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There are numerous posts on meta about editing questions with

  • Thank you.
  • Thanks in advance
  • Thank you, Sean
  • Please help me!!
  • im such a noob sorry for takin ur time

and many of them seem to conflict each other.

In my opinion, these edits are not too minor, even if that is the only thing wrong with the post. We shouldn't have a conditional policy "If there's nothing else worth editing, it's better to leave it alone" because then it sets an example to new users that it is OK to add such lines to their posts, and propagates confusion about what edits to allow and reject. I do agree if the post needs help in other areas, then simply removing "thanks" is too minor.

There seems to be a lot of confusion about whether these edits are acceptable, because I am continually rejected when making such edits. Of course, I edit the rest of the post if it needs it, but if the post is otherwise acceptable in its current form, then that is the only edit I make.

There needs to be some concrete and clear answer as to when these edits are acceptable.

See also: Should 'Hi', 'thanks,' taglines, and salutations be removed from posts?

My conflicting and confused experiences:

Note also: There are even scripts implemented to get rid of this garbage, but they are not perfect, and editors should be able to finish the job. http://meta.stackexchange.com/a/93989/186397

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It's worth noting that if you just constantly propose nothing but edits like this that are mostly "too minor" the reviewers could just label you as someone that spams the system with minor edits, see that you're just changing one little thing, and reject right away. Likewise, many reviewers practically don't even read edits and just accept everything. That can account for some of the false positives and false negatives you've listed. –  Servy Jul 16 '12 at 20:56
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@Servy: I see nothing wrong with "spam" if it improves the site. That's what editing is for. If there's a lot to fix, there's a lot to fix. Don't punish people who volunteer to fix a lot in one day. –  Mooing Duck Jul 16 '12 at 21:39
    
@MooingDuck In my previous comment I was referring to what I see other people doing a lot. I wasn't endorsing either behavior, merely explaining it to the OP. –  Servy Jul 17 '12 at 15:01
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5 Answers 5

In my opinion, these edits are not too minor, even if that is the only thing wrong with the post.

They are not too minor particularly if that's the only thing wrong with the post.

If you fix all there is to fix in a post, that pretty much by definition is not too minor.

If there's more wrong with the post and all you do is remove the "Thanks" and greetings, then that is a too minor edit.

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Agree 100%. Removing salutations only is not a worthwhile edit IMHO. –  Aaron Bertrand Jul 16 '12 at 20:54
    
It's worth noting that looking through the edit history of the OP, the vast majority of his suggested edits fall into the "too minor" category. Even if you consider removing "thanks" from a post that has no other significant problems as not too minor, that only accounts for a small percentage of the OP's suggestions. It's also worth noting that many of the (occasional) suggestions that are more substantive or without other obvious problems are the ones being approved, not the ones being rejected. –  Servy Jul 17 '12 at 14:48
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We shouldn't have a conditional policy "If there's nothing else worth editing, it's better to leave it alone" because then it sets an example to new users that is it OK to add such lines to their posts, and propagates confusion about what edits to allow and reject.

As opposed to setting an example to new users that it's ok to fixate on minor, nearly-inconsequential aspects of a post? That it's ok to waste the time of those reviewing suggested edits by making these mechanical changes without addressing the larger, more critical areas of spelling, grammar, formatting, comprehensive tagging, descriptive titles, general clarity and tone? That as a community, we care more about scrubbing unnecessary and inappropriate social niceties than we do about producing high-quality content?

Yeah, I can live with a few salutations if it avoids all that. As an editor, your goal should be to make each post, its author, and the site as a whole look good - not to become a slightly better script.

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I'd also like to note that once you have 2k rep and don't need your edits reviewed you can feel free to make these constant minor edits all you want as you're no longer inhibiting reviewers. –  Servy Jul 16 '12 at 20:58
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Yes, as a 2K user you're allowed much more leeway in deciding what and how to edit. That said, you should still strive to make useful, polite, substantive edits whenever possible. –  Shog9 Jul 16 '12 at 20:59
    
