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The title says it all.

While surfing through the questions page in Physics SE, sometimes I stumble upon a few closed and duplicate questions which are begging me to get salvaged. Simply put, they have major issues which cannot be ignored. My first thought is to edit them right away. But then I think that it is better not to bump a duplicate or a closed question on the homepage, so I leave it unedited. What should be my approach to these kind of questions?

Edit :- By "salvation", I mean to correct the spelling, fix grammar, convert normal text to Mathjax, etc. I do not intend to reopen that question by changing it significantly. I just want to lift it up to the expected SE standards.

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...are begging me to get salvaged.

In what way are you wanting to "salvage"? Do you mean there are typos you want to fix, or are you saying you can edit the question to not be closed anymore?

If it is the latter, I would probably not edit the question, as you will most likely be changing the intent of the OP. If you think the OP is just not asking the question clearly enough, using the wrong words, etc. then you should just leave a comment suggesting to the OP what they can do to help make their question better. This is what the comments are for. This way if your ideas match what they are trying to say, they can edit accordingly, and if not then the question can remain closed since it will stay in the same state.

If it is the former, then I would look at two things. First, try to decide if the question is still useful to future users despite it being closed. For example, perhaps before the question was closed someone still posted a great answer that has some good information in it. Second, is what you need to fix really that important? Is it a minor typo that doesn't really affect the question, or is it something that really needs to be addressed to help the question be much better? I do think typos should be fixed, but if you are worried about bringing up old, closed questions, then perhaps the severity or lightness of the proposed edit could help you personally decide if it is worth it or not.

So in my opinion, you need to make a decision on how important your edit is, how important the question is, and whether or not it is your place to make the edit you want to make. From there you can decide if the edit should be made or not. I would usually lean towards not editing, since I think it should be up to the OP to fix their questions if they are closed. But there are always special cases to consider, so I won't say never do it.

By "salvation", I mean to correct the spelling, fix grammar, convert normal text to Mathjax, etc. I do not intend to reopen that question by changing it significantly. I just want to lift it up to the expected SE standards.

I should note that if a question is closed, then fixing typos, MathJax, etc. will not raise the question to the standards of Physics SE, as the question will still be closed.

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  • $\begingroup$ Well, I meant the former case(typos, grammatical errors, no Mathjax, etc.) when I talked about "salvation". Thanks for your answer!! Now I think I have a much better way to decide whether to edit or not. $\endgroup$ – user243267 Dec 14 '19 at 14:49
  • $\begingroup$ @FakeMod Ah ok. See my addition to your edit. If you motivation is just to "raise the standard", then that might be pointless since the question would still be closed, and therefore still below the normal standards. Good grammar, etc. $\neq$ acceptable question. $\endgroup$ – Aaron Stevens Dec 14 '19 at 15:07
  • $\begingroup$ My intention is to "raise the standard" for the posterity viewing that question. $\endgroup$ – user243267 Dec 14 '19 at 15:34
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I think I'm saying kind of the same thing as Aaron, but I'm going to be more pithy:

But then I think that it is better not to bump a duplicate or a closed question on the homepage, so I leave it unedited.

In general: if you can edit the question in a way that you think will fix the problems that caused it to be closed in the first place, then yes, by all means, edit and bump it to the front page. We want closed questions whose issues have been addressed to get attention so that people can vote to reopen them.

But it sounds like that's not what you're talking about, so...

I do not intend to reopen that question by changing it significantly. I just want to lift it up to the expected SE standards.

If your edit wouldn't fix the reason the question is closed, then I probably wouldn't bother. There may be some exceptions, though; for example, if a question needs a lot of improvement, and you can make an edit that does most of the improvement and you think someone else (maybe the original asker) could take it the rest of the way to fix the reasons it was closed, then that's probably fine.

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A very important issue here is that the first edit of a closed question not only bumps the question to the front page (for people using the Active tab), it also sends the question to the Reopen review queue. If you make minor "cosmetic" edits that aren't sufficient to make the question worth opening, then the reviewers are unlikely to vote to reopen it, so you're wasting their time.

If the OP then comes along and actually fixes their question so that it is worth reopening, the question will not be sent to the review queue, because only the first edit sends it to that queue, so it has to rely on people with enough rep to vote to reopen seeing it in the Active tab.

I should mention that this has implications for suggested edits. If a post has a pending suggested edit when it gets closed, and someone comes along and approves the suggested edit, that also sends the question to the review queue, thus depriving the OP of the chance to have the question reviewed after they fix it.

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  • $\begingroup$ I never have the motive to reopen a closed question. The editing for reopening should be OP's choice(and responsibility). I just feel like editing closed posts which have good answers and might be viewed by other people who encounter the same question. $\endgroup$ – user243267 Dec 21 '19 at 11:02
  • $\begingroup$ I just read your edit. So, now I think I should always drop by a comment suggesting the OP to do the edit himself/herself. $\endgroup$ – user243267 Dec 21 '19 at 11:04
  • $\begingroup$ @FakeMod Understood, so if the question is potentially salvageable by the OP, you should let them have the opportunity to fix it before you make the cosmetic edits, so that it gets reviewed after the OP's edit. $\endgroup$ – PM 2Ring Dec 21 '19 at 11:05
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, an edit suggestion in the comments is a great idea, especially if the post is still fresh. OTOH, if the question has been closed for a few days, and it looks like the OP is unlikely to edit it themself, then feel free to do the edit yourself. $\endgroup$ – PM 2Ring Dec 21 '19 at 11:08
  • $\begingroup$ I get it! So it's just a matter of letting the OP try first if the OP can. $\endgroup$ – user243267 Dec 21 '19 at 11:11
  • $\begingroup$ @FakeMod Exactly! $\endgroup$ – PM 2Ring Dec 21 '19 at 11:15

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