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Is it possible to remove the attunement property of a magical item? was originally posted in an idea-generating form that wasn't really a good fit. (See, for instance, "short version" in revision 5 of the question.)

While the question was on hold SevenSidedDie edited it down to a form that fit the Stack pretty well and asked OP if this question suited them:

I’ve cut this down to the kind of question RPG.se accepts, to demonstrate what the site is focused on: it doesn’t ask for ideas or suggestions, just facts. Before proceeding further: Is this version of the question something you’re interested in having answered? – SevenSidedDie♦ Dec 27 '18 at 14:38

Before hearing back from OP reopen votes started rolling in, and I posted the following comment:

it certainly does look openable, but I (for one) am holding my reopen vote until we hear from OP whether this is a question they're interested in. (SSD's comment.) – nitsua60♦ Dec 28 '18 at 4:54

Which received five up votes. And there the post sat for a week.


It looks like today the post garnered a fifth up vote, got an answer, and two close-votes all in a couple of hours. So I closed it and ask you all this question:

Should this post be closed or open? Should we have the question open in a Stackable state, but not knowing whether it's OP's actual question?

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Leave it closed until the OP comes back

I've thought about this from a lot of potential stack-philosophy angles, but I keep coming back to what I think is a very compelling practical reason not to reopen this question without confirmation from OP: it has potential to make a mess and no significant benefit.

Consider what would happen if, after editing the question into essentially a new question, OP comes back a couple days later to a bunch of answers, and then they comment to tell us that they completely disagree with the change and that it is not the question that they intended to ask. We then have two options:

  1. Revert the question to reflect the original intent, even if it results in the question's reclosure.
  2. Keep the question around as-is and have no support from OP for the question.

Neither option is good.

#1 would invalidate any answers to the edited question by changing it back to the old question which is something we try to avoid explicitly here. That is a complete mess and requires comments, edits, and possible deletions of answers and nobody wants to deal with that. Also, a bunch of wasted time and effort has gone into answering a question only to have it changed (back) and closed again.1

#2 would result in essentially removing the ownership of the question to the editors and thus removing the original driving force and source of information from the Q&A process. Taking a question and having an editor completely change it then reopen it means that OP's problem is no longer (guaranteed) to be represented by the current question. That means that if there are any further questions or suggestions for improvement or inclarities, OP will likely not be able to help clarify them. And, honestly, even if they can provide the information, what motivation would they have for doing so given that the comments on "their" question no longer has any bearing on the actual problem they wanted to solve? None. So in the end you create a question divorced from the person and the problem that inspired it. And we know from experience that the best Q&As come from questions that have an actual problem experienced by an actual person.

On the other hand, waiting for OP to clarify has none of the above issues and results in a clear and unambiguous result and a better stronger question (and thus likely better answers as well). The only cost is a bit of patience.

What if OP never comes back?

If they never come back, the Q&A isn't going to help them anyways and some of the same issues from #2 above crop up again. But the biggest issue is that there is never any guarantee that OP won't come back. I've seen posters come back after weeks, even months of inactivity to comment/edit on a closed question of theirs. And, of course, the longer they are gone, the more hassle it will be if they want changes reverted back. There is no point at which we can read the future and say "OP is not coming back" to a degree of certainty that we should be making decisions based off of it.

What if I really want to ask and/or answer the edited version of the question?

If the issue at hand is something that you want an answer to and comes from a problem you also have, ask it yourself! You are welcome to ask a modified version of the closed question that fits the Stack format and fixes the issues present in the original. Then you can support and clarify it and you can even answer it yourself if you have a good one.

If you don't have the issue and the question was a really good one, someone will likely come along and ask it in the future. If it doesn't get asked again then it just isn't something people find that useful and nothing is really lost by not having it in our database.

In the end, the Stack is much better served by just being patient and waiting to confirm that edits that transform a question into a new one still represent what the poster is trying to say. Doing otherwise results in messes, sticky questions, and very little benefit.


1 - I'd even argue that pursuing this option goes against a core philosophy of the Stack system which is that answers are more valuable than questions.

While there is a tension between having “enough” questions and a bunch of amazing, highly skilled answerers twiddling their thumbs waiting around for something to do, in the long run we’d much rather err on the side of having interesting and on-topic questions for these folks to sink their teeth into.

We feel that the world is awash in questions, but not answers. Answers are the real unit of work in any Q&A; system. Therefore, the only logical thing to do is to maximize the happiness and enjoyment of answerers. If this means aggressively downvoting or closing unworthy and uninteresting questions, so be it. Without a community of people willing to answer questions, it really doesn’t matter if there are questions at all, does it?

