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I'm curious as to the community opinion from the exchange in the comments of this question:


The crux of the question is:

  1. is it policy that users should not try to correct typos and grammar in "meaningless" questions? Not just "probably shouldn't" or that it "might be a waste", but rather a policy such that a diamond mod tells you "do not" do this.

  2. If so, what's the rationale? What issues is the user causing in doing this?

[To be clear, I'm not the user who edited the post, just someone who came across the question and comments and disagrees with the handling of it.]

I quickly scanned of meta and I didn't find anything similar. This could be related:

Should users edit other users' posts to correct grammar and spelling problems?

Update: LOL - a high rep user just edited the question, so it doesn't look so "meaningless". Here's the question as it was originally posted by the asker:

Hi all,

I want to create RSS feed menas when i click to the subscribing to this blog link...It will call to XML and after display all current activities??..can anyone has idea???..


share|improve this question
My thanks to all who answered. Some answers told me why they thought it was okay and others told me that what was wrong with the edit. What I thought I saw was the equivalent of a someone picking up a piece of trash outside a crackhouse and getting hassled by the police for their effort. If someone chooses to be helpful, however little, why hassle them? What's the harm? I was trying to understand why. –  Bert F Feb 10 '11 at 17:07
The accepted answer was one of the ones (the first one) that tried to explain the why. Apparently, the harm is that suggested edits are a precious resource (space in queue, time of reviewers, a full edit queue attracts attention of 10k users), so much so, that trivial, incremental steps toward improvement, particularly on a bad question, are harmful to the system. –  Bert F Feb 10 '11 at 17:08

5 Answers 5

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Well, I guess the rationale is that you're wasting your time (which is your problem), but also that you're wasting the time of two other users who have to approve/reject your edits. Wasting their time because the question will be binned anyway.

However as a low rep user, you're not necessarily in a position to judge whether a question will be closed/deleted. And as an anonymous user, maybe you don't even know that questions can be closed or deleted... As Harry points out, you may not understand the particular technology well enough to accurately judge the question's quality (though I suspect that would be very rare).

There are guidelines (though I doubt anyone reads them) in the side bar when you edit:

  • fix grammatical or spelling errors
  • clarify meaning without changing it
  • correct minor mistakes
  • add related resources or links
  • always respect the original author

And your usecase clearly isn't covered by this.

(I've suggested my own, which you can read here)

share|improve this answer
see my edit in answer. –  Harry Joy Feb 8 '11 at 13:25
@Harry, I thought of that too, I'll add it into my answer. (By the way, what you're doing wrong is abusing my eyes by abusing your I's :) –  Benjol Feb 8 '11 at 13:27
so far, this is the only answer I see that offers a rationale why there may be a policy against just correcting the typos may be harmful: because of possibly wasting the time of two other users who review/approve edits. –  Bert F Feb 8 '11 at 21:40
@BertF, eh thanks, where's all my upvotes then? ;) –  Benjol Feb 8 '11 at 22:36

Correcting typos on a hopeless question: Bad.
Rewriting a Hopeless question: Good.

Instead of standing around saying someone should do something; be that someone.

