Here's an example of where I start to read a question, then get to the end and the person adds a bunch of edits that just end up confusing me instead of fixing the original question:

This is just one I've seen today, on top of that people tack

UPDATE!!!!11 It works!

UPDATE2 Wait, no it doesn't

UPDATE3 It works again!

How can we encourage people to edit their question to just read right on the first read? I don't understand why people use the "Update" or "Edit" thing either, the dropdown thing notifies me when someone updates a question or answer.

Thoughts on how to improve this? (Yes I know it's mostly new user education, I'd just like to see how we can collectively explain this better to people).

  • 3
    Ah, I've done the "update" thing myself. I had seen it so often, I thought it was the way to go. Ha. We need something like a meta post to show up on the sidebar that has an askubuntu version of 'writing the perfect question' (and we can change "the perfect question" to "an understandable question").
    – belacqua
    Jan 31, 2011 at 16:03
  • Right, that's why I want to bring it up now so we can do the right thing earlier before we get too big to adapt. Jan 31, 2011 at 16:06
  • 1
    The dropdown thing only notifies those who have favorite'd the question right?
    – Isaiah
    Jan 31, 2011 at 18:51

1 Answer 1


This is tricky -- we do want to encourage people to edit their questions (or answers) when updating them rather than posting new ones, of course.

So two guidelines: if the updates are small and one-off, I think the pattern of


One-off edit:
Change to my content

Isn't great but it is OK. When you have a LOT of updates, I think that falls apart and you should switch to:


I tried this, and this happened in detail.

I tried this, and this happened in detail.

I tried this, and this happened in detail.

Essentially you are telling a story, the story of what happened when you tried to solve problem X. So it should be written to read like a story, with proper paragraphs and a narrative arc.

  • 4
    +1 for the story-telling analogy. I like to fully describe the initial problem and then follow up with fix-attempts and their effects. That also helps those who already answered to figure out what's new, which would otherwise be hard to see without looking at the revision history. Feb 14, 2011 at 15:51

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