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On a number of occasions I've noticed that users make minor edits to questions I ask. I can understand edits for spelling, grammar, code formatting etc, but I'm surprised to see so many edits for minor differences in writing style. So, I'm wondering what reasons there are to make very small edits to questions. Reputation? Something else?

A recent example is here (though definitely not meaning to single that user out): https://unix.stackexchange.com/posts/219889/revisions

I have no issue with people editing my posts, just wondering if there's a subtlety of the editing process that I've missed.

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    They have over 2k rep on that site. They have earned the right to edit your post without asking you, or anyone in that community. They're trusted to do that edit. I don't see why it harmed you. Why are you complaining? – M.A.R. Aug 3 '15 at 13:12
  • @inɒzɘmɒЯ.A.M I'm not complaining, I was just wondering if there's some subtlety of the editing process that I'd missed. – stripybadger Aug 3 '15 at 13:19
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    I stand corrected @stripy. But reading out your post again, your wording can really come off as rant-ish, even if it isn't. Asking a lot of questions like that can come off as sarcasm. Most likely the downvoters thought you were complaining, didn't want to have discussion with the community, wanted to rant etc. – M.A.R. Aug 3 '15 at 13:23
  • In this particular case, you can kindly ask that user the reason in a chat room. He is the only one who can give the exact reason for the edit. // or ping him on his old answer/question and ask him there. Don't forget to delete the comments later! – Firelord Aug 3 '15 at 19:07
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Well, this user was clearly not editing for the reputation, since he has over 2K, so that means that he can edit without the review process and the reputation that comes from approved suggested edits.

So why did he do it then? Maybe for the badges (if he doesn't have them already), which I find highly unlikely looking at the user's reputation (not the site reputation, but the way we know him here on SE for his positive contributions).

I am almost certain he edited the question to remove the fluff from the question. SE is known for its short and clear questions with good answers. This edit was a way to achieve that. By removing unnecessary 'thanks', 'edit', etc. the posts gets clearer. We all benefit.

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    Well said! It's kinda hard to find out the reason for that edit, but it must have been about removing noise. (Too bad I vote-capped and can't vote) – M.A.R. Aug 3 '15 at 13:13
  • Thanks for the explanation. I guess I'm just jealous that I don't have that much free time! – stripybadger Aug 3 '15 at 13:22
  • You don't need much time, just good answers and you have enough rep to edit soon. – Patrick Hofman Aug 3 '15 at 13:23
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One possible reason has to do with the voting system. When you vote on a post, you have 5 minutes to undo or change it; after that, your vote is locked in. See Why do votes get locked? However, when the post is edited, your vote is unlocked again and you regain the ability to change it. For example, if someone asks a question with serious problems, and you downvote it, and then they later edit the question to fix the problems, you might want to remove your downvote, or change it to an upvote. The "unlock" system makes this possible.

This can also be gamed, though. Suppose you are a 2K user who has the ability to edit other people's posts. You voted on a post, and it's been more than 5 minutes, so your vote is locked in. But you have changed your mind about your vote (maybe based on the comment thread). If you edit the question, even if you don't actually make any substantive changes, you will have the ability to change your vote.

This is probably not an appropriate use of the edit privilege, but it is possible, and it could be that some people are taking advantage of it.

  • +1 Even if this may not be the case with the question under consideration, it is a good point to be considered. – Firelord Aug 3 '15 at 19:03

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