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Today I came across an edit that someone made to a previous post of mine.

The edit correctly fixed an error in a Base64 Encoding algorithm I had posted. The algorithm does not work correctly with the code I originally put

encoding += BASE_LIST[rem]

The code was intended to be

encoding = BASE_LIST[rem] + encoding

Those statements are Very Different because they are operating on Strings, and the person who edited it was correct. Unfortunately, before I could test the code and verify the changes, THREE separate reviewers (who we will leave unnamed) rejected the edit within 10 minutes. Giving reasons:

  • This edit is incorrect or an attempt to reply to or comment on the existing
  • This edit is incorrect or an attempt to reply to or comment on the existing
  • This edit is too minor; suggested edits should be substantive improvements addressing multiple issues in the post.

The "edit is incorrect"? I'm doubtful that in less than 10 minutes these reviewers tested the code for correctness. I cannot understand why they would think this was a legitimate reason. I'm sorry, but the reviewers are incorrect.

And "the edit is too minor"? I think the likely case is that the reviewer didn't see the difference between: a=a+b and a=b+a (but when it comes to strings, order does matter). But here's the issue- If a reviewer doesn't know if the code is correct or not, then it would seem that they are not the proper person to be reviewing it. A code edit that turns code from Broken into Fixed is not "too minor".

Due to these incorrect reviewers, there was no longer an offer for me to accept the code changes. Thankfully I received a notification, so that I could see the code changes and edit it myself.

This was a reviewing failure plain and simple. All within 10 minutes. I don't know how an issue like this could have been more properly resolved. I only know that a person with a Really Small and Really Smart piece of code got rejected, without much notice, and this should not have happened.

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The person who spotted the error should have left a comment rather than edit right away, giving you a chance to correct it yourself. Editing is for readability and formatting issues. =) – J. Steen Apr 24 '13 at 7:41
The correct review action would be to skip. However, there are many people that just reject any code change. – Jan Dvorak Apr 24 '13 at 7:41
The incorrectness of the edit does not refer to whether or not it corrects a problem in the code. It refers to the fact that, in line with what seems to be general consensus, you don't make changes to code. A comment outlining the problem is preferred. – Bart Apr 24 '13 at 7:44
up vote 9 down vote accepted

Code is the OP's job.

An edit which changes the code (generally) inherently changes the meaning of a post. Even if a post is wrong, it is important to note that we do not edit to change accuracy. If something is wrong, one should comment to let the OP know first.

That is why "this is an attempt to comment on the post" was selected - the user should have asked you to change your code. This is a good rule of thumb, with very few exceptions. For instance:

  • I will accept an additional brace placement at the end of a post
  • I will accept additional formatting


  • I will not accept changes to typos in code, as they may exist in the actual code
  • I will not accept extensions to code, as they change the operational meaning of the code
share|improve this answer
Am I wrong that I accept typo fixes in code? – Jan Dvorak Apr 24 '13 at 7:47
@JanDvorak With very rare exceptions (always read the edit comment), in my opinion it isn't a good practice to do so. Assume the OP copied and pasted their code - what if the typo exists in their original code, too? – Emrakul Apr 24 '13 at 7:49
I'll keep the possibility in mind, thanks. – Jan Dvorak Apr 24 '13 at 7:51
I understand. Thank you for your answer on on this. Greatly appreciated. Perhaps a more appropriate "reason" for such cases could be established, because it seems very vague/ambiguous to say "This edit is incorrect or an attempt to reply to or comment on the existing" – Sepero Apr 24 '13 at 8:05

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