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I think that we should do away with character limits on edits to Math Stack Exchange and MathOverflow. My main reason is that, in a mathematical post, a one-character error can cost a reader a significant amount of time and confusion, and I think this outweighs the amount of time it would take for these edits to be peer reviewed.

Also, in a math post, you cannot gauge the triviality or non-triviality of the edit by the number of characters, making the reputation-requirement for 6+ character edits quite arbitrary. This may be the case in some non-math areas as well, but I'm only venturing to address the parts of Stack Exchange that I use a lot personally.

In this context, we are not just talking about spelling corrections or adding a comma, or the like. Rather, an omitted negative sign (for instance), or other error in a symbol that indicates a more advanced concept, is often an obvious typo to one person, but very very confusing to another.

If I see something like that in a question pertaining to a topic that I specialize in, I am unable to change it, even though I know that people who do not specialize in the topic are going to see it and be misled by it. I think anyone who has studied math significantly can think of a time when a tiny typo in a book cost them a few days work. I think we should be able to rise above that obstacle via the technological advantage of interactive text.

There are even high ranking questions on this site about how to "trick" or work around the situation where your edit cannot be accepted for lack of sufficiently many characters, and people actually discuss methods for doing this. This seems to defeat the whole purpose of the rule, if there was in fact a good one in the first place.

You will also notice that the community tends to prefer, in other posts on this topic (via votes and selected answers), posts saying we should do away with the rule. This adds democratic support to my perspective, for what it's worth.

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  • @Catija It is sort of a duplicate, except that I am suggesting the rule be changed and asking how to go about that. I will change the title to reflect that.
    – j0equ1nn
    Nov 25, 2017 at 4:04
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    There's actually no minimum once you've hit the point where you don't need to do suggested edits. I suspect the reasoning is to stop people doing super trivial edits to farm for rep. Nov 25, 2017 at 4:14
  • @JourneymanGeek Maybe there's some value to that, but I think 2,000 reputation points is way to high to have the right.
    – j0equ1nn
    Nov 25, 2017 at 4:16
  • Your question is "how to do it"... that's not a feature request. That is a support question and the answer is "post a feature request on MSE" so... what is your real question?
    – Catija
    Nov 25, 2017 at 4:57
  • @Catija My question was how to do it. You have now partially answered it, except that I don't know what you mean. How do I post this feature request? Maybe you could explain that to me as an answer below.
    – j0equ1nn
    Nov 25, 2017 at 5:00
  • Just edit this question to actually ask "can we change the minimum character restrictions on edit suggestions?" And explain why you think this is for the greater good of the network. There's no reason for you to ask a second question or for me to answer this one as written.
    – Catija
    Nov 25, 2017 at 5:06
  • @Catija Ah, okay. Thanks. I will do that.
    – j0equ1nn
    Nov 25, 2017 at 5:06
  • I see there are some down-votes and I recognize there may be some disagreements to what I am suggesting, but I would greatly appreciate some constructive criticism or at least opinions as to why what I am proposing may be disagreeable.
    – j0equ1nn
    Nov 25, 2017 at 9:47

2 Answers 2

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In this specific scenario - there might be an easier solution under the current framework.

My main reason is that, in a mathematical post, a one-character error can cost a reader a significant amount of time and confusion

Assuming of course, that error is indeed an error - you can comment, pointing out that "there seems to be a missing symbol in the equation here". OP and others can take a look, and correct it if need be. If it isn't, OP or others can clarify that it isn't.

While its tempting to want to fix stuff like this, as you said - "one-character error can cost a reader a significant amount of time and confusion" and reputation's about the only way that we can really gauge whether someone knows the site's topic well.

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  • Maybe. I feel that 2,000 is way to high though. People who don't know what they're doing on the math sites generally don't advance much in reputation.
    – j0equ1nn
    Nov 25, 2017 at 6:13
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You have some good arguments for why very small suggested edits should be considered. There is, however, one crucial problem with your idea:

The suggested edit character floor comes from Stack Overflow, where single-character typos are at least as common and at least as important to program correctness and clarity as in math. So, to the extent that your arguments (which I actually agree with) are valid, they are certainly just as valid on the trendsetting sites, the very ones that rejected earlier similar proposals to begin with!

In other words, speaking pragmatically, you're going to need a better argument to get even an exception, never mind a general change.

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