share|improve this answer
I'm unclear to what you're referring to when you say "instead of complaining ...". Are you saying the user who corrected the typos should have rewritten the question? I don't think he was complaining. Are you saying that the mod should have rewritten the question rather than chastise the user? Or are you saying that I should simply have rewritten the SO question myself? If so, that's not the point of this Meta question. Since a diamond mod "corrected" a user who was just trying to help, I'm trying to clarify and understand the policy on what was done wrong. –  Bert F Feb 8 '11 at 15:10
@Bert: By 'complaining' I mean the 3 different users that stood around and argued about what edits were made and whether they were good enough when they could have taken 10 seconds and just edited it for more than typos. –  George Stocker Feb 8 '11 at 15:12
Ah, okay, but the 1st user tried to "do something", even if in some views, it wasn't helpful to just correct typos. The 2nd user was a diamond mod that "corrected" the user and closed the question. I was the 3rd user and the question was already closed by a mod who had already chastised another user about a useless edit. I'm trying to understand the policy here rather than simply address this one question. –  Bert F Feb 8 '11 at 15:23
@Bert F The First user just corrected Typos. The question was in much more need of help than just typos. See my first two sentences for how I view the policy. –  George Stocker Feb 8 '11 at 15:25
Understood. I get that "correcting typos" == bad in your view (which I alluded to in my previous response by saying "in some views it wasn't helpful"). –  Bert F Feb 8 '11 at 15:28
@George, @Bert F : I've asked a question in my answer that if i don't know the technology for which question is being asked then should i dare to edit that question for typos and formating ? –  Harry Joy Feb 9 '11 at 4:35
@George, would you agree then that "An incomplete edit is worse than no edit", or does that only apply for hopeless questions? –  Benjol Feb 9 '11 at 6:05
@BertF, I don't think that George is saying correcting typos = bad, he's saying correcting only typos without salvaging the question from its hopeless state is bad. –  Benjol Feb 9 '11 at 6:08
@Harry - I think the point is if there's a larger problem with the post you can't address (and perhaps even if you feel you may be even a larger problem with the post but you lack knowledge in the tech or topc to be certain), then don't submit an edit that just fixes the typos. –  Bert F Feb 9 '11 at 6:36
@Benjol - yes, that's how I took it - I did read and understand his post, I just didn't quote the whole phrase in my response. –  Bert F Feb 9 '11 at 6:38
@Bert F: okay i get your point. thnx –  Harry Joy Feb 9 '11 at 6:39
@Benjol - my only problem with the post is that I just disagree with the characterization that 3 people stood around arguing while "the house burned down". I asked a question to make sure I understood his post and then I tried to clarify my view on why I disagree with that viewpoint. –  Bert F Feb 9 '11 at 6:53

OK let's look at the particular edit:

Original was:

Hi all,

I want to create RSS feed menas when i click to the subscribing to this blog link...It will call to XML and after display all current activities??..can anyone has idea???.


Approved edit:

Hi all,

I want to create RSS feed means when i click the subscribing to this blog link... It will call to XML and afterwards display all current activities??..

can anyone has idea???..


This was approved by no less than two 10k users which is a bigger part of the problem.

Now there is no arguing that both the original and the target are complete gobbledigook. Even at its current incarnation this question is at best a duplicate at worst way too vague.

To add to that the edit is totally incomplete, "can anyone has idea??". "It will call to XML and after"

As a rule of thumb I think we should not approve any edits that leave a question incomprehensible. Clearly we should also not be making them.

There are other facilities on the site for dealing with incomprehensible questions. You can vote to close them as a 3k user or flag them as a registered user.

If you think there is a diamond hiding in an insanely spelled and phrased question, by all means, show us the diamond. Edit away.

However, sloppy edits to incomprehensible questions, that leave the question incomprehensible should be discouraged. They interrupt multiple 10k users which could be doing much more important things.

share|improve this answer
Is everyone in favor of the "everyone can edit" idea...? Are we sure all the edits will be good..? Etc... ;-) –  The Unhandled Exception Feb 9 '11 at 1:10
@TheRenamedException ... sure I agree, we should totally strip edit rights from the 2 10k users who approved this, maybe we should only allow 50k users to edit stuff... wait ... we should change it so only developers can edit.... –  waffles Feb 9 '11 at 1:38
Haha, no, you misunderstand, sorry I'm not criticizing you @waffles -- just being sarcastic in an attempt to be hunerous :-) –  The Unhandled Exception Feb 9 '11 at 1:41

As said here, such edits increase a question's readability and help others to decide whether this question is meaningless. I think this is the right approach.

Correcting typos will help others to understand a question more easily.

I've also faced such kind of problems in some questions where I am not able to understand a question before it is edited. Since I don't understand the question, I can't judge whether it is meaningless or not. I'm not going against a moderator's decision. It's on them to decide if an edit is valid.

Maybe I'm asking a question in my answer but I need to be clear about it:

Sometimes, I see a question about the technology that I don't know but it's so badly formatted that hardly someone can read it. So I edit it to format code and correct typos. At that time, it may be possible that, after formatting, I can't figure out if it's meaningless as I don't know possess the knowledge to answer the question. Am I doing it wrong?

share|improve this answer

The only clear cut definition of meaningless would be blatant SPAM or hate speech, and I don't think anyone would waste their time on that beyond redacting links or inappropriate remarks.

Otherwise, you should edit when you feel that you can improve the quality of a post. A lot of questions get off to the wrong start but end up getting the kind of quality answers that we encourage. The only time you should flat out avoid editing is when you just can't grasp the intent of the original author sufficiently to help.

It's hard to canonize some kind of guide for that, as it's always relative to the reader. More often than not, however, you can get a good grasp of what they were trying to ask, and dramatically improve the quality of the question.

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