Every now and then I'll encounter a question or answer like the following.

what exactly r u trying to do with dis problem??? dude, here u r trying to decrement the value of a variable..a variable whose value will never reach the condition (i<20) u have provided... hence it will keep on printing '-'until what jamie wong specified ie i= -2^31..it will bebome +ve... i just tried this program....

include int main() { int i; int n = 20; for( i = 0; i < n; i-- ) printf("-"); return 0; } acording to the question u asked,

i should b incremented, ie i++ instead of i--...

@jamie wong: thanx man..learnt a new thing about tht a wraparound....

I usually just ignore it, but this time I decided to edit it. Does everybody agree that things like this should be edited to use real English grammar instead of text-message-speak? Or is it better to leave them as is?

Also, there were a couple of things in there I couldn't comprehend, like "+ve" and "learnt a new thing about tht a wraparound". Should I just leave those unedited?

  • 2
    "+ve" is "positive", as I learned after seeing it on college blackboards many times. I can't decipher "about tht a wraparound", though.
    – mmyers
    Commented Aug 11, 2010 at 21:01
  • 2
    I'm having one of those "I must be getting old" moments, as I realize my disappointment in the ability of the younger generation to communicate properly.
    – user27414
    Commented Aug 11, 2010 at 21:16
  • @Jon B: cough I think I'm in the younger generation.
    – mmyers
    Commented Aug 11, 2010 at 21:39
  • 1
    @mmyers - that's OK, I'm not old enough to be old.
    – user27414
    Commented Aug 11, 2010 at 21:47
  • That's almost as good as DickChop's answer on SF Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 0:04
  • LOL gr8t ? fwiw o_O Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 23:04
  • 1
    @devinb said this the other day in a chat thread: "Using punctuation and full sentences is a way of showing respect." (chat.meta.stackoverflow.com/chats/message/74476?offset=120)
    – Benjol
    Commented Aug 13, 2010 at 5:33
  • @Jon B: Yesterday I checked out IRC (it's been a few years since last time) to try to gather some followers for an Area 51 proposal. I was told "don't use capitalization and punctuation or you will get banned!". True story. Yeah, I felt old too.
    – D.H.
    Commented Aug 13, 2010 at 8:02

6 Answers 6


Editing for good English is a good thing, especially in the example shown. Just don't go crazy with it.

  • 2
    What is this "go crazy" thing of which you speak?
    – mmyers
    Commented Aug 11, 2010 at 21:03
  • @mmyers, Nothing I would know about. Commented Aug 11, 2010 at 21:08
  • 1
    No grammar nazis then?
    – James
    Commented Aug 11, 2010 at 22:28
  • @James, yeh, I fix most things, but don't try to necessarily kill style for the Queen's english. Commented Aug 11, 2010 at 22:32
  • 3
    Also removing emoticons and the capitalization of every letter from the question title is a very good thing! Commented Aug 11, 2010 at 23:01
  • 3
    @James: one antonym of "grammar nazi" I recently read is "illiteracy communist". Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 0:11
  • @James, to me it wasn't really about grammar exactly, it was about using actual words and sentences instead of barely intelligible abbreviations and acronyms. I tend to ignore simple grammar and usage errors, especially since I sometimes make some myself (just posted one in a comment yesterday), and it's just not that big a deal.
    – jmgant
    Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 17:02
  • 1
    Can someone capitalize the E in English? I can't edit answers here. Commented Aug 13, 2010 at 13:01
  • @MatthewMartin: Done. Commented Dec 15, 2010 at 23:01

I vote yes, because it makes it more readable and clear to the rest of the community. Some of us are not versed, or well-versed in the text message/IM speak, it helps us when others clarify that...


and don't change what you can't understand, it is the asker's problem...it will make the problem worse if we interpret it incorrectly...


Sorry, another answer.

