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We see often questions which arise from problems people are having. This is good and clearly in the spirit of the site. However, often this seems too specific while a general question would be more useful to the community.

Should we then sometimes adapt the question to be applicable to more people? If so, how do we know when a question is a good candidate for generalization?

As an example, this morning we got a question on focusing a Canon EOS 6D with a Marumi variable neutral-density filter attached. I am not sure there is anything specific to this filter (other than not ever having seen one) or camera to warrant a solution specific to this combination.

Another example just popped up, a new question asking How To Remove Foreground Objects? is noted to be a duplicate of a question asking how to remove people. Looks like the latter, which is answered, could be generalized to the former.

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I generally approach this by trying to generalize the answer. If I believe I can satisfactorily answer the specific question with an answer that will cover related situations I do so. I suppose the next logical step from there would be to consider editing the question to also be more generic in nature such that is more likely to be found by people experiencing the problem for which the answer applies.

Personally, I've only taken to altering the question in this way when the initial question would be difficult to find (such as not using correct terms to refer to problems being experienced) but I have done so on occasion.

I suppose it might also make sense to go back and alter the question after a generalized answer is accepted as the answer to the original question, though it does then run the risk of making another answer not make sense if it addressed the direct question.

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  • Good point about old answers not making sense. I know it happened to me a few times even after the poster edited their own question. – Itai May 28 '13 at 3:31
  • Another example of question & accepted answer making a poor match after editing the question. How can I take the best pictures at a nightclub with my compact camera where the OP's camera make and model were removed from question title and was never mentioned in question body. It is all okay, I'm not complaining, just an example of the result of editing a question that already has an accepted answer. – Esa Paulasto May 28 '13 at 7:06
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Sometimes the specifics will affect the nature of the question enough that to generalize it would change the correct answer. A general question such as "What improvements have been made to APS-C sensors in the time period between 2008 and 2013" might not be useful to someone invested in Canon EF-S lenses because the answer to the general question (a lot of differences!) will be quite different from one specifically about Canon APS-C sensors (Very little!).

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