Now, I'll start off by saying that I'm mostly a SU contributer. SO is normally just a resource I refer to, and I rarely contribute there so I am not very familiar with some specifics of the site.

Just today, I have had one edit rejected and one almost rejected on the same answer. Those edits were to fix a broken link and bring some content into the answer, as per previous discussion on link-only answers. In all cases, the reject reason given is as follows:

This edit is incorrect or an attempt to reply to or comment on the existing post.

Now, the first edit. It was purely to fix a broken link. As far as I know, that is most definitely encouraged. That got two reject votes before it was finally approved, with a rather non-descriptive reason that doesn't even apply.

The second edit, I could see getting rejected as making too big of a change. However, again, I do not see how the edit would be 'incorrect' (again, previous MSO discussion encourages it!), and it is most definitely not an attempt to reply or comment. (In fact, on the reminder about substantial edits, I decided to add more by quoting the link content - it just happened that the first was approved in that time, splitting the two edits up.)

I have asked this question for two reasons. Firstly, I would like to know if my edits are in fact considered incorrect in SO. To my logic, they seem perfectly valid - especially the first one, fixing the link - and they are accepted as good edits on SU to the best of my knowledge.

Secondly, I would like to suggest that there is a problem with SO reviewers not really paying enough attention to what they are reviewing (this follows on from previous problems with the new review queues, which resulted in the introduction of audits). SO is a much bigger site than SU, and I am sure it gets far more edit suggestions. At the same time, it has far more users to perform the reviews - there should be no excuse for rushing through them.

Then again, perhaps discussions and decisions on meta are not visible enough, leading some to be unaware. In any case, this is not the main point of this question, and really should be split into another question if it warrants further discussion.

  • Turns out, that second edit was rejected twice, with the same reasons. (Unfortunately, I am rather used to a 5-minute window to modify my edit, and my modifications actually ended up splitting it into an additional edit. The review linked in this comment was before I added the quote block.)
    – Bob
    Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 7:08
  • If you're below the rep needed to edit by yourself you should edit as much as possible in one batch before submitting the edit. Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 7:09
  • FWIW, you should be summarizing the content of the linked page instead of quoting/copy-pasting most of that page. Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 7:09
  • @doubleDown I understand that as a general concept, and try to apply it where necessary. However, that page was already a list - I mostly copied the list headings, and it's close to the minimal amount of information that would make sense. I mean, I could have reworded or turned it into a few paragraphs, but that doesn't really make anything clearer or shorter. I could have left our some points, but that defeats the purpose of a complete, self-contained answer.
    – Bob
    Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 7:19
  • The link fix edit is totally valid, no idea why two chose to reject it. The other edit though was too radical in my opinion and I would probably have rejected it as well. Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 7:40
  • 1
    @ShaWizDowArd Radical? Maybe. I don't know if I agree, as it's only a paraphrase from the linked resource (and correct one as far as I can understand), but at least it makes sense. Why was it rejected as attempt to comment or alike, that's beyond me. And I think that's what bothers OP too, not rejection itself but reasons that makes no sense.
    – Mołot
    Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 8:02
  • 3
    @Molot I agree that many reviewers use the easy way of always choosing the "generic" reason of invalid edit not bothering to choose proper reason, that's indeed a problem but can't see a way to deal with it. On second look and thought adding content to link only answer might be valid sometimes, better leave comment and have the author do that but in case of old post with author that wasn't around for long time maybe better do it ourselves indeed. Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 8:24
  • 1
    I've personally given more or less up on editing answers - at least as long as my rep is below 2k. If the changes are not deemed too minor they are too radical and it is simply not worth the effort for me.
    – user213634
    Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 8:25
  • I have also decided to stop editing for a while. Rejected for changing the content too much. Hello? Since when does subject/verb agreement constitute a radical change?
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 18:06
  • @Garry I don't think anyone said that it did. To which suggested edit are you referring? I don't see that any of your recent edits on SO were rejected, and the one on Meta wasn't rejected for being too radical, that was more of a stylistic issue. Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 23:28
  • Thanks for that @Cody Gray. In my window it says "This edit is incorrect or an attempt to reply to or comment on the existing post." And I'm like Hello? And the ultimate 'accepted' edit provides no visible improvement in grammar or syntax. Plus a gratuitously rude comment from a higher up makes for a discouraging episode on SO. :) There's more like that in my 'home' SO, hence the notion to join Anders in retreat for a while. Thanks for your comment and taking the time to check; I'm grateful for that.
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 23:44

1 Answer 1


RE: Suggested Edit the First

The two people who rejected this made the wrong call; it should definitely have been accepted, and fortunately it eventually was.

I can only imagine that these people didn't look at your edit comment carefully enough and thought exactly what I first did:

Oh no! That's wrong, you almost always want to omit the version number from MSDN links. Edits should be removing that, not adding it back in.

And even if it were doing the "right thing" by genericizing a version-specific link, that would still fall squarely in the "too minor" category.


Except, before I would have hit the "Reject" button, I would have read your edit comment. Then I would have tested the link to confirm that it was invalid, and changed my vote to "Approve".

Not sure why the process fell apart for these people; they were probably cruising through the queue too quickly to stop and pay attention.

As far as the "rather non-descriptive reason", that's because it's one of the canned reasons we can select in the "Reject" pop-up box. Although I do type custom reasons, I am still guilty of using one of the cookie-cutter reasons if they are "good enough"—far more convenient than reaching for the keyboard.

The fact that the edit was eventually accepted, despite two intermediate rejection votes, is a good proof that our current review system strategy makes sense. Two people who are not paying attention can't tank a valuable contribution.

RE: Suggested Edit the Second

The problem here is not that you made too big of a change. (That's another cookie-cutter reason that could have been selected by the reviewers if it were, in fact, an issue with this edit.)

And you're right that link-only answers are strongly discouraged. It is much better to summarize the important information from the link right in the body of the answer.

But summarize is the key word there. Copying and pasting from the original page is a problem for at least a couple of reasons:

  • Copyright issues. The content of the linked page may not allow republication elsewhere, or else may require that you first obtain the author's permission in order to do so. It's also not entirely clear how our content license would interact with quoted content. One could argue that the blockquote markup makes it clear that the text may be under a different license, but I'm not sure if there's any validity to that argument. (Quoting small excerpts is generally free from these sticky problems because it falls under fair-use. That's not the case with page-long copy-pastes.)

  • (Ir)relevance. In 99% of cases, not everything on the linked page is relevant to the question being asked. That's especially true because of the strict requirements we hold for specific, focused questions. You want to include only the important, relevant portions in the answer. Otherwise, it's a lot like "RTFM". (Arguably, in this case, the entire article is relevant, but that's because this is a bad old question that doesn't comply with our modern, updated guidelines.)

If you don't want to take the time to do the job of the original answerer and summarize the linked content for yourself, you could leave a simple comment that encourages them to do so. For example:

Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference. That way, your answer will remain useful, even if the link becomes unavailable.

  • Thank you for a very detailed response. I agree that it is generally better to summarise; however, there wasn't much to summarise in this case (or perhaps I'm just bad at that).
    – Bob
    Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 12:49

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