At an early stage I came across an answer where a user had a mistake in the code.

The OP asked how to remove a specific character from a text, whilst the answer instead replaced it with another. Found the best action would be to correct the error based on:

  1. Had not rep enough to comment.
  2. It was a minor edit not changing the meaning.
  3. It corrected a mistake.
  4. It was a short answer where 20 minutes had passed since the post.

That said, I also had to replace double quotes with single quotes to get above the minor-edit limit of 6 characters. This was explained in my comment to edit:

He does not want it double quoted. Changed to single quotes only to get above 6chr edit limit (I'm unable to comment)

Yes, it was not the best-worded summary of the edit.

However, this edit was rejected on the grounds:

  • This edit changes too much in the original post; the original meaning or intent of the post would be lost.
  • This edit is incorrect or an attempt to reply to or comment on the existing post.

(At the time I also finally decided to post my own answer, but with another approach to the problem at hand.)

At first I thought the rejection was an oversight. Perhaps mods thought they were looking at a question and not an answer, etc.

As a final note; the user later corrected the answer himself.

Later I decided to ask in chat about this and was told that this was a grey area and that they would have rejected the edit as well.


Is this really how it is done? Should one reject edits correcting (minor) mistakes? Was it perhaps meant if the edit was suggested by a low-rep user?

As this was a fresh answer, today I would have left a comment, but do not find it wrong to suggest the edit. Am I in error in assuming this?

From other Q/As here on meta, I find the topic to be somewhat blurry.


Is it wrong using the Edit Summary to leave a comment trying to explain the rationale behind the edit?

As in: Should the Edit Summary only say what is done and never why it is done?

A second example:

User posted an answer where there was an error in the post that, if anyone copy/pastes, it will definitively not work. With the above case in memory, and by the fact that I by then could leave comments, I left a comment to the user.

As the user did not correct the answer, I again went to chat to ask if I should edit or only leave a comment in such a case. I was told that an edit would most likely be rejected and that I should rather leave a comment and optionally down-vote.

I gave the user a fair amount of time to correct the answer after leaving the comments. In the meantime (a couple of days) I checked that his profile page had last seen updated on several occasions. As the answer was not updated, I finally down-voted. The answer is still not corrected/updated.

This makes for a lot of extra work and time as well as potentially being the seed of bugs for users not taking note of comments. (As I understand it, comments are not to be considered part of the answer – though it is of course usually the sane approach to read them.)

It is also a question on what would be the correct action taken the day if or when a user has enough reputation to review the edit queue. Then especially in the case of low rep users making edits over comments. (Below 50pts.)

Edit (added after @Servy and @codeMagic initial posts):

For the first case, if relevant. The change was:

$d_contents = str_replace("”", "\"", $d_contents);


$d_contents = str_replace('”', '', $d_contents);

As OP wanted to remove and not replace it with ".


Is this really how it is done? Should one reject edits correcting (minor) mistakes?

There is some controversy here, as you mentioned you were told earlier, but generally, yes, this is mostly the case.

The main point here is that the intent of the original author should be maintained when editing. Whether your specific edit was one that was changing the intent of the author's solution, or was changing the code to what they clearly intended to write, is pretty hard to say without a concrete example.

For example, if a user simply mis-spells a variable name due to what is obviously just a typo, it is entirely appropriate to fix it. The intent of the author is (generally) clear in such cases. This isn't different, conceptually, from an edit to non-code text.

But if there is a logical error in the solution that results in it not working, that's different. When you simply feel that a slightly different solution would be better than what the author chose to do, that is not something to express through an edit. It is something to express either through a comment, or through another answer (if you make a post that actually answers the question and incorporates your change).

Was it perhaps meant if edit was done by low-rep user?

The reputation of the editor is irrelevant here. Even a high rep user shouldn't be changing the meaning of another user's posts through edits.

Is it wrong using the Edit Summary to leave a comment trying to explain the rationale behind the edit?

No, your interpretation of how to use the edit summary is exactly right.

For the other post, you decided to wait and check back before downvoting. If you want to do that, that is up to you. Personally, if I find a solution that doesn't work or has other significant problems I'm not going to wait around before downvoting, I'm going to vote right then and there so that readers of that post will have an indication as to what is wrong with it. How much time you want to invest in your voting patterns is up to you.

  • Thanks for answer. But. Yet another example. Take this answer: stackoverflow.com/a/12683969/3278057 , here the wrong indexes are used plus the code is wrong due to lack of parenthesis when using + and not OR |. As OP has commented on the indexes, but not on the parenthesis should one leave it as is because this is how OP intended it? Sorry if I'm being rather nagging on this topic and repeating myself.
    – user13500
    Mar 5 '14 at 22:48
  • @user13500 Given that the author specifically commented acknowledging the correction as valid, I'd say editing is fine. In the absence of that comment, I'd say it's pretty borderline and could see it going either way. I'd probably reject, but it's a crap shoot as to what the review queue would do.
    – Servy
    Mar 5 '14 at 22:51

Is this really how it is done? Should one reject edits correcting (minor) mistakes?

IMHO, yes. I probably would have rejected it also. Even if you are pretty sure that is what the person meant to put, you are still changing the meaning of that answer and that is why I would reject an edit like that. "As a final note; the user later corrected the answer himself.", so you were right (this time) in what the author meant to put but this might not always be the case.

Answering with the correct method and even commenting that the other post was close but mistaken on this one part (since you couldn't comment which would have been better) would have been acceptable, as far as I'm concerned.

Is it wrong using the Edit Summary to leave a comment trying to explain the rationale behind the edit?

No. This is helpful so the poster to know what they did "wrong" for future posts and helps the people reviewing the edits to have a better idea of why you did it and if it should be approved.

  • 1
    You should not be posting an answer just to comment on another post just because you don't have sufficient reputation to post comments. If you're going to post an answer you need to answer the question, else your answer will just end up deleted as "not an answer".
    – Servy
    Mar 5 '14 at 21:53
  • @Servy No, that's not what I meant. The OP said, " I also finally decided to post my own answer" which is the answer I was referring to. I meant if they posted an answer similar to the "incorrect" answer but with the right method used. I meant that if that was the case then I think leaving a comment on the answer (when rep makes it possible) about the mistake is better than posting an almost exact dupe of the answer.
    – codeMagic
    Mar 5 '14 at 21:56

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