Regarding "Is awakened intelligence hereditary?", I'm curious about what can be done to improve the question, since it was closed for being unclear.

It doesn't look like the original poster is going to update the question (they have not edited the question in the month since it was asked). However, despite a consensus of 5 people voting to close it for lack of clarity, and I don't know the correct course of action to resolve the issue because I don't really understand what is unclear and I don't know what the proper process is for remedying it. I think the question is interesting for posterity and worth salvaging.

I have thought about improving the question myself by removing or refactoring the second paragraph (about being able to teach the offspring) while keeping the first paragraph (which is just about whether INT is hereditary) but I'm not really sure about the etiquette in this situation. Here are some of my concerns.

  • I'm not sure it's right for me to try to edit the question and make it canonical by presuming to know what the intent of the question was on behalf of the person who asked it.
  • Given that I was the only one who posted an answer to the question and I stand to benefit from the reopening of the question if my answer is accepted, I'm not sure it's ethical for me to consider being the one to try to fix the question. Nevertheless, I think the votes on my answer indicate that it is a respectable answer to some form of the question.
  • I could post a new self-answered question based on what I think the intent was and re-answer with the same answer I gave, but that has the potential to get voted as a duplicate and I don't see the point in cluttering things up with another question if an existing one can be improved.

So my meta question is, What can be done to improve the question cited above to warrant reopening it as a good, canonical question? Thanks for any insight.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Why not post a new question that is a good, canonical question? Seems easier than editing someone else's not good question which is already closed and who has disappeared into shape. \$\endgroup\$
    – Yakk
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 14:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Because we ended up resolving its problems and it got reopened. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 16:22

1 Answer 1


It's probably salvageable

The biggest problem with it is that we don't know if they're a DM or player (as #3 below), which makes it harder to write quality answers. But by itself, that's not actually a huge hurdle.

The other problem is that they've abandoned the question, which means (per below), that there some question about the value in salvaging it.

However, problem #2 identified below, which contributed to much of the appearance of problems with the question, appears to have been caused by a series of too-many-cooks editing errors, myself included in that set of editors. With that problem resolved as “not their fault” it's not actually a red flag. That means the remaining issues with the question are much more academic.

We can probably reopen this question. It only has one real problem, and that's not usually a problem that leads to a question being permanently closed.

The below is the answer as it stood before the editing error in the question's history was pointed out. Its discussion of the situation is still relevant apart from #2, but the above re-evaluates the weight of the other data in light of #2 being resolved, and arrives at a different conclusion.

Why it's closed (now)

There are three reasons for the close votes (judging by the current and removed comments, and the timeline of voting):

  1. It didn't say what game it was about. This reason was fixed.

  2. It linked to a D&D 3.5e spell, which is a red flag.

    Linking to the wrong resource can imply many different possible problems with the question, non of which can be resolved except by the author. For example, they say they're playing 5e, but did they say “5e” to say they were playing 3.5e and not 3.0e? Perhaps they're playing D&D 5e, but the question only exists because they looked at the wrong game's rules — perhaps from the spell itself, or some other page for 3.5e connected to it?

    The author resolving that issue could reveal that the problem is something entirely different than what can be gleaned from the existing question's text, making it impossible for us to guess.

  3. They didn't say whether they were the DM or a player, which causes a difficulty when trying to write answers.

    If they're the DM, then one possible answer (basically, “ask your DM”) becomes not-an-answer. If they're a player, then one possible answer (“you're the DM, you get to decide this for your world”) becomes invalid. Even for answers that aren't of that type, the kind of explanation that separates good answers from just-okay answers can be in how pointedly it addresses the specific situation of the asker — and we don't know what that is.

These aren't individually particularly lethal problems for a question, once #1 was resolved. We could make a reasonable guess at #2, and the answerers for #3 could just suffer the ambiguity and hedge their bets.

But all together, they're somewhat red flags. And one thing multiplies them: the asker abandoned the question. We asked for some basic clarifications, and they've never answered.

So though those two problems aren't unfixable, we don't have a way to fix them well.

Yes, the question could be useful for posterity, but rather than clean up an ambiguous, abandoned question so that new bet-hedging answers could be added, it's sometimes more valuable to let questions that the asker clearly doesn't care much about stay closed, so that some future asker who has a similar question that's clearer and that they won't abandon has a chance to ask, without it being closed as a duplicate of an old not-very-good question.

It's not quite a science why questions like this get or stay closed. It's more a fuzzy decision made by the emergent intelligence of the RPG Collective Consciousness, as given life through the voting mechanics. I can see why this one got held and stayed closed, and I mostly agree with it, at least enough to not want to super-reopen it.

My personal feeling is that abandoned questions don't merit the efforts to rehabilitate them, especially when it might shoot down a future, better question that a future user might honest ask. That future new-to-the-site user will have a better time if their (good, clear) question gets positive feedback, earns them rep, and gets clear answers, rather than being closed as a duplicate of an old, crummy question with answers that are trying their best but inherently hampered by the crumminess of the question.

What you can do

On the plus side, that emergent intelligence can be “asked” if maybe it'll reconsider its decision. My personal feeling on the question isn't necessarily shared. It can be asked by nominating it for reopening, either with a vote (for 3k+ users), a flag, or by editing it — which latter you've already done. Any of those will put it into the reopen review queue, putting it in front of voters again.

So regardless, we'll soon enough see what the Virtual Brain thinks.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the clarifications. In the event that the question does not get reopened due to intractable problems (basically, if the emergent intelligence says "no" after waiting a reasonable duration), would you think think it appropriate for me to post a clarified SAQ addressing the issues you've mentioned? Under the presumption I'm passionate about the question (which I kind of am--like I said, I think it's interesting). \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 22:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, it looks like you added a bunch of tags to help me find questions about SAQ's. I'm going to read through all those and see if I can glean the necessary insight without bothering you to walk me through it. Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 22:35
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Bloodcinder It's possible to do, though it can be a bit of a minefield. The “Self-answering is hard to do well” section of this answer to an unrelated meta question is my standard advice for this kind of self-answered question plan. Basically, write the question, let it bake in the glare of the community (revising if necessary) to make sure it doesn't need telepathy to answer, and then self-answer after a day or so. It still potentially takes that rep from some future new user… but they might never exist, too. It's a judgement call. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 22:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Bloodcinder I was actually looking for the link that I just commented, which isn't actually attached to any of those! It's a useful answer about [self-answering], but not on a question really about self-answering. :) But those might help, yes, and meanwhile our tagging is just that little bit more useful… \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 22:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ (Thanks for that help.) One thing to point out is that problem 2 didn't originally exist. The original author didn't mention an edition or provide a link. Comments which are no longer there seemed to indicate 5e, so someone added the dnd-5e tag. The link to the d20/3e SRD was actually added by... you. So I think that might have been an accident? I did correct that problem with an edit. So are you suggesting that the only remaining problem with the question is the matter of DM/player perspective? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 22:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Bloodcinder Oh dear! Yes, that is my fault apparently. Yes, that appears to be it (and the abandoned-ness). In which case, it's probably salvageable as-is. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 23:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Korvin Yes, that was my mistake and caught already. See the two previous comments. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 19:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ I am voting to reopen. Previous comment removed. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 19:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for voting to reopen. So, @SevenSidedDie, last question... Do I delete this meta question now that it's obsolete and (as far as I can tell) doesn't have any value for perpetuity? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 5, 2017 at 4:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Bloodcinder It's a useful record of deliberations, if nothing else. And besides, the site wouldn't let it be deleted anyway. :) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Feb 5, 2017 at 6:14

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