This site has a policy discouraging hypothetical questions. Normally this means that a question about a hypothetical scenario gets flagged and closed. Recently there has been a question about a hypothetical scenario which was then edited by a third party to read like it was an actual non-hypothetical scenario. This makes it far less obvious what the correct course of action should be.

On one hand, as written the current version of the question is ok. It looks like it's not about a hypothetical scenario.

On the other it's explicitly known that the scenario being described isn't one that the OP experiences since the OP explicitly called it a hypothetical in their earlier draft. While there is a situation being described in the question it's at best one experienced by the person editing the question rather than the OP.

Personally I'm leaning towards rolling back the edit since it conflicts with the OP's intent, to ask a hypothetical, and closing the question because it's a hypothetical, then suggesting to the editor that they can ask their own question about the situation if they personally have experienced the situation. That's a lot of steps though so I'd like input from other members of this site.

How should we handle this situation and others like it in the future?

  • 2
    The OP raised an interesting point that given that the site is much more established it might be time to revisit our policy on hypotheticals. Let's keep that to a separate thread, and try to focus this question on edits made to hypothetical questions.
    – sphennings
    Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 12:38
  • 1
    Then.. maybe it might be better to first finish revisiting the policy on hypotheticals. That would probably a decision that helps decide whether or not a question should show it's hypothetical.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 12:42
  • Good question. I think there's two points here. If hypothetical questions are not welcome, then the question should be closed by definition. But are they? I agree with @Tinkeringbell that it's better to leave this until the policy is revisited.
    – Belle
    Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 12:44
  • @Tinkeringbell I think even if we revisited the policy this could still be an issue. If I ask a hypothetical that doesn't provide enough information and then someone else edits my hypothetical to add in sufficient information. Is that the sort of edit we'd allow?
    – sphennings
    Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 12:44
  • @sphennings As the policy stands, I think the answer to that is "no" by definition. I do think there's a good chance the policy can change, which changes it to "maybe".
    – Belle
    Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 12:45
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    Interesting point, and I'd say no. It reminds me of those drawings we used to make as a kid, where you fold a paper in three, and each person starts drawing an animal head on the first part, then pass on, and draw a body, and finally draw legs... The end result was often disastrous ;)
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 12:47
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    @Tinkeringbell It's not only about those drawings but also about the fact that it shows me as the asker. Extrapolating to extreme - it's like I edited any of your questions to "I was caught stealing bananas from another passenger on train. How to avoid conflict but keep the bananas?"
    – Džuris
    Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 12:50

2 Answers 2


As the original asker I felt the edit was unfair.

The edit makes it look like the situation has happened to me. And much worse situation could appear in another edit for some other post. I don't think anyone would like to see their own post telling they've experienced something that they didn't. Especially if it's posted by their real account.

It should be forbidden to make edits telling that the poster has done or experienced something that they didn't.

  • 7
    When reviewing edits one of the reasons for rejecting an edit is when it clearly conflicts with the poster's intent. Once you have sufficient rep however your edits are no longer sent through the review queue since the assumption is that you're aware of site policy enough to only make edits when it's needed. You can always roll back to previous versions of your question when looking at the edit history of your question.
    – sphennings
    Commented Jul 12, 2018 at 13:08

Clearly in this situation, the original asker was not comfortable being associated with a real situation that was not actually their experience, and rightfully so. I think that your proposed approach is simple, makes the most sense and is in line with how the site has worked so far.

  1. Rollback the edit as this would be in violation of the "Conflicts with original asker's intent" edit rules.

  2. Close the hypothetical as this is SOP

  3. Encourage the third party editor to re-ask the question, perhaps with some collaboration or input from the original hypothetical asker so that their question is still covered by the new question, but the scenario is owned by somebody who can give the needed situational details.

The other option would be wiki'ing the question, so that the non-hypothetical situation is no longer being attributed to the hypothetical asker, but this seems more complicated and special-casey than the above.

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