I am new to StackExchange. I recently suggested an edit to add context (i.e. surrounding bible verses) to a question because the title of the question implied a broader context than the question itself did. This edit has been marked as rejected because it supposedly changed the intent of the question (that certainly was not my intention.) Coming from a Wikipedia background, such an edit would certainly be allowed and even encouraged, so my question is "what is an acceptable level of editing" here? Should edits mostly just fix grammar and such, or is adding context to a question sometimes acceptable?

Edit: To clarify (in response to Jon), the edit in question hasn't been rejected exactly. A reviewer voted to reject it with the comment "This edit deviates from the original intent of the post. Even edits that must make drastic changes should strive to preserve the goals of the post's owner." It will take a second reject vote before it is actually rejected. (I also made the edit before the user answered their own question.)

My question is not so much about this case, but rather what is considered the acceptable standard. Is it generally OK to add context to a question, or should that usually be avoided?

  • Thanks for clearing up your question so that I can understand it. I do see that your suggestion has one rejection vote, but I wouldn't read too much into that. Maybe the reviewer will see this question and chime in. Jul 20, 2015 at 19:33
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    It's good to have you on the site Thaddeus - not everyone new to SE throws themselves wholeheartedly into reviewing and even meta :) Jul 21, 2015 at 10:57
  • @Jack Thanks for the welcome. It is probably the Wikipedia in me that has gotten me involved in the maintenance side form the start (there, such edits are often a person's first contributions).
    – ThaddeusB
    Jul 21, 2015 at 14:02

3 Answers 3


In general, if you can accurately guess what the OP meant by a question and if you can clarify with an edit, that edit will almost certainly be approved. (Later on, you'll be able to make that edit directly.) But that can be trickier than might at first be clear. The question you are asking about is a good case in point: it's an overly-broad, what-the-heck-does-this-mean question that probably should be closed. If it's to be reopened, we'd want to know what in particular about the passage is causing the interpretive problem the OP is experiencing. In some cases, it might be better to ask an entirely new question about the passage.

Authorship stands as one huge difference between a Stack Exchange site and Wikipedia. Since the OPs name is attached to the question, it would be a bad idea to plant a question that they didn't really have. Sometimes it might make sense to broaden a commonly asked question, but it rarely helps to narrow a broad question without knowing what the author was getting at. The principle is doubly important on sites, such as this one, where the author might attach greater personal significance to their contributions than on, say, Stack Overflow.

From what I can see, that particular edit has not been reviewed yet; it's still pending.


Comment, Comments and More Comments

As opposed to Wikipedia, our OP's are the source of all our queries and should remain that way. Unfortunately, most of our 'new' users are from forums where they are allowed 'free-range' rambling, thought musings, non-sequiters and other 'opaque' babblings that may or may not have a kernel of a legitimate question.

To edit these attempts, one should: 1) Have a clear understanding of Site Directives, and review other Meta posts which greater explain our objectives as well as the 'tensions' that exist when we attempt to enforce them.

2) Understand what the 'question' actually is hiding beneath the superfluous verbage, and see if it exists in a previously asked question(Yeah, I know, it's like doing their homework for them, but I generally give them a pass 1st time around).

3) Ask THEM what they mean. After all, it is THEIR question. If it is merely a rant, I VtC, otherwise I 1st mention what the 'Directive' is that they are in violation of, and suggest a course of action to correct it-allowing them to take the initiative to respond. Some do, some don't, but for the one's that do you've won a potentially valuable contributor, who takes the time to frame their queries within acceptable site guidelines and usually follows through with other questions as well.

4) Edit the question. 'Easy' edits are spelling, punctuation, grammar, and formatting. Individuals who are new to this site generally appreciate anyone who has read their question, and correcting the obvious doesn't change their query. Occasionally I have 're-phrased' the question to fall within Site Directives, but I always ask them if it is the question they are asking, and feel free to reverse my edits-it's their question, not mine. The times I do this is when there are(or will be) VtCs, and after a sufficient number, it is hard to get a hearing when a broad consensus has told you to shut up. I have found it is easier to encourage a new user to make the necessary adjustments when they believe they have a window of opportunity, rather then say to them, "Well, we thought that question sucked so we closed it, but you can always try again(snicker, snicker)".

Commenting, and making suggestions for improvement through comments is usually the best way to engage the OP and encourage a good outcome; one that achieves acceptable results and encourages new users to familiarize themselves with Site Directives. VtC's and VtD's are executive actions when comments have failed(IMO), or when questions(or answers) are so outside of Site Directives as to warrant their immediate action.


This particular edit was okay because your were able to identify the exact verse and translation, but I'd recommend being careful when doing too much to questions in this way.

If you can't find the exact translation, or it's not clear exactly which verse is being asked about (if it could be from any of the gospels for example) then ask the author to improve their own question rather than guessing and editing it yourself.

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