Here are the things that I tend to edit:

Question title

  • Correct glaring typos or misspellings
  • Correct capitalisation
  • Make it clearer (if I am confident enough that I have understood the question and the subject area)

For me, you should be able to tell what a question is about just from the title (and possibly the tags), and also naff titles cheapen the 'branding' of the SO home page.

Question body

  • Capitalise the 'i's (this may be the grammar nazi coming through, but it hurts my eyes)
  • Correct typos and wrong spelling (except British/American differences)
  • Remove the 'Hi' and the 'Thanks'
  • Format the code (I will sometimes insert new lines to remove scrollbars, if I'm feeling generous
  • Removing/completing txt-spk (plz, etc.)
  • For non-English speakers (as judged by the grammar/construction), I may do some rewriting, but I try to limit myself to making the question more understandable.


  • I don't tend to bother, as most of the time, someone else has already done it


I decided yesterday that for really bad questions, I should either edit and comment, or just comment:

I came across one user with a series of really badly written questions in a short space of time. I started looking at their older questions, and thought "weird, he can do it properly when he wants to". But then I realised that all of the 'good' questions had been heavily edited by other users. This made me think that it may be preferable to (try to) educate new users with - hopefully very polite - comments like "if you structure your question better (by doing x, y, z), you have a much better chance of getting an answer".

(Of course, when I tried that yesterday, by the time I'd finished writing my comment, there were already 3 answers...)

  • 1
    I had that in mind, too, to edit the post as a kind of gentle (or maybe passive-aggressive) way of encouraging the user to use real words and sentences in his future posts.
    – jmgant
    Commented Aug 13, 2010 at 12:46
  • @jmgant: Looking at some questions, you wonder it they weren't better off using google translate :(
    – Benjol
    Commented Aug 13, 2010 at 12:48

Don't forget to remove unnecessary , punctuation , spaces before punctuation , the excessive question marks and exclamation points !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 1
    That part I wasn't so sure about. I took out a "dude" and replaced a bunch of ..... (supposed to be ellipses) with correct punctuation. But I wanted to try to keep the tone of the original answer intact, whether I agreed with it or not.
    – jmgant
    Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 16:57

Why leave it the same? To indicate that the asker/answerer is an idiot who shouldn't be trusted?

  • -1 downvote for the language.
    – studiohack
    Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 0:35
  • @Studiohack: Are you referring to spelling of "basterd", or the negative sentiments? I wasn't endorsing the sentiments, I was asking if that's what the OP was thinking. Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 5:52
  • @Andrew: i down voted because of the language, that is not appropriate, the b*****...the negative language isn't nice either, but that's not why i downvoted.
    – studiohack
    Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 22:32
  • @studiohack: fixed. Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 23:01
  • @Andrew - If you think idiots are less trustworthy than intelligent people, you're in for a surprise when you start interacting with the group you're currently not interacting with. Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 23:08
  • @Peter: As I mentioned to Studiohack, I'm not describing my thoughts, I'm trying to ask the OP what the case for not cleaning up txt-msg speak is. Commented Aug 13, 2010 at 1:35
  • @Andrew, good question. I couldn't think of any reason to leave it, but I thought others might. And I wouldn't assume the poster is an idiot (I hope I didn't imply that in my question); rather, simply, that he had failed to discern that SO users generally use complete words and sentences.
    – jmgant
    Commented Aug 13, 2010 at 12:40

Hi everyone,

i was having a little think about this yesterday, as i looked thru some unaswered qns.

am i a grammar nazi becoz i go and clean up someone's post?

i like to think im doing them a favour, becoz if i change their title from 'help required pleez' to something more clear, and clean up their post, they've got a better chance of getting an anser.

and a lower chance of getting closed, disillusioned with SO, and leaving for good.

and it improves the quality of SO.

so win-win for everyone

Thanks a lot


  • good point. I had the opposite concern, that the poster would be offended. But you're right, it really probably does improve his experience on the site.
    – jmgant
    Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 17:06
  • 1
    Despite your best efforts, your post oozes erudition. Commented Aug 12, 2010 at 23:16

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