When I review pending edits, I occasionally see edits to answers that are correct. These edits don't make the questions wrong, per se, and might even add some useful information. But I tend to reject such edits on the grounds that if the poster wanted to include that information, he would have. That is, the edits put words in the poster's mouth. It'd be better, in my opinion, if such changes were proposed in the comments, and then they could be added (or not) at the poster's discretion.

I tend to waver between "invalid edit," "radical change" and "too minor" when choosing a reason for rejecting such edits. (Yes, I'm aware the last two are just a bit contradictory. But if the edit's not correcting any real issues, it's not worthy of an edit, in my opinion.) But considering the frequency with which I'm seeing such edits lately, I was wondering whether there's a standard reason I should be using. Or, perhaps, whether such a reason needs to be added.


3 Answers 3


"Radical change" is the right choice here. It's used when "the original meaning or intent of the post would be lost." Most of the edits you linked to contain separate solutions from the original answer, and thus should be separate answers.

The exception is this one, which is either a comment (which it was rejected as) or purely a failed attempt at clarification since it's redundant. And I don't agree with this one being rejected; it's a valid clarification that doesn't change any meaning. It could have been a comment but I think it's fine as an edit.

As Padded Cell notes, it doesn't need to be a large change of content to be a large change of meaning.

  • 1
    What if the original meaning of the post would be lost, but useful, correct information would be added? Don't we want edits like that? Isn't the purpose of Stack Overflow to create the best repository of software development Q & A? Oct 14, 2011 at 18:07
  • 1
    @AdamRackis How is providing a separate answer not helping to create such a repository? Are you opposed to having more than one answer per question?
    – user154510
    Oct 14, 2011 at 18:18
  • I guess I would have to look at some examples, but I envision a case where an answer is correct, but incomplete. It might help for someone to come along later and edit to add to it. Oct 14, 2011 at 18:19
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    @AdamRackis I tend to post an answer like "As X notes, you must Y. But you also need to Z" when that happens. Give credit, but still provide an answer without co-opting the other poster's answer. IMO the person with the complete picture should get upvote rep too.
    – user154510
    Oct 14, 2011 at 18:59
  • 1
    Yeah, I guess I can see that being the more appropriate approach. Oct 14, 2011 at 20:05
  • Agree, but users have to try hard to find out what happened to their edits and aren't notified by SE policy as I recently found out. Providing a separate answer is good and right, but very unlikely to happen I think under the current system. We write all this feedback to edit suggesters, but they don't see it.
    – AndrewC
    Sep 20, 2012 at 3:45
  • @AndrewC Do feel free to post a suggestion to change how that works, a comment on an unrelated answer will also go unnoticed :P
    – user154510
    Sep 20, 2012 at 5:25

That is, the edit is putting words in the poster's mouth.

I agree with Matthew that "Radical Change" is correct.

But I'd also like to caution you about getting too protective on the original author's behalf: remember, he can always roll back the edit if he doesn't like the tone. Some of those rejected edits you posted in the comments looked suspiciously like honest attempts by readers to simply update or clarify the information already in the answer... They weren't changing or contradicting what was already there.

Your primary concerns should always be, "is this correct?" and "does this harmonize with what's already in the answer?"

  • 2
    Agreed, you should always check the context of the edit. Maybe the content of the edit was left by the OP in a comment, and someone is just helpfully trying to add it to the body, where it belongs.
    – Pops
    Oct 14, 2011 at 21:09
  • Also agreed here.
    – user154510
    Oct 14, 2011 at 21:13

I've seen enough edit suggestions exactly as you've described and wanted some mechanism to encourage the new content into a new answer completely, attributed to the editor.

Sometimes content that looks really good is suggested, and leaving a comment on the post for the editor "Hey, start a new answer with your suggestion: [suggested edit url]" is worthwhile but I wish I had a single button for "notify the editor that this would be better given as a new answer completely".

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