I recently came across an answer by BalusC which contained a link to a specification that has since been moved. When attempting to edit the link, a change which involved the subtraction of only 4 characters, I ran up against the 6 character minimum requirement.

Ordinarily this would not be an issue. A less experienced poster would likely have other things within the answer that could be changed (How to overcome “Edits must be at least 6 characters”?). In fact, this seems to be the answer on every meta post relating to this topic (Can't fix link in answer because it needs minimum chars to edit, We're discouraged from fixing typos and misspellings on SE sites?, etc...).

The problem here, since I don't have 2k reputation, is that BalusC writes excellent answers... with the reputation to back them up. I don't feel there is anything in the post (besides the link) that would benefit from me editing.

What is the standard practice here?

  • Flag the post and explain my situation in the notes (for someone with higher reputation)?
  • Comment on the post and hope that a) visitors read the comments or b) the OP gets notified and updates their post?
  • Make edits, for the sole purpose of increasing characters, providing no benefit and possibly hurting the quality of the post?

For reference, the EL Specification in the post should be changed to https://jsp.java.net/spec/jsp-2_1-fr-spec-el.pdf, if someone wants to go ahead and take care of this.

  • 4
    Done, and got rid of the s in https so users don't get a certificate warning. Oct 8, 2012 at 18:04
  • 2
    If the user is active, you could also just post a comment telling that the link is broken. Most if not all would fix the answer accordingly, at least I would do. Once done that, the comment(s) can be removed.
    – user138231
    Oct 10, 2012 at 18:02
  • 1
    I'd argue that fixing a broken link in an answer that only has value through the link provided is a substantial improvement from almost zero value to at least some value. Why should that have to be done by proxy through the original question author, if I can simply change it myself?
    – rgvcorley
    Aug 21, 2014 at 10:25
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    @rgvcorley arbitrary rules and restrictions is kind of StackExchange's MO. There is no need for this restriction, at all. Only trusted users can issue edits anyway. Completely arbitrary. Jul 17, 2015 at 13:31
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    Yes restriction is a pain. I have come up against it twice. In the first instance, I needed to change typo that amounted to a single character in a piece of code. In the second instance, I needed to add a slash (/) to a configuration snippet, which also amounted to one character. In both cases, the examples failed completely without my 1 character edits.
    – Damien
    Jan 5, 2018 at 4:37
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    This question with just ONE answer is a duplicate of How to overcome "Edits must be at least 6 characters". That other question is (currently) more than six times as highly voted, and has TWELVE answers. Recommended reading: If the new question is a better question or has better answers, then vote to close the old one as a duplicate of the new one.
    – Henke
    Mar 11, 2021 at 13:44
  • See also voting is king.
    – Henke
    Mar 11, 2021 at 13:46
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    Does this answer your question? How to overcome "Edits must be at least 6 characters"?
    – Henke
    Mar 11, 2021 at 13:47

1 Answer 1


Flag the post and explain my situation in the notes (for someone with higher reputation)?

No, flags are for serious issues, changing a few characters is almost never a serious issue.

Comment on the post and hope that a) visitors read the comments or b) the OP gets notified and updates their post?

Yes, this is the best way to go at it. Visitors will note a link in the comment, and as an active user there is a high chance that he updates his post.

Make edits, for the sole purpose of increasing characters, providing no benefit and possibly hurting the quality of the post?

Only do this if you can improve the quality of the post, or you could get away with something like:

Oracle Expression Language 2.1 specification

What I simply did was change the post forward (to something long) and back (to something short), an even more cheap way to go about it; I should however note that, this is not the way to go about it in general as we really expect substantial edits to posts...

  • 5
    -1 for "flags are for serious issues." What does "serious" mean? Low-rep users can flag questions as duplicate or off-topic, or just low quality. To my understanding flagging is a reasonable thing to do here but possibly not best.
    – djechlin
    May 2, 2013 at 15:16
  • @djechlin: Serios enough towards the moderator, think in their place. If one doesn't know what's serious or can't determine whether something is serious on his or her own; that person should probably not be flagging. Yeah, when no other means are available, flagging is reasonable; but when we're talking about changing less than 6 characters, I highly doubt it... May 2, 2013 at 17:28
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    The criterion for flagging is "this needs an action taken that community members themselves can't do." They are human exception handlers for when most automated and crowd (community) sourced moderation can't cover. You're missing the point to say "changing less than 6 characters [makes it not serious enough]." While that is usually true the OP has identified an exception and posted about it on meta. In fact I don't think a policy change is needed precisely because current policy works ~99% of the time and we have mods for the other 1%.
    – djechlin
    May 2, 2013 at 18:07
  • Furthermore note most flags low-rep users can raise are handled by high-rep users (close votes, very low quality). Even edits, although we also ban trivial edits from low-rep users. So this is actually an exception handler for the automated rule of no trivial edits, on top of the exception handler for no queue this low-rep flag can fall into. Viz., exactly what moderators are for.
    – djechlin
    May 2, 2013 at 18:09
  • You're telling me things I already know, been here long and often enough. 8-] May 2, 2013 at 20:03
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    I sometimes try to improve code formatting in questions, especially from new users. They sometimes put a block of code with 4 spaces and then enclose in `. This doesn't look good at all but requires only 2 character change.
    – Szymon
    Sep 19, 2013 at 21:12
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    So if someone uses "Your" instead of "You're", I'm supposed to leave a comment asking the person to please correct the grammar mistake? I'm not going to do that, because it's silly and rude. And I wouldn't appreciate someone doing that to me. Why not just allow smaller edits?
    – Magmatic
    May 23, 2018 at 16:45
  • The person requests that. (meta.stackexchange.com/questions/149771/…) This is too much of a corner case. Allowing it decreases quality, because editors will solely go for the easy fixes rather than actually improving the quality of the post. Furthermore, mass edits have been a big no-no... May 23, 2018 at 17:40

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