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:
- Revert the question to reflect the original intent, even if it results in the question's reclosure.
- 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.