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Remove trivial edit restriction

Editing a question takes effect if more than 6 non-space characters are changed. But I had found many times that people leave signatures at the end of their question and as a reviewer we tend to edit the question by removing the name.

If the name is less than 6 characters, we cannot edit the question. Where as, editing that question is important as leaving signatures is not allowed at SO.

How to overcome this? (Faced a scenario today again)!!!

  • Link to example posts! I will be stunned if the post did not need more edits than just removing a signature. – Awesome Poodles Apr 24 '12 at 5:52
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    Trivial edits are discouraged, even for users with edit privileges. Do more, or don't do it. – agf Apr 24 '12 at 5:54
  • With pleasure: stackoverflow.com/questions/10291820/… – Anuj Balan Apr 24 '12 at 5:56
  • @agf: Hope you understand that removing signatures is a valid and important edit. Then how does your comment do more or dont do it stand off ?? – Anuj Balan Apr 24 '12 at 5:58
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    @Ajj, Your example proves my point. You managed to make 6 chars worth of changes and there were still some things to be edited. The "Any help is appreciated." for example. – Awesome Poodles Apr 24 '12 at 6:28
  • @Ajj No, I don't think that just removing a signature is important enough to justify an edit by itself, especially if you don't have edit privileges yet. – agf Apr 24 '12 at 13:06

These restrictions are only there if you have less than 2k reputation.

Edits done by users with lesser rep have to be approved by two users. Since this uses up time in which the approving users could have done more productive work, generally a suggested edit should be substantial. So, try to fix other things as well. Spellcheck, formatting improvement, clarification--there's a whole bunch of stuff you can do to improve questions. Trust me, I've been carrying out a retagging on Physics.SE, and I've been able to edit-improve every single question I've come across.

Note that many reviewers reject valid suggested edits if they're too insignificant. So always make it substantial.

In case you have to make an edit crucial to the meaning of the question--but it falls under 6 non-space characters, then you should flag it. But please, only do this in extremely exceptional cases. Usually someone else will catch it (leave a comment if you want) and edit it in. I've never come across this happening, though--the closest I've come to it is here, where I missed out a rather critical vowel.

Always, before editing, ask yourself "is this edit worth the time of the others who have to approve it?"

  • Thats how I had managed before. Remove the signature + edit and do some formatting so that edit is done. Aren't there any other way of doing it ? – Anuj Balan Apr 24 '12 at 5:51
  • @Ajj: No, just wait for someone else. Insignificant edits waste other's time. Always, before editing, ask yourself "is this edit worth the time of the others who have to approve it?" – Manishearth Apr 24 '12 at 5:52
  • I edit almost 20 questions everyday. Starting from grammar checks to signatures to formatting code. But I find this scenario (which I explained in the question) annoying. – Anuj Balan Apr 24 '12 at 5:52
  • @Ajj: IIRC the MSO community is divided on users who make too many suggested edits. It is good for the site, but it deters the reviewers from being more productive. I, personally, suggest you concentrate on content and do less editing till you reach 2k. But that's my opinion. – Manishearth Apr 24 '12 at 6:02
  • Doesn't answer my question but may be a valid suggest. – Anuj Balan Apr 24 '12 at 6:04
  • @Manishearth the restriction is not well documented and not obvious to anyone who hasn't reached 2k... it's like being Arthur Dent looking at the notice about the destruction of his home hidden in a file cabinet in the basement of the construction department... but of course you can get this feeling with almost anything on SE... it's like a jungle – life-on-mars Sep 22 '19 at 11:26

If the name is less than 6 characters, we cannot edit the question. Where as, editing that question is important as leaving signatures is not allowed at SO.

First, it's not "not allowed", it's (strongly) discouraged. A signature or "Thanks, xyz" is noise, and removing it improves the signal to noise ratio, so it's a good thing. But a signature or thanks is not in any other way bad, it's not offensive, it doesn't make the question unclear. All it does is unnecessarily occupy a bit of screen space.

So I don't think it's important to remove signatures and thanks. Desirable it is, but if a signature stays on a post, I don't consider that a serious problem.

That doesn't mean I will always reject suggested edits that only remove a signature/thanks, but I won't approve all such suggested edits either. It depends on how the rest of the post looks. We have the canned rejection reason of "too minor":

This edit is too minor; suggested edits should be substantive improvements addressing multiple issues in the post.

An edit removing only a signature fails on the "multiple issues" part, but that's in general not taken as an inviolable law. If there is only one issue with the post, we're perfectly happy if a suggested edit addresses only that one issue.

The "substantive improvement" requirement, however, is more serious. Is the removal of the signature a substantive improvement of the post?

Well, there are those who say any improvement is substantive enough to approve the suggested edit, there are those who say any suggested edit should try hard to make the post perfect. As you can see in the answers to older questions about minor edits, e.g. Should tiny edits be accepted or rejected in review? and An alert to serial minor edits, the community is divided.

I think most reviewers fall between the extremes and will judge the edit against the post quality before and after.

Does the suggested edit significantly reduce the ungoodness of the post? If yes, approve, if no, reject¹.

So the answer to your question

How to overcome this?

is: Take a look at the entire post. In the vast majority of cases, there are enough issues you can improve that the six-character limit isn't an issue. If you² don't even try that, removing the signature is a waste of time and the limit preventing the submission of the edit is a good thing.

Now, occasionally, there may be the rare post where you can't do more than remove the signature, and the signature is too short to pass the six character limit. I haven't ever seen such a post, but it's conceivable. In that case, regretfully leave it be. The post is still a rare gem with the signature. Sooner or later someone with full edit privileges will polish the last speck off it. Or perhaps not, doesn't matter if the post is so good that you can't find six characters to improve.

¹ We now have the option to improve and reject, yay!

² Generic you, not you personally.

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