-17

SE sites do not allow edits of less than 6 characters. This is counterproductive, and results in the exact problem it is trying to solve: trivial edits.

Because of SE's 6 character minimum edit requirement, when one or two characters really DO need to be changed, the editor must make an additional meaningless edit in order to satisfy SE's arbitrary restriction.

For example, in this QA answer, there was an important mistake in the command that the answerer recommended entering. I tried fix the error by removing a character, but SE would not allow it due to the 6 character requirement. I then had to make another meaningless change (changing the original author's words) in order to satisfy the arbitrary 6 character requirement. This type of edit is often necessary.

So how do we convince SE to remove the 6 character minimum edit requirement?

Update: This is different from the other questions posted on SE Meta. In those questions, it is discussed at length if the limit should be removed, with most people agreeing. But SE chose not to remove the limit, despite their users' pleas. This question is about how to get SE to pay attention to their users and make a beneficial change.

  • 1
  • 10
    The "Hope this helps ... Lance" portion didn't look like it should be removed? – jonsca May 29 '15 at 22:59
  • @jonsca First, I don't want to nitpick on that particular question; it was just an example. Second, in the past when I have removed taglines like that, suddenly all my questions get "mysteriously" downvoted and people start refusing to answer them. – RockPaperLizard May 29 '15 at 23:03
  • 6
    Well, you struck upon a bad egg. Most people sign posts because they've done it other places and usually are grateful to understand how SE is different. I wouldn't let that stop you from being a one-man army against cruft, though. My point was not to nitpick but to suggest that there is oftentimes more than one small flaw. – jonsca May 29 '15 at 23:07
  • 2
    You don't convince SE. The limit exists for a reason. It has been discussed numerous times previously. Yes, there are posts that come up that don't need 6 character edits, there are 10,000 more that do not get meaningless minor edits because of the limit. Just chalk it up to bad luck and find another post to edit – psubsee2003 May 29 '15 at 23:36
  • @psubsee2003 LOL... I'm not looking for posts to edit. I try to help out others; when I get an answer with an error, I try to edit it in order to help others who may read it later and not understand that there is an error. The arbitrary requirement gets in the way. I'm sorry that your experience must be that SE can't be convinced of anything by its users and that it's not worth trying. If they are not receptive to user feedback, then well, that's reflective of a problem with their upper management. – RockPaperLizard May 29 '15 at 23:42
  • 7
    What you'd really need to do is convince people to review your trivial edits. For every one character change you make a team of people needs to review it. It's hard enough getting enough people to do reviews properly without making the problem worse by increasing the flood even further. – Robert Longson May 29 '15 at 23:50
  • 1
    @RockPaperLizard my issue is not that you can't convince SE of anything. My issue is you want to make minor edits. Yes, you may find a small one that is actually necessary. But how does the system decide between a small necessary edit and a small unnecessary edit. There are substantially more small unnecessary edits. – psubsee2003 May 30 '15 at 0:45
  • @RobertLongson I guess it depends on the SE. On the SE's to which I contribute, there are more than enough reviewers. Often the review queues are completely empty. – RockPaperLizard May 30 '15 at 1:48
  • 4
    To answer your actual question: SE does listen to their users (you're posting this on a site whose entire purpose is just that). Don't confuse "We don't agree" with "We're not listening", those are completely different things. – Clive May 30 '15 at 10:57
  • @Clive Providing a place where SE users can discuss recommendations with each other versus providing a place where SE actually listens are two different things. I'm not saying they don't listen, but your logic is confounded. – RockPaperLizard May 31 '15 at 8:44
  • Correct, those are two different things - both of which this site satisfies. The logic is clearly sound, but you're free to nitpick at semantics all you want – Clive May 31 '15 at 9:15
  • The community consensus of meta.stackexchange.com/questions/82893/… indicates that SE in not interested in the community consensus. – RockPaperLizard May 31 '15 at 10:37
  • 1
    You're still not getting it. SE is very interested in the community's opinion, hence the meta sites. That doesn't mean it's going to enact everything the community decide on between themselves, because that would be a ridiculous way to run a for-profit company. They need to take general opinion on board, and weigh it up against the real world. You might want to read Listen to Your Community, But Don't Let Them Tell You What to Do, you seem to be confused about how this all works – Clive May 31 '15 at 11:38
  • 1
    Your tone sounds like you really want to start an argument. I'm not going to play your little game. This site is supposed to be the primary way for the community to provide feedback and recommendations. That's what they did. I understand you don't like the community's consensus, but I can't help you there. The active community provided it's consensus in the appropriate forum, yet SE ignored it. – RockPaperLizard May 31 '15 at 19:22
8

Three steps to convincing Stack Exchange to change policy:

  1. Do your research. There has been an enormous amount of discussion regarding this restriction, now stretching back many years. During this time, various staff members have responded to various questions, complaints and proposals, either to clarify the reasoning behind these restrictions or to alter how they are applied (yes, they were once considerably more strict than they are today).

    If you ignore this, you're exceedingly unlikely to convince anyone to change anything... Or to even read your proposal. We've all spent an awful lot of time discussing the pros and cons of these restrictions already; if you can't be bothered to read that, then you're ill-prepared to change anyone's mind.

    Example: you suggest here that the only work-around is to make "meaningless edits" - that's rarely (if ever) true, and directly contradicts the top answer here. Whether this statement arose from ignorance or carelessness, it likely prejudiced a fair number of readers against the rest of your post.

  2. Identify a real problem. No one likes being told they can't do something; we put restrictions in place when their value outweighs the annoyance they cause. So if you're going to convince us to lift or change them, it helps if you can demonstrate that the problems they cause are more severe than we realized. "I want to capitalize the letter i, once, and do nothing else" isn't particularly compelling; "I want to fix a one-character typo that causes a code sample to inadvertently wipe the user's harddrive" might be... if you can produce enough real-world examples of such scenarios. "Something that has never happened might happen and it would be mildly annoying to deal with" doesn't cut it.

  3. Address the downsides. As I mentioned, the restrictions that exist are assumed to protect against problems that, unchecked, would be more severe than the annoyance caused by the restrictions themselves. Find a way to mitigate them with less annoyance, and you have a good argument for change. Be specific in your proposal, and avoid hand-waving away hard problems, particularly those that would require a world-class team of AI researchers to solve. Also avoid proposing extremely complex solutions that would only help in extremely narrow situations.

See also:

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .