I'm thinking of this example in particular, but have seen it happening before: How to improve critical thinking?

First version by the OP:

What are the proven methods that boost critical thinking in a person

The post was closed as too broad for obvious reasons.

Second version, as edited by one of our users:

Kant's fundamental work Critique of Pure Reason votes for critical thinking already by its title.

What are methods that boost critical thinking in the sense of Kant's book?

There were also tag changes. This question was reopened.

The first version did not mention Kant whatsoever, nor was it mentioned in the comments. The edit introduced this, as well as the tags 'kant' and 'critique-of-pure-reason'.

If I would have reviewed that edit, I would have rejected it as not reflecting the intentions of the author. On the other hand, one could argue that as the post is closed anyway, we can try to change it so that it can be reopened.

In what cases would it be OK to change the meaning of a post substantially?

I'm thinking in terms of:

  • Whether the OP is active/inactive
  • Time since last activity
  • Number of answers
  • Whether the question is closed or not
  • Vote count
  • ...?

Or is this never OK? Should we open a new question for substantially different questions / only allow the OP to make such edits?

Note: at the moment of writing there is a suggested edit on the post I gave as an example, I don't intend to look at this post specifically so it is not relevant.

Note: I was very close to rolling back the edit on the example post for the reasons stated above and only didn't because it had been reopened afterwards.

Note: the user making the first edit has 0 suggested edits rejected, and several accepted. I have looked through these reviews and of some like this one it seems unthinkable for me to accept such an edit. I don't mean to say some users aren't thinking when reviewing, nor do I want to discuss this particular user (I'm sure he's acting in good faith), but it does indicate it may be time for a discussion what kind of edits are OK. I realise it's a gray area; I too voted to keep editing subjective questions, for examples.

  • 2
    I pretty much have the exact same question... The only reason I let it get re-opened is that for whatever combination of reasons, a good % of our users seem to think I'm being a tyrant for closing obviously unanswerable questions. / n.b. the above question is getting another suggested re-edit to make it even less like anything the OP originally tried asking. (though both make the question more answerable)
    – virmaior
    Commented Sep 3, 2015 at 0:21

2 Answers 2



Unless someone provides some input here, I'd suggest we continue in the following way:

  • Edits by 1k+ users should be confirm the rules we use for suggested edits; that is:

    • Don't deface the post to promote a product or service, or deliberately destruct
    • Do make the post easier to read/find, more accurate/accessible
    • Don't introduce tags that do not help to define the topic of the question
    • Don't deviate from the original intent of the post. Always strive to preserve the goals of the post's owner
    • Don't make edits where you could have used a comment
  • Whenever you see an edit that does not meet these criteria, you should roll it back.

  • This should also apply to closed questions. Don't edit closed questions to ask an entirely different (though somehow related) question. Instead, open a new question.


The original question wasn't answerable as it had no philosophical content; I answered the edited version as an exercise in free composition; mainly because of how the question was phrased: 'votes for critical thinking already by its title'; even though strictly speaking, it still had no real philosophical content.

I don't tend to edit questions; if I spot a question which, even if badly formed, goes into interesting territory that the site doesn't tend to explore I answer it in an effort to improve the diversity of the questions. I did this a fair bit when I first began on the site.

I have noted though this strategy is back-firing somewhat now: when I did this recently it encouraged a rash of quite bad questions, which was quite disconcerting - on reflection this is probably due to high rep visibility; something that I personally discount.

I've tried more recently to offer advice on improving questions I'm interested in answering or seen answered ie quote the text or simplify the question.

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