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On the forums, topics had posts that were sequential in time, but IMO the stack exchange idea is to edit both question and answers to make them the best they can be. I have seen several cases where I think editing of question and/or answer would be better than the extensive commenting that is happening. Recent examples are Label printing: how can I only combine people with relationship and Renewal not recording activity (where I did edit the question to include the content from the comments and now it looks weird).

This is particularly true for the latter question where Civi version number and CMS & version is asked for. We want to encourage people to include that in their initial question, so having lots of questions that model that behaviour is important.

I think we could encourage (what I see as) the desired behaviour by starting our comment with " Please edit your question to include..." rather than just asking for the information we want.

What do others think?

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I believe an important goal of the beta period is inculcate an SE culture— not only about how to formulate good questions and answers, but also about active users having a common understanding of the appropriate use of the various tools at our disposal: answers, comments, chat, editing, flags, Meta, and so on. As such, suggestions to edit, to take a question to chat, and so on are important to leave.

This may particularly be the case with this stack. Given the non-profit orientation of CiviCRM, its common installation in small and medium-sized operations, and its use by non-technical users, I imagine a relatively smaller percentage of our visitors will be active SO or SU users. As such, it falls upon the more experienced members to provide some education.

When I request more information (typically, more context for a question, or more references or examples for an answer), I not only suggest editing to the user, but provide the explicit edit link to do so. Similarly, if someone is new, I try to provide direct links to the site tour, to the help center, to the chat, and so on. They may not follow the link, or even comprehend that the text is a link, but if even a handful of future visitors take the hint, I think it's worth the extra couple of seconds.


The caution to edit rather than reply with a comment is important and one of the distinctions between the SE Q&A format and a traditional discussion forum, where editing is sometimes discouraged or even disallowed. Official guidance on comments notes that

Comments are temporary "Post-It" notes left on a question or answer. You should not expect them to be around forever: Once a clarification has been made, an edit added to the post to include new information, or the issue in the comment is otherwise resolved, it is subject to deletion. In reality, many obsolete or chatty comments remain untouched due to the high volume of comments posted, but this does not mean that they can't or shouldn't be deleted in the future.

The MSE comments thread similarly notes

Comments are intentionally short, having maximum length of 600 characters, and allow only limited markup.

Comments are disposable: unlike posts, there's no revision history, and they can be deleted without warning by their authors, by moderators, and in response to flags.

Moderators can edit any comment at any time.

Comments that are flagged by multiple users are deleted automatically.

Moderators can delete any comment, or purge all comments from a post.

In other words, comments are not content; they can be deleted or edited at any time with no record that they ever existed. Anything that is vital information should therefore be incorporated into the question or its answers, and everyone should get in the habit of doing so.

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