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Do you know what's the difference between text (prose) and code? Yep, you're right: characters do matter.

Suppose I was looking for some right command. Suppose I found it and suppose it turned out that there was exactly one character missing ( think e.g. diff -ur vs diff -u ).

And as currently any edit is demanded to change at least 6 characters, then my question would be -- why on Earth I should leave this example incorrect? ( I mean, I can -- but why I can't fix it? ) And if there is an "official" way to edit this -- then how do I do that, for Knuth's sake?

I mean, I of course can add and remove some fake characters. But this can then obviously be done as well to bypass any protection against minor changes, right? So what's the point in having this ritual then ?

PS. Let me link here a related (though different) question of mine.

upd. A good proposal, I vote for it )

share|improve this question
@The Establishment: linked it, thanks – ジョージ May 15 '12 at 1:35
I don't understand this use case. If you find your problem and it was a missing character, you should point that out explicitly. Just silently fixing the problem will confuse people, won't it? – Pëkka May 15 '12 at 13:38
@Pekka: and what's wrong in fixing code in an answer ? – ジョージ May 15 '12 at 22:49
ジョージ - it's usually not a good idea to do. If your fix solves the OP's problem, you should make that information an answer. If you fix it in the OP's original code, they may never see it, plus the question stops making sense (as nobody can spot what's wrong any longer). – Pëkka May 15 '12 at 23:03
@Pekka: I can't help the feeling you misread it twice. Let's define terms: the OP's problem is called a question. The answer is something that fixes it, Ok? So my post is about improving someone's else answer, when you fell like everything there is right except may be one character. – ジョージ May 17 '12 at 23:41
I mixed up answer and question, but my point stands in either case. If you see an incorrect answer, you want to notify the author of the error. Otherwise, they will never learn what they did wrong and more importantly, they may have meant something entirely different. See e.g.… – Pëkka May 18 '12 at 6:12
@Pekka: So I should leave a comment for the author and hope that he is still active on SO to fix the answer, is that right? I think this is a way to go, though not the best one: first, no one actually reads the comments: I bet you didn't read this one before posting your question about the "use case"; second, the edits for users with <2000 rep. are reviewed, so we'll still have some independent consideration. Thank you for the discussion. – ジョージ May 21 '12 at 2:18
"no one actually reads the comments" - I find that not to be true at all. Comments are the place to put things one finds wrong with an answer. – Pëkka May 21 '12 at 8:14
@Pekka Correction: "some people do not actually read the comments". – ジョージ May 25 '12 at 10:21
up vote 16 down vote accepted

The "official" way is to fix other problems with the post at the same time.

Alternatively, you can earn at least 2,000 reputation, which will give you the privilege to edit questions and answers freely, without requiring peer approval. Then you can make as trivial edits as you desire.

share|improve this answer
The "edit anywhere" privilege description still states that trivial edits are discouraged. – agf May 15 '12 at 1:21
accepted as "earn at least 2000 reputation". – ジョージ May 15 '12 at 1:21
@agf I understand that they are; but it looks reasonable for text, code comments, etc -- no for stuff where chars do matter. – ジョージ May 15 '12 at 1:23
@ジョージ I was responding to "Then you can make as trivial edits as you desire" which isn't good advice. – agf May 15 '12 at 1:39
+1 for the correct answer, but I've always found this to be a useless rule. If there's one character wrong in a code sample, then just let the nicer passerby fix it without demanding that they also find five other characters of imperfect grammar to fix. – Adam Rackis May 15 '12 at 1:52
A one-character change in English text is likely (but not certain) to be trivial. A one-character change in code very likely is not. – Keith Thompson May 15 '12 at 3:22
Yes. They are still "discouraged", but they are not forbidden. That's the distinction here. As Keith points out, whether something is actually trivial is subjective. Once you get to 2k rep, you're trusted to make that judgment for yourself, rather than having a character count determine it for you. @agf – Cody Gray May 16 '12 at 8:36

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