After lurking in this community for some time, I finally made an account on scifi to ask How did Luke's proton torpedoes enter the first Death Star after Red Leader's impacted on the surface?, which I thought to be a decent question after consulting the related questions on the topic, which didn't cover my inquiry.

Only to have the title edited by one user, and then the question closed as a duplicate due to a now improper title.

No discussion, no search for clarification, just change from on high.

This is crazy frustrating, and is directly responsible for my reduced desire to ever contribute to the community again. At the encouragement of a coworker, he suggested getting more direct feedback here.

Was there something I could have done better? Did the combination of moderator edits just cause an unfortunate circumstance? I feel the question deserved more thought. Thanks

  • 1
    of note: there are no mod edits in your question. valorum has a gold badge in star wars, granting him dupe-hammer privileges for that tag.
    – phantom42
    May 27, 2016 at 13:30
  • 1
    I dupe-closed it because at the time I saw it, it was a dupe. Now.... I'm not so sure.
    – Valorum
    May 27, 2016 at 13:31
  • This might help with the order of events; Timeline
    – Valorum
    May 27, 2016 at 13:32
  • Thanks for the clarification @phantom42 Was just frustrating when no digging it done into the history of edits against the original question. I appreciate the explanation and quick response from the person who reverted the title. May 27, 2016 at 13:36
  • votes are not cast based on history of the question, but the current state of the question at the time of voting. that said, you're right that it shouldn't have been changed in the first place.
    – phantom42
    May 27, 2016 at 14:01
  • 2
    Any user with at least 2000 rep (like me) can edit your question without peer review. See the list of privileges. If you have a lot of the privileges on that list, you’re sort of like a moderator, but the only official moderators are these people. If an edit to your question makes the question worse (makes it unclear, or changes its focus, for example) then you can roll back the edit or re-edit it as necessary.
    – Molag Bal
    May 27, 2016 at 14:21

3 Answers 3


The only prevention advice I can give you is to read over your question before submitting, and make sure that both the title and body are:

  • Asking the question you intended to ask
  • Asking the same question
  • Quite clear about the question you're asking

For the third bullet, something I've seen other users do (and which I've done as well) is to write a one-sentence "thesis" summary of your question, in bold, at the bottom (or top) of your question post; for example.

However, how effective that is going to be for prevention is...variable. The StackExchange model puts the burden of moderation on the community, so all users have the responsibility to make sure the site is the best it can be. Many times that's a judgement call, and sometimes it just happens that some users disagree over that judgement call.

So rather than prevention, there are a few things you can do for recovery:

  • If the edit was suggested by a user with less than 2000 reputation, you can reject the edit (if you get to it quickly enough), and it won't appear at all
  • Users with more than 2000 reputation aren't subject to community approval on their edits, but you can always roll back edits if you feel they overstep
  • You can also make further edits to bring the question back into line with your intention

If your question is closed incorrectly (or what you feel to be incorrectly), you have options for that, as well:

  • If you edit your post within five days of it being closed, it's automatically put into the reopen queue, where users with 3000 or more reputation can choose whether or not to vote to reopen it. Users often take this opportunity to edit to explain why the duplicate target doesn't adequately answer their question

  • If you have at least 20 reputation, you can go onto chat. Mos Eisley, the main site chatroom, is often quite bustling, so there are lost of people who can discuss the issue

  • You can post on meta, as you've done here. Meta gives you a chance to make and defend your case, and it gives close voters the same chance. One possible outcome is that you change people's minds, another is that the close voters change yours. Either way, the community as a whole wins.

    I should mention as well that all questions posted on Meta.SFF are automatically posted in the main site chat room.

  • As an absolute last resort, you can flag the question for moderator attention. Custom flags are only visible to site moderators, who have the power to immediately reopen a question. I would caution you against using this option, though; moderators are supposed to defer to the community, so unless you've been the subject of truly egregious abuse, posting in chat or on Meta is a better option

I appreciate that this has been a frustrating experience for you, but I feel like I should emphasize that this is an example of the system working as intended. One user, acting within the scope of their authority, made a choice that was perhaps questionable (I'm not here to judge that), which resulted in some behaviour that was perhaps undesirable; you drew attention to that, and the community course-corrected.

Your frustration with the process is understandable, but I hope that you won't lose faith with the StackEchange system as a whole. It really is quite good, even if it's not always perfect.