By valuing a question we don't even know anybody is asking over answers and answerers we are subverting the value that the Stack system attempts to place on the answers and answerers.

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Recommendation: leave it closed until the OP responds

I prefer to approach this kind of situation with the idea that a person is involved, not simply a question. If the person isn't interested enough to engage or respond, then the question need not attract further effort from the community.

  • The Devil's Advocate: if one other person finds it useful, re open This approach looks at this SE as a long term resource(a library of questions with good answers). With this view point, if some other people find it useful, we further that goal of the stack by reopening and answering a valid (edited) question. (Colin addresses this in his answer).

    Of the two approaches, though this one has merit, I recommend "leave it closed until OP responds" because I'd rather see folks that ask questions engage with the rest of the participants.

Bottom Line

If it's worth their time to come back and engage, then it's worth our time to reopen. Not before. Someone who engages and participates can re-ask / carry the water if the topic is worthy enough.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I'll 'fess up--I find it hard to vote on this with both positions concatenated in one post. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Jan 2 at 15:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Counterpoint to your second: if someone was interested in asking a stackable version of a closed question they can always do so. I don't see that alone as a true reason to change someone else's post in a transformative way. If it is a useful question someone else will also come along and ask it eventually as well. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jan 2 at 15:50
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    \$\begingroup\$ Could you please split this up? The two positions seem opposite and I'm not voting the same way for both. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Jan 2 at 17:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener Not splitting it up. Added my bottom line in respect to your and Nits' point about "so what am I voting for" ... which is fair, given how this system is built. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jan 2 at 23:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 added a bottom line \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jan 2 at 23:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don’t think that clarified what one is voting for. An upvote is still possibly endorsing only the conclusion, or the whole post including endorsing the Devil’s position that it should be reopened. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 10 at 18:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie OK, I change that to a sub bullet and explained why I prefer one over the other. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jan 10 at 19:03
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Question as currently written is answerable and should be open.

SevenSidedDie made changes to the question. The question after editing fits the stack and is answerable. If there are objections to the edit, then it should be rolled back and discussed.

Should edits to the question be used as proposed changes?

I do not think so. The edits to the question can be rolled back, but that does not make them proposed changes. They're the actual changes until rolled back.

Is it the original question of the OP?

No. It's the interpretation of the editor.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose That's a different question that might be better asked more directly. "How much should we value the author's intent and consent?" \$\endgroup\$ – GcL Jan 2 at 15:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ Does whether the asker comes back or has abandoned the question affect your answer? If they come back and dispute the changes after several good answers, does that affect your answer? (I’m not suggesting they need to affect it, but these are future wrinkles we might have to face.) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 2 at 17:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ Fwiw I removed my comments because I realized that I was reading something into your answer which we had talked about but that you had not actually written here. So my apologies for the misunderstanding. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jan 2 at 19:42
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Open the question

While others make good points, it's entirely possible OP will not come back. If the question, as edited, is a good fit to the Q&A style of the site then it adds something positive to the site. Should OP eventually comes back, feels the question fails to match what they intended, they are free to edit it (if no answers have come in) or they may ask a new one. Closing the question adds nothing to this site whereas opening it does.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Though this might seem like an obvious course of action, it makes an assumption (that more questions is always better than fewer) that is not true for how the site works in practice. In practice, it’s better for the site to leave that question available for a future person, who really has that question, to ask it. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 9 at 15:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd also question how you determined that it was "entirely likely OP will not come back". I have seen posters come back after days, weeks, and even months of inactivity before with no rhyme or reason to who or why. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Jan 9 at 15:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose I meant it's a possibility, not a probability. \$\endgroup\$ – tox123 Jan 10 at 0:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie You seem to imply that the question should be deleted (and perhaps it's being deleted, I can't see), because otherwise if someone needs to ask the question in future, their question would be duplicate of this closed one, which would be kinda awkward situation I think. \$\endgroup\$ – WakiNadiVellir Jan 16 at 15:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @WakiNadiVellir But we’re not robots; it doesn’t need to be deleted to not use it to duplicate close a new question. If it were open then it must cause future duplicates to be closed as duplicates: that’s what we shouldn’t allow. It might eventually be deleted by the automatic abandoned-Q delete scripts, but it doesn’t need to be in order to allow a future user to ask it for real; it just needs to not be an open, validated question. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jan 16 at 16:05

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