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When an unclear or otherwise lacking question is posted on this site, it often happens that one of the more experienced users posts a comment asking for clarification. Fairly often, the asker responds in a comment to the original post, attempting to clarify or otherwise improve the question. With the additional information, the question may (or may not...) become significantly clearer/better. However, the original post is often left unedited.

There is an issue concerning this situation that I've bumped into many times: When reviewing (in the sense of the site's review queues) a question where something like this has happened, should a reviewer take the information contained exclusively in the comments into account when deciding whether to e.g. cast a vote to close the question?

I'm looking to establish an "official course of action" for this type of scenario. Feel free to post your suggestion as an answer.

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If the comments from OP add clarity, and if they are new users, I would personally edit the comments into the question myself. I would then leave a comment to the effect of:

@OP I took the liberty of editing the clarifications from your comments into the question. Please let me know if I did not represent your intentions correctly. On future questions, please use the comments as a guide and include the recommendations and clarifications from them in the post yourself.

The benefit is that if OP disappears, the information is preserved. If it's a totally new user, they may not know that they can edit questions or how to do so. Or even why they should (the whole comments are temporary thing). It's also a nice way to show new users that this is a collaborative community and that we may ask questions and challenge assumptions, but it is only to suss out the real intent and to avoid XY problems.

If it's a more experienced user, it's okay to be a bit more... terse?... and ask them to edit it in themselves. But after having done so, it might be a good idea to wait a bit and if it isn't done, do it yourself. After all, if the information really did make it better, then it needs to be moved lest it be lost.

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    $\begingroup$ Leaving a comment noting that all useful information should be incorporated is something I think is reasonable, but I don't think it's a good idea to expect reviewers to edit extra stuff in themselves: It's just not practical when there are 20 reviews to go through---daily! In fact, it's already a bit of a stretch to expect reviewers to read the entire comment thread on every post they review, IMO. What do you think about these points? $\endgroup$ – Danu Sep 12 '15 at 1:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Danu I would say that the quality of the review is more important than the quantity. If you can only get through 5 a day but you do it in good detail, make an honest assessment of the post and do everything you can to make the post under review the best it can be (assuming it can be salvaged at all), that serves the community better than doing what it takes to get through 20. Poor questions will either be closed or ignored for awhile anyway, so it may not be a huge rush to get them perfect. But I can also see how that is my opinion and others may disagree. $\endgroup$ – tpg2114 Sep 12 '15 at 1:15
  • $\begingroup$ And again, I think it may boil down to who the poster is -- if I post a really unclear question and clarify it in comments but don't edit it in, feel free to not even read the comments. Vote to close and leave a comment saying "Dude, you should know better." But if it's a (relatively) new user, who may not know their question is unclear, nor know they can edit, nor know they should edit, nor know the standards of the community... I'm inclined to take a more friendly approach and lead by example. Fix it, explain why and how you fixed it, and encourage them to do it themselves next time. $\endgroup$ – tpg2114 Sep 12 '15 at 1:21
  • $\begingroup$ The "assuming it can be salvaged at all" is the key here, in my view. Most questions in the review queues are of low quality. Requiring every reviewer to "wade through the crap" and thoroughly inspect the comments etc. to possibly salvage one question every once in a while is just not realistic to me: It would cripple the (already insufficiently efficient) reviewing system. $\endgroup$ – Danu Sep 12 '15 at 1:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Danu That's a fair opinion, but I find the posts where the poster has the clarity to actually explain and present their information in the comments are distinct from the really bad crap where it just will never make sense. If there is a long thread of comments, you may not have to get fair into it to identify that nothing meaningful follows. But if it looks like there is a glimmer of hope, it's worth pursuing. $\endgroup$ – tpg2114 Sep 12 '15 at 1:26
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No, information that is only presented in a comment should not be taken into account when judging whether to close a question. Comments are meant to be temporary and thus should not be used to hold any vital information that could (or does) make a difference to the quality of the post.

This implies that it is important to tell askers to edit their post whenever they discover that they would like to add any useful information.

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