I don't think you read my question at all: "I do agree if the post needs help in other areas, then simply removing "thanks" is too minor." And why not encourage new users to fixate on making their post a quality one? –  Drise Jul 16 '12 at 21:10
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@Shog9 fixating on proper capitalization, consistent formatting, etc. That was exactly my point! (a quality one). Why can't salutations be included in that list? –  Drise Jul 16 '12 at 21:32
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Why should they be, @Drise? If a post is so close to perfect that removing "Thanks!" from the end - or capitalizing a single "i" or changing one word from bold to italic - is the only edit you could possibly make... Why is that worth even a few seconds of anyone's time to approve? It's discouraged even for full, 2K editors, but at least then you're only wasting your own time; until then, respect that your changes are made only at the whim of someone else, and make your edits clearly beneficial. –  Shog9 Jul 16 '12 at 21:49
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@Shog9 Why shouldn't they fixate on proper capitalization, consistent formatting, not including salutations? Why do you seem to want to encourage this behavior of salutations at the end of the post? –  Drise Jul 16 '12 at 22:55
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@Shog9: Because it's too hard to explain that to a new user. "You mean you have a rule forbidding salutations, but you make an exception for people who get the rest of their post correct? How does that make any sense?" If you can't apply the rule consistently, then you shouldn't have the rule at all. –  Robert Harvey Jul 16 '12 at 23:12
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@Shog9: I'm not against it. But your rule basically says salutations are OK if you can get the rest of your post correct. Really? We tell people that salutations are a distraction, and shouldn't be allowed in posts, then we reject the edits of those who try to remove them. For God's sake. –  Robert Harvey Jul 16 '12 at 23:17
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The editing guidelines should be the same for 2K'ers as they are for suggestors. Anyway, I fix the i's, and tell users to use capital I's from now on. This isn't Twitter. –  Robert Harvey Jul 16 '12 at 23:23
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The editing guidelines for three years have been, "if you’re going to take the time to go in and remove salutations, fix the whole post while you’re at it". For <2K, those should be enforced. @Robert –  Shog9 Jul 16 '12 at 23:24
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@Drise: so again, in this mythical perfect post, you're adding a revision, wasting the time of everyone who jumps in to see what has changed, requiring one or more people to approve that change... On a perfect post... To remove "I'm a noob, thanks!" And you don't see that as being in any way ludicrous? –  Shog9 Jul 16 '12 at 23:25
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@Shog9 No, in fact, I don't see that as a trivial edit. It's garbage, and we should not leave it there, just to encourage more garbage by people looking at other posts and determining that it's ok to do it too. –  Drise Jul 16 '12 at 23:27
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If they're not worthy of being removed on their own, why are we removing them at all? We've gotten plenty of complaints from people who like to be polite, who say it's downright rude to edit out thanks. –  Robert Harvey Jul 16 '12 at 23:32
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I'm not in favor of that either. That really is a trivial edit. It's abuse, because it unnecessarily bumps the post, and it doesn't add any technical value. –  Robert Harvey Jul 16 '12 at 23:34
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@Robert: because the prevailing opinion is that they're pointless, and they take next-to-no effort to remove when you're already in there editing. But funny how those complaints tend to arise from folks whose posts have been repeatedly edited for no reason other than to remove the salutation - hence that "in defense" post I keep linking to. Those who don't learn from history... –  Shog9 Jul 16 '12 at 23:36
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I think the behavior of the reviewers in this case is quite consistent with established standards. It reflects two different imperatives that constantly compete with one another on Stack Overflow:

  1. Improve the site in whatever way you can.
  2. Do so as efficiently as you can.

The issue is not whether the edit is correct in some abstract sense. The issue is whether a very limited resource -- time -- should be spent on these edits rather than on edits to posts like this (which in turn is probably not as high a priority as many other questions -- but I was too lazy to find a better example).

Now, to put it bluntly, once you have full edit privileges, your time is your own to waste. But until then, two other people have to look over your edits, and you waste their time at your own risk.

Furthermore, I looked over the edits you made, and I don't see a lot of inconsistency. This edit did nothing but remove "Please aid!", and was rejected with one dissenting vote. This edit fixed a typo in addition to removing a "thanks", and was accepted with no dissent. This edit made a few changes, but let several fairly dramatic grammatical errors stand, and was rejected by Community for reasons that probably had nothing to do with your edit -- but note that there were still grounds for its rejection. Like the first edit listsed, this edit did nothing but remove a signature, and was rejected with one dissenting vote. Finally, this edit did nothing but remove an extended "thank you," and was accepted, but with one dissenting vote.

So the upshot is that, actually, these results are very consistent. Every time you submitted an edit that did nothing but remove a salutation or signature, at least one person voted against it, and at least one person voted for it. That means that the final decision effectively fell to the third voter. So there's a lot of evidence here that, if you decide to make an edit like this, it will be accepted or rejected at the whim of the third voter.

