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I recently came across an answer by BalusC which contained a link to a specification that has since been moved. When attempting to edit the link, a change which involved the subtraction of only 4 characters, I ran up against the 6 character minimum requirement.

Ordinarily this would not be an issue. A less experienced poster would likely have other things within the answer that could be changed (How to overcome “Edits must be at least 6 characters”?). In fact, this seems to be the answer on every meta post relating to this topic (Can't fix link in answer because it needs minimum chars to edit, We're discouraged from fixing typos and misspellings on SE sites?, etc...).

The problem here, since I don't have 2k reputation, is that BalusC writes excellent answers... with the reputation to back them up. I don't feel there is anything in the post (besides the link) that would benefit from me editing.

What is the standard practice here?

  • Flag the post and explain my situation in the notes (for someone with higher reputation)?
  • Comment on the post and hope that a) visitors read the comments or b) the OP gets notified and updates their post?
  • Make edits, for the sole purpose of increasing characters, providing no benefit and possibly hurting the quality of the post?

For reference, the EL Specification in the post should be changed to https://jsp.java.net/spec/jsp-2_1-fr-spec-el.pdf, if someone wants to go ahead and take care of this.

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Done, and got rid of the s in https so users don't get a certificate warning. –  Tom Wijsman Oct 8 '12 at 18:04
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If the user is active, you could also just post a comment telling that the link is broken. Most if not all would fix the answer accordingly, at least I would do. Once done that, the comment(s) can be removed. –  BalusC Oct 10 '12 at 18:02
    
I'd argue that fixing a broken link in an answer that only has value through the link provided is a substantial improvement from almost zero value to at least some value. Why should that have to be done by proxy through the original question author, if I can simply change it myself? –  rgvcorley Aug 21 at 10:25

1 Answer 1

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Flag the post and explain my situation in the notes (for someone with higher reputation)?

No, flags are for serious issues, changing a few characters is almost never a serious issue.

Comment on the post and hope that a) visitors read the comments or b) the OP gets notified and updates their post?

Yes, this is the best way to go at it. Visitors will note a link in the comment, and as an active user there is a high chance that he updates his post.

Make edits, for the sole purpose of increasing characters, providing no benefit and possibly hurting the quality of the post?

Only do this if you can improve the quality of the post, or you could get away with something like:

Oracle Expression Language 2.1 specification

What I simply did was change the post forward (to something long) and back (to something short), an even more cheap way to go about it; I should however note that, this is not the way to go about it in general as we really expect substantial edits to posts...

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-1 for "flags are for serious issues." What does "serious" mean? Low-rep users can flag questions as duplicate or off-topic, or just low quality. To my understanding flagging is a reasonable thing to do here but possibly not best. –  AAA May 2 '13 at 15:16
    
@djechlin: Serios enough towards the moderator, think in their place. If one doesn't know what's serious or can't determine whether something is serious on his or her own; that person should probably not be flagging. Yeah, when no other means are available, flagging is reasonable; but when we're talking about changing less than 6 characters, I highly doubt it... –  Tom Wijsman May 2 '13 at 17:28
    
The criterion for flagging is "this needs an action taken that community members themselves can't do." They are human exception handlers for when most automated and crowd (community) sourced moderation can't cover. You're missing the point to say "changing less than 6 characters [makes it not serious enough]." While that is usually true the OP has identified an exception and posted about it on meta. In fact I don't think a policy change is needed precisely because current policy works ~99% of the time and we have mods for the other 1%. –  AAA May 2 '13 at 18:07
    
Furthermore note most flags low-rep users can raise are handled by high-rep users (close votes, very low quality). Even edits, although we also ban trivial edits from low-rep users. So this is actually an exception handler for the automated rule of no trivial edits, on top of the exception handler for no queue this low-rep flag can fall into. Viz., exactly what moderators are for. –  AAA May 2 '13 at 18:09
    
You're telling me things I already know, been here long and often enough. 8-] –  Tom Wijsman May 2 '13 at 20:03
    
I sometimes try to improve code formatting in questions, especially from new users. They sometimes put a block of code with 4 spaces and then enclose in `. This doesn't look good at all but requires only 2 character change. –  Szymon Sep 19 '13 at 21:12

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