Just read a couple MSO posts about editing guidelines, after seeing my edit getting rejected.

I had stumbled upon an old question that somehow made it onto the front page, and saw a great answer there. The question was about "understanding events and event handlers in C#", and the answer was great but there was further information in the comments.

So I started editing the post; I found that "if we create a delegate void MyDelegate(object sender, EventArgs e)" was clearer if the backtick encompassed the delegate word, so I moved it.

A commenter was asking "How is the event fired?", and the answerer replied with a comment instead of editing his answer, so I added a code snippet to give an example of how the event would be fired.

Then I noticed the code block actually included two parts that really belonged in two separate classes (the one where the event is created, and the one where the event is registered/handled), so I split the definition and the consumption of the event into two code blocks. That made it much clearer what belonged where, even though there weren't any classes involved (didn't add any).

And then I added the part why I actually wanted to edit the post in the first place: I added the shorthand notation for registering events: myObj.SomethingHappened += HandleSomethingHappened;. I left the full notation in place.

And lastly I added a line of code to show how a handler could be unregistered with -=.

As the first reviewer approved the edit, I thought to myself "hmm this last paragraph I added to introduce the -= really just restates the previous one from the original author" - shortly after that, my edit was rejected by 3 reviewers in a row.

The reason was "This edit is incorrect or an attempt to reply to or comment on the existing post." -- really? Is this how constructive edits are being welcomed? Have I introduced bad code that's just plain wrong? I mean, I use the shorthand notation all the time, I know it's correct. The -= part was just added for the sake of completeness, and the backtick would have been too minor of an edit. Reordering the code snippets and splitting them in two distinct blocks really improves the post I find, but someone who just glanced at the diff could think I removed the event handler snippet, when I merely cut it & pasted it below the event registration code.

So I'm guessing the redundant paragraph killed it? Should I submit another edit, minus that paragraph? Actually I don't even care, it's a question from 2009 with almost 60K views and the answer is great enough as it is to have received 155 upvotes (plus mine), and if people don't know they don't need to new up the delegate to register the event then they can just buy ReSharper and have the tool teach them it's redundant. And if they want to unregister a handler then they can certainly find how to do that somewhere else. And maybe I should be doing something else to kill my spare time than browsing SO and upvoting good questions and answers, downvoting and flagging bad ones, and improve the few posts I can contribute to with the few things I do know. I mean, I intended to genuinely improve an excellent post, it's a bit (quite) irritating to read it's an "incorrect" edit.

I take the [Reject] edits that change an answer's explanation or code, with a supposedly "better" alternative. Even if the proposed solution is better, it should be added as a comment, or a separate answer. guideline as what caused my edit to be rejected. Point is, I was adding information to the answer, not changing or replacing anything.

So, was this edit legit? If I understand this MSO answer correctly, my edit should have been rejected for changing too much of the post, not for being incorrect or an attempt to comment on the answer. And if Servy's MSO answer is still right, it means I should have posted my content as a brand new answer... to a question that's like 4 years old? Just did that, but I find it would have been better to just edit the post, given that "Edits are expected to be substantial and to leave the post better than you found it."

Sorry for the long post.

  • 6
    There is a mismatch between what you can edit as 2k and what can be accepted in the suggested edit review queue. Since you are less than 300 rep to 2k, maybe you can try gaining a bit more rep so that you can edit the post all you want?
    – nhahtdh
    Commented Aug 27, 2013 at 1:43
  • Good to know! Can you upvote my answer then? :p Just kidding, I'll get there eventually.. it's just I comment more than I post answers, and most of my SO activity isn't rep-productive (that sounds weird). Commented Aug 27, 2013 at 1:51
  • 4
    The issue with adding code is that people in the review queue would actually need to take significant time to review what you added. The fact that they are from comments can't be seen from the review queue, so rather than actually check to see if the code is right, it is easier to just reject the edit. I am not saying this is right, it's just unfortunately the way it works. As said by @nhahtdh, once you get 2000 rep you won't have to worry about the review queue.
    – jmac
    Commented Aug 27, 2013 at 2:17
  • 1
    You questioned "invalid edit" as the reason for rejection. I would have chosen "radical change" as the reason. You made fairly extensive changes to the substance of the answer.
    – HansUp
    Commented Aug 27, 2013 at 3:27
  • @HansUp I agree, that's what I meant by "my edit should have been rejected for changing too much of the post". But I only saw that MSO post when I was typing up the question. When I reach the 2K mark I'll keep that in mind when I review others' edits, but maybe the help center should be clearer about improving posts by adding content not being encouraged < 2K. Commented Aug 27, 2013 at 3:32
  • 1
    @retailcoder Yes, sorry, I did overlook that. Ahem, I'll just claim I wanted to emphasize your point. :-) Meanwhile, I read your answer. That was a better way to make your contribution, IMO. And you have the opportunity to earn points ... which is not a bad thing.
    – HansUp
    Commented Aug 27, 2013 at 3:47
  • the answer you attempted to edit was viewed over 50K times, and over 150 readers found it good enough to upvote. In cases like this, I for one try to abstain of anything but cosmetic changes. As far as I can tell, in your suggested edit, only extending backtick for delegate qualifies as such
    – gnat
    Commented Aug 27, 2013 at 6:15
  • 7
    @gnat On the contrary, if an answer got a truckload of views and upvotes, it means it's useful to a lot of people, and we should do everything we can to make it even better. I can't judge this particular edit due to a lack of subject knowledge, it does look a bit too much, but the amount of views is absolutely not a factor. Commented Aug 27, 2013 at 12:40
  • 1
    If old posts with a high amount of views and a high amount of upvotes shouldn't be edited [by users under 2K rep], then the edit link shouldn't show up [for them]. My goal in doing this was to put all the information where it's being viewed. Now all the information is there, but one has to read several [long] answers instead of just the highest ranked one. I really thought of that edit as a CW thing, but couldn't mark it as CW. If this answer was a recent one, I wouldn't have edited it. My perception was that high-upvotes old posts from 2009 are somewhat de facto CW. Commented Aug 27, 2013 at 12:40
  • @Gilles my thoughts exactly: "if an answer got a truckload of views and upvotes, it means it's useful to a lot of people, and we should do everything we can to make it even better." Commented Aug 27, 2013 at 12:42
  • @Gilles I do not consider self good enough to "overrule" with major edits hundreds eyes that have been there before me (and no, being currently top editor at Programmers I am not generally shy of editing, rather opposite:). For the sake of completeness, in collaborative lock types of posts I'd act differently, but discussed edit is not the case of it
    – gnat
    Commented Aug 27, 2013 at 12:49
  • @nhahtdh Here I am, wasn't hard at all! I'm now only 1 accepted answer from reaching the 2K mark! :) Commented Aug 30, 2013 at 3:28
  • Just got a 20th upvote on that answer, 5 years and 33K rep later. Commented Jul 29, 2018 at 14:22

