Looking at an answer today that was lucid, but spiced with a hint of attitude, made me want to pull out my editing sword and take the sarcastic ',umm,' away. It seemed that the answer, given matter-of-fact-ly, would be more effective than as-is with the tincture of cheek.

I realized that my impulse was an indication of personal taste, and I therefore relented. My question for discussion is whether the editing powers should be used for 'good' in this way?

  • I would've done it. – Andy Mikula Aug 20 '09 at 16:09
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    I enjoy editing attitude into other people's posts; therefore, i feel it is completely appropriate for others to edit it back out... – Shog9 Aug 20 '09 at 16:57
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    That was an awesome edit! – perbert Aug 20 '09 at 16:58
  • That edit improve the readability of the post :) – Tyler Carter Aug 20 '09 at 17:03
  • feel free to edit it back in. i just wanted that release. – akf Aug 20 '09 at 17:13

I think that that call is up to the editor. Personally I love sarcasm. I find, if done well, it can be very effective.

If you think you are positively contributing to the answer with the edit, then I'd say go for it. But it's your call.

But, don't edit out things you don't like just because you don't like them. Make sure it is for the betterment of the post.

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    Sarcasm is just soo dumb. – Hilarious Comedy Pesto Aug 20 '09 at 16:12
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    icwutudidther – jjnguy Aug 20 '09 at 16:13
  • Worst Answer Ever (See meta.stackexchange.com/questions/15143/…) – Tyler Carter Aug 20 '09 at 16:39
  • Worst.Answer.Ever. is reminiscent of CBG, but why no reference to the sarcasm detector? – akf Aug 20 '09 at 16:56
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    What's CBG? And, what's the sarcasm detector. – jjnguy Aug 20 '09 at 16:57
  • The Simpsons. CBG is a character named Comic Book Guy. I will not try to explain the context. You will only enjoy it if you enjoy the Simpsons. Here is a link to the synopsis of the episode in question: snpp.com/episodes/AABF18 again, it is better if you like the show. – akf Aug 20 '09 at 17:17

I'm not opposed to editing out attitude when it's directed at another user, because the site doesn't need that. Snark directed at, say, the developers of the language/library/$WHATEVER in question (e.g., "This method will return -1 if it isn't found. Who thought that was a good idea?") doesn't bother me.

That particular example is borderline. I'm not a huge fan of it, but it doesn't seem to be directed at the OP or anyone else, so it's not egregious. I'd probably edit it out if I had other things to edit in the answer.


I disagree. I feel that "um" was being used as a shorthand to indicate that exceptions are named "exceptions" because they are meant for use in exceptional conditions. It's the sort of thing I have used in order to pull someone up short, so they think, "hey, why didn't I notice that similarity before"?

That one little word can hardly be considered derisive.

The editing guidelines in the sidebar say:

Good Edits

Fix grammatical or spelling errors.

Clarify meaning without changing it.

Correct minor mistakes.

Add related resources or links.

Always respect the original author.

I think we should be respecting the attitude of the original author, as well as the technical content of the answer.

  • +1 In spirit, but, alas, I am out of votes today. – jjnguy Aug 20 '09 at 19:21
  • That's ok. Save it for tomorrow. – John Saunders Aug 20 '09 at 19:34

I removed the "um", it didn't really add anything.

Actually as far as I could tell, it actually detracted from the answer.

The intent of the statement is still there though, The word "exceptional" is in italics. Which has effectively the same effect as "um", without coming off as derisive.


I personaly will not change the tone of the original OP, but I will edit out "HALP!!!!!!??!!!!" and similar text/punctuation. I get rid of extra BOLD, CAPS, and really unprofessional language. I aim to reduce "texting talk" also. OMGWTFBBQ!

I leave the attitude and tone because that is what determines an up or down vote sometimes and people's willingness to help the OP.

Example: The question on SU that asked "How to get people to switch to gmail?" and stated there are only two type of email: gmail and non-gmail. He assumed most people thought this way and the attitude spoke loudly ... and promptly downvoted.

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    BBQ is texting-talk? :) – Sampson Aug 20 '09 at 16:40
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    It is if you actually pronounce it Bee Bee Cue... – Shog9 Aug 20 '09 at 16:52
  • mmmmm.... BBQ – Nathan Koop Aug 20 '09 at 19:22

There can be a fine line between sarcasm and rudeness. We have to exercise our best judgment in weighing the spirit and intent of the original against basic rules of courtesy. A little sarcasm is fine (even fun), going out of your way to make an asker feel stupid is not.


My rule has been cheeky or sarcastic stays; obnoxious or bitter gets edited.

Particularly annoying are the questions that are answered by the original poster 20 mins after they are posted in a "this language/framework/library sucks" tone.

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