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I think we should do something about that. Look at this example. I reject three or four of this type of edit everyday.

What's the problem (if you're too lazy to click on the example)?

When the OP (90% are newbies) asks something and, for example, the answer is just correcting missing brackets, and the OP EDITS the answer instead of posting a comment about it. Is this preventable?

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How can 'newbies' be editing other peoples answers? Insufficient information. – Grant Thomas Aug 16 '11 at 9:20
Do you mean the the OP edits the question? If so, please edit your question. :) – systemovich Aug 16 '11 at 9:36
@Mr remember anyone can suggest an edit (click the 'example' link!) – AakashM Aug 16 '11 at 9:45
@AkashM I certainly didn't forget, but the system handles those - as demonstrated by rejections. – Grant Thomas Aug 16 '11 at 9:57
@Mr well, only in a broad sense is it 'the system' handling this - it's individual conscientious users who are having to do this work. I think OP is asking if the non-human part of the system can handle this. – AakashM Aug 16 '11 at 10:13
@Cody Gray I did get the notifications, thanks for your concern - I was being negligent and went off to do some work. (next comment follows due to multi-@ restrictions and multi-button clicks later thanks to 5 second restrictions...) – Grant Thomas Aug 16 '11 at 10:52
@AakashM That's the very nature and culture of this community, automatic annotations via an intelligent system aid human intervention - and the intervention is ultimately required for things that can't be detected and definitively decided by any system. – Grant Thomas Aug 16 '11 at 10:52
up vote 6 down vote accepted

I don't think there's a way to prevent this, except for the edit review system that's already in place. Unless of course, you'd want to remove the edit link on all replies to a question for the OP as long as they don't have edit privileges. But there are valid cases where editing should be allowed.

Suppose someone posts an answer to a question that's 95% correct, and the person that asked the question finds the solution based on this answer. In this case it would be absolutely valid to edit the answer and correct the problem. Granted, the OP could leave a comment that a modification needs to be made by the person that answered, but sometimes the person that answered doesn't do it. I saw exactly this a few times, but can't find the relevant posts right now.

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As takrl says, there's no good way of preventing this beyond the review system that is already in place. We don't want to prevent askers from suggesting edits to answers because there might be a typo or other minor bug that they can easily fix to improve the answer. Half of the time, the person who posted the answer will accept this edit themselves.

So when you see edits like this, make sure to reject them, just as you have been doing.

If you'd like to "go the extra mile", you can also visit the question and leave the asker a courtesy comment. Something along the lines of:

I noticed you tried to edit one of the answers to your question to ask for clarification. That's not really the way that Stack Overflow is intended to work. If you'd like to ask a follow-up question, you should either leave a comment to the answer (you can always comment on answers to your own questions, regardless of reputation) and/or edit your own question to include additional information.

This can be an effective way to guide them in the proper direction without requiring any additional features to be implemented.

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