-7

Trivial edits. Especially when it consists of adding a single space.

Currently, there are 9,415 results for “Stackoverflow” written as a solid compound. Some of those results spell the name with two capital letters, i.e. StackOverflow. Instead, there are 24,058 results for the name "Stack Overflow

Each time someone edits the spelling and changes it to Stack Overflow this bumps the post to the front page, so there are at least another 9,000 posts to go.

Personally, I consider yanking archaic posts to be detrimental to the site and to the author of the post. Recently, an OP earned two downvotes, through no real fault of their own, because their unpopular post was bumped to the front page by what I would call a trivial edit.

according to the Help Center guidelines [emphasis theirs]

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

However, I might be mistaken in my fury and... perplexity.

  • Is this type of edit considered trivial or not by the SE team or by the community?

  • Should the name Stackoverflow, even on posts that are five or even ten years old, be always fixed? Why?

The same also refers to splitting the compound name StackExchange to Stack Exchange. This, despite the fact that the name of the site is written as one word

enter image description here on the topbar.


Further reading
Why are trivial edits discouraged?
Addressing users who make many trivial edits
Notification when a trivial edit is made on my post
Resolving the dissonance on edits and bumps

  • 4
    How many more of these posts are we going to get for every form of trivial edit? ;) – Bart Dec 2 '18 at 12:13
  • @Bart just the two. I didn't want to include this in the earlier post as I believe the issue is quite separate. The two types of edits are not exactly the same. – Mari-Lou A Dec 2 '18 at 12:15
  • 6
    I personally think that everything that (every thing) that can be fixed should be fixed. If that sometimes means a post a bumped due to a single space being added, so be it. That doesn't mean someone should now go find those 9,000 posts and edit them all. But if you are going over posts from a certain quality angle (a tag, score, maybe a user) touching posts and you fix everything there is to fix, I see no issue, even if that means some posts only change for one space. – rene Dec 2 '18 at 12:16
  • 1
    "This, despite the fact that the name of the site is written as one word on the topbar." That's SE's logo. – Anne Daunted Dec 2 '18 at 13:35
  • @AnneDaunted fine, I know but there's still no space between the two words. So why the need to edit StackExchange, when it mimics the logo? – Mari-Lou A Dec 2 '18 at 13:38
  • 2
    @AnneDaunted Why drag posts from the past if it's only to fix such a minor thing? Leave them alone, especially if they have a sea of downvotes. The number of downvotes a post received made their point clear enough, didn't it? The edit(s) seemed so incredibly superficial and needless. But obviously, I am in the minority thinking that. – Mari-Lou A Dec 2 '18 at 13:49
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    @AnneDaunted yes, yes, 10-year-old posts that are outdated and talking about features and bugs which no longer exist are really invaluable... – Mari-Lou A Dec 2 '18 at 13:59
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    @AnneDaunted I limited this post to the spelling of the company and its flagship site. It is not asking what constitutes a trivial edit, or if an edit that involves fewer than 6 characters is trivial. Some minor edits/corrections can be hugely important for legibility. I have absolutely no qualms with them. – Mari-Lou A Dec 2 '18 at 14:12
  • "because their unpopular post" - If the contribution was not popular, couldn't the author could have improved it, to address the reason(s) it was unpopular? – Ramhound Dec 3 '18 at 18:55
  • @Ramhound Hi, just remembered you commented. There's nothing wrong with disagreeing with someone's point of view as long as it's explained and done civilly. However, the OP couldn't improve their post b/c it was an unpopular proposal, and when a post reaches -20 it's really tough to shift it into the + figures. Users disliked his ideas, they disliked it in June why would they not dislike it now? And besides, the OP was probably not aware their post had been bumped to the front page. – Mari-Lou A Dec 23 '18 at 9:19
11
+50

When

We need to make a distinction between the making of trivial edits and the acceptance of those by the community.

I disagree with the suggestions to roll back the edit. If a post has been made more correct then the fact that someone disagrees with the act of editing is no reason to reverse an improvement. We can accept that an improvement has been made without agreeing with the act of making it.

If we accept the above as true then your question becomes: "When should a user edit a post?"

It's been network policy for a long time that searching out old things to edit is a Bad ThingTM and the editing help discourages trivial edits.

In other words, a user should edit when they naturally come across a post that needs fixing, and they believe their changes to be beneficial.

Consequences

This is where I begin to have problems. What happens if someone, especially a mod, disagrees with a particular user's definition of beneficial? What proportionate consequences can there be?

The only threat that's available is banning. If a user is not going to be banned over making trivial edits then the threat is ineffective. I believe that banning would be an inappropriate and disproportionate response to someone improving posts.

Reality

It sounds like we just need to talk to each other. If someone's making trivial edits on many old posts we should be able to talk to the individual and politely ask them to stop. We should be able to accept that they might not and if they do not then there's very little that can be done about it.

5

Actually, the space is an essential part of the name. While it's "One word" they're two different colours.

Honestly? It's a simple mistake to make. It's "Super User" not Superuser (a mistake I made for years), Stack Exchange not StackExchange and Stack Overflow not Stackoverflow.

And well, if we're going to go "We shouldn't be editing these" one by one, we have a bit of a problem, simply cause we will never run out of words.

