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This is going to sound a little weird, but I was reading Stack Overflow's blog policy about big rep users' ability to edit other users' posts.

One of my posts recently underwent a bad edit from another user (that made me question if English was even their first language?), and went to investigate that user, and saw a pattern of "micro" editing.

What I mean by micro editing is that overall, the post/question is perfectly fine, comprehensible, and readable, but minor changes - like a few spellings, contractions, or encodings with back-ticks were made. (Like a micro-manager, they focus on a tiny thing instead of the overall big picture).

I don't mind seeing (or having my) questions back-ticked because I was a beginner and couldn't figure out how (or that it existed at all). But, I am kind of queasy about seeing the big 'EDITED BY' stamped on a post (I think, uhoh, I/they must have royally f***ed up the question!) and then seeing the revisions: two misspellings corrected.

So my question is:

What is the policy on micro-editing? Is it really okay?

I'm not questioning at all the cases where a dedicated user edits a poorly formatted question to put in links or quotes or puts code in, or in some manner greatly improves the readability and comprehensability (is that a word?) of a question. I mean instead, the cases where, for example, the post was edited soley to insert an apostrophe in a 'youre', or something completely trivial.

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Links to the questions please? –  jjnguy Mar 4 '10 at 4:35
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@rlb.usa: if you fix "soley" and "begginer" then you can remove the big 'EDITED BY' stamped on this post. –  Peter Mortensen Mar 4 '10 at 10:32
    
@Justin Nelson - jjnguy: it might be: stackoverflow.com/posts/2223541/revisions –  Peter Mortensen Mar 4 '10 at 11:08
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@rib.usa: Correct spelling and apostrophes are not in any way "trivial." Incorrect usage is fingernails on a chalkboard to some of us. –  John Rudy Mar 4 '10 at 12:15

4 Answers 4

up vote 25 down vote accepted

Yes, it is ok and encouraged.

This is because as programmers, we tend to be really picky about having stuff done a certain way. If you forget a semi-colon on a line, the program breaks. Misspell a variable? same thing. We tend to take the same approach to questions and like them to be correctly spelled. This applies especially if there are only a few mistakes, as they are easy to fix.

Don't get worried about people editing your question. It happens to all of us, and is a part of how the site functions. It's even part of the FAQ :

Like Wikipedia, this site is collaboratively edited, and all edits are tracked. If you are not comfortable with the idea of your posts being edited by other trusted users, this may not be the site for you.

If the question seems to have been badly edited, you can very easily click the rollback button, and it will get rolled-back to the previous version of the post. Other people can do this too, especially if they look at the revision history and see that the edit someone made changes the meaning of the post.

One of the cool things about StackOverflow is every post is an effort on the part of the community. Everyone in the community can take a part in making sure the site is high-quality and easy to use for future question-askers.


From the question links you provided in the comments, it seems that all of those edits were perfectly legitimate, and probably improved the readability of the question.

This is why we have the ability to edit questions/answer, we can make it more enjoyable for everyone to read, and help you get answer faster.

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+1 for sniping me. –  squillman Mar 4 '10 at 4:42
    
Cannot +1 this hard enough. –  John Rudy Mar 4 '10 at 12:14

Yes, that's what editing is designed for. Look at the sidebar while editing to see the general editing guidelines.

Don't worry that that people will mess up your question, they have to earn a certain amount of reputation before they're allowed to edit other people's questions/answers.

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For the record: Sinan's edit was just fine the title makes more sense that way.

Also Why? to me, makes more sense than Why? I don't understand it is more concise and to the point

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Hope you don't mind - fixed a typo ;) –  Dominic Rodger Mar 4 '10 at 7:02
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I might have quibbled with the change from "I'm" to "I am" since that changes it to a slightly more formal tone. –  Lawrence Dol Mar 4 '10 at 7:14
    
@Dominic, that was actually the whole point of the type :) –  waffles Mar 4 '10 at 7:26
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argh - I can't fix the typo in your commnt - its driving me crazey! –  Dominic Rodger Mar 4 '10 at 10:13

At the risk of sounding harsh... From the FAQ:

Other people can edit my stuff?!

Like Wikipedia, this site is collaboratively edited, and all edits are tracked. If you are not comfortable with the idea of your posts being edited by other trusted users, this may not be the site for you.

If you don't like an edit you can always roll it back (on your own post, or when you get enough rep to edit).

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+1, I almost doing the same thing –  YOU Mar 4 '10 at 4:41

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