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Currently, I cannot edit anything on SO because the edit queue is full. This question is in need of editing, so I can come back to it later and try again. However, the tagging was pretty horrible, so I thought it would still be useful to retag, at least.

After doing so, however, I began to wonder if that was the best course of action. Generally speaking, I understand best practices when editing to be "as long as you're already going to be editing anyway, you should edit anything and everything within a post that needs it."

By simply retagging, have I broken this rule? If I forget to come back to edit this, or it just takes too long for the queue to come down, is it better that I made at least some improvement to the post?

If the queue is full, should I halt all retagging activities (unless there is nothing more that needs to be done)?

(Update, the queue was cleared a bit, and I have submitted my edit suggestion.)

Update: And... it's happening again. I just retagged instead, but it still gives me a funny feeling.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

By simply retagging, have I broken this rule?

Yes.

is it better that I made at least some improvement to the post?

Yes!

For most rules, there are times when it is better to break them than to follow them. This was such a time.

While I am a strong supporter of the "Try to fix everything that needs fixing when you edit a post." guideline, and reject edits as too minor if they fall too far¹ short of it, I don't hold it sacred.

If retagging alone is a substantial improvement, it is absolutely the correct course of action to only retag if you can't edit due to the queue being full. Even if you don't come back later and fix the remaining issues when you can suggest edits again.

The point of the guideline is twofold.

  • To keep the number of revisions low to prevent auto-wikification².
  • To save the reviewers from wasting their time looking at too many trivial and insufficient edits.

You have the retagging privilege, so the second point is irrelevant for your retaggings. If you hadn't, you'd have done the whole thing in one go anyway, wouldn't you?

So only the first point remains. The question hadn't been edited before, so meh, it's not a real concern here. In general, you could look at the revision history and decide in each case whether it's too close to wikification to add an incomplete edit to the history. When in doubt, improve, if necessary, the CW status can be removed by a moderator.


¹ A fuzzy subjective metric. If I see dozens of suggested edits by the same user correcting the same misspelled word in question titles while completely ignoring a total mess in the question body, those will fall "too far short". If a suggested edit fixes half the issues in a post with many issues needing to be fixed, that's only "too far short" if the remaining issues are too glaringly obvious and bad.

² A post becomes CW if it is edited by at least five different users, e.g., more

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If the tags are really that bad (which they are in this case), then yes. Having a terrible tag like that is going to make that question very unfindable because only 93 out of the many users here are following that tag. It's still a vast improvement to the post and it's understandable to make an edit like that under those conditions (as well, tag-only edits don't increase your edit count for the badges anyways).

If the edit were just to remove a single useless tag that otherwise wouldn't really affect the post in any way, then save it until you can make a full, decent edit.

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Good point differentiating between adding/removing/changing tags. That can make a difference, I suppose. –  Gaffi Jul 10 '12 at 19:04

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