I think we should try to prevent them from becoming chameleon questions in the first place.
Disclaimer: We will probably never be able to do this completely, but what follows is what I think to be a good start/ best practice.
- Like @Hamlet said, part of the problem can be solved by quickly closing questions. But this requires a consensus on what should and shouldn't be closed. And a large user base that can vote-to-close quickly if necessary. We need more meta questions to determine our scope, and to determine what is and what is not welcome here, to fix this. As we narrow down our scope, situations like the one in the second example question are hopefully occurring less often.
- I like the comment under the second example question, telling the user that the question is being discussed on meta. I think we should do this more, and even expand it a little to invite the OP of a question to take part in the discussion. And we should be careful not to vote to reopen before the meta discussion is finished, and the question addresses all the feedback meta generated.
- We're here to teach user's how to fish (in my opinion) and not to throw them a fish. This means to me, that we should not edit other person's questions into a chameleon question. Correcting spelling or grammar is okay, removing offensive language is so as well. Editing a question to such an extent that it invalidates existing answers is something an OP should do, not us (see the subitem). When the question is closed we can give OP feedback and guidance, and I think this also is where the sandbox suggestion comes in. Although I'm not sure how we are going to get new users to use it. OP's have a lot of time to improve their question based on our comments once a question is closed.
- Subitem: I've found this link on meta that contains useful information on when and how a question should be edited by other users. I've based this point on that: "to clarify the meaning of a post without changing it". So the community should not be the ones editing questions into chameleon questions.
- I think there might always be questions that are closed after they are answered. In this case, it's in my opinion up to the OP of the post to notify users if the question is reopened after extensive editing. Sadly, we can't completely rule out disagreement on what is and what isn't a clear question. So, if a question is edited to deviate far from the original question (especially after being closed and reopened), please take your losses gracefully.
- Edit your answer to say that it's no longer appropriate after the edit, and delete it
- Or edit your answer to take into account the recent changes
- Or leave a comment to your answer/edit your answer, stating that the question has since changed, and explain why your answer was valid to begin with.
- That said, I think it's fair to complain if a question is edited to such an extend as to become a chameleon question AFTER it has been reopened. We don't expect extensive edits to a reopened question since, after all, the reopened question should be good enough. If a reopened question is attracting a lot of comments and close-votes again, this is a sign that the reopened question probably wasn't good enough after all. I think this is closely related to down-voting sooner, in that we need more experience with our scope to determine wether a question is good enough or not.
Especially the third point is important here. Since in the first example, the OP of that question did edit this question into a chameleon question, I think we could be
- Either leaving a comment to OP after the edit, that this is a big change and to ask them to notify all current answers that the question has been changed (or at least those answers that are based on edited parts of the question)
- Leave those comments ourselves. This way, answerers might get feedback quicker.
As for the second example, these edits should have been done by the OP herself, after the question was closed, and should have taken into account the comments/questions the original question generated better (in my opinion). See again point three, and it's subitem. We should not edit a question to such an extent that the original meaning changes, that is only for an OP to do.
I agree with some users that the second example was answerable in some ways before all the editing. I can see why people were hesitating to close it, or wrote an answer. After all, there was a frame to challenge on that question. But if you really narrow the original question down, it came to 'I don't want to interact with this new-vendor, how do I dismiss him' with a lot of fluff about being afraid, police that should not be trusted, and acid attacks. I'd like to refer you all to the revision history of another question by op on workplace.se.
Here, the original question was edited shortly after posting (within 3 hours), and just removed all the fluff. I think we can learn from that. If we had done that right away, the question would have become a lot more the obvious duplicate of the same question it's now being vtc'ed for. And then we could have just closed the question as a duplicate, without all this hassle.
And we could have worked from there, together with the OP, to create another question that would not be a duplicate, and that might help her with her real problem. Because right now, her real problem is being overshadowed by well-meant edits and meta-discussions, lingering opinions based on previous versions of the question and users that are pissed that their carefully crafted answers are no longer of use. (And I'm willing to admit that except for the answer one, I'm also guilty!).