I just noticed that on one of my sites, I've posted 41 answers, and one particular moderator has made 15 edits across seven of those answers. None of the edits are for the usual stuff (e.g., spelling errors, formatting mistakes, tags, etc) - they all seem to be aimed at making the posts shorter in length by moving text around and fiddling with the placement of pictures. Some of the edits are harmless and don't change the substance of the answer in a material way, but others are destructive and clearly aren't what I had in mind while I was writing the answer.

This moderator has made ~8,000 edits total, and about 1,500 edits over the past 5 months.

I reread "A Theory of Moderation" to get a handle of the general functions of moderators:

Moderator votes are binding. Any place we have voting -- close, open, delete, undelete, offensive, migration, etc -- that vote will reach the threshold and take effect immediately if a single moderator casts a vote.

Moderators can lock posts. Locked posts cannot be voted on or changed in any way.

Moderators can protect questions. Protected questions only allow answers by users with more than 10 reputation.

Moderators can see more data in the system, including vote statistics (but not 'who voted for this post') and user profile information.

Moderators can place users in timed suspension, and delete users if necessary.

Moderators can perform large-scale maintenance actions such as merging questions and tags, tag synonym approvals, and so forth.

Nothing in the blog post says anything about making questions and answers suit the moderator's aesthetic tastes. In fact, the summary seems to suggest that doing so is not the purview of "the ideal moderator":

The ideal moderator does as little as possible. But those little actions may be powerful and highly concentrated. Judiciously limiting your use of moderator powers to selectively prune and guide the community -- now that's the true art of moderation.

Are aesthetic edits supposed to be one of the moderators' areas of focus?

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    Huh? You realize that moderators are users too, right? What's wrong with editing them to make them more readable and clear? This feels like some sort of unwarranted thing against a moderator. You should probably go constructively voice your concerns on the per-site meta, instead of here. – Zizouz212 Jun 4 '16 at 12:58
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    @Zizouz212 - I've probably posted 800 Q&A on thirty sites, but I'm primarily active on only two sites, where I have ~700 posts. This only happens on one of those sites. I'm trying to figure out if it is normal elsewhere, or if this is a one-site, one person phenomenon. If it was an "unwarranted thing against a moderator", I probably would have mentioned the person's name, or at least the site, don't you think? – Wad Cheber Jun 4 '16 at 13:05
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    I don't think it's relevant if this is a moderator or not. Afterall every user with sufficient rep is encouraged to use editing for improving posts. The fact that this user is a moderator has absolutely no bearing on the issue. Editing is not a moderator power and thus the "as little as possible" doesn't apply to it, since the moderator is not supposed to stop using the site just because he is a moderator. – Chris says Reinstate Monica Jun 4 '16 at 13:45
  • @ChristianRau - Not sure I agree, but it would be nice if this user could leave my posts alone henceforth... – Wad Cheber Jun 4 '16 at 13:58
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    @WadCheber Why do you want to keep users from improving your posts in any way, that's highly non-constructive. Take a look at the help center for more information. – Chris says Reinstate Monica Jun 4 '16 at 13:59
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    @WadCheber Source for that not flying any more? "Don't edit my stuff" in a community that is built on people editing other people's stuff is... the opposite of constructive. – Undo - Reinstate Monica Jun 4 '16 at 14:02
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    @WadCheber Regardless of what it means to this user, 'not constructive' is still a very real thing. I don't have that particular history, and I'm calling it not constructive. – Undo - Reinstate Monica Jun 4 '16 at 14:07
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    @WadCheber I don't see why you extrapolate from days-old unfortunate chat interactions to edits on a totally different site. It really seems you just have a personal gripe with that moderator (maybe for valid, but still unrelated to this problem, reasons) and just don't want him to edit your posts. And let's just get the cat out of the bag for everyone else here (since we already both know) to not complicate matters any further: that moderator is me. – Chris says Reinstate Monica Jun 4 '16 at 14:09
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    @ChristianRau - I checked all my posts on M&TV - out of 16 edits by other users, 15 were from you. Out of 7 posts edited by other users, all 7 had edits from you. Several of them had three separate edits from you. Out of all the pointless "this has a gif, so I don't like it" and "I don't like bold" comments, all of them came from you. There's a pattern here. – Wad Cheber Jun 4 '16 at 14:16
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    @WadCheber And are edits automatically bad? Or my edits bad? I admittedly edit like every post ever, so it seems reasonable that I edited many of yours too. It's more interesting that you never complained much about any of those edits until I inadvertently ticked you off in chat some days ago. – Chris says Reinstate Monica Jun 4 '16 at 14:18
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    @WadCheber That being said, you're a very high valued user and a reasonable one at that. I would very much appreciate if we could discuss this matter friendly and between the two of us, as it seems there is much more involved here than someone just doing an edit you don't like. So if you ever feel like doing so, I'll create a chatroom to talk about anything that bugs you. – Chris says Reinstate Monica Jun 4 '16 at 14:20
  • @ChristianRau - I never complained much because I liked you and didn't want to bother you. Maybe being annoyed a few days ago was what it took for me to finally speak up, but I still didn't want to make it about you, so I asked a question in good faith - is this something mods are supposed to do? - because I wanted to know if I had a reason to be annoyed. – Wad Cheber Jun 4 '16 at 14:20
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    @WadCheber Honestly, you're (both) too wrapped up in this. I'd recommend you do two things, in order: (1) Take a walk, and (2) write up your concerns to /contact. It's fairly obvious that this has progressed beyond the point of anyone here being able to do anything about it or convince anyone either way. – Undo - Reinstate Monica Jun 4 '16 at 14:20
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    Also, take Christian's suggestion of a private chat before using /contact - it'd be best to get this dealt with between peers. – Undo - Reinstate Monica Jun 4 '16 at 14:25
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    @ChristianRau - I'd be happy to chat about it, but it should probably be left for another day. – Wad Cheber Jun 4 '16 at 14:26

