I just tried to edit an answer to add a missing “not” so as to correct the meaning of what is being said, the system would not let me.

Is this the correct behavour?

(So I have had to use a comment instead)


I tried to correct a broken link in an answer, which was a one character fix. I took the time to search for the blog post the author linked to, edit the SO entry, etc.

Sadly, because I don't have 2k rep, I had to add 5 other characters, wasting my time. The incentive was to leave the broken link alone, thereby lowering the value of the answer.

It would be nice to either

  • Eliminate the 6 character limit (I get Michael Mrozek's answer about queue flood), or

  • Split the 2k requirement; maybe 1k for moderated changes (of any length) and 2k for unmoderated edits?

  • see also meta.stackexchange.com/questions/91753/… May 18 '11 at 8:41
  • 2
    It would be a shame not to have the fixed link. Don't forget that you can post it as a comment if you have 50 rep. May 18 '11 at 12:55
  • @Hendrik: Yeah, I considered that, and didn't want to leave the article in a 'broken' state.
    – BryanH
    May 19 '11 at 16:09
  • 1
    @Ian - thanks for that link. It seems that the common thought is that only "big tent" edits are valuable, whereas small, incremental improvements are worthless. Pretty sad.
    – BryanH
    May 19 '11 at 16:17
  • 2
    I decided to fix a javascript error, something like 'elem.nextSibling();' to 'elem.nextSibling;'. this was a good change. couldn't do it. the 6 char minimum limit should be abolished.
    – user179499
    Feb 23 '12 at 20:04

The instruction box at the top says:

We welcome all constructive edits, but please make them substantial. Avoid trivial, tiny one-letter edits unless absolutely necessary.

I think the reason is to try and avoid the queue getting flooded by people posting trivial punctuation changes. Personally I think that probably wouldn't be a big issue, so there might be another reason I'm not aware of

  • 2
    Well, Jeff's statement is mostly in-line with this.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Feb 4 '11 at 16:50
  • 3
    I think adding "not", thus completely reversing the meaning of a sentence, doesn't really count as a trivial edit. Mind you, there isn't really a good way to differentiate between this short-but-non-trivial edit and someone changing 'teh' to 'the', so I guess leaving a comment is the best course of action.
    – CanSpice
    Feb 4 '11 at 17:00

If all you can find is three letters to change in a post: dream bigger!

Is that post so perfect that nothing else in it can be improved?

(or earn 2k rep and make all the single character changes you want, all day long.)

  • 3
    I often see small one-character-mistakes in answers, shouldn't we be allowed to fix those without having to type in 5 random letters somewhere in an otherwise perfect post? This is a horrible "feature", @Jeff.
    – Emil
    Mar 26 '11 at 12:46
  • @emil suggested edits take time from other people to approve, therefore they should be worthy edits. Like I said: is that post so perfect that nothing else in it can be improved? Really? REALLY? Mar 27 '11 at 4:06
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    I tried to fix some indention by adding the required spaces. Guess what? It's 6 non-space chars, so it wouldn't accept the edit :-(
    – Ivo Flipse
    Apr 8 '11 at 15:37
  • @ivo so improve some other aspect of the post while you're at it Apr 8 '11 at 19:07
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    I exert time and effort here, to the extent that I deem it worthwhile. If you say that my time and effort are insufficient because I'm not doing more, then you're assigning a lower value to my effort than I do. That's not how it works; quid pro quo applies here. I say my efforts are worth the value I receive. You say they are not ("dream bigger"). Is that what you really want to say?
    – BryanH
    May 19 '11 at 16:23
  • 1
    @bryan your edit suggestions have to be reviewed by two other users. Are you saying your time is more important than theirs? This works both ways. May 20 '11 at 3:50
  • 8
    A one-character edit can often turn incorrect TeX into correct one—likewise, a character can turn an URI pointing nowhere into something useful. You have decided I should simply not fix such mistakes. Great to know! May 20 '11 at 22:16
  • @mariano so there is nothing else in the post that could be improved? Every other byte in that post is preternaturally perfect? May 20 '11 at 23:33
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    @JefAtwood: Yes, everything else in the post is perfect. Now what? You're happy with us being prohibited from fixing the one error that exists? It should be a popup or a warning, not a block.
    – endolith
    Feb 1 '12 at 16:09
  • @endo then earn 2k rep, at which point you can make all the meaningless, trivial, pointless 1 character changes you want Feb 1 '12 at 17:59
  • 2
    @JefAtwood: Are you even reading the many objections to this rule? 1 character edits are neither "pointless" nor "trivial".
    – endolith
    Feb 2 '12 at 2:09
  • 2
    @endolith they are "pointless" and "trivial" unless you have 2,000 rep. Then, they're not. Makes sense? Me neither.
    – BryanH
    Mar 9 '12 at 15:16
  • 2
    @JeffAtwood do you have any evidence that eliminating the 6 char limit will lead to a queue flood, or is this only conjecture?
    – BryanH
    Mar 9 '12 at 15:22
  • 3
    In a math or programming context, the number of characters edited does not correlate well with the significance of an edit, as many have pointed out. It's a poor measure to use.
    – Prateek
    Jan 5 '14 at 13:25

What about to introduce a typo edit category, accessible with less reputation than normal edit? I've just tried to edit a PHP-related answer, where the "s" were missing from the name of a function (so, it's not only a grammar issue).

(For paranoids: inserting/erasing a word, like "not" is also below the 6-char limit, but it can change the meaning of the answer to the opposite.)

  • was the post so perfect that nothing else in it could be improved in any way? And of course at 2k rep you can make all the small edits you like. Feb 1 '12 at 18:00
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    With regards to the post I wanted to correct, yes, the post was so perfect that there was nothing else to correct/change in any way. I was correcting code, and in code, even one char makes a big different. Even one char could mean the difference between the code running successfully, or not. In the post I was correcting, I was removing two pairs of parentheses. That's four chars, and a significant change. The arbitrary 6 char limit should be abolished.
    – user179499
    Feb 23 '12 at 20:10
  • 1
    In this case, the choices are to a) correct the code and make other changes (arbitrary or not) in order to hit the 6 char limit, b) leave the error for someone else to fix or not, or c) do a bunch of work to get 2k rep, then come back and fix it if you remember.
    – BryanH
    Mar 9 '12 at 15:20

The 6 character limit is the opposite of what you should be encouraging.

When someone fixes my spelling or fixes a small but important part of my post, I am happy with that.

When someone adds carriage returns to my post and code blocks to make my post more readable, than I am happy with that.

When someone makes changes to the substance of my post I am NOT happy with THAT.

When you enforce a minimum char limit on your posts, you encourage people to go invent reasons to edit the post. This leads to unimportant, and potentially detrimental edits.

  • 1
    I believe there are enough substantial edits that are not disrespectful to the original author in any way. These sites are a community effort, so you should be comfortable with others editing your posts – given that they're improving them.
    – slhck
    Jul 11 '12 at 22:19
  • @slhck, I think what he's trying to say is that there can be a perfectly good post except for a significant one character error in some code and then you've got < 17% of the edit history being relevant as the other 5 or more characters are just fluff to get the edit past the 6 character minimum change... and what Sam's then concerned by is that the fluff could then be worse than useless as it could actually be detrimental to the posts clarity, readability, brevity and or intent.
    – AJP
    Jan 29 '14 at 12:57

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