If you can stand that, keep making these minor edits. If you can't, stop. But my suggestion would be to take the hint and make your edits more substantial, at least until you have full edit privileges. Don't take it personally; learn from it, and become a better editor.

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I sometimes check to see what edits were done to a page and have for the most part been consistently surprised and saddened at the waste of human effort. Yes, some of the edits help clarify the question but most are, in my considered opinion, pointless and needless busywork on ephemera. Because of well-intentioned but misguided attempts to help make SO/SE better? To chase after silly rep points in the most drone-like way? Some other reason? I don't know.

Why do I regard these edits as busywork on ephemera? Because it is work done, not on canonical questions and answers (for the most part) but rather on topic questions which have often been asked in myriad different ways but which are basically the same question, with answers of varying quality and repleteness. Consequently there is no end to it, no steady state that this particular question has been answered (and kept updated when APIs etc. change) and has a degree of community consensus.

Example: There are countless questions on SO asking how to crop a UIImage which are all basically the same question. The answers run the entire range in quality. Wouldn't it make more sense to promote questions to a canonical "heaven" or wiki - a real wiki, clearly flagged and graphically presented as such, where users can go (or be referred) when asking one of these type questions?

Clearly there are other types of questions for which there would not be a canonical answer and these could remain as they are - answered on the fly, catching a few votes or comments but basically ephemeral.

No doubt what I have written here will not be popular. That's fine. I just know that, for me at least, I would make greater effort in seriously working on SO/SE content if it had a more clearly defined knowledge base element to it and was not simply a river of endless questions.

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"Just create one canonical question and provide one great answer" is easy to say, but nearly impossible to do. But that's a different topic, and your point here is well taken. I know I personally struggle with wanting to spend my time where it will do the most good and feeling like all questions deserve to be edited into shape. –  Pops Jul 17 '12 at 15:00
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Drise, it appears that, in an effort to help the site by suggesting edits, you have decided to fixate on one particular issue (salutations), search for posts that contain it, and remove it. The result of this is a lot of suggested edits that are only removing salutations and only occasionally one or two other glaring edits. Your suggestions are sometimes ignoring many problems in your posts. In some cases that they're just beyond what's salvageable through edits and they should just be vote-closed, or even have already been vote-closed (for reasons well beyond or unrelated to just the inclusion of salutations).

These suggested edits simply aren't particularly helpful. They consume the time of multiple reviewers for little or no gain. Given that the edit queue for SO is frequently quite large, this often comes at a fairly high cost. You are potentially filling up the queue entirely (or contributing to it) so that other people are unable to propose more comprehensive (and therefore valuable) edits.

If you want to help out on the site by suggesting edits that's great, but you shouldn't just fixate on one small issue to fix. When you decide to edit a post you should look for posts that have more than just one small problem, and also posts that are salvageable in the first place. Once you are done editing a post it should be a good post, not just a slightly less awful post. If you are unwilling, or unable, to make these comprehensive edits that significantly improve a post then the community benefits more from you not suggesting edits at all. Submitting a large number of small edits that are not making noticeable improvements are more harmful than helpful, which is why you are often seeing your suggestions rejected.

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Servy, I'm not searching for posts that contain salutations. I'm sitting on the front page and editing them as they come in. It just so happens that most of them contain salutations. I try to edit as much as I can without modifying the content, because most things that I'm editing are outside of my knowledge scope. I also try to flag stuff when appropriate. –  Drise Jul 17 '12 at 14:50
    
I also wonder if the fact that I'm bringing to light that these edits need to be made, that if I don't get everything, then I'm at least getting it known "Hey! This post needs help!". –  Drise Jul 17 '12 at 14:51
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@Drise Looking through several pages of your edit history, virtually every single edit is to remove salutations, and and handful of those edit also change one or two other minor things. Even if you're not actively searching out every post with "thanks" in it, you're clearly not suggesting edits for almost any other kinds of problems, which in the end is my point. You're clearly looking for this problem to fix in the posts that you read, and you're not looking for other problems that are more disruptive to future readers. –  Servy Jul 17 '12 at 14:56
    
For the record, after all this, I have made a mental note to be more attentive. I will once I get un-suspended. –  Drise Jul 17 '12 at 15:02
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