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While I agree that minor edits as implemented are a bad idea, there are many questions that simply have bad English, but are still intelligible. Fixing them is usually something that I would call a minor edit, but the downside to not editing them is that there are a lot of posts that have bad grammar.

Is there a way around this problem? Should there be a mechanism for dealing with this, or should we just resign ourselves to all the old content that has bad grammar staying that way?

EDIT: I cannot seem to find a nice post with terrible English right now, so this question will just have to do. It has no capitalization. Is it intelligible? Absolutely. Would it look better with the proper letter capitalized? Yes. (this and this are also an examples, but not as good.)

The point is there are many questions that have truly minor things wrong with them on a grammar or spelling level.

NOTE: For a previous post about edit flooding that might be relevant, see here.

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migrated from meta.superuser.com Dec 22 '11 at 7:12

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Please provide examples that, in the current situation, just would not be edited, and how you'd edit them. Also, define what is bad English for you. I've had a post edited because I was following British English convention and therefore not following a suggestion in the Chicago Manual of Style. –  Daniel Beck Dec 11 '11 at 9:27
    
+1 a question that needs to be asked though. –  Daniel Beck Dec 11 '11 at 9:28
    
@DanielBeck, cannot seem to find a good example, feel free to change it if you see a better one. –  soandos Dec 11 '11 at 9:37
    
@DanielBeck keep up the British English :) –  8088 Dec 12 '11 at 1:00
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Anyone see the irony of Gareth editing this post?? –  surfasb Dec 12 '11 at 16:39
    
I couldn't agree more with this, as seeing the poor grammar/punctuation/spelling on some questions is quite annoying. However, as Daniel Beck said, the definition of proper grammar is not the same across the world, which could lead to problems, unless a specific guide is specified as "correct" for this site. –  SaintWacko Dec 13 '11 at 17:56
    
@SaintWacko, while that is true, I really don't care if the grammar is perfect just that it is much better than it currently is in many cases. I would just say that both American and British styles are fine. –  soandos Dec 13 '11 at 18:43
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@soandos Same here, I'm just pointing out a possible problem. I think that even with that, minor edits would still be a good idea, if only to improve readability for those who arrive seeking answers. –  SaintWacko Dec 13 '11 at 18:47
    
+2. Just because I can :-) –  Daniel Beck Dec 22 '11 at 18:20
    
Agree - minor edits are definitely A Good Thing. For example this question - superuser.com/questions/35590/… - needs a fix to the minor formatting typo in the first answer. Perhaps it's just me, but I noticed it as soon as I read the page, it distracts from the answer and makes the whole page appear less "polished". However, superuser.com won't accept the edit as it's less than 6 characters :( –  stevec Jan 5 '12 at 15:23

2 Answers 2

up vote 23 down vote accepted

The major problem with minor edits is that they are quick and a bunch of them unnecessarily pollute the front page. We had that situation with the far more substantial broken image link edits by @Gareth and users weren't amused.


Here's a feature suggestion that requires probably significant changes to the editing feature:

Give users the option to check "This is a minor edit" when editing.

Atlassian Confluence wiki software does not notify others about an edit in this case. For us, the equivalent action is to not put the post on the front page.

I am aware that @Jeff rejected this idea before, but in the context of hiding these edits, as they were too insubstantial. My suggestion works differently: I'd use /review and a suggested edits mechanism to allow community review without pushing the topics to the front page.


For all users, checking the minor edit checkmark this will place the edit in review, and requires two high-rep users to decide:

  • This really is a minor edit
  • This is a bad edit or a major change to the post's contents

It could have the following options for review actions:

  • It really is a minor edit
  • It's a useful, major edit, handled just like approval of a regular edit: Put on front page
  • Reject, handled just like rejection of a regular edit

If all three (the original editor and two reviewers) agree that the edit is useful and minor, it will be applied but not push the topic to the front page, as sufficient community review already happened.

This way, minor grammar/spelling edits, as well as image reuploads will not pollute the front page, but will still happen after reviews.

To prevent abuse of this new feature, any of the following could also be implemented:

  • These edits do not award reputation
  • These edits do not count towards any of the editor badges
  • These edits count towards new cleanup themed badges
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This was listed as a no go by Jeff (see here accepted answer). –  soandos Dec 11 '11 at 9:42
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@soandos Thanks, but that was posted back when there was no /review and no suggested edits. Back them, it really would have been hidden; now it could piggyback of the reviewing functionality. It's time to reopen this case. You'll note that most of my post deals with how to still achieve community review, and how to keep users from edit flooding to get reputation and the editing badges from it. –  Daniel Beck Dec 11 '11 at 9:43
    
Didn't think of that, but I think it is still an important reference. Editing my question to include it. –  soandos Dec 11 '11 at 9:45
    
@soandos It seems I am wrong. It was only in August that this topic was posted. Interesting. Will have to check the timeline of review and suggested edit features. –  Daniel Beck Dec 11 '11 at 9:48
    
I like the last part, but I don't think that a check-box is the way to go. It should be obvious to a simple algorithm that the edit was minor. –  soandos Dec 11 '11 at 9:54
    
@soandos Algorithms can be gamed. If necessary, wrap your substantial edit in 20 unsubstantial ones, that don't make sense in isolation, but completely change the meaning of a post in combination. Things like this really need a user to decide whether they are minor. This would also include image reuploads which completely change embedded URLs and would hopefully be rejected by your algorithm, given the risk of abuse. –  Daniel Beck Dec 11 '11 at 9:56
    
See my edited answer for what I mean. I Don't think that a post can have its meaning significantly changed and still meet those conditions. It is no-where near perfect though, I agree. –  soandos Dec 11 '11 at 9:58

A possibility is to create a page the shows all of the post with activity on them, no matter how small the edits, but reserve the current activity page for edits that have more than 6 or so changed characters (the number is fungible, but the point I hope is clear).

EDIT: Perhaps a different way of deciding what should be a minor edit is the following: If the only changes were in case, or insertion or deletion of punctuation or articles it was minor. Otherwise, it is a regular edit.

While this is not perfect obviously, it will probably work pretty well.

Also important would be something that informs the editor that their edit will be minor (or not as the case may be) so they can decide if they want to make it show up on the front page.

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The problem here is, that I can absolutely change the entire meaning of a post (adding not between two words is a four character change) in less than six characters. This is only an example, and I'm sure with a bit more time I can figure out how to post disruptive one-character edits. –  Daniel Beck Dec 11 '11 at 9:53
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symmetry -> asymmetry. ;) –  Herbert Sep 10 '12 at 16:18

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