Someone asked a reasonable question related to this several months ago. From the answer, it seems that none of us here has any control over the process, or the algorithm.

Another approach has occurred to me: How heavily can these "recycled" questions be edited?

For example, if I edited such a question - one that I thought hopelessly clueless - could I edit it in such a way that it could be closed for being "off topic", or a "shopping request", or something else that was clearly a question to be closed? Similarly, a "zombie question" could be edited to create a good and useful question... but the dividends for time invested just aren't there. What are the rules on this?

  • 2
    I am reading it like this: a question is not well-received but not that bad that it gets closed or deleted, i.e. it might be salvageable. You now what to edit it in such a way to make it worse so that it gets closed. I am pretty sure that at least that part is against our Hippocratic Oath.
    – Ghanima Mod
    Commented Oct 11, 2020 at 8:39
  • That's a fair point - ethics are good and valuable - especially when one is administering to the sick. People don't come here for medical treatment, but they may need help - I get your point. But consider a case where the question was 1) a poor question the day it was written, 2) the question is years old, 3) the OP has not visited the site since asking the question, and 4) the question has no relevance to anyone else. Like maybe this question... < continued >
    – Seamus
    Commented Oct 11, 2020 at 15:09
  • Does this same Hippocratic Oath hold out that the question should be run through the system ad infinitum? What ethical principles are upheld by such a policy? Is the OP still out there somewhere - suffering and silently waiting for his 7" touchscreen to begin working? Or is it more likely that someone with a problem today visits the site, sees a high percentage of ill-framed questions with no real answers, and wonders, "What's the point?". Whose interests are served by such ethics?
    – Seamus
    Commented Oct 11, 2020 at 15:16
  • @Ghanima: Sorry - forgot to add your handle in my comments above ⬆︎
    – Seamus
    Commented Oct 11, 2020 at 16:21
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    ... and I see your point, which is why I will not post an answer but let the community discuss. I just have a problem in editing existing content to make it worse just to have it closed. It's probably much simpler to find an understanding to close stuff that is not salvageable.
    – Ghanima Mod
    Commented Oct 11, 2020 at 17:45
  • @Ghanima: probably much simpler to find an understanding to close stuff that is not salvageable. Agreed!... I was under the impression that was not an option.
    – Seamus
    Commented Oct 11, 2020 at 18:28
  • Well, I am looking for a community consensus here, I will not single handedly make policy. So lets hope a few community members care to weigh in on this one.
    – Ghanima Mod
    Commented Oct 11, 2020 at 19:33
  • @Ghanima I agree we should not edit questions to make them off-topic etc. It violates the intention of the OP. I also think that not having an answer does at times have value *if you ask a question that is so specific that no one else has experienced it). But I do think there may be value in a method of closing via a community mechanism (voting) of old low-quality questions - or alternatively a request to the SO powers that be for a change in the algorithm that resurfaces these questions. Commented Oct 14, 2020 at 1:18

1 Answer 1


AFAIK abandoned unanswerable questions, where the original poster didn't follow up to the latest clarification requests via comments, should be closed as "Needing clarification". This leaves the opportunity for the OP to eventually come back, edit the question and nominate it for reopening.

Editing the questions to make them more close-worthy is trouble. Eventually a poor soul will come back to their old question only to find it (from their point of view) vandalized and closed, and will report whoever edited their question last to the mods as an abuser.

Trying to turn bad questions into good questions is a noble goal which IMO will not scale to more than a few questions. Plus, it sends the wrong message: post crap, get it edited into something decent, earn rep for participation. That's clearly not the kind of participation which makes the community healthy.

Note that in my experience a fair bit of questions which keep coming back to the queue are answered, it's jut that the OP didn't accept the answer and nobody else voted for it. If the Q and the A are both useless, downvoting both below zero will eventually trigger removal. Otherwise, at least one of the answers should get upvoted (AFAIK +1 will do) to prevent the question from coming back.

  • That sounds reasonable. Strictly as an example, how do you think this one should be handled?
    – Seamus
    Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 15:17
  • @Seamus I'd close it. The OP says he "Tried it with 3 different raspberry 3's", but it is not stated whether that worked (I assume it didn't, but still). There's also a passage about having 5V and GND "on the wrong connections", which is also unclear and makes me believe the problem might be non-reproducible on a sane device. Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 15:23
  • I agree again. But that requires someone make analysis and decision. That said, and reading the comments to my Q above, it seems no one wishes to do that unilaterally. I've concluded 2 things: 1) these "low quality" questions don't bother very many, and 2) I never should have asked this question! The suggestion to make "low quality" questions even lower was born from a desire to "do something, even if it's wrong". My practice going forward will be simply to ignore everything with the "Community" label on it. Apathy works for me, too!
    – Seamus
    Commented Oct 30, 2020 at 18:47

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