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As a 3.5k user on SO, I've had the Edit privilege for quite some time. Every time I use it, I try to fix all problems in a post.

However, I have one question: Suppose I see a question with multiple problems (but not close-worthy!), and I want to help it. I hit the edit button, make some fixes, then get overwhelmed and give up.

My question: Should I submit edits that don't fix all problems, or should I abandon them and move on?

Most of the time, I just abandon them (the Too Minor reject reason is a factor). But I've been thinking: maybe I should just submit an incomplete edit. Sure, it will bump the question to the top of the page - a complete edit would too. When it is bumped, wouldn't another, more ambitious, 2ker complete the edit?

Wouldn't an incomplete edit to a terrible post be better than not helping at all?

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Why not just fix them all? How overwhelming can a few paragraphs of text be? And if you miss a couple and get a Too Minor reject, it's not the end of the world. –  Rory Alsop Jun 9 '13 at 21:16
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When I find myself giving up it's normally because I realise there's absolutely nothing I can do that can fix the question enough for it to be acceptable. I do then cancel the edit and vote to close the question. This is a fair question, however. If I've managed to fix something and then got depressed by the state of the post should one just submit anyway? –  ben is uǝq backwards Jun 9 '13 at 21:21
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@RoryAlsop: hmmm. it can be quite a few paragraphs, plus some code snippets, plus a log, plus a lot of typos, plus an inapt title, plus bad tags... I've had to do reworks that took from 10 to 20 minutes sometimes. You can't always squeeze that in a coffee break. Or at leat my coffee breaks aren't that long :) –  haylem Jun 9 '13 at 21:22
    
A quick scan will let you know that before you begin. –  Rory Alsop Jun 9 '13 at 21:28
    
@Rory I'm not afraid of being rejected :) –  Undo Jun 9 '13 at 21:45
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If you're over 2k rep you can't be rejected since there's no review of your edits. The worst that can happen is that your edit gets rolled back, but that's not likely to happen if you've fixed some of the post but not all of it. –  Anthony Grist Jun 10 '13 at 8:37

4 Answers 4

up vote 14 down vote accepted

Of course you should. It's better than not fixing any! We can't force you to take the time and do the effort of fixing everything. But anyone would appreciate your time and sweat in improving something and then passing it on! Because of your edit, hundreds of eyes may be spared. Or at least, damage to them is partially reduced, and until someone else goes through the effort of fixing everything (which may not happen for a while), then the question looks a mess (which deters people from answering it).

Do a complete edit if you can, but partial edits are still helpful.

Please note that I do not recommend to do totally trivial edits, though! I just mean they don't have to necessarily be complete. But don't just edit casing or salutations for fun.

(Though sometimes concurrent partial - or complete - edits are a bit annoying, but the edit logs are here for that.)

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As a 2Ker, you should be responsible enough and spend that extra 1-2 minutes and perform a complete edit. An edit, even to a really badly formatted question or answer, shouldn't take more than a single minute or two.

Most of the time is spent on reading the whole question/answer and figuring out what the poster means. If you think your edit could fix that. It probably shouldn't take you too long anyway.

So, in my opinion:

  • You should only submit complete edits to questions/answers.

  • The exception to this rule is when you think your edit substantially improves the quality of the post and the reason you can't complete it is because you're not sure about a specific technicality in that post.

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I'm talking about grammar stuff - not meaning, but stuff like changing 'i' to 'I', then seeing that they don't use apostrophes. Do I submit my 'i' to 'I' edit, without fixing the no-apostrophes problem? –  Undo Jun 9 '13 at 21:39
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Fixing a "no apostrophe" problem sounds like something that would take you very little time. Personally, I try not to edit questions I haven't fully read first. –  Benjamin Gruenbaum Jun 9 '13 at 21:48
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@Undo repeated edits that focus on one aspect (like changing i to I) are still frowned upon. Fix as much of the post as you can, or don't edit. –  psubsee2003 Jun 9 '13 at 21:48
    
I seems like bad form to say to the person who will give up a minute for free to help you that it's irresponsible for them to not give up annother minute to help you completely –  Richard Tingle Jun 10 '13 at 9:44

Any user should give the time that they can afford so long as it is to the betterment of the place and not to the detriment. You'll find two schools of thought here on this, and most of those with influence, it seems to me, are on the side of leaving a post as it is if you can't make a substantial contribution. But the problem is what is defined as "substantial".

I'm on the fairly liberal side when it comes to editing. Edit away; dot the "i"s and cross the "t"s; correct misspellings and general grammar; remove salutations; format code; anything constructive, and even if you can only do one of those things. Edits can happen iteratively, one of the essences of this community.

This becomes (or is perceived as) a problem when people see older posts being bumped. Personally I don't feel editors should be held in contempt for this and made to compensate for the system.

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Here's my advice for question/answer editing:

  • Read through the entire questions/answer first.
  • Only after reading, decide whether or not you can (or whether it's worthwhile) editing the question.
  • Stand by that decision and edit the entire question/answer (or not).

It's critical here not to just read to the first mistake and open the editor...

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