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Disclaimer, I don't think this should be allowed, and should be discouraged. For my own edification, I'd like to get your insight on a little dispute here found in the comments to the question and to my answer:

Is sugar absorbed into the bloodstream through the walls of the mouth?

SUMMARY: The user Jan questions the 'meaningfulness' of my answer. Proceeds to edit the question to add a medical perspective to it, and proceeds to answer it from a medical point of view. Originally the question asked the question openly and I answered with evidence from the molecular side of things, for a clear yes answer to the question. The user James advises the edit the question after a brief fo-and-fro with Jan ("I think you see the value in this question"), which I think is unnecessary and opinion-based and not in line with what this SE should be accomplishing.

I am curious whether I am in the right or wrong and whether this kind of action is allowed. I provide the link as a case study. Should this be encouraged or discouraged?

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    $\begingroup$ I've rolled back the question to its original state. $\endgroup$ – James Sep 18 '19 at 10:31
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think Jan was questioning the meaningfulness of your answer from a medical perspective, but rather questioning whether your source was referring to a substantial or trivial level of glucose absorbed. The specific context (medical? nutritional?) isn't so much important as having some context. I think the edits you made since improved the answer, and I've cleaned up the comments. I'd argue the criticism vastly improved your answer, so the system ultimately worked how it should. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Sep 18 '19 at 15:35
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The answer is a full blown "No".

However, it has happened to me in the past that I edited questions, because I thought I could improve it, and then answer it after I thought to have extracted the core question. However, having gone through some disputes like this, I always ask for clarification first. Bottom line, answerer may have had no bad intentions whatsoever.

Problem is that new questions get more attention, and hence more rep can be gained by giving a quick answer, in turn promoting the quick-answer style that a lot of SE sites have. This is especially fruitful if the Q makes it to the hot Q list. But that aside.

As an exception, and I will be careful here, if there are long-forgotten, unanswered questions, perhaps with OP having signed off in the meantime (no link under the standard SE name) then a question may be edited a bit more liberally in my opinion if you think you have a nice answer. However, even then it's best to only make typographical edits, if any, as OP may still be around, albeit not actively anymore. It is still their post and their thoughts and therefore I generalize to say that

Better leave edits to a minimum to minimize the chance of editing something incorrectly. That goes for both questions and answers.

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Obviously edits to change the meaning are wrong — and I've seen some blatant examples. To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail. But I don’t see how this is a big problem because the poster can always revert the changes.

Better in my opinion to try to clean up some of the badly written questions and risk breaking something that can always be repaired.

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I believe that the problem that has arised is mainly due to few of my inappropriate actions, starting with commenting under the @S Pr's answer and then editing the original question, which I myself didn't really feel the need to.

For now, I'm not making any actions, but if the OP disagrees with my edit, I'll remove it immediately or the OP or anyone can do it. In my edit I added a line after "EDIT" ; the other content, including the title, is as it originally was.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think the edit you put in is more of a comment on why the question is significant in medicine. This makes more sense as an answer than as part of the question. $\endgroup$ – James Sep 18 '19 at 10:14
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    $\begingroup$ @James The rules on Biology SE strongly imply asking practical questions and giving practical answers. As said, to me, the original question was already clear, because when people ask about something being absorbed from the mouth, they usually do this to know potential benefits. It was then suggested to me to edit the question to make it more clear, which I did, but my action was understood differently. Everyone involved in this discussion can re-edit the question according to his/her beliefs. $\endgroup$ – Jan Sep 18 '19 at 10:25
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Since I have been specifically referenced I feel I should make a comment. I absolutely agree with @AliceD. Edits are about improving the clarity of the question, not changing the question. This is hard to do, especially when a question was so close to being closed.

I don't like that I am being accused of euphemistically telling someone to tweak the meaning of questions. To be clear, I downvoted the question and was looking to close it.

@BryanKrause Answering poorly researched questions isn't to me inherently wrong. The issue is that you cannot tell what the question is. Is this person asking about how digestion works? How sugar is tasted? If sugar can be absorbed directly as well as or instead of absorption in the gut? Is it asking about dissolving sugars? Is it asking about the composition of saliva? There is too much to unpack here to make an answer useful. – James Sep 2 at 9:57

The comment @SPr is referring to is:

@Jan That is a very nice answer! But it doesn't address the question in the context of candy ;). I suggest you edit the question; I think you see the value in this question and how it could be made into a good clear question. – James Sep 4 at 14:2

In hind-sight this comment is not clear enough. In my mind, it was short for "if you like the question and want it to stay open because you think it is a good question, then it is up to you to put the effort into editing it to make it appropriate for the site.".

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    $\begingroup$ I certainly didn't take your comment that way, but thanks for clarifying here. Since you repeated your comment to me here and I didn't address it there, though, I'll add a note here. One of the problems with poorly researched questions is exactly the issue you describe: you can't tell what the question is. When someone puts some effort into finding an answer that often adds clarify to what they are asking. My comment originally was referring to a user who both A) commented that the question was poor, and B) posted an answer to it. $\endgroup$ – Bryan Krause Sep 18 '19 at 15:28

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