No, editing posts for aesthetic reasons, or any other kind of reason, is not a primary area of focus for any moderator. However, your question is grounded on the flawed premise that the user actually pertook those edits in his role as a moderator rather than his role as a responsible and engaged user in the first place.

And in the same way the part from the Theory of Moderation you bring up has absolutely no bearing on the matter. The "do as little as possible" line is supposed to apply to moderator powers. Moderators should not stop using the site. Rather on the contrary, more often than not moderators belong to the most avid and engaged users of a site and that is a good thing.

Every user with sufficient reputation is ecouraged to use his editing privileges to improve posts. How this improvement looks is to be assessed on a case by case basis. Edits are not just to merely fix spelling and grammar errors but also to improve a post's clarity and readability. Since you don't give specific examples (since it's admittedly not so much the focus of your actual question), it's hard to say if this was the case here. But in general improving post by trying to compress excessively used images or making a very long post a little shorter by innocuous streamlining edits is encouraged, since it contributes to the readability of the post.

But whenever you deem an edit inaapropriate, feel free to roll it back and if the user keeps applying it without explanation, feel free to contact the user or any other moderators about it or bring it to meta.

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    Didn't (s)he bring it to meta? – EKons Jun 4 '16 at 14:10
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    @ΈρικΚωνσταντόπουλος I was talking about problems with edits to specific questions or misbehaviour of a specific moderator, best adressed on the site-specific meta. This question here is about a more general matter, as answered appropriately by the existing answers. – Chris says Reinstate Monica Jun 4 '16 at 14:31
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    Huge +1 for "do as little as possible is supposed to apply to moderator powers". It'd be insane for it to be a general rule; that'd mean every time you elect a prominent user as a moderator you'd be asking them to stop doing all the helpful things they've been doing all along. – Cascabel Jun 4 '16 at 15:26
  • @ChristianRau You should explicitly specify "site-specific" or you may confuse people. – EKons Jun 4 '16 at 15:41

As the other answerers have pointed out, this is a user issue, not a moderator issue. Editing is something any user with sufficient reputation can do, and not part of moderator duties. Some mods (including myself, on the site I moderate) do a lot of editing, and others don't. Unless the moderator is using his mod powers, e.g. locking your posts to ensure you can't roll back his edits, this doesn't look like a mod abuse issue but rather a particularly edit-happy user.

However, all of this is not to say that there's no such thing as too much editing. From the help centre:

When should I edit posts?

Any time you feel you can make the post better, and are inclined to do so. Editing is encouraged!

Some common reasons to edit are:

  • to fix grammatical or spelling mistakes
  • to clarify the meaning of a post without changing it
  • to correct minor mistakes or add addendums / updates as the post ages
  • to add related resources or hyperlinks

Tiny, trivial edits are discouraged - try to make the post significantly better when you edit, correcting all problems that you observe.

If you feel that a user is performing too many edits on your posts, or changing your writing style without improving anything objective, or in any way overstepping the mark, you have a few possibilities:

  • roll back their edits
  • ask them nicely to stop editing your posts so much
  • take the issue to the per-site meta, perhaps in a neutrally titled post such as "How much editing is too much editing?"

Are aesthetic edits supposed to be one of the moderators' areas of focus?

Well, let's establish a few facts:

  1. Edits are a privilege any user can gain.
  2. Moderators are users too.

From the editing privilege page:

Any time you feel you can make the post better, and are inclined to do so. Editing is encouraged!

Aesthetic edits do make the post better. Moderators aren't editing the post as a moderator, they're editing it as a user.

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    I only disagree with the second to last sentence. Your aesthetic taste is not mine, therefore, your aesthetic edits make my post "better" for you, but worse for me. Thus, it is generally a good rule of thumb to leave the aesthetics to the OP. – Wad Cheber Jun 4 '16 at 14:00
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    @WadCheber So roll it back, if you're so inclined. We're a community-moderated and community-edited site; a moderator is part of the community. This isn't a moderator problem, this is a user problem (if you really want it to be a problem). – Undo - Reinstate Monica Jun 4 '16 at 14:01
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    @WadCheber What you mistake for aesthetics, though, might just be attempts to improve clarity and conciseness. But anyway, if you highly disagree with an edit, feel free to roll it back and address the issue to the user or any other higher ups if he persists. – Chris says Reinstate Monica Jun 4 '16 at 14:02

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