  • 1
    Thank you for the thoughts, I like the advice re: framing questions in more clear manners, and I must admit I wrote it quite quickly and then went to bed, without the ability to shepherd it through the night, so to speak. My coworker and you have proven that the community does in fact course-correct, and the whole experience with this has helped me grow to appreciate what went on here and how to contribute better in the future. Thanks again! May 27, 2016 at 20:19
  • 2
    Oh Jason, I find you so helpful and well-informed!
    – Möoz
    May 29, 2016 at 23:18

In a case like this where your question is closely related to another question on the site, I would suggest mentioning the related question(s) in your post and explaining why your question is different. This will help everyone understand exactly what you are asking and make it less likely that users will vote to close it as a duplicate. This is mainly a preventative measure.

You have several courses of action if you've already posted and user(s) are editing your question and/or closing it:

  1. Edit your question to clarify and/or remove false assumptions made by the other user(s) editing your question.
  2. If an edit war ensues, flag your post for moderator attention and we can lock it so that no one can make further changes. The question can then be discussed on meta, chat, etc. to resolve the content dispute. Once resolved, a moderator can then unlock the post.
  3. Post a question here on meta asking why your question was closed.

Regarding the closing of your question, normally it takes five users with at least 3k reputation to vote to close. The fact that multiple users are required helps protect against the erroneous closing of questions (whether due to a misunderstanding or mistake made by a single user). However, moderators' close votes are always binding, and users with a gold tag badge in a tag that your question was posted with can cast a binding duplicate close vote. Such users are trusted more and can cut down on review time in certain cases, but it opens up the possibility that your question will be closed by a single such user before you have a chance to explain why your question isn't a duplicate (or correct a misleading edit, as in this case). I don't think your question was closed as a duplicate due to any malicious intent -- another user had already linked to related questions and also thought yours was a duplicate of one of them. Furthermore, the same gold tag badge holder who closed your question later re-opened it with a binding vote.

I'm sorry to hear that you have been discouraged from contributing here. This sort of thing doesn't usually happen so I hope you decide to continue contributing. If you have any further issues you'd like to discuss feel free to ping me in a comment or in Mos Eisley chat.

  • I like the idea of referencing likely red-herrings or misconstrued related questions, and how my question may differ, in an effort to narrow the scope. Thanks for the thoughtful response May 27, 2016 at 20:17
  • I don't feel that I made a mistake. When I opened it, it was a dupe. The fact that someone else had gone into it and buggered it up really isn't something I'd normally check for.
    – Valorum
    May 28, 2016 at 23:32
  • @Valorum I referred to it as a mistake since you later re-opened it and said in the comments here that you aren't "so sure" it was a duplicate. And obviously the OP thought it was a mistake. I've edited my answer to avoid giving the impression that you made a mistake. Better now?
    – Null Mod
    May 29, 2016 at 3:11
  • @null - When I said " Now.... I'm not so sure.", I meant "now that it's been edited back into its original format .... I'm not so sure."
    – Valorum
    May 29, 2016 at 7:46
  • @Valorum Yes, I understand that now. I believe you when you say that the misleading edit is what caused you to think the OP intended to ask a question that was a dupe -- hence my edit.
    – Null Mod
    May 31, 2016 at 14:57

You ask, “Was there something I could have done better?”  At the risk of repeating part of what Jason Baker has already said,

  • Try to be more clear when you write a question.  I looked at the revision history of your question, starting with the original version, and I thought it was asking “It’s obviously easy for a torpedo to miss the port, and hard to get one in.  So how did Luke manage to get his shot in?”
    Comparing it to the current version, I’m having trouble recognizing it as the same question.
  • Don’t post a question until and unless you’re prepared to babysit it for the next hour or so.
    • A question gets the most attention in the first few hours after it is posted.  People often ask follow-up, clarifying questions in comments.  In fact, comments were posted starting 11 minutes after you posted the question.  If you don’t respond for ten hours, people will believe that you don’t care.
    • When the question was edited incorrectly (six minutes after you posted the question!), you should have immediately taken corrective action.
  • By the time you edited the question, it had already been closed.  And yet, IMNSHO, you still didn’t clarify the thrust of the question.  Yes, the question still mentions Red Leader’s torpedoes, but it could still be interpreted as being about how difficult a shot it was.
  • And, if you believe that the change of the title was so damaging to the meaning of the question, you should have edited the title back when you edited the question!
  • +1 to this. An excellent synopsis of events.
    – Valorum
    Jun 4, 2016 at 8:32

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