Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 153 Stack Exchange communities.

What is meta?
Here's how it works:
  1. Any Stack Exchange user can ask a question
  2. The community provides support, votes on ideas, and reports bugs
  3. Your voice helps shape the way Stack Exchange operates

Every now and then I'll encounter a question or answer like the following.

what exactly r u trying to do with dis problem??? dude, here u r trying to decrement the value of a variable..a variable whose value will never reach the condition (i<20) u have provided... hence it will keep on printing '-'until what jamie wong specified ie i= -2^ will bebome +ve... i just tried this program....

include int main() { int i; int n = 20; for( i = 0; i < n; i-- ) printf("-"); return 0; } acording to the question u asked,

i should b incremented, ie i++ instead of i--...

@jamie wong: thanx man..learnt a new thing about tht a wraparound....

I usually just ignore it, but this time I decided to edit it. Does everybody agree that things like this should be edited to use real English grammar instead of text-message-speak? Or is it better to leave them as is?

Also, there were a couple of things in there I couldn't comprehend, like "+ve" and "learnt a new thing about tht a wraparound". Should I just leave those unedited?

share|improve this question
"+ve" is "positive", as I learned after seeing it on college blackboards many times. I can't decipher "about tht a wraparound", though. – mmyers Aug 11 '10 at 21:01
I'm having one of those "I must be getting old" moments, as I realize my disappointment in the ability of the younger generation to communicate properly. – user27414 Aug 11 '10 at 21:16
@Jon B: cough I think I'm in the younger generation. – mmyers Aug 11 '10 at 21:39
@mmyers - that's OK, I'm not old enough to be old. – user27414 Aug 11 '10 at 21:47
That's almost as good as DickChop's answer on SF – Mark Henderson Aug 12 '10 at 0:04
LOL gr8t ? fwiw o_O – Peter Ajtai Aug 12 '10 at 23:04
@devinb said this the other day in a chat thread: "Using punctuation and full sentences is a way of showing respect." ( – Benjol Aug 13 '10 at 5:33
@Jon B: Yesterday I checked out IRC (it's been a few years since last time) to try to gather some followers for an Area 51 proposal. I was told "don't use capitalization and punctuation or you will get banned!". True story. Yeah, I felt old too. – D.H. Aug 13 '10 at 8:02
up vote 26 down vote accepted

Editing for good English is a good thing, especially in the example shown. Just don't go crazy with it.

share|improve this answer
What is this "go crazy" thing of which you speak? – mmyers Aug 11 '10 at 21:03
@mmyers, Nothing I would know about. – Lance Roberts Aug 11 '10 at 21:08
No grammar nazis then? – James Aug 11 '10 at 22:28
@James, yeh, I fix most things, but don't try to necessarily kill style for the Queen's english. – Lance Roberts Aug 11 '10 at 22:32
Also removing emoticons and the capitalization of every letter from the question title is a very good thing! – Peter Ajtai Aug 11 '10 at 23:01
@James: one antonym of "grammar nazi" I recently read is "illiteracy communist". – Andrew Grimm Aug 12 '10 at 0:11
@James, to me it wasn't really about grammar exactly, it was about using actual words and sentences instead of barely intelligible abbreviations and acronyms. I tend to ignore simple grammar and usage errors, especially since I sometimes make some myself (just posted one in a comment yesterday), and it's just not that big a deal. – jmgant Aug 12 '10 at 17:02
Can someone capitalize the E in English? I can't edit answers here. – MatthewMartin Aug 13 '10 at 13:01
@MatthewMartin: Done. – Andrew Grimm Dec 15 '10 at 23:01

I vote yes, because it makes it more readable and clear to the rest of the community. Some of us are not versed, or well-versed in the text message/IM speak, it helps us when others clarify that...


and don't change what you can't understand, it is the asker's will make the problem worse if we interpret it incorrectly...

share|improve this answer

Sorry, another answer.

Here are the things that I tend to edit:

Question title

  • Correct glaring typos or misspellings
  • Correct capitalisation
  • Make it clearer (if I am confident enough that I have understood the question and the subject area)

For me, you should be able to tell what a question is about just from the title (and possibly the tags), and also naff titles cheapen the 'branding' of the SO home page.

