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I know that it is in general frowned upon users that make minor edits to fix small grammatic issues, add a single tag etc. From my understanding this is primarily so that they will not get free reputation for little to no work, but what is the stance for user that no longer gets reputation.

I see many scenarios where simply adding a tag like for example questions that are missing the core tag. Or capitalizing multiple lower-case i may not be a major improvement, but remove small annoyances. Is this frowned upon even if done by users that no longer gains reputation, and by-passes the review process?

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"From my understanding this is primarily so that they will not get free reputation for little to no work" Bugging (at least) 3 reviewers is the main problem, not the rep. –  Yannis Apr 4 '13 at 11:50
It's not "bypassing the review process", it's more like "having the privilege to edit without being peer reviewed". They earned it by hard work. –  Shadow Wizard Apr 4 '13 at 12:20

5 Answers 5

up vote 16 down vote accepted

If your edits no longer require review (i.e. you have enough reputation), by all means, go fix such annoyances, as and when you encounter them, but do not search for them, as they will bump the question to the front page.

Mind, however, that there are many such and it can become tedious. Most posts will benefit from more improvements, so when you do see such a thing, see if there are other improvements to be made.

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Thanks a lot @Oded. I assumed that was the case, but wanted to make sure that I didn't go against the community. –  eandersson Apr 4 '13 at 11:50
I had to give you a -1 because I don't think this is entirely true. Tiny trivial edits are discouraged per the official documentation about the Editing privilege, and it can be quite obnoxious when a user decides to do a search on something common such as a common typo or grammar mistake, and do a bunch of mass "fixes" to older questions. –  Rachel Apr 4 '13 at 13:03
@Rachel - Yes, I agree with that. I have no problem with a high rep user making minor edits when they happen to fall onto something. –  Oded Apr 4 '13 at 13:09
@Oded I've been thinking about it, and this sends a very confusing message to users. For example, a user sees their post is edited and checks out the change. If they see all that has changed is the word "teh" to "the", then we are basically telling them it's OK to make minor edits like that, and its OK to approve minor edits like that. We should have a consistent standard for edits, regardless of reputation. –  Rachel Apr 5 '13 at 14:57
@Rachel - A consistent "improve posts" is also a good message. I understand the issue in that such a user would be blocked from making the same change, but the fact is, these edit are allowed for higher rep users (might as well ask for minor edits to be disallowed altogether). –  Oded Apr 5 '13 at 15:01

Ideally edits should address all the issues with a post, but there are no mechanisms to stop those with sufficient reputation just making minor edits - even if they are discouraged.

If the capitalisation of an i is all that's required then that's a valid edit, but it does bump the post the same as a major edit and on smaller sites could end up swamping the home page if you are doing a lot of them.

Basically it comes down to using your common sense. You have a privilege, just don't abuse it.

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"Basically it comes down to using your common sense" Good advice in general, but terrible advice to give on MSO, our brand of common sense is... Ok, I'll stop here ;) –  Yannis Apr 4 '13 at 12:23

Trivial edits are discouraged because they bump the question back to the top of the Active list, and typically we do not want to be bumping non-active questions to the top of this list.

I actually asked another MSO question about SE's "official stance" on trivial edits, and the Editing Privilege Page was pointed out to me

Try to make the post substantively better when you edit, not just change a single character. Tiny, trivial edits are discouraged.

So regardless of your reputation, you should be trying not to make trivial edits.

Its not often that the only mistake is just a major missing tag, or a glaring spelling error, so always be sure to check for what else you can fix when editing a post to try and make your edit more substantial.

If absolutely nothing else is wrong with the question but a glaring spelling error, or an important tag missing, you can still go ahead and fix it if you think it will help the post, but trivial edits that don't significantly improve the post are discouraged, especially en masse.

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Bumping questions is a problem on the smaller sites, especially when bumping old questions with trivial edits, but not so much for SO, where new questions appear every second. And of course editing a question that's already bumped (either because it's new or because it got a recent answer or edit) is perfectly fine, even if all you are fixing is trivial spelling mistakes. –  Yannis Apr 4 '13 at 12:07
I think the edit-and-bump mechanism is part of the ecosystem here (a side-effect as opposed to intention, though all the same) - and as such, the Incremental Edit Committee - recycling questions which allows them fair coverage. On smaller sites the bumping itself will be the noticeable thing, sure, but on maturing-to-mature sites it's the nature of the place and an enabler to people getting answers. –  Grant Thomas Apr 4 '13 at 12:21
@Yannis I was thinking it is more acceptable to fix trivial errors in new posts and recently bumped posts as well, however that's not what the official documentation says, so I left that out of my answer :) –  Rachel Apr 4 '13 at 12:25
@Rachel I hereby grant you permission to ignore the official documentation in favour of common sense ;) –  Yannis Apr 4 '13 at 13:08
@Yannis - seeing as you can't agree with yourself... –  Oded Apr 4 '13 at 13:34

Minor edits are totally fine for users that don't need approval.

Minor edits are only discouraged if they go into the review system because they tend to generate too much work for so little use.

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No, minor edits bump the question back to the top of the Active page, and we do not want to keep bumping old questions with trivial edits. –  Rachel Apr 4 '13 at 11:51
But if there is only a tag wrong then it should be fixed. Or do you prefer having a wrong tag over a change in the question? –  juergen d Apr 4 '13 at 11:51
I did not know that @Rachel. Thanks. –  eandersson Apr 4 '13 at 11:51
That would mean that editing a recently posted question makes sense, but maybe not an question that has already been pushed of the active page. Unless of course it is a major overhaul. –  eandersson Apr 4 '13 at 11:52
@juergend It depends. Is it a key tag, such as the [C#] tag missing on a C# post, or a PHP tag on a post that doesn't contain PHP? You can go ahead and fix those, but keep in mind if that kind of mistake was made then there are likely other errors with the post you can fix as well. If it's a lesser known tag, I wouldn't bother, especially if it's on an older question. –  Rachel Apr 4 '13 at 11:59
Make substancial edits is only an excuse not to answer this question IMO. The question is: What if there is only a minor issue here that is not irrelevant? Don't fix it? I don't think so. –  juergen d Apr 4 '13 at 12:02

I don't think there's anything wrong with editing old posts and making trivial changes if they:

  1. Improve the chances of people reading and understanding them.
  2. Improve the chances of finding questions (and subsequent great answers) through the web.
  3. Prevent the same questions being asked time and time again through poor titling/wording/spelling etc.

I regularly edit trivialities in posts where I'm researching an element, subject or issue. But, (and it's an important but) usually in addition to grammar, formatting etc. Hoping to improve posts for others.

If the active list is getting cluttered with trivial edits, then perhaps it's a sign that a filtering mechanism is required to hide trivial edits...

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