We've been hashing out editing policy here for a long time now. It's pretty optimistic to think that people who are new to editing (let alone to SO/SE) will somehow 'know' how things work. It would be good to have one question that we can point them to.

(My idea is that the CW answer here could form the basis for a "How to edit" text along the lines of "How to ask a question" and "How to answer" that is shown to new users.)

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    I thought SE outgrew the "One answer per post" phase
    – badp
    Jan 22, 2011 at 19:45
  • @badp, maybe. But I think it's the best format for a 'quick reference'. Either that or you have one answer to rule them all with links to every question: but who wants to spend 10 minutes reading through something like this, just to get to the conclusion?
    – Benjol
    Jan 22, 2011 at 20:13
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    This smells like The Methodology, and if we have "one to rule them all" one day when someone makes a legitimate edit that someone else gets upset about, then comes here to say "BUT WHAT THEY DID ISN'T ON THE POLICY" and then you have to go and update "The Methodology" with all the edge cases. I'd like to think that 95+% of the people who will be making edits are not complete idiots, and given the peer-review system they've been posting bits about, I can't see why this is required. Jan 22, 2011 at 21:25
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    @Farseeker. Maybe. Maybe. But the peer review system is binary (approve/reject). They'll have to go through a heck of a lot of edits before deriving the rules of engagement from that. Or they'll turn up on meta saying WTF? And you can point them to a question such as this one. (Note that the question title says 'policy' and no policy).
    – Benjol
    Jan 23, 2011 at 19:59
  • ...However, what I really don't understand is how come we've been hashing out these questions here for the last 2 years if it's as simple as you say. Are we complete idiots? :)
    – Benjol
    Jan 23, 2011 at 20:01
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    @badp, ok, you win, I've created one cw answer...
    – Benjol
    Jan 27, 2011 at 14:26
  • @Benjol I don't think we have as much trouble with editing policy as you think we do; we certainly haven't been wracked with indecision Jan 27, 2011 at 16:34
  • @Michael. Define "we" :) The things that are now self-evident to us weren't always. They took months of slow refining via the (404 and counting) editing questions. I'm just suggesting that this 'obvious' knowledge would be more useful if it was condensed down to something readable/findable. The questions are still coming...
    – Benjol
    Feb 2, 2011 at 11:25
  • @Benjol "One answer to rule them all"? That sounds like a Lord of the Rings quote :)
    – takrl
    Jul 17, 2011 at 14:05
  • @MarkHenderson - Unfortunately there are people like me who mean well but .. based on the number of rejected edits and other upset reactions I got before I got this approximately right, it would have been good if I had seen a post like this. I took too much to heart Jeff Atwood's original comment (paraphrased) "no one owns an answer; if you can improve it, do so", and did not completely grasp that the SO format isn't a Wikipedia-like 'make good answers even better' but a full embrace of the multiple independent answers. Nov 25, 2018 at 12:30

2 Answers 2





  • If you are editing for rep (you have less than 2k rep and not yet gotten to the 1k editing cap), minor edits aren't allowed (this is controversial).
  • Is there a basis for your statement that "If you are editing for rep (you have less than 1k rep), minor edits won't count"? Does waffles or the team say this somewhere? I'd like to read more about that. Jan 27, 2011 at 16:43
  • @Josh, link or it didn't happen? I'm pretty sure it was an idea that was mentioned at some stage - don't know if it is still true. If you delete the other answers it'll make things 'cleaner', but that's just my opinion...
    – Benjol
    Jan 27, 2011 at 17:41
  • @The, minor edits are simply not possible: We're discouraged from fixing typos and misspellings on SE sites?. Every accepted suggestion will get the original editor 2 points.
    – Arjan
    Feb 2, 2011 at 11:45
  • @Shog9, yes, that's better. What do you think of these alternatives? "Don't half edit a hopeless post", "An incomplete edit is worse than no edit", "Don't perform minor corrections on a question that needs major salvaging"
    – Benjol
    Feb 9, 2011 at 7:45
  • Don't only add <kbd>?
    – Arjan
    Feb 9, 2011 at 15:45
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    "Don't do ridiculously small edits" is (IMO) an extremely subjective guideline. I have edited posts for a single switched character pair (e.g. "thoery") on the theory that searches and auto-translations will perform better on correctly spelled works, but switching two characters seems to be pretty trivial. I've also capitalized the starts of sentences and "I"s in a post because I think it makes it more readable, but only changing the case of letters won't have any technical or informationl impact at all and is purely aesthetic. Are the "Do"s listed intended as the exceptions to the "Don't"s?
    – jball
    Feb 9, 2011 at 18:24
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    @jball, @Benjol: I kinda think these are approaching the same ideal... If a post is perfect apart from a little typo, then a tiny edit to fix the typo should be fine - OTOH, editing just to fix a typo when the title, grammar, formatting, and tags are also trashed is akin to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic - at best, you've wasted an opportunity to do something meaningful; at worst, you're standing in the way of someone else who would make more substantial improvements.
    – Shog9
    Feb 9, 2011 at 22:08
  • @Shog9, hm, nice but not concise :)
    – Benjol
    Feb 10, 2011 at 5:41
  • @Benjol: editing is often messy...
    – Shog9
    Feb 10, 2011 at 5:56

I think that every little edit helps, even removing an extra comma. Why not improve it?

This goes without saying, but I do have to say it otherwise Mr. Obvious will say it in a comment: you shouldn't change the meaning of the post or the code that gives the problem etc etc

  • Hmmm...depend on whether you think the comma before the conjunction in a list is "extra" or not. By which I mean, there are competing points of view on some matters of punctuation, and I don't really want you imposing your view on my text. If you'll leave those alone, I'll let you put the sentence ending punctuation inside the quotes (or whatever sin-in-my-eyes you happen to commit). Jan 22, 2011 at 21:30
  • I've created a cw answer, I haven't quite agreed with you though, you can update it as you see fit.
    – Benjol
    Jan 27, 2011 at 14:50

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