As a new user - the edit limit is designed to let you get used to what's a substantial edit. On the other hand, we trust experienced users to know when to bend the rules. That's to say - trivial edits are more of an issue if they're the only edit made, but if someone fixed Stackoverflow don't touch that ed to Stack Overflow with other useful or substantial edits. I might even be cool with it helping make up the minimum for a new user with other fixes.

If someone's farming these fixes on their own, you can ping them and let them know that maybe more substantial edits can be made.

If this fails, or things get heated, flag and a mod'll probably take a look, and see if there's more that can be done on those posts, and let the editor know where there's room for improvement.

  • 1
    Please check the recent edits, I have not checked each and everyone but a couple of these edits (not suggested edits) just added a single space. – Mari-Lou A Dec 2 '18 at 12:11
5

It seems you're pretty well aware of what constitutes a 'trivial' edit, and what its possible negative ramifications are: frontpages flooded with old posts and no new ones in sight.

Let's just treat this as we would on any other site: If someone makes a single trivial edit to a post of yours, you're free to rollback and explain that it was too trivial for you (even though Stack Overflow is the correct spelling) or you can just let it be. If you see someone continuously flooding the front page with trivial edits, flag one of the posts they edited/one of the editor's posts for moderator attention.

I really think there's no need to discuss this on a word-by-word basis. If anyone sees someone flooding the front-page, flag. Otherwise, please don't get into roll-back wars over trivial edits. If the original post-owner doesn't mind, don't be the third party stepping in and completing the drama-triangle.

  • Rolling back an edit is bumping the post again, and the edit, in this instance is not "wrong" just superficial IMO. – Mari-Lou A Dec 2 '18 at 12:18
  • Therein lies a bit of a problem. We have something nearly impossible to police - and that we trust users to do in good faith. The bump acts as a check so people can review it (and trust me, mods have asked for non bumping edits for certain tasks), and this seems a major problem for you too. Rollbacks bump a post back in the short term, sure, but that's also by design. I'm not sure what can be done practically here. – Journeyman Geek Dec 2 '18 at 12:29
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    The two posts are related but not identical, the first is arguing that writing the term "internet" is not considered incorrect. This post specifically refers to the name of the complany and its flagship site. There might be a valid argument in favour of making sure the name is always correctly written. I don't know. Hence my asking. In fact you were corrected by another user when you suggested that rolling back the edit could be useful. – Mari-Lou A Dec 2 '18 at 12:40
2

I think that when it comes to "trivial" edits, it depends on the situation. The chief problem with trivial edits is that they fill up space on the main page of questions that could otherwise be filled with exciting new content. But there are plenty of times when this factor will not really be an issue.

For example, if you are posting a new answer to an old question, the question will get bumped to the top of the main page anyway. Making trivial edits to the question and existing answers causes no harm because it is not going to put the question in a place that it wouldn't be anyway. So if you are posting new content, I would say you should specifically look for trivial edits to make so that you can take care of them all at the time when they will cause no harm, rather than leaving them for someone else to potentially take care of at a time when they will cause harm. Indeed, as I am posting this answer I would have made a one-character edit to Tinkeringbell's answer if I had enough reputation (it's fewer than 6 characters so I can't suggest it), for this very reason.

(If you do this you should probably do the edits before posting your new answer, so that the last activity shows "answered by" instead of "modified by" and links directly to the new content.)

Similarly, if you are making significant edits to an answer, you can also add trivial edits to all the posts on that page (i.e., the question and all the other answers), since, as mentioned, it will not cause any bumping that wouldn't have happened anyway.

You can also do something slightly reversed of the above. If you see a trivial edit that you want to make, you can try to find other things to edit that are less trivial. Very often you can find other things that can use editing, either in the same post, or in one of the other posts on that page (i.e., the question or any of its answers).

Another instance where the downside of trivial edits is severely limited is when the question has a very negative score. Questions with very negative scores don't appear on the main page even when edits are made, or even when genuine new content is posted. As such, I think it is much less of an issue to make trivial edits to a question (or any of its answers) that has a sufficiently negative score that it will not appear on the main page. (e.g., this very question does not appear on the main page because it has a score of -8.)

Finally, I think there can be a distinction between making trivial edits to your own posts vs. making trivial edits to someone else's posts. When it comes to someone else's post, there is the downside mentioned above, as well as the fact that the post owner may not appreciate it and may even actively resent it. However, when it comes to your own posts, I think you should have greater freedom to make trivial edits. If there is a spelling or grammar mistake in something that has your name attached to it, I think you have the right to correct it, even if you do not add any additional useful content. Of course, if you can add something useful — as per above — that is certainly better.

There have certainly been times when I have made very minor edits to my own posts, yet have not made similar edits to other people's posts. I don't want there to be anything attributed to me with mistakes in it, so I will fix them. Other people might not care about that, and I think that is their prerogative.

  • As the author of a post I can make as many edits as I like, I can edit one post that is 7 years old and it will not bother anyone, so that is not what my question is about. It is focused on editing several posts by merely adding a single space between Stack Exchange/Overflow. If a user wants to "fix" someone's post the edit should improve it substantially, without affecting its content of course. – Mari-Lou A Dec 24 '18 at 8:21

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