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Upon editing a question or answer on SO, you are advised on the right-side of the page that you should:

  • fix grammatical or spelling errors
  • clarify meaning without changing it
  • correct minor mistakes
  • add related resources or links
  • always respect the original author

Further, to format, you should do things like:

  • backtick escapes like _so_

Earlier, I suggested the following edit, which was rejected:

Normally such edits get 3/3 or 3/4 approved. I would guess they usually get approved because improving grammatical errors, clarifying meaning without changing it, correcting minor mistakes, and backticking escapes are the activities encouraged by the site. This time, I was overwhelmingly voted down.

I am from GMT -5, and given the time I made this suggestion, many people on SO were from East Asia. If you look at the members who voted on the suggested edit, you will see 4/5 were from India. For many people in India, English, and, more specifically American English, is a second language. These members, however, judge suggested edits and how they rank in terms of the above English-oriented criteria.

So, given these edit criteria, isn't it a problem that we have an international but non-internationalized community here? If the site was in Vietnamese French, and either I spoke Vietnamese French poorly or, instead, spoke it like a French person from Paris, wouldn't it complicate my ability to vote on suggested edits? Given that we have an international but non-internationalized community, perhaps the criteria for suggested edits should not be oriented around grammar and on particular language at all?

For reference: Original OP

Can't believe this was rejected:

Normally such edits gets 3/3 or 3/4 approved. My impressions is that people in India were awake at the time of this suggestion, and it appears, sadly, that they don't know or appreciate English grammar and code formatting.

Thoughts? Really annoyed right now :<.

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closed as not constructive by Michael Petrotta, hims056, Toon Krijthe, Martijn Pieters, Robert Harvey Mar 9 '13 at 22:05

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

@Bart, really uncool that you deleted my India references in this question. That's what my question is about, man. – dimadima Mar 8 '13 at 6:02
@Bart: Fact: people in non-Commonwealth countries generally don't know English as well as they do in Commonwealth countries. – dimadima Mar 8 '13 at 6:03
Fact: It doesn't matter one bit. You want to know if your edit should have been accepted or rejected. Or rather, you want confirmation that your edit was indeed a good one. Guess what information we need for that? Your suggested edit. Any assumptions about the reviewers, their nationalities, or how angry and upset you really are is besides the point. And from experience, the more neutral discussion/support requests usually go over better than something which might be misinterpreted. – Bart Mar 8 '13 at 6:06
@Bart. That's right. So I just reverted the part of your edit that I think is not substantive to the discussion. But SO is an international non-internationalized community. So, when an edit is supposed to "fix grammatical or spelling errors" or "clarify meaning without changing it" or "correct minor mistakes", it can be frustrating when an ESOL person is judging those parameters – dimadima Mar 8 '13 at 6:08
Yeah, thanks for the vote down @Bart. But do address my question. Notice the "internationalisation" tag on the question. Stop crying and consider this very real problem. – dimadima Mar 8 '13 at 6:10
And what on earth does that have to do with the evaluation of your suggested edit here? Nothing whatsoever. You want us to tell you "good edit" or "bad edit", right? Or do you want us to go into a whole discussion on how people from India shouldn't review? If so, you might want to best address that in a different question. Or more clearly state that that is the issue you really want to discuss. P.s. not my downvote. Don't assume it is. – Bart Mar 8 '13 at 6:11
Yeah, let's not go into analyzing demographics here. You don't know where the users who reviewed the edit are from, nor does it really mean anything in the grand scheme of things. Who rejected the edit is a lot less relevant than why, so let's just focus on the latter. – Adam Lear Mar 8 '13 at 6:13
@Bart. Your question: "And what on earth does that have to do with the evaluation of your suggested edit here?" My answer: "If English is your second language, or even if you're from a different native English-speaking country, your perspectives on "fix grammatical or spelling errors" or "clarify meaning without changing it" or "correct minor mistakes" may either be different or, actually, just plain wrong. – dimadima Mar 8 '13 at 6:13
@AnnaLear. Yeah, I can't say I did an precise study. That is true. But 4/5 of the reviewers were in India. I took some time to read their questions, answers, and skimmed a few of their blogs. Their English was "Indian English". – dimadima Mar 8 '13 at 6:14
@dimadima Then by all means make a separate discussion or even a feature request related to filtering out those users who do not have a decent grasp of the English language. I can't see it go over very well, but if that's what you want to discuss, make it a clear discussion. – Bart Mar 8 '13 at 6:15
Absurdly sad that you butchered my question like this. After my edits of Bart's initial edits, it was much improved. Now you've stifled my question, and completely ignored its context and the imperative to respect OP. – dimadima Mar 8 '13 at 6:25
Maybe my question is clear now? – dimadima Mar 8 '13 at 6:44
Not really. What do you mean by "perhaps the criteria for suggested edits should not be oriented around grammar and on particular language at all"? – Michael Petrotta Mar 8 '13 at 6:46
@dimadima: Hey, people in other countries and timezones speak English, too. Maybe even as a first language. So what if some people don't have your perfect English? They are valued members of the site nonetheless. – nneonneo Mar 8 '13 at 6:50
I'm sorry, but why did you just accept an answer. You are free to do so, and by all means accept Robert's answer if that is what you think answered your question. But you completely rewrote it, shifted the apparent focus and then effectively say "I'm done here". Do you want a discussion about the (new) topic, or don't you? – Bart Mar 8 '13 at 6:50
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I think the community got this one wrong. You took the time to make several beneficial corrections to the spelling, grammar and punctuation, and highlighted the appropriate keywords with code markup.

