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Related to this question: should we answer off topic questions, I was wondering if we should edit obvious spelling and grammar mistakes on questions that seem like they might be off topic, even if they haven't been closed yet.

For example, I was looking at this question: question about wild dogs, which seems like it might be off topic on the basis of being story-based. However, I went ahead and cleaned up the grammar (mostly extra spaces and weird punctuation) to make the question more readable anyways. What I'm wondering is this: should I worry about grammar/spelling on a question that's liable to be closed?

On the pro side, it seems like if the question is later edited to be more in line with world building, grammar edits will help to improve the quality of questions on this site, which is a good thing. On the other hand, if the question is not reopened it may be wasted effort, and if the asker is editing their question anyways to make it more of a worldbuilding question, it may be better to wait until the question is in its final form before cleaning it up. What do other people think?

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Making grammar edits on a question that is closed, downvoted, and unanswered might be wasted effort because such a question, if not reopened, will get auto-deleted eventually. (Except duplicates -- those stick around.)

Making only minor edits to a closed question that wasn't already recently active is not a good idea because it bumps the question to the front page again without addressing whatever got it closed in the first place.

Beyond those two cases, though, if you can improve a question, particularly one that's already on the front page, and you are inclined to do so, go for it. Do read through and try to fix everything; fixing one typo but leaving several more is not very helpful and might get an edit rejected (if the edit had to be reviewed). But if you can make a post more readable -- typos, grammar, paragraph breaks, formatting -- then you help all future readers.

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I was wondering if we should edit obvious spelling and grammar mistakes on questions that seem like they might be off topic, even if they haven't been closed yet.

Especially if they haven't been closed yet. If it's closed, then it complicates the Reopen vote if there is one. If the question is open, then the only bad thing that happens on an edit is that it moves it to the top of the front page. This is especially true of those of us who have enough reputation to edit without review.

Note: I'm not saying high rep users should feel an obligation to edit off-topic questions for typos. I'm saying that if you would like to edit an open question, you should not feel any hesitation about it being off-topic. I would only edit a closed question if I think it should be opened (and preferably there has already been a content edit).

The question of whether or not you're wasting your effort is something that you have to answer yourself. It's either worth it to you or not. Even closed, the question still hangs around for some time. An edit isn't entirely wasted and may be appreciated by some number of readers.

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I always look at edits to my posts and see what has been edited. Sometimes it's just a spelling (I look at you, Resource/Ressource) edit, but sometimes I learn that what I thought was the right grammar was indeed wrong.


In my opinion editing off-topic questions is worthwile for the chance the user looks at the edit and learns from it. If you are unsure and it gets not locked your edit was correct from the beginning, but if it is locked you've done little to no harm.

I however aknowledge that it might send a wrong kind of signal, after all you should not answer and flag as well.

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Absolutely not - if it's already closed

The biggest issue with making grammar and spelling changes on off topic questions that are closed is that it puts it into the reopen queue, without actually changing the content of the question. This means that less experienced users who ave access to the queue but not the direct voting mechanic might accidentally reopen an off topic question without first fixing the content of the question.

However, if it's not already closed and is still open, or if you think you can completely fix the question, by all means have at it and do so.

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    $\begingroup$ The OP's question is specifically about questions that haven't been closed yet. IMO this answer puts the focus on the wrong issue. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Jun 3 '16 at 7:49
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelKjörling The OP's question is not specifically about questions that haven't been closed yet - the OP's question asks about all questions generally, specifically making a point to include those that haven't been closed yet. Also, the line "On the other hand, if the question is not reopened" in the third paragraph implies that he's talking directly about closed questions. $\endgroup$ – Aify Jun 3 '16 at 8:20

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