Do you know what's the difference between text (prose) and code? Yep, you're right: characters do matter.

Suppose I was looking for some right command. Suppose I found it and suppose it turned out that there was exactly one character missing ( think e.g. diff -ur vs diff -u ).

And as currently any edit is demanded to change at least 6 characters, then my question would be -- why on Earth I should leave this example incorrect? ( I mean, I can -- but why I can't fix it? ) And if there is an "official" way to edit this -- then how do I do that, for Knuth's sake?

I mean, I of course can add and remove some fake characters. But this can then obviously be done as well to bypass any protection against minor changes, right? So what's the point in having this ritual then ?

PS. Let me link here a related (though different) question of mine.

upd. A good proposal, I vote for it )

  • I mixed up answer and question, but my point stands in either case. If you see an incorrect answer, you want to notify the author of the error. Otherwise, they will never learn what they did wrong and more importantly, they may have meant something entirely different. See e.g. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/104438/…
    – Pekka
    Commented May 18, 2012 at 6:12
  • @Pekka: So I should leave a comment for the author and hope that he is still active on SO to fix the answer, is that right? I think this is a way to go, though not the best one: first, no one actually reads the comments: I bet you didn't read this one before posting your question about the "use case"; second, the edits for users with <2000 rep. are reviewed, so we'll still have some independent consideration. Thank you for the discussion. Commented May 21, 2012 at 2:18

1 Answer 1


The "official" way is to fix other problems with the post at the same time.

Alternatively, you can earn at least 2,000 reputation, which will give you the privilege to edit questions and answers freely, without requiring peer approval. Then you can make as trivial edits as you desire.

  • 1
    The "edit anywhere" privilege description still states that trivial edits are discouraged.
    – agf
    Commented May 15, 2012 at 1:21
  • 1
    accepted as "earn at least 2000 reputation". Commented May 15, 2012 at 1:21
  • 2
    @agf I understand that they are; but it looks reasonable for text, code comments, etc -- no for stuff where chars do matter. Commented May 15, 2012 at 1:23
  • @ジョージ I was responding to "Then you can make as trivial edits as you desire" which isn't good advice.
    – agf
    Commented May 15, 2012 at 1:39
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    +1 for the correct answer, but I've always found this to be a useless rule. If there's one character wrong in a code sample, then just let the nicer passerby fix it without demanding that they also find five other characters of imperfect grammar to fix. Commented May 15, 2012 at 1:52
  • 1
    A one-character change in English text is likely (but not certain) to be trivial. A one-character change in code very likely is not. Commented May 15, 2012 at 3:22
  • Yes. They are still "discouraged", but they are not forbidden. That's the distinction here. As Keith points out, whether something is actually trivial is subjective. Once you get to 2k rep, you're trusted to make that judgment for yourself, rather than having a character count determine it for you. @agf Commented May 16, 2012 at 8:36

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