It was not a unanimous decision; it was best 3 out of 5. Still, I'm surprised it got that many rejections. One of the reviewers rejects one out of every three suggested edits he sees.

I reinstated your edits. Note that the post is fairly old; that might have been a contributing factor in it receiving so many rejection votes.

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"One of the reviewers rejects one out of every three.." ... which is indicative of? – Bart Mar 8 '13 at 5:55
Appreciate it, Harvey. I'm not so much into the 2 points. Instead, I like to fix missing apostrophes and non-backticked inline code. The latter really kills me the most. Also, there were several code errors: for example, a reference to a constructor that was written as a constructor invocation. Foo is not Foo(). – dimadima Mar 8 '13 at 5:56
@Bart: A very strict reviewer. – Robert Harvey Mar 8 '13 at 5:57
@dimadima: Be cautious about changing code in questions. Without realizing it, you might be masking the very problem that the OP is asking about. – Robert Harvey Mar 8 '13 at 5:58
@RobertHarvey: I definitely am... I try not to, for the reason you point out. Also, people seem more likely to reject when you edit code! But then, what is a substantive edit, if people want more than just punctuation and formatting fixes? Anyway, in this case, the code changes I made to OP's question weren't substantive to the question or his problem. – dimadima Mar 8 '13 at 6:00
@dimadima Code changes are better handled by pointing out the error to the poster, and letting them fix it themselves. One can never be completely sure about the poster's intent. – Robert Harvey Mar 8 '13 at 6:05
So you say that "constructor" is inline code? Should we backtick any reserved word? Sorry, but I disagree. Too many backticked parts render a post unreadable. I would have rejected such edit as "invalid edit" not too minor or explain in custom message about the excessive use of inline code for stuff that is NOT code. – Shadow Wizard Mar 8 '13 at 8:41

Honestly, most of the edit doesn't appear to actually improve anything. The things that stand out are the ones you modified in the code block, where you put the numbers in quotes and added backticks (which don't do anything inside the code block). As well, the word "constructor" does not really need to be in an inline code block.

The only thing I see there that's particularly useful in the edit was the grammar fixes to the last sentence of the first paragraph, which definitely improved the readability. Even so, I can't bring myself to say that one improvement is enough to account for some of the other things you modified that I have to say kind of take the post in the wrong direction. I honestly think the post was completely fine the way it was minus the one sentence I mentioned.

Looking at this edit more, the quotations and backticks really stick out above everything else, and make me think "Why???"

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Replied with thoughts on Robert Harvey's answer – dimadima Mar 8 '13 at 5:57
Why? Because reading things is easier and most pleasant when the punctuation is correct and code is formatted properly. Also, there were mistakes in the code. – dimadima Mar 8 '13 at 5:58
@dimadima: I'm talking about the ones inside the code block itself, which don't do anything at all. It's already code. The quotes and backticks just look extraordinarily out of place. – animuson Mar 8 '13 at 5:59
@dimadima Given that it's a question you might want to hold back on code edits/corrections. Even if they are comments. – Bart Mar 8 '13 at 5:59
@animuson: The contents of a comment is not code. It is comment text. When referencing code in a comment, you use backticks to escape the comment's English and reference code. – dimadima Mar 8 '13 at 6:36

I'm on the fence with this one. Sometimes I try to answer questions with very bad grammar and I answer it completely wrong to what they ask.

But other times, the grammar isn't really the problem as the question asked is "There's something wrong with my code.", or something of the like.

In this specific instance I don't think the grammar adjustments were necessary, but in more severe cases I would welcome your edits with open arms.

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I think your meta post here got sidetracked. There are two problems going on here.

  1. An edit with minor but measurable improvements got rejected.
  2. You are dragging in a bunch of stuff about people in India not knowing English, etc etc etc.

That second point ... and whatever you would like to suggest as far as what the criteria should or should not be for edits and who should or should not be allowed to judge those criteria really need to be separated from point #1: a specific edit rejection.

I am almost always on the side of allowing minor edits if they do tangibly improve even small grammar details and they are not done en-masse in such a way as to flood the home page. If you are reading a post in the natural course of your work and take a minute to fix a spelling mistake while you are there, I think it should stand. Not everybody agrees with me and the fact that this was a very old post is a contributing factor. Most of your changes being personal preference items probably didn't help either.

In this case, I think the community erred in rejecting the edit. As a suggestion for you however, I would recommend focusing on the actual grammar mistakes and necessary formatting and skip the preferencial bits (like inline code/bold/etc). This will make it easier to judge whether your edits are constructive or not.

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