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Of course, if it's difficult to understand a question due to poor wording or grammar, then that would be an appropriate edit. What about edits that change the wording, or alter the writing style without changing the underlying meaning?

Another point, what about edits that alter the intent or emphasis of the post? e.g. An editor thinks that a certain interpretation is important, and changes an existing answer to emphasize that interpretation.

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What about edits that change the wording, or alter the writing style without changing the underlying meaning?

I would say that changing the writing style (or wording) is not itself a reason for an edit to be inappropriate. But it's not a reason to edit either. Yes, if a question is outright unclear because of the writing style, go ahead and fix that, but if it is perfectly understandable and you simply don't like the style, leave it alone.

Another point, what about edits that alter the intent or emphasis of the post?

This I'd be more wary of because the choice of emphasis in a post can be a reflection of an author's intent. For example, there are cases where a perfectly valid answer already exists on a question, but I don't feel that it emphasizes the right point, so I post another answer that does emphasize what I think is the important part. If the choice of emphasis is a valid reason to post an entirely separate answer, it follows that altering the choice of emphasis could change an answer from one that represents the OP's intent to one that does not.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'd say one should be wary of changing writing styles or wordings. Changing a writing style could dramatically alter the means the author wanted to express their thoughts. The writing style could be what makes something easy to grasp. It could add humour. It could make the post relatable. And changing words is equally bad. If the post isn't incomprehensible, some words might be chosen for specific reasons. It's probably the best idea to check with the OP in all cases where the edit doesn't significantly improve the post $\endgroup$ – Jim Aug 10 '15 at 14:06

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