From https://meta.stackoverflow.com/faq#etiquette there is the below guideline:

   Be honest.

   Above all, be honest. If you see misinformation, vote it down. Add comments indicating what, specifically, is    wrong. Provide better answers of your own. Best of all — edit and improve the existing questions and answers!

Periodically I see answers that have some factually wrong information either stated or eluded to, in them. Instead of commenting at the bottom of the list, where I believe some people won't read down to, thankfully I can follow the advise of "Best of all" (which I personally think is the best idea also) and edit the answer.

However - Find below (from here) what usually happens. I believe you can see other examples, though as covered before, not without clicking through all of my suggestions in my profile.

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Does anyone else agree that there seems to be some disparity between what appears to be allowed in the FAQ's, but not what reviewers are doing?

  • 7
    For the record, reviewers are much less likely to approve of an edit that changes the content of the post. Especially if they are not familiar with the topic. Furthermore, I would actually reject such edits if the post is heavily voted on. If a wrong answer is at -5 and somebody edits it to be correct, the vote count would be misleading. In such cases, you should just downvote and add the correct answer yourself.
    – Mysticial
    Feb 3, 2013 at 3:31
  • Thanks Mysticial - Interesting first comment... Isn't editing inherently changing the content of the post? As for not being familiar with the topic, this is a hard one... Perhaps they should leave it to other reviewers who are aware of whether the change is correct or not? Will think of your advise the next time I see something incorrect, however am more a fan of succinctness and having two answers subtly different from each other (while they are open I guess, presuming people vote the other down also) seems opposite to this.
    – user66001
    Feb 3, 2013 at 23:00

1 Answer 1


There is somewhat of a disparity like you think.

In practice, edits that fix grammatical and spelling errors in answers are normally approved as long as the edits are complete and necessary. Editing an answer (or any post for that matter) that doesn't really need fixing will likely be rejected as too minor, which is the same as editing an answer and not fixing all of the problems in that answer.

Editing the content of an answer that changes the meaning of the answer (usually added, removing, or changing code) is where you usually get into trouble. I think the current accepted practice is slightly different than the FAQ, but generally speaking, reviewers are not necessarily going to be well versed in the specific language or concepts, so they can only judge on the quality of the grammatical changes. If you see something that is obviously incorrect, best think to do is to leave a comment like you have and wait for the OP (of the answer) to respond to fix it. Once an accept amount of time has passed, probably a couple of days, then the original answerer is no longer around or is not interested in fixing his post. At that point, if you think the change is actually necessary, you can try to make your edit, but be prepared for it to be rejected. Sometimes though, an edit is not needed and a comment is enough.

Where this practice runs into a problem is if there is a technical inaccuracy to an upvoted answer or an accepted answer that would cause the code not to function, or would cause undesirable side effects. Commenting and waiting is still the best solution in this case, and once you've given the OP a chance to act, then go ahead and make the change (just make sure your edit comment is clear). And if the edit gets rejected (which it might), bring it up on meta and someone with full edit privileges will probably help out.

Now for your specific situation. I think your suggested edit falls somewhere in the middle of the scenarios. While there is a technical inaccuracy to the wording of the post, the actual answer is not incorrect, just misleading. The point you are trying to make is a good one but the fact that there was already another answer (which you referenced in your comment) probably makes your point for you. I think I would have rejected this had it come up while I was reviewing.

  • Hi psubsee2003 - My experience with grammatical / spelling errors has been different. Normally mine seem to be rejected because I don't usually need to change a huge amount. I do find the "too minor" reason interesting though - Users go to the effort of editing these, and as far as I am aware reviewers just need to look at the computed differences and click one of a few buttons, not sure what the downside of fixing even the minor stuff is.
    – user66001
    Feb 4, 2013 at 0:53
  • I have the same confusion for not approving edits that are not complete - Surely some part correct is better than the possibility of a more incorrect answer existing on the site for how many days/months/years (yes, less likely as time goes by). Someone else is likely to fix the rest (what the previous person missed), but at least the post will be more correct in the interim. As for editing that adds, removes, or changes code - Seems like a hit-and-miss situation, surely edits could be flagged for those with certain expertise to establish who is correct, if needed?
    – user66001
    Feb 4, 2013 at 1:04
  • I like your suggestion on posting comment to OP; waiting; trying edit; then posting on meta. Seems like a lot of effort, and an extra technically superfluous question, but will keep this in mind for future. The only issue with the principle you present for the question in example, is that I believe few people will continue reading past the accepted solution (comments to this answer included). I think that if the answer is accepted, it should be the best answer and wording the community can come up with.
    – user66001
    Feb 4, 2013 at 1:09
  • P.S(1) Some of your points were similar / the same as Mysticial's answer above; P.S(2) "best think to do", "Once an accept amount of time" & "usually added, removing" :)
    – user66001
    Feb 4, 2013 at 1:09

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