I looked for this question on Meta Stack Overflow, and found the topic discussed but never really resolved.

Just saw this typo,

"...Has anyone every experienced this kind of debugging weirdness?..."

Where "every" should really be "ever".

I'm sure I've made that same mistake myself a thousand times, I wanted to help the guy look better and help future readers as well as the site in general.

Ooops! No No, you can't change one and only one letter.

So then, I can't help the guy and just take out the single letter "y" and make him (as well as the entire site) look a whole lot better and present his case a whole lot more clearly.

Typos and grammar blobs really distract from the content of any written material that anyone tries to present.

The clarity of Stack Overflow is one of the paragons of the place. Are { you, we, I } sure that we should require a full 2000 points on the reputation scale just to allow someone to make a single byte correction to a post?

I'm thinking, possibly through some sort of procedure where maybe it might include something like...

  • The new member applies
  • Goes through a few weeks' apprenticeship
  • He demonstrates that he really is an okay human
  • He shows that he truly understands English
  • Others look over his little 1 and 2 character edits
  • Those others confer on him some sort of status; confirmed, denied, delayed, limited, whatever

Perhaps the "limited" status might be something like 2 or 3 little cleanup edits per day or whatever.

If I had a dime for every time I read an internet post with improperly written it's its your you're there their they're (and I forget the rest) well, whatever.

Do we really want to require 2000 for something as simple as changing one letter that really helps?

  • 17
    Yes we do. It help with educating users that edits should be substantial. Otherwise there would be waaaaay too many trivial edits.
    – Oded
    Jan 18, 2013 at 16:17
  • 12
    Show me the post and I'm almost sure I can find you 5 additional characters to improve.
    – Bart
    Jan 18, 2013 at 16:25
  • 3
    I'm as OCD about the typos you mention as the next guy (actually more so since it totally destroys the flow of what I'm reading), but, if that one, single out of place letter is truly the only problem with the question, then so what, just leave it for somebody else. Most of the time however, there's something else wrong with the question that you can edit and so the 6 character limit wouldn't normally be a problem. Edits bump the question to the front page, which is why any edit is required to have a minimum amount of substance.
    – RivieraKid
    Jan 18, 2013 at 16:26
  • 1
    I've pointed this out before but no one ever fixed it..... stackoverflow.com/q/1729289/1015495 In my job we had a problem with OutOfMemoryExpections. twitch twitch
    – Mike G
    Jan 18, 2013 at 16:31
  • 5
    @mikeTheLiar 6 characters...done: stackoverflow.com/posts/1729289/revisions
    – Bart
    Jan 18, 2013 at 16:35
  • @Bart 1) my hero 2) list formatting?!?!?
    – Mike G
    Jan 18, 2013 at 16:38
  • @mikeTheLiar What's the problem with list formatting? Two questions. Already somewhat formatted as a list. Now a true markdown list.
    – Bart
    Jan 18, 2013 at 16:40
  • @Bart nothing, I just wish that I had thought of that six months ago so I had to give you a hard time.
    – Mike G
    Jan 18, 2013 at 16:42
  • I'm with @bart. If you can't find 6 characters that can be improved then you shouldn't be editing the post or the post is just too short to be any good (all code etc). There is always something that you can improve. Jan 18, 2013 at 16:54
  • as per gnat, related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/129839/… Jan 18, 2013 at 17:26
  • @user.1 - The thing is that by the time you actually reach 2000, you will have seen enough bad posts that this edit no longer seems important.
    – Bo Persson
    Jan 18, 2013 at 21:20
  • @Dan - Congratulations! Now you can fix small typos that you feel is really important without having 3-5 other users review it. Most of us don't see this as an urgent fix when there are other posts with 25 misspelled words, poor grammar, no punctuation, and badly formatted code. But now it's your choice what you want to work on.
    – Bo Persson
    Mar 21, 2013 at 10:14
  • @BoPersson: those who don't see this as an urgent fix are committing a Nirvana fallacy, and contrasting minor typos with crappy posts overall is a false dilemma. In other words, as long as there are terrible posts on SO, we shouldn't care about incremental improvements elsewhere. Mar 26, 2013 at 5:19

3 Answers 3


Even for 2K users one-letter edits are discouraged.

In Defense of Editing which predates suggested edits

If you are going to edit a post, make sure you’re substantively improving it. Avoid making isolated, trivial edits, as they are the source of much friction. For example, don’t bother changing “its” to “it’s” unless you have several other edits to make in the same post. There has to be a legitimate case that your edit made multiple changes transforming the post from good to great — or at least substantively improving it. (Except when you happen to be editing that rare “perfect except for this one misspelled word” post. This is obviously OK to edit. In my experience, the type of posts that really cry out for editing need a lot of editing to be whipped into shape.)

With Suggested edits it's actually worse since not only is the question bumped on the home page if the edit goes through but there the additional opportunity cost associated with reviewing minor edits that are better served for reviews of substantial edits.

  • 2
    Sometimes one character difference is all that is needed, say to separate a block of code from the paragraph before it so that Markdown does the right thing. That's fairly rare, but happened with one post I was editing recently (today? yesterday?) Jan 18, 2013 at 20:32

I agree that every little bit helps, and we should be encouraging more edits as much as we can.

While the main sites I edit on I have the 2k, there are some I don't and it's frustrating to not be able to fix those little aberrations.

As far as your idea goes, it seems a little too manual. I would just have them approved once they had a number of substantial edits approved, or maybe allow them to edit like a 2k if they already have 2k on another site.

  • "have them approved once they had a number of substantial edits approved" - there's a feature request, bypassing the review queue for avid editors
    – gnat
    Jan 18, 2013 at 17:06
  • 3
    Okay, how about the OCD among us having an option to join the spelling police department and do trivial editing (e.g., it's / its etc.) that does NOT bump the question to the whatever page. The every/ever and other such "minor" typos really truly does distract a significant segment of us from comprehending written material, and it detracts significantly. Wow, this seems to have generated a much larger response than I had expected. Is that a good thing ?
    – User.1
    Jan 18, 2013 at 21:49

Yes, small edits are discouraged, essentially due to a very strong opinion held by Jeff Atwood (which which I profoundly disagree). There has been extensive debate on this topic, which I've read, and failed to be convinced by any objective reasons. It seems to boil down to a matter of unjustified personal preference. On the other hand, Jeff made SE, so we should thank him for it, warts and all.

  • Do do know that he left SE at the beginning of 2012 right?
    – Lix
    Feb 27, 2013 at 7:08
  • 1
    Yes, I said he "made" SE, and if you click on the links in my answer, you'll see that he replied to my comments today. As for downvoters, kindly explain your reasoning, or you're guilty of the same unjustified sort of behavior I mentioned above. Feb 27, 2013 at 7:11
  • 2
    He is definitely still involved and may very well be active on the site but is no longer "running the show". My DV signifies disagreement with your statements. Down votes work slightly differently here on meta.
    – Lix
    Feb 27, 2013 at 7:13

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