Ok, I'm going to try and phrase this in the such away that people don't downvote based on any implied opinion on my part.

I realize edits less than six characters are prohibited on Stack Overflow. Assuming I'm charged with explaining to someone new to SO why this is, can you provide or point me to the rationale? Please assume further that the person I'm explaining this too is particularly curious about the case of fixing typos and particularly typos in code.

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  • Thanks, and not just for Jeff's contributions to that one. ;-) Jul 30, 2013 at 0:44
  • Probably a duplicate as well, but I disagree with the accepted/most highly upvoted answer, so I won't vote to close. As the answer here indicates suggested edits require effort from enough people that I agree with the limit. Jul 30, 2013 at 0:47
  • once you get 2000 reputation, you can edit without approval. you can also edit less than 6 characters.
    – Doorknob
    Jul 30, 2013 at 0:50
  • FWIW, although I agree this is essentially a duplicate, I tried several searches based on edit size that failed to yield the other question. Jul 30, 2013 at 0:50
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    based on my own experience, its a rare thing to see a post that needs editing, that only has one minor problem.
    – apaul
    Jul 30, 2013 at 0:52
  • @PeterAlfvin search is tough, and you won't always find the duplicates, that doesn't mean it isn't a dup. I just happen to know that this exact question has been asked dozens of times before so I knew what to look for. Jul 30, 2013 at 0:53
  • @apaul34208 - rare, but not impossible. as the OP points out - code-fixes can be single-character - eg a missing !
    – Taryn East
    Jul 30, 2013 at 1:23
  • @TarynEast see:meta.stackexchange.com/questions/76891/…
    – apaul
    Jul 30, 2013 at 1:39
  • Yes. It has already been discussed. My comment still stands - rare but not impossible.
    – Taryn East
    Jul 30, 2013 at 1:51

1 Answer 1


For people who have to suggest edits, and haven't earned the privilege to edit without review, there is more work involved than just the person performing the edit - this has to be reviewed by other community members, and can require up to 5 people to review the change. For that amount of work it has to be a substantial edit otherwise the cost is not worth it. Is the number of characters an arbitrary thing? Sure.

  • Also the fact that we don't want to encourage people to make hundreds of minor edits earning 2 rep a piece
    – Cole Tobin
    Jul 30, 2013 at 1:14
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    @Cole well, adding a 7-character word isn't that much more effort than adding a 5-character word, and often doesn't take any difference to review, so I find the character limit completely arbitrary. I also feel that code corrections can often be less than 6 characters. However I'm not here to fight the rule, just explain it. :-)
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Jul 30, 2013 at 1:28
  • I completely agree with what you're saying, as clarified by the comment. I'm afraid a lot of people would automatically (and IMO incorrectly) interpret an answer arguing that a suggested edit should be substantial rather than trivial as pertaining to whether the 6 character minimum is reasonable. I strongly disagree with the notion that there's much correlation between whether an edit changes 6+ characters and whether it's trivial or substantial. Many edits that are substantial, even important, are less than 6 characters, and many 6+ character edits are frivolous or even make the post worse.
    – Adi Inbar
    Jul 30, 2013 at 5:33
  • @Adi I'm answering the question, "Why does the rule exist?" and not the question, "Is the rule the most sensible thing on earth?" If you want to post an answer that answers a different question, feel free.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Jul 30, 2013 at 8:08

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