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When I review pending edits, I occasionally see edits to answers that are correct. These edits don't make the questions wrong, per se, and might even add some useful information. But I tend to reject such edits on the grounds that if the poster wanted to include that information, he would have. That is, the edits put words in the poster's mouth. It'd be better, in my opinion, if such changes were proposed in the comments, and then they could be added (or not) at the poster's discretion.

I tend to waver between "invalid edit," "radical change" and "too minor" when choosing a reason for rejecting such edits. (Yes, I'm aware the last two are just a bit contradictory. But if the edit's not correcting any real issues, it's not worthy of an edit, in my opinion.) But considering the frequency with which I'm seeing such edits lately, I was wondering whether there's a standard reason I should be using. Or, perhaps, whether such a reason needs to be added.

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Radical Change and Too Minor do not necessarily contradict each other. F.e. How can I do this in C#? get's changed to How can I do this in C++. It's a minor edit, but a radical change. – Time Traveling Bobby Oct 14 '11 at 8:35
It's not "too minor", though. It's a pretty significant change, even if it is just 2-3 chars changed. In that case, it's pretty clear it ought to be rejected as a "radical change" unless the post is unequivocally talking about C++. – cHao Oct 14 '11 at 8:44
Specific examples please – waffles Oct 14 '11 at 9:39
 ...and more. But i'm tired of looking. :P – cHao Oct 14 '11 at 10:42 more. is one i rejected personally. – cHao Oct 14 '11 at 10:49
up vote 9 down vote accepted

"Radical change" is the right choice here. It's used when "the original meaning or intent of the post would be lost." Most of the edits you linked to contain separate solutions from the original answer, and thus should be separate answers.

The exception is this one, which is either a comment (which it was rejected as) or purely a failed attempt at clarification since it's redundant. And I don't agree with this one being rejected; it's a valid clarification that doesn't change any meaning. It could have been a comment but I think it's fine as an edit.

As Padded Cell notes, it doesn't need to be a large change of content to be a large change of meaning.

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What if the original meaning of the post would be lost, but useful, correct information would be added? Don't we want edits like that? Isn't the purpose of Stack Overflow to create the best repository of software development Q & A? – Adam Rackis Oct 14 '11 at 18:07
@AdamRackis How is providing a separate answer not helping to create such a repository? Are you opposed to having more than one answer per question? – Matthew Read Oct 14 '11 at 18:18
I guess I would have to look at some examples, but I envision a case where an answer is correct, but incomplete. It might help for someone to come along later and edit to add to it. – Adam Rackis Oct 14 '11 at 18:19
@AdamRackis I tend to post an answer like "As X notes, you must Y. But you also need to Z" when that happens. Give credit, but still provide an answer without co-opting the other poster's answer. IMO the person with the complete picture should get upvote rep too. – Matthew Read Oct 14 '11 at 18:59
Yeah, I guess I can see that being the more appropriate approach. – Adam Rackis Oct 14 '11 at 20:05
Agree, but users have to try hard to find out what happened to their edits and aren't notified by SE policy as I recently found out. Providing a separate answer is good and right, but very unlikely to happen I think under the current system. We write all this feedback to edit suggesters, but they don't see it. – AndrewC Sep 20 '12 at 3:45
@AndrewC Do feel free to post a suggestion to change how that works, a comment on an unrelated answer will also go unnoticed :P – Matthew Read Sep 20 '12 at 5:25

That is, the edit is putting words in the poster's mouth.

I agree with Matthew that "Radical Change" is correct.

But I'd also like to caution you about getting too protective on the original author's behalf: remember, he can always roll back the edit if he doesn't like the tone. Some of those rejected edits you posted in the comments looked suspiciously like honest attempts by readers to simply update or clarify the information already in the answer... They weren't changing or contradicting what was already there.

Your primary concerns should always be, "is this correct?" and "does this harmonize with what's already in the answer?"

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Agreed, you should always check the context of the edit. Maybe the content of the edit was left by the OP in a comment, and someone is just helpfully trying to add it to the body, where it belongs. – Pops Oct 14 '11 at 21:09
Also agreed here. – Matthew Read Oct 14 '11 at 21:13

I've seen enough edit suggestions exactly as you've described and wanted some mechanism to encourage the new content into a new answer completely, attributed to the editor.

Sometimes content that looks really good is suggested, and leaving a comment on the post for the editor "Hey, start a new answer with your suggestion: [suggested edit url]" is worthwhile but I wish I had a single button for "notify the editor that this would be better given as a new answer completely".

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