I've been asked to open a question here, so:

  • I asked a "why" question
  • It was edited to a yes/no question
  • I edited it back
  • repeat

If a "why" question is unacceptable, why was my question edited rather than closed or deleted? Changing my question to one with different content represents me as being interested in something I'm not; representing a lie as being the truth seems to me to be directly opposite to the mission of the site.

Is it acceptable to misrepresent the original poster in this fashion?

1 Answer 1


A few points here to be made:

  • There is no misrepresentation of your contribution. The full edit history of the question is public - so your contribution is uniquely limited to what you actually wrote.

  • More in general, our content is community edited, like wikipedia. This includes asked questions. This might be unsettling for some users, but it's network policy. We need to equally respect other people's contributions.

  • On this site in particular, we encourage big, bold edits in order to salvage questions which would be closed otherwise. The advantage is that we can get more content and possibly teach new users how to ask and what to ask. The disadvantage is that sometimes users might not appreciate the edit. Our intent is based on the premise that the original poster would rather have a modified question be open, than the original question be closed. This assumption is not always right.

  • Edit wars. We should never do them. I am not saying that you did, or that someone else did, but the back-and-forth was getting dangerously nonconstructive. This is why I locked the question and brought the discussion here, where we can expand our thoughts a little bit.

  • The current version I reverted your question to, is the last one before the back-and-forth started, don't attach a particular meaning to that choice.

  • Specifically to your question, it is based on the assumption that the number of deaths is artificially high this year. We can't answer hypothetical or speculative questions, so yours is not going to work here.

It's really up to you: do you want us to fix your question, but potentially ask something different from the original intent, or should we remove the post altogether?

  • I don't see much value in it as it stands, so if it were just up to me we would remove it; but if others want it there, so be it. To your last point: no, it's based on the assumption that the number of celebrity deaths being reported is higher. It gives evidence to back up that assumption. It goes on to ask whether that's because there's an increase in deaths, and to request an explanation in either case. I think you must be looking at one of the versions that the other editors left in place.
    – Simon
    Apr 25, 2016 at 12:02
  • @Simon the number is higher, but it could be due to chance. Unless there's a statistically significant change, or an actual cause is known in the first place, it's incorrect to assume that there's something to explain.
    – Sklivvz
    Apr 25, 2016 at 12:13
  • I'm not sure I understand the distinction you're making here. What is the difference between "There is something" and "There is something to explain"?
    – Simon
    Apr 25, 2016 at 12:59
  • Your question shows that people believe there was an increase. This doesn't mean that this claim stands to scrutiny, which is what your question implies.
    – Sklivvz
    Apr 25, 2016 at 13:26
  • The claim that there has been an increase in obituaries?
    – Simon
    Apr 25, 2016 at 13:43
  • # of obituaries is highly correlated with # of deaths. This seems to be a circular argument!
    – Jamiec Mod
    Apr 25, 2016 at 16:02
  • It is a common proposal in UK papers that there are more celebrities diving this year see theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/apr/27/… and the BBC and telegraph quotes in the question and one answer. The claim **does seem ** to stand up to scrutiny or at least needs some info to show it does not - all the published info says it is larger this year
    – mmmmmm
    Apr 27, 2016 at 8:01
  • What is the minimum and maximum number of obituaries that we would normally expect in 95% of cases? Without knowing this, or something close to this, showing an increase is an exercise in futility. If the number of celeb deaths we expect is between 50 and 120, showing that there have been 100, even if it's more than last year's 75, is not showing anything unexpected or out of the ordinary... And showing a graph comparing the first three months of each year is pure cherry picking.
    – Sklivvz
    Apr 27, 2016 at 13:40

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