The help/editing page states:

When should I edit posts?
To correct minor mistakes or add updates as the post ages

I propose the "minor" be removed and just, perhaps:

To correct mistakes or add updates as the post ages

It's giving the impression that suggesting edits for "minor" mistakes is acceptable, and while they can be if worthwhile, they are rare and a lot of users wont really use the option wisely.

Or make it sound like one can correct multiple minor mistakes per suggested edit for it to be worthwhile. The word "mistakes" being plural doesn't really indicate multiple minor mistakes "per suggested edit".


I think people are missing the point a bit here, or maybe I didn't make it clear enough - again I fall into the trap that I wrongly expect MSO users to understand the greater picture without having to explain it, but of course, my point has to be made for it to be known... (my bad)

This is not about how you voters perceive it as you have experience of Stack, it's about new(ish) users and those who do not frequent MSO.
As without Stack experience from time spent on the sites, that help page doesn't give the "greater understanding" we all have, which is required as the page is not clear.

e.g. The help page states:

Edits are expected to be substantial and to leave the post better than you found it.

[Try to think as if you're new here and know very little]

If I edit post with many grammar and spelling issues, and I correct only one word, by definition I have "left the post better than I found it"!

But "that's not substantial"!
But, what does "substantial" mean to a user without knowledge or experience?

Is the word "substantial" clear enough to define what is required?

So I read past "substantial" not knowing what is it, and read things like:
"To fix grammar and spelling mistakes"
"To clarify the meaning of the post (without changing that meaning)"

Then, adding to the confusion:

To correct minor mistakes or add updates as the post ages

Again, the word "mistakes" being plural does not substantiate the requirement of "substantial" edits.
"minor mistakes" in that form implies the plural "mistakes" is referring to edits in general, and not necessarily on one edit.

Honestly, it is not clear to me. I only "know" what is required because I see good edits, bad edits, users discussing good vs bad edits, doing some myself and thinking if it would be worthwhile. etc.
And all of this is only really possible with experience, and I think the help page(s) should be written in a way that a newcomer to Stack without experience should know what is expected of them.

This is the point of "help" pages, to offer info to those without knowledge or experience.

As otherwise, when their edit is rejected, a few times, and they get frustrated, they give up - a potential loss of a good editor who only needed a simple push in the right direction from the start.

You start a new job, and the boss says "only do this if it's substantial, but you can make minor changes".
Are you saying you understand, as a new member of staff not knowing the procedures or what's required?
Or would you ask the boss or a colleague:
"What or how many minor changes can I make to ensure my change as a whole was substantial?"

"What is a substantial change?"

So while the help page in it's entirety is fairly clear, this conflict between "substantial" and "minor" is only clear to you voters here because you already know what Stack expects for edits, from your experience.

Editing other users posts is in itself a new thing to a lot of users here, let alone the other written rules in help and the criteria required which is not explained.

A lot of people skim read.
Bullet points are intended to highlight, and potentially many new users could see "when can I edit" and flick to the bullet points, even missing the word "substantial" and just see "minor".

We are dealing with, for the most part, users who aren't contributing well - they just want the rep points "+2 kthks", and move on.

Users who we need to ensure understand what a good edit is, are possibly going to:

  1. Skim read help section
  2. Potentially see "minor" and not "substantial"
  3. Confused or simply ignore the "substantial" and simply use the provided allowance of "minor" to justify their own ends just to get edit rep and not necessarily care about adding value to the site

I believe this is something we need to avoid, for the sake of one tiny change on the help page.

  • 3
    It indicates to correct minor mistakes, not that they are acceptable. Presumably "major" mistakes would warrant leaving your own answer. – Jason Sturges Feb 23 '14 at 4:05
  • @JasonSturges "It indicates to correct minor mistakes" but surely this is not something we want to promote? Correcting minor mistakes? Can you explain what the definition of "minor" is on the help pages? It's not clear to me, and "trivial" is a synonym to "minor". (I'm not splitting hairs here, I'm predicting what new users or people with little Stack experience will read it as) – James Feb 23 '14 at 4:20
  • There's minor, then there's "too minor". – Qantas 94 Heavy Feb 23 '14 at 4:52

From the context of the help page, an underlying philosophy of collaborative editing similar to Wikipedia is being outlined, recommending standards such as:

  • To clarify the meaning of the post (without changing that meaning)
  • To correct minor mistakes or add updates as the post ages

Avoiding edits deemed "too minor", improving a post is encouraged provided the overall meaning does not deviate from the original post intent.

Where minor converges upon too minor is sometimes debatable and often under discussion here, interpretation can be subjective such as you propose a "minor suggested change to the help/editing page" that I would consider substantial.

My interpretation of minor in that context implies something more syntactical, grammatical, or generally refining within scope. Otherwise, it could welcome radical change if an editor deemed the mistake to be the implementation itself.

Mechanics of Stack Overflow introduce some complexity, such as converting to community wiki after frequent editing, noise on the front page when posts are updated, and rewarding reputation for edits.

Beyond that, we assuredly do want to promote editing.

  • "My interpretation of minor in that context.." with 1.5K rep on MSO & 10K rep & 7 gold badges on SO you are of course well equipped to know what it implies. "Mechanics of Stack Overflow introduce some complexity.." so either remove the edit ability, or allow it but explain clearly how it works/what is expected. "Beyond that, we assuredly do want to promote editing." Really? So why a help section on it & rep points up to a whopping 1000 rep? Why have a review queue & reviewers spending their time doing edits? Edit should be very much promoted, but in the right way, & rewarded accordingly – James Feb 23 '14 at 18:14

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