I've stumbled a few times across poorly written MWEs as part of questions, and realized recently that my take on what to do (edit it) isn't shared by everyone here (leave the question untouched and put another MWE in an answer). So the question is:
Is it acceptable to edit a MWE and how much?

Being a minimalist and a perfectionist, my personal opinion is that MWEs should be edited to be as minimal as possible, as far as it doesn't modify the behavior the MWE is supposed to show (and they do work!). So unnecessary loading of packages, commands redefinitions, etc. should be removed if they are not part of the issue.

What are your opinions and what is the consensus?

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A question where Xavier in my eyes went too far with his edit: MikTex 2.9 64-bit not loading sans serif font for moderncv. I left already some comments there. –  Speravir Nov 21 '12 at 4:56
    
Just a remark for clarification: I think the question is right here and upvoted it like a bunch of other people. –  Speravir Nov 21 '12 at 23:05
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1 Answer 1

up vote 26 down vote accepted

It's not really an answer, but my thoughts are too long for a comment. :)

First of all, I'd like to thank you for all the effort you've put into moderncv and the time spent in helping people here. :)

I really share your worries on some MWE lacking the minimal component. Indeed we have quite a bunch of such examples in our community.

I once stumbled upon one of your edits and, although your changes in the code really reduced it to the minimal example, they were quite significant. I decided to abstain from voting for that particular revision - and then someone else voted.

I'm very happy to see improved questions and answers. We have great TeXnicians around - Heiko, Frank, egreg, David, to name a few - but we also have a lot of TeX newbies. IMHO writing a MWE is also part of the learning process. We have successful stories in which problems were solved by simply trying to come up with a MWE.

I think a good approach would be to ask the OP, via comment, to try reducing the code to a minimal state. I see this as a win-win situation:

  1. The OP can learn from the process and maybe even solve the original problem.
  2. The community will have a concise code and a better question.

I'm also tempted to reduce codes to their minimal form, but I can see the benefits of leaving the questions as they are for a while. As TeX shepherds, we are happier about that one sheep that had a good learning experience than about the ninety-nine that did not need guidance. :)

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What do we do with the opiniated goats like meee \def\stutterfrequency{3.5Hz} e e e e ? –  percusse Nov 21 '12 at 11:27
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@percusse: ¡Cuidado, llamas! –  Paulo Cereda Nov 21 '12 at 11:37
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@PauloCereda Agree, I like the balance of the commenting idea! –  Xavier Nov 21 '12 at 14:36
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@Moderators: Could I, please, upvote this answer ten times? It says, what I am thinking, but not being able to express it in words! Paulo: Here once an waffle ice (grin) for you: <3 –  Speravir Nov 21 '12 at 23:10
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