Well, the title says it: to my surprise, I have discovered that in order to add a small improvement to a question, I had to change its title to avoid the word "problem", properly indent the code, etc.—all to satisfy the automatic checker.

While I do not mind changing the code indentation, I feel a bit uncertain when I am forced to change the original title, which is, in my opinion, more up to the original author.

I'm not certain if I should mark this as a feature request or a bug—but my take would be that making a small edit and updating to follow latest guidelines are two orthogonal things and should be somehow treated like that.

In other words, suppose I'm not a native speaker; do I have to edit the title in order to make changes to the code?

  • You might be interested in this: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/116436/… Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 5:18
  • @CodyGray I agree - I don't think it's a duplicate. Although, isn't this question about any old questions (created before the current guideline checker), rather than just his? Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 5:26
  • @Timothy Jones: It is related indeed (and I'll vote for it when I'll grow up )) ). Though for that case I would just have made one-character edits reviewed -- as happens now with any edits from users with rep. below 100/2000. Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 5:28
  • Ah yeah, I suppose it is. I misread the first paragraph as "my" question. Never mind. Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 5:33
  • @Cody Gray: who on earth told you it was my original question? When I wrote "it is more up to the original author" I did not intend to treat myself with extra respect ) Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 5:43
  • Apparently I made it up. Like I said, I misread the first paragraph the first time through. Sorry. Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 5:47
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    @Cody Gray: As for your answer, I suppose you are missing the point: taking it to extreme -- if we have to choose between making a small progress and abandoning any changes, a small progress looks as a clear win to me. Except for the fact that being orthogonal is quite a good design principle, consider that e.g. Wikipedia seems to share this approach -- they just put a mark "please edit this according to our style guidelines" but they do not force people to do so. And they are doing pretty well. To sum up -- I appreciate your explanation, but I probably won't accept your answer. Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 6:03

1 Answer 1


my take would be that making a small edit and updating to follow latest guidelines are two orthogonal things and should be somehow treated like that.

I suspect that the official line of thinking diverges from yours.

The original question is essentially "grandfathered in" because you posted it before those rules went into effect. In other words, it didn't have to follow the rules when it was posted because they didn't exist, and we can't force people to follow the rules retroactively. Therefore, the existing rule-breaking question is allowed to remain because it didn't break the rules when it was first posted.

Here, and in other legal contexts, the grandfather clause no longer applies when you make significant edits/modifications. If one undertakes an edit on a question—no matter how "trivial" the edits—you will be required to bring it up to full compliance with the latest rules in the process.

Consider that the rules are there for a reason. It's not to punish non-native speakers or make it more difficult for you to post questions. They're intended to improve the overall quality of questions on the site, and on balance, they're working. We actively encourage people to follow these guidelines, and since you're editing anyway...now is as good a time as any to start following them.

Beyond all of those reasons, I also suspect that the verification code can't tell the difference between what you consider a trivial edit and a more substantial edit. And why should it be able to? An edit is an edit, and in fact, excessively trivial edits are generally discouraged:

Try to make the post substantively better when you edit, not just change a single character. Tiny, trivial edits are discouraged.

When you're going to edit, that's a good time to, well, edit.

  • However changing the title is IMHO a rather substantial change which generally should not be done on established questions because people may rely on the old title for finding them. Titles are identifiers for questions, and changing identifiers should only be done for very good reasons.
    – celtschk
    Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 9:28
  • @celt: Like if you want to improve the title, or bring it up to compliance with our title guidelines. There's nothing special about titles in the editing system, there's no reason to exercise particular care when editing them. As long as you're improving the title, making it more descriptive, then you'll be just fine. I find it hard to believe that people actually search for questions using the title. They probably search using keywords (or save the link), and both of those will be unaffected by title edits. Good titles (and longer titles) actually make the question easier to find. Commented Mar 2, 2012 at 20:14

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