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The "placeholder" says: briefly explain your changes (corrected spelling, fixed grammar, improved formatting)

I just came across an answer which has a misspelled website name in it.

As the "placeholder" suggests "corrected spelling" - I think words are usually misspelled by ~1-3 characters, 6 is quite hard to overlook.

I realize there are questions about this 6 character thing already, but that's just another reason to discuss the need of presence of this "feature".

What's the purpose of a "feature" that is a pain to many people and can be bypassed by an HTML comment at the same time? If there's an actual reason behind this thing, then it shouldn't be so easy to bypass, should it?

BTW: Sorry for any grammar/spelling errors in advance. If you spot some, please correct them using at least 6 characters.

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    Note, this limit only exists for users who are new to a site and have fewer than 2000 reputation points (1000 on beta sites).
    – Catija
    Aug 8, 2016 at 23:04
  • I understand that it probably has some reason, but what's the purpose of something that exists to restrict certain actions, yet can be bypassed, and is mostly just a pain to users who want to fix some issues. Aug 8, 2016 at 23:06

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When users are under 2000 rep (1000 on beta sites) their edits are submitted for review by other users of the site.

This creates work for those users. When edits are extremely small, it's questionable whether they're of much value and whether they're worth taking the time of other users to approve.

Yes, you can get around submitting the edits with markup but... if it becomes clear to reviewers what you're doing, they're likely to decline your edits and, with enough of them declined, you won't be able to suggest edits at all. You will lose even that privilege.

As I've noted, this limitation only exists until you are considered trusted enough to submit edits without review, which becomes possible when you reach 2000 (1000) reputation points. So, with enough time and work on a site, you can get past this limitation and do one-character edits all you like.


As to spelling errors, since you call it out in the question and in a comment here - keep in mind that while a single spelling error may indeed only need a few characters changed, most posts that have one spelling error tend to have several. This is often the case because SE is international, so attracts a lot of users who may not speak English perfectly... and even native speakers often can't be perfect either.

There are definitely the odd case where a spelling error is very problematic because the word changes the post's meaning (due to the error being an actual word) and in this case it's certainly very beneficial to make the edit because it clarifies the post but, usually, this is not the case. Yes, we would love to have every post be perfect but a single misspelling in a post is unlikely to do much harm.

Keep in mind, too... you're being "paid" (in reputation) for these suggested edits when they are approved, so it makes sense that the edit be significant enough that it deserves the reputation. Once you get to edit freely, you don't earn rep for edits on questions/answers.

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  • I agree that it can be questionable whether they're of some value, but using "corrected spelling" as an example while not really allowing this for most users without finding ways around restrictions is questionable too. Aug 8, 2016 at 23:15
  • There are always edge cases that can't be dealt with but in most cases, if only one word is misspelled, the necessity of the edit is questionable - provided the misspelling is not another word that changes the entire meaning or comprehendability of the question... most of the time, "corrected spelling" is used when a post has many major spelling errors (often due to the post is written by a non-native speaker), so the example is still perfectly cromulent.
    – Catija
    Aug 8, 2016 at 23:18
  • Yes, one misspelled character is not a serious thing, but also does not take nearly any time to approve this way. Aug 8, 2016 at 23:22
  • But on a huge site like Stack Overflow, the edit queue would get extremely bogged down with thousands of suggested edits of only one character.
    – Catija
    Aug 8, 2016 at 23:25
  • Are thousands of edits of only one character worse than thousand of edits of only one character and an HTML comment? Aug 8, 2016 at 23:26
  • As I've stated in my answer, if users start adding HTML comments, they will be banned from editing posts at all when their edits are rejected by reviewers. When the edit is rejected, the post is not changed, so no one has to fix anything.
    – Catija
    Aug 8, 2016 at 23:28
  • Can reviewers only approve/reject answers or also edit them? Aug 8, 2016 at 23:31
  • They can approve or reject and they have the added option of editing at the same time... so they have "approve", "reject", "approve and edit", or "reject and edit".
    – Catija
    Aug 8, 2016 at 23:33
  • That requires more work but good to know. Anyway, why would using an invisible comment to evade this result in a ban? Aug 8, 2016 at 23:36
  • It wouldn't necessarily... but the system has metrics in place for quality... too many rejected edits (regardless of the content) and you will be placed in an edit ban. Has nothing directly to do with adding markup to the edit. Additionally, mods can ban you from editing manually... so if they see your edits and that you're doing it repeatedly to get past the character limit, they may decide that your edits are unwelcome and prevent you from submitting them any longer.
    – Catija
    Aug 8, 2016 at 23:39
  • Are all those meta answers which describe 'how to evade this' encouraging people to do something that will result in a ban then? Aug 8, 2016 at 23:47
  • The one in your question is from 2011... so not a very good example at all... but I don't really see those as encouragements... as I've noted, sometimes a workaround is useful when a post really needs a minor edit... but using it should be considered carefully, not be done by default every edit. You can always use the edit reason to explain why you thought the edit was critical enough to use the workaround... also... the average user won't find the workaround at all... so it's not that big of a deal.
    – Catija
    Aug 8, 2016 at 23:51
  • SE and especially SO is a lot about being able to use Google (Google gets you here and helps with preventing duplicate questions). I think this workaround can be found by anonyone who wants to find it. Aug 8, 2016 at 23:54
  • Usually, getting a too few characters warning is enough to make people give up... or simply look for more things to edit. It's usually really easy to find a couple of other things you can fix.
    – Catija
    Aug 8, 2016 at 23:55
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    @SamuelShifterovich Improve the content by more the 6 characters or find content that need more the 6 characters to improve. Stop going after low hanging fruit of it's really about helping.
    – Ramhound
    Aug 9, 2016 at 1:18

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