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Yesterday, I edited the previously-closed question How influential was Dune in the creation of Star Wars? in order to make it less broad. Basically, I changed it from "what are examples of Star Wars being inspired by Dune?" to "what are examples of Star Wars being inspired by Dune confirmed by someone involved in the production of Star Wars?" In my opinion, this edit made the question actually answerable (and less opinion-based).

Today, moderator Rand al'Thor rolled back my edit with the comment:

Sorry, but I think your edit changes the scope of the question too much. Asking for similarities between the two works is very different from asking for which similarities Lucas has admitted (which, if he did steal a lot of ideas from Dune, are likely to be only the smaller ones). The former is seeking a detailed comparison of themes and tropes; the latter could be answered by anyone with a Google search

Was this rollback justified, given that the first version was closed and the edited version was reopened?

Update: The question has now been closed again, which I believe gives further evidence my edit was necessary.

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    Your edit massively changed the scope of the question without the OP's consent, as well as invalidating the existing answer. Both of those are considered good reasons to rollback. – Rand al'Thor Oct 22 '17 at 19:44
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    I don't think it's justified. I only voted to reopen because an overly broad and opinion-based question had been made better. If I could do so, I'd vote to close it again. – Valorum Oct 22 '17 at 19:46
  • Who's VTC this, and why do you think it's 'off-topic'? – Möoz Oct 25 '17 at 2:34
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The rollback wasn't justified and should be reverted.

The order of events is as follows;

  • The question was asked. After a brief comment discussion, five users felt that it was "too broad" for comfort and voted to close it.

  • An edit was made (by RogueJedi) to that question which made it less broad. The question was then re-opened.

  • At that point, an edit was then made by Rand al'Thor that rolled the question back into the original "bad" version (e.g. the one that got closed).

This action invalidated both the votes of the original close-voters and means that the votes of those who voted to re-open the new "good" question have had their votes subverted.

I can't speak for the other users who voted to reopen, but I, for one would not have voted to reopen if the question hadn't been changed.

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  • 1) Your header should clarify whether you mean RJ's edit wasn't valid and should be reverted (which I did) or that my rollback wasn't valid and should be reverted. I know which you mean, but an unclear header might confuse the votes. 2) Your inability to reclose isn't because you voted to reopen; it's because you already voted to close the same question. – Rand al'Thor Oct 22 '17 at 21:36
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    @Randal'Thor - Sure. And I wouldn't have voted to reopen had the question not been edited. – Valorum Oct 22 '17 at 21:38
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    I was one of those who voted to reopen the question, and I also would not have voted to reopen if it hadn't been for RogueJedi's edit. – Blackwood Oct 22 '17 at 23:13
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    That doesn’t mean Rogue Jedi’s edit breaks to rules. Changing the scope of the question majorly without OP’s consent and invalidating a current answer. Neither of which are ok. – Edlothiad Oct 24 '17 at 10:03
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    @Edlothiad - If the answer is to an invalid question (e.g. one that is obviously off-topic and never should have been answered in the first place) then it's perfectly acceptable to invalidate it with a change to the question that brings the question on-topic. – Valorum Oct 24 '17 at 10:37
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I recognise that you were acting in good faith, and trying to improve what you saw as a poor question. But your edit went too far, for a couple of reasons.

  1. Changing the scope of the question.

    Your edit changed what the question was asking, by more than it might seem at first glance. Consider what answers to the question might possibly look like:

    • The stories/worlds of Dune and Star Wars share similarities as follows: [long list]

      If done well, this could be a good answer to the original question. It's not an answer at all to your edited question if it doesn't specifically mention George Lucas.

    • George Lucas had this to say about Dune: [quote]

      This could be a good answer to your edited question, but it might not answer the original question at all, if the quote doesn't show actual examples of story/world similarities.


    Thus, your edit not only changed the scope of the question (by narrowing it) but also changed the type of answers it would be likely to attract. The OP's wording (In what ways is that evidenced? Please give examples.) is clearly looking for answers of the former type, perhaps something like this to show that there was a lot of influence or something like this to show that there wasn't (depending on what the appropriate answer actually is). Your edited question would attract a completely different type of answer, probably consisting mostly of a quote from Lucas and little else - like this, perhaps.

  2. Invalidating existing answers.

    It's generally agreed that edits to a question which invalidate its existing answer(s) are not a good thing, unless OK'ed with the answerer(s) first. It's not fair to someone who's put effort into answering if they come back and find a different question which their 'answer' no longer answers. This even applies to edits by the OP, let alone edits which go against the OP's intent.

    See also Rolling back a completely changed question on main meta.

    In this case, it seems there was (at the time of your edit) a single answer, roughly in the form of the first quote above. After your edit, a second answer in similar form was posted. Both answers then got critical comments pointing out that they didn't answer your edited question - which is understandable, because they didn't. They were, however, answers to the original question. The second answerer even deleted their answer due to these comments.

If you'd checked with the OP, and perhaps the existing answerer, before making your edit, I wouldn't have rolled it back. But the fact that it seemed to go against the OP's intent was reason enough for me to rollback, and the invalidation of the existing answer just strengthened that decision.

(Also, I'm not sure why it's relevant that I'm a moderator, except in relation to the extra 'weight' that a diamond apparently gives to any action. Any user with editing privileges could have done what I did, if they'd noticed what had happened.)

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    I would argue that the existing answer was already invalid, as it was attempting to answer a question that users had decided failed to comply to the site's standards. Additionally, by "changing the scope of the question," I made the question capable of being answered. The original question was both too broad and too opinion-based, and I believe that I fixed that. If my edit was out of line (which I still believe it wasn't), then a new edit should have been made, not a rollback to the version which had been closed. – Rogue Jedi Oct 22 '17 at 20:50
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    @RogueJedi Five users had voted to close it in its original state, yes. It also got two Leave Open votes, and there were only a few hours between its closure and your edit. It's hard to say whether it would've been reopened. The existence of previous questions such as the Eragon one I linked to suggests that the community aren't generally too opposed to questions like this. – Rand al'Thor Oct 22 '17 at 20:54
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    The question is now attracting close votes again – Valorum Oct 22 '17 at 21:08
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    If a question has been closed as "too broad", surely any edit that tries to salvage it must change the scope of the question (by narrowing it). – Blackwood Oct 22 '17 at 23:11
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    @Blackwood I think the main issue here is that it wasn't the OP who narrowed the scope, nor were they asked if such an edit would be acceptable – DCOPTimDowd Oct 23 '17 at 17:20
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    @DCOPTimDowd The OP's question had already been closed as too broad. Any edit aiming to salvage the question would have to narrow the scope whether the OP liked it or not. – Blackwood Oct 23 '17 at 17:31
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    @Blackwood I don't believe that is the case. Even if someone asks a "bad" question, it is still their question, and all outside edits should keep the original meaning. If the OP decides they want to change any of the foundation, and thus drastically change what they were originally asking, then they can. It still might cause problems with the community, but of different sort. – DCOPTimDowd Oct 23 '17 at 17:40
  • Additional note on "George Lucas had this to say..." - It's entirely possible that that could have resulted in inverse examples, such as him saying he intentionally didn't want something to be the same. DS9 and Babylon 5 has (at least) one such example. – Izkata Oct 24 '17 at 0:06

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