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While working on my question Should we have a tag for questions involving new users asking blatantly off-topic questions here on MSE? , two different users referred to editing out what they called "Meta cruft" from my question. One user went ahead and removed much of the background information that I had written up to provide a context and basis for my question, providing this as the edit summary:

remove Meta cruft (yes, I'm aware that this produces an edit conflict, but the questions added should be unnecessary now)

I'm aware that some users may not have wanted to read the background text that I had written and would have wanted to simply read my final question, but I am asking now about the concept, not that particular question.

What exactly is Meta Cruft? More specifically, is Meta Cruft simply cruft (unnecessary or superfluous content) that happens to appear on Meta, or is it a term of art ("Meta Cruft") with a specific meaning? If it is a specific term, what are the parameters of what constitutes Meta Cruft and should be removed or omitted from questions?

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Unlike some other terms, this one has no special meaning on Meta, or SE.

Cruft in this context is the dictionary definition that you quoted, or a more elegant word for "noise".

As for whether the background information you put is cruft or not, and if it was justified to remove it or not, it's another matter, which is case specific. (Hence I won't treat it here.)

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Describing part of your question as "cruft" and simply removing it without explaining the objection is a means to excuse deleting whatever they like and terming it garbage.

In an answer to what seems to be the first usage of "cruft" on this site one user describes the reason as "confrontational and inflammatory". See "Why was my edit rejected?", there are reasons (and limits) to edits being made; just because one is privileged to edit without review doesn't mean that they can overstep their bounds.

If you are correct, that an editor has gone too far, simply roll-back the edit. If they come back and fix it correctly then leave it, if they vandalize your post again roll-back and flag for locking. It goes without saying that if you are wrong your flag will be rejected and you may be the one locked out of editing.

Sometimes it helps to carefully study and reflect on comments or edits being made (and sometimes it doesn't, clearly they aren't reading properly and are simply bullying or being blind). If it's two different users it usually pays to look carefully, if it's the pedantic stalker who's been a nuisance the last few times in a row and has pinged you more frequently than anyone else today then they might be needing to be told - do so politely.

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