I want to enable minor edits and I think might have gotten close enough to how to do it right to talk about it here. I'll try not to waste your time.

Add up all the costs of minor edits; it's more than they're worth. They pollute the edit-date flag (that's bad enough) plus other substantial pollution like edit history and front-page bumps and misdirected rep. That last seems not so substantial.

Is that all the showstoppers?

To make minor edits worth enabling, all those costs, plus any new ones introduced, have to be reduced so they all add up to less than the value of a single minor edit. An example of an introduced cost would be that not bumping self-described minor edits is an obvious temptation.

But I think everybody sees that if it could be done, the whole place could look just a little bit brighter. Fixing little glitches, a stutter-step hit to reading concentration or a minor derailment makes it more apparent that there are standards around here; it affords the discreet small mercy of quietly eliminating someone's minor embarrassment; it lightens later readers' jobs just a little bit ... I guess if that's not an attractive enough prospect then it isn't. 'nuff said.

So I came here to propose almost exactly this way of addressing minor edits, but with perhaps enough handling differences that may eliminate distractions to justify reconsideration. They are:

  • Edit submission speedbump elimination:
    • A separate "Minor edit" submit button, otherwise exactly like the "Save Edits" button.
  • Edit review speedbump elimination:
    • Minor edit reviews presented after substantial edits, with a "Minor Edits Follow" button step to separate them
    • "Obviously minor"/"Not obviously minor" reject button that notifies submitter and needs only one vote
    • Edits submitted as minor present only the containing paragraph for review
  • Edit history display speedbump elimination:
    • Last minor edit date presented separately in much smaller type below last edit date.
    • "Show me minor edits" checkbox

One blemish I can see is the near certainty that some edits will be serially rejected as both obviously minor and not obviously minor. Perhaps the rejection notice could be:

This proposed edit is [not] obviously minor. Please reclassify it or improve it before submitting again. If this proposed edit has been rejected as both "obviously minor" and "not obviously minor", we're sorry, but we just don't know what to do with it.

Even clearly correct grammatical improvements/corrections perhaps should be submitted as minor edits, but in particular substantial rewords that are clear improvements should be accepted in either classification.

(Some obvious minor improvements could flesh out the above, e.g. a vim-style fold line around the presented minor-edit context and so on)

So, I hope the skeleton merits fleshing out, but either way thanks for your consideration.

  • I see some of these are pretty good matches for things already in the linked proposal, so I'll make it explicit that I intended to incorporate that proposal by reference, for instance to include the no-bump and no-rep features – jthill Sep 28 '13 at 20:34
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    What problem are you trying to solve? Are you saying that there is a serious problem with minor edits, specifically the fact that they can't get completed because <2K users can't edit them? – psubsee2003 Sep 28 '13 at 20:42
  • Good question, thanks. – jthill Sep 28 '13 at 22:26
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    How about putting the conclusion to the top of the post, and clarifying what course of action you are suggesting? (Your point that minor edits stink is well taken, but do you suggest a policy change in reaction to that?) – Pekka Sep 29 '13 at 1:10
  • @JonathanLeffler re your ~minor or not?~ edit description, may I point out "Even clearly correct grammatical improvements/corrections perhaps should be submitted as minor edits, but in particular substantial rewords that are clear improvements should be accepted in either classification."? That's completely absent from the suggested reject-message wording, that could stand some polish. – jthill Sep 29 '13 at 4:04
  • One clarification that should perhaps be stated up front, is that this is all related to relative newcomers making suggested edits, rather than to people with enough reputation to make edits in their own right. At the moment, I believe an accepted edit gives a couple of points to the editor. Maybe a minor edit should only give one point. There should probably be an enforced upper limit on the number of changed characters that can be deemed minor. In compensation, there might be less review required (reducing the review workload; from 3 to 2 on SO, maybe from 2 to 1 on other sites). – Jonathan Leffler Sep 29 '13 at 4:22
  • People with enough privilege to make edits in their own right could still designate an edit as 'minor', and that could be used as a signal that the change doesn't need to bumped to the front page. Tag edits only might automatically be minor. I am neutral on the 'does the page show the last minor edit time at all'. I often make minor edits where I'd be happy to leave the previous person with the credit. I wonder what should be done about 'indent the code' edits; they can look dramatic viewed as a diff, but they're minor (but very important) changes in other ways. – Jonathan Leffler Sep 29 '13 at 4:25
  • mmm, I meant for fixing the edit date/edit history presentation to apply to everyone. Minor edits should impose no unnecessary burden. I don't want to have to click through to discover whether an edit isminor. As your your edit pointed out, ~or purely grammatical~ or some such needs to be worked on, but I find it annoying to have my attention drawn to an edit that turns out to be nothing. (edit: yep, that's what I'm after). – jthill Sep 29 '13 at 4:29
  • @JonathanLeffler Code indents, yeah, that'd have to be a consensus judgement call on how to classify those, you don't want a common type of edit getting bounced around. I'd say they should be minor, and if the whole change is daunting to a reviewer it should be broken into obviously-minor pieces -- a version of that is common practice with patches. Also, see the separate, smaller edit-date for minor edits, I'm happy with that. – jthill Sep 29 '13 at 4:33

I disagree that this would be a good feature. Questions and answers on StackOverflow can be improved, but that doesn't make them a wiki where everyone can bandwagon over minor details. If an edit is made to a question or an answer, the improvement should be significant and the original poster of the question/answer should clearly see that is was significantly improved. I believe that to be the strength of the edit feature on SO.

I think it is annoying to be notified that someone made a whole edit on your post to add a dot somewhere where it didn't matter, capitalize the Q in jquery or someone felt the need to edit out a double space you accidentally added. Besides that, I occasionally see edits in the review queue that can be classified as colour-of-the-bikeshed changes. Those are changes on things that aren't necessarely wrong, but everyone has their own opinion about them and every now and then people feel the need to push their opinion through. I think of changes where someone feels the need to bold certain words, because they find that clearer, or where someone changes "colour" to "color", because the American variant is obviously1 72%2 better than the British variant. All these will be rejected as 'too minor'.

Also, there are very few minor edits where nothing else could have been changed. Allowing minor edits will encourage people to make multiple minor edits, instead of a larger edit where everything is cleaned up at once. Multiple minor edits will therefore make it hard to find out what exactly has been changed since the first post and they will spam OP with messages that edits have been made to their post. That will make it harder for OP to find out what exactly was wrong with their post, and how they could improve that in next posts. If really nothing else could be changed to the post, was it really necessary to edit the post? I don't think it was.

I believe it is a good thing minor edits are not allowed. Part of the minor edits will only frustrate OP's, because why is RandomEditor23's opinion on a good post more important their opinion? What stops OtherRandomEditor61 from wheelwarring on that post with RandomEditor23 to have their version 'on top'? I believe only disallowing minor edits will accomplish that.

1 This is at least 71%2 sarcastic.

2 This number was 100% random

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