It's not a fair game anymore, undermines the whole concept of providing several answers and the ability to upvote them. It gives me a feeling of selfishness by the answerer.

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