Question body

  • Capitalise the 'i's (this may be the grammar nazi coming through, but it hurts my eyes)
  • Correct typos and wrong spelling (except British/American differences)
  • Remove the 'Hi' and the 'Thanks'
  • Format the code (I will sometimes insert new lines to remove scrollbars, if I'm feeling generous
  • Removing/completing txt-spk (plz, etc.)
  • For non-English speakers (as judged by the grammar/construction), I may do some rewriting, but I try to limit myself to making the question more understandable.


  • I don't tend to bother, as most of the time, someone else has already done it


I decided yesterday that for really bad questions, I should either edit and comment, or just comment:

I came across one user with a series of really badly written questions in a short space of time. I started looking at their older questions, and thought "weird, he can do it properly when he wants to". But then I realised that all of the 'good' questions had been heavily edited by other users. This made me think that it may be preferable to (try to) educate new users with - hopefully very polite - comments like "if you structure your question better (by doing x, y, z), you have a much better chance of getting an answer".

(Of course, when I tried that yesterday, by the time I'd finished writing my comment, there were already 3 answers...)

share|improve this answer
I had that in mind, too, to edit the post as a kind of gentle (or maybe passive-aggressive) way of encouraging the user to use real words and sentences in his future posts. – jmgant Aug 13 '10 at 12:46
@jmgant: Looking at some questions, you wonder it they weren't better off using google translate :( – Benjol Aug 13 '10 at 12:48

Don't forget to remove unnecessary , punctuation , spaces before punctuation , the excessive question marks and exclamation points !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

share|improve this answer
That part I wasn't so sure about. I took out a "dude" and replaced a bunch of ..... (supposed to be ellipses) with correct punctuation. But I wanted to try to keep the tone of the original answer intact, whether I agreed with it or not. – jmgant Aug 12 '10 at 16:57

Why leave it the same? To indicate that the asker/answerer is an idiot who shouldn't be trusted?

share|improve this answer
-1 downvote for the language. – studiohack Aug 12 '10 at 0:35
@Studiohack: Are you referring to spelling of "basterd", or the negative sentiments? I wasn't endorsing the sentiments, I was asking if that's what the OP was thinking. – Andrew Grimm Aug 12 '10 at 5:52
@Andrew: i down voted because of the language, that is not appropriate, the b*****...the negative language isn't nice either, but that's not why i downvoted. – studiohack Aug 12 '10 at 22:32
@studiohack: fixed. – Andrew Grimm Aug 12 '10 at 23:01
@Andrew - If you think idiots are less trustworthy than intelligent people, you're in for a surprise when you start interacting with the group you're currently not interacting with. – Peter Ajtai Aug 12 '10 at 23:08
@Peter: As I mentioned to Studiohack, I'm not describing my thoughts, I'm trying to ask the OP what the case for not cleaning up txt-msg speak is. – Andrew Grimm Aug 13 '10 at 1:35
@Andrew: thanks! +1 – studiohack Aug 13 '10 at 2:30
@Andrew, good question. I couldn't think of any reason to leave it, but I thought others might. And I wouldn't assume the poster is an idiot (I hope I didn't imply that in my question); rather, simply, that he had failed to discern that SO users generally use complete words and sentences. – jmgant Aug 13 '10 at 12:40

Hi everyone,

i was having a little think about this yesterday, as i looked thru some unaswered qns.

am i a grammar nazi becoz i go and clean up someone's post?

i like to think im doing them a favour, becoz if i change their title from 'help required pleez' to something more clear, and clean up their post, they've got a better chance of getting an anser.

and a lower chance of getting closed, disillusioned with SO, and leaving for good.

and it improves the quality of SO.

so win-win for everyone

Thanks a lot


share|improve this answer
good point. I had the opposite concern, that the poster would be offended. But you're right, it really probably does improve his experience on the site. – jmgant Aug 12 '10 at 17:06
Despite your best efforts, your post oozes erudition. – Peter Ajtai Aug 12 '10 at 23:16
@Peter, eh, thanks... I think? – Benjol Aug 13 '10 at 5:32

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .