I tried to find a faq post about that, but couldn't find one.

When should one directly edit a post and when should one just suggest improvement in comments instead?

So far, I have been using my "gut feelings" but, for people on the autism spectrum (like me), clearly stated rules are much less stressful.

I'm asking this because we had an "incident" today when someone took real offense of an edit while the all issue was only due to miscommunication.


The faq post about What is the etiquette for modifying posts? is interesting but doesn't talk about when one should be commenting instead of editing.

The faq about How do suggested edits work? don't really talk about when one should edit or not.

  • 2
    Nothing inherently new. Oct 22, 2019 at 16:54
  • 4
    What is the etiquette for modifying posts?
    – user102937
    Oct 22, 2019 at 16:55
  • @πάνταῥεῖ This post is interesting but doesn't talk about when one should be commenting instead of editing. Oct 22, 2019 at 17:10
  • @RobertHarvey This post is interesting but doesn't talk about when one should be commenting instead of editing. Oct 22, 2019 at 17:18
  • Comments have but one sanctioned purpose: clarification related directly to the post's on-topic content. That's it. Any other use subjects them to removal.
    – user102937
    Oct 22, 2019 at 17:20
  • @RobertHarvey According to my understanding of this it's also for suggesting improvements (which would lead to edit(s)). Or am I missing something? Oct 22, 2019 at 17:24
  • I would consider that a clarification directly related to the post's on-topic content.
    – user102937
    Oct 22, 2019 at 17:25

1 Answer 1


Here is the "rule of thumb" I have used so far:

  • If the edit won't change the meaning/message of the post, just edit.

  • If you think the other person would mind the edit, ask first.

  • If the edit is to remove potentially rude/abusive/harmful language, edit as quickly as possible (this is also stated here).

  • If you are unsure, it's always possible to edit and leave a comment explaining what you have done, why and that the person is free to rollback.

    • Please note that those explanations should also be on the "Edit Summary" but new users might not see those, which is why leaving a comment under the post can also be important.
  • Don't edit out Rude / Abusive content (or spam). Flag it instead.
    – Cerbrus
    Oct 22, 2019 at 17:11
  • 5
    @Cerbrus According to the faq: "If an otherwise valid post contains vulgar words as an expression of frustration, edit the bad part out instead of flagging the entire post as rude or abusive. If this results in an edit war or rollback war, flag for moderator attention." Oct 22, 2019 at 17:12
  • That's in direct conflict with advice I've gotten in the past: R/A needs to be flagged, and preferably by as many users as it takes for the system to automatically handle it. Editing it reduces the flag count on content like that...
    – Cerbrus
    Oct 22, 2019 at 17:18
  • 3
    @Cerbrus there's nothing wrong in editing out curse words of frustration when one has the privileges to do so. I have seen mods doing so after my flags. And well, it is bad anyway if a good post gets deleted only if it has some rants in there. I don't come from a very heavy load site, so I am lenient about it.
    – anki
    Oct 22, 2019 at 17:36
  • 3
    There's a huge difference between editing out obscenities not directed to a person (e.g. I don't understand this ***** compiler error) and editing out rudeness and obscenities directed towards others. The first is fine imo, the second probably not so much and should be addressed using flags.
    – Erik A
    Oct 22, 2019 at 17:44
  • @ErikA Depending on how quickly people flags stuff on your site, you might want to do both: redact out completely the "answer" (putting an explanation instead that the whole answer was rude) and use the appropriate flag. Oct 22, 2019 at 17:47

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