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Why can any user edit any other user’s question or answer?

Given how reputation privileges are gradually earned, how is a user with 1-rep enabled to suggest edits?

This user, now with a reputation of 3 for having their edit approved, suggested an edit as their very first interaction with the site. With no questions or answers, I do have appreciation for a user who joins to contribute through community moderation.

I disagreed with their edit, as the answer author indicated they felt the documentation was wrong. Instead of maintaining this attitude, it was edited to cite documentation.

What strikes me as wrong about this is that the user doesn't even have enough reputation to comment; yet, they can change a post. They could not comment for followup or discussion.

It takes 10-reputation to remove new user restrictions, such as adding an image to a post.

Many people cite an issue with the new review system is high rep users approving poor edits; however, those edits are being seeded by lower rep users who cannot yet edit questions and answers.

One thing I look for when reviewing is the reputation of the suggested edit and original author. Like, I'd feel out of place to edit Jon Skeet's answers. Certainly I'm not stating reputation makes a user impervious to edits, nor that users of lesser reputation should be unable to edit a higher reputation edit. I guess it's a respect for what you feel should be left unchanged.


  • 6
    Fun fact: On all other SE sites, you can suggest edits without even having an account.
    – yannis
    Oct 26, 2012 at 0:39
  • 3
    Here's the blog post announcing the feature. It describes the reasoning for it. Also if you feel the edit was bad why not just roll it back? Oct 26, 2012 at 0:44
  • 1
    @YannisRizos That's interesting, thanks for that! I think all other sites require a minimum rep of 5 for meta. That seems so strange, as I'd think having an area for support and discussion is important for anyone. Oct 26, 2012 at 0:44
  • 2
    @JasonSturges The 5 rep requirement for per site Metas is awesome, it keeps most of the crazies out ;)
    – yannis
    Oct 26, 2012 at 0:50
  • Akin to Wikipedia IP editors: "Many users believe that unregistered users' sole contributions to Wikipedia are to cause disruption to articles and that they have fewer rights as editors compared with registered users. Studies in 2004 and 2007 found that while most vandalism (80%) is generated by IP editors, over 80% of edits by unregistered users were not vandalism.[1] As current policy stands, unregistered users have the same rights as registered users to participate in the writing of Wikipedia." Oct 26, 2012 at 0:54
  • @SomeHelpfulCommenter Thanks for that blog post! Per rolling it back, I cast my vote and don't feel that strongly about it. Rational behind minimum rep is solely my question here. Not sure I'm fully sync'd with the Wiki overlap of the Venn diagram per how SO works. I'll have to research that more. And YannisRizos - ah hah ha! That is awesome! Oct 26, 2012 at 1:11
  • I agree with you that I should not have edited the OP's opinion (even though it was presented as a fact). I did not realize that this is not what I should be doing. Luckily, that can be reverted. On the other hand, I think that I contributed a relevant piece of information that (potentially) makes the answer more valuable. Perhaps the current system is not perfect, but in this case it worked, I would argue. Just my (totally unbiased) two cents.
    – Maarten
    Oct 26, 2012 at 8:13
  • @Maarten Your edited information is definitely valuable to the post, and clearly states current implementation issue. Certainly that you are fully empowered to do that, and should. Personally, I think this would have been great for you to post your own answer directly to the point citing documentation. I'd upvote that. Per my post here, the fact that you cannot comment at that rep seems odd, such as to perform the edit and leave a comment stating the documentation is not wrong. Oct 26, 2012 at 14:27
  • @YannisRizos On all Stack Exchange site, including SO, you can suggest edits without having an account. Since anonymous visitors can suggest edits, it would make no sense not give users fewer privileges if they're logged in. Oct 26, 2012 at 18:21
  • 1
    @Gilles Are you sure? I went into incognito mode and didn't see the "improve this post" link anywhere, prior to posting that comment. I know SO used to allow anonymous edits, but I'm not so sure it does anymore.
    – yannis
    Oct 26, 2012 at 18:23
  • @YannisRizos Yes, I'm sure. Did you by any chance test the first post at the top of the front page? You can't suggest an edit until the post is at least X minutes old (I forget exactly how much X is). Oct 26, 2012 at 18:25
  • @Gilles That might be it, although I checked a few posts (but they could all have been fairly new, didn't pay much attention to their timestamps). Regardless, completely agree that it wouldn't make sense to raise the rep requirement for edit suggestions.
    – yannis
    Oct 26, 2012 at 18:27
  • 2
    @YannisRizos Here's the proof. Oct 26, 2012 at 18:28
  • @Gilles I was blind but now I see ;P
    – yannis
    Oct 26, 2012 at 18:30

1 Answer 1


The most important thing on Stack Overflow is the content. Every function in the system exists to make the Q&A part of the system better, and one way to create great content is through editing.

While there are many people on Stack Overflow, with high reputation, who are experienced programmers, there are still experienced programmers out there who might use Stack Overflow, but who either don't have an account or who haven't asked or answered any questions. If these individuals can improve a question or an answer, it would be a loss to the community and future visitors if a knowledgeable expert was unable to contribute a fix.

The quality control filter for suggested edits is two-fold:

  • The Suggested Edit Queue: Experienced users review and either approve or disapprove a suggested edit.
  • The "Active" Tab: Posts that are edited appear at the top of the main page. This improved visibility ensures that the community can review the edits and either further improve the post or rollback the edits.

Since the suggested edits queue already has two quality control filters in place, the reputation threshold is set to a point to give the questions and answers the best possible chances for becoming something truly great by lowering the barriers to entry. If a 1 rep user suggests something great, then awesome! If not, well, people like you will be there to catch the error, in most cases.

  • 2
    I wholeheartedly agree. The general quality of suggested edit is high as it is. Sure, there are some edge cases. But I don't think it's worth setting a reputation bar for it. Oct 26, 2012 at 8:40

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