1 Answer 1


A friend of mine, professional tech writer, once told me that one of the major skills in this profession is to remain anonymous.

He explained that it means that to readers (including original author of the edited content), it shouldn't look like you added something of "your own", that it shouldn't look like you introduced something that wasn't there in the mind of original author.

As opposed to say, Wikipedia, Stack Exchange posts are attributed to users, their profiles and avatars are typically displayed under the posts.

This makes me feel like a technical editor when I make changes, which in turn makes me recall what I've been taught, makes me feel that it's appropriate to "remain anonymous" in the sense explained above.

As far as I can tell, your edit somehow leaks your personality (your ideas and opinions) into the original post. I would not do that.

Please don't get me wrong, this is not about being somehow... shy when editing - quite opposite, I firmly believe 1, 2, 3 that one should feel completely free to edit and the more, the better.

Neither this is about amount / size of content to add - I for one 1, 2 never feel anyhow obliged to correlate size of my edits with that of the original post in any way.

Nor this is about limiting self in making justified cuts to original text - I cut without mercy 1 when I can justify (preferably, in the edit summary) my cut to anyone, including original author.

The only thing I am trying to avoid at any cost is to make an impression that I added something, anything, that can not be inferred from original post. When I feel the need for something like this, I do anything but edits: clarifying things in comments, writing my own answer, flagging, whatever.

  • Did I mention that from above perspective, it doesn't really matter whether one suggests the edits through review or does free editing? No matter if one goes through review or edits at their own discretion, I expect them to "remain anonymous"... and when I feel that edit went too far off from that, I tend to rollback or flag for mod attention.
  • You can edit posts anonymously here just like Wikipedia. Just log out.
    – Cole Tobin
    Commented Aug 27, 2013 at 21:32
  • @ColeJohnson you maybe can. I can't - in the sense of adding anything that can not be inferred from original post (for that, it doesn't matter if I logged out or not). That's my Editing Philosophy if you wish, it doesn't depend on being logged in. "Did I mention that from above perspective, it doesn't really matter whether one suggests the edits through review or does free editing?"
    – gnat
    Commented Aug 27, 2013 at 21:33
  • @ColeJohnson for an example of what I would do to that post take a look at changes made in revision 6. By the way, the user who did that revision is one of my favorite editors at Programmers; whenever I happen to go over their suggestions in edits review queue, it always strikes me as really well done
    – gnat
    Commented Aug 27, 2013 at 21:47
  • 1
    Awesome answer BTW. Your linked examples really helped grasping the adding anything that can not be inferred from original post Commented Aug 28, 2013 at 12:45
  • glad to be of help. By the way, if you could see vote-count-split, you'd notice that the answer has 2 down-votes. Apparently, not all the MSO users think this answer (or answerer) is OK
    – gnat
    Commented Aug 28, 2013 at 13:08
  • 2
    Downvoters are welcome to post their point of view as another answer, I guess. I think it might have something to do with your non-distinction between a post that's two hours old and one that's two years old - you're applying the same consistent mental rules in both cases and I think it's a debatable point, given if an answer got a truckload of views and upvotes, it means it's useful to a lot of people, and we should do everything we can to make it even better. But I see the point you're making and I agree enough to upvote and accept; net score would be well < 0 if community didn't agree. Commented Aug 28, 2013 at 14:58
  • @retailcoder I see. In a post that's two hours old, I've seen people doing wild wide changes and commenting to OP suggesting to rollback if they made a mistake. I've often seen this working quite well, and even, surprisingly feeling right. Can't tell if this is a reliably good way though, because I don't use it. When I see suggestions of this kind in edit queue I tend to skip these to let others review
    – gnat
    Commented Aug 28, 2013 at 15:38

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