Sometimes I come across errors in answers that are small, but "catastrophic". For example, they wrote is when they meant isn't, or they mis-typed a bash command that could damage someone's system. I can't fix these types of "off by one character" errors due to the character limit.

This has happened at least a dozen times over the last few years of using SO (my current account is a new account - I was tired of all the notifications on my last one). It's a bit frustrating because I want to help improve SO, but the platform seems unnecessarily antagonistic in this case and discourages me from even bothering to fix things in the first place.

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    The limit exists to encourage users to make substantial edits. That is because it needs 3 reviewers to look at your suggestion. We don't want to waste their time with presenting them one-letter improvements. Either leave a comment under the post or see if other parts of the post can use some re-wording. Although not encouraged you could add a <!-- html comment --> to overcome the character limit but then you need to make sure your edit comment is elaborate enough to explain why you applied that trickery to fool the system and don't complain when reviewers reject your edit anyway. – rene Aug 7 '19 at 6:12
  • related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/116436/… – rene Aug 7 '19 at 6:29
  • related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/192227/… – rene Aug 7 '19 at 6:31
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    Our FAQ on suggested edits, How do suggested edits work?, contains a long section on why this limit is in place. – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Aug 7 '19 at 7:15
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    See also: Change this behavior to allow for spelling corrections and the like: “Edits must be at least 6 characters”. (The answers suggest some workarounds. I am not sure whether they still work - the post is a few years old. I am also not commenting on the question whether using such a workaround is good or bad.) – Martin Aug 7 '19 at 8:07
  • @rene I thought the limit was 6 characters? See comment above mine. – Mari-Lou A Aug 7 '19 at 9:32
  • @Mari-LouA yeah, I didn't bother to correct that, sorry. I was really trying to find a post that went into the Why and did also look at that question you suggested but found it not really answering the question here. But maybe I'm a bit too strict? I guess you could take the bit out of the FAQ that Sonic offered and post it as an answer ... – rene Aug 7 '19 at 9:36

Well, we want folks to make substantial edits until they get the reputation to do so. I got confused the first time I made a minor edit, soon after I had gotten the reputation.

I totally feel your pain when you talk about minor spelling and grammar edits. I've been bothered enough to drop into a chatroom to see if someone would fix it, though more typically you can find one or more fixes to bump you over the limit.

As for dangerous bash commands - that's a great reason to comment and let folks know its wrong, and and explain why. Its more educational than the edit would be and you need far less reputation to comment, and it is about the most appropriate use for a comment I can think of.


Apropos I have always understood the limit to be six characters. But be that as it may, there are dozens of completely stupid, irrelevant, and utterly wrong and harmful edits especially proposed by unregistered users that drop into the review queue weekly (not so much here on Meta), by setting the limit to six (or ten characters?) reviewers will see at a glance if these (substantial) suggested edits should be approved or not.

If Stack Exchange were to lower the threshold to a single character difference, you're just asking for trouble and abuse of trust.

I once had an answer of mine edited by someone with full editing privileges, that replaced a comma with a semicolon. To this day, my mind still boggles at the level of petty mindedness and pedantry that edit consisted of, even if it was not harmful. Lets imagine if Stack Overflow had to deal with dozens of similar suggested edits, I shudder only to think what veteran SO users manning the review queues would say.