On the beta sites, if I spot a typo I want to correct it. Sometimes that may only be one letter. But I can't because:

You do not have edit privileges. Your edit will be placed in a queue until it is peer reviewed.

This is a pain because I do have rights on other sites but, OK, I can live with it. So I make my correction and add the Edit Summary as "Typo". Then I see:

Comment must be at least 10 chars long

OK, so I change the Edit Summary to "typo this is a 10 character comment" which is not the best comment ever but by now I'm getting frustrated that fixing one letter is so hard whereas in other software (e.g. MediaWiki on Wikipedia) I would be done by now.

Then I see:

Oops! Your edit couldn't be submitted because:

  • Edits must be at least 6 characters; is there something else to improve in this post?

Oops!?! I just want to make the post more readable and I've spent several minutes trying to jump through all the hoops and it still isn't changed! Aargh!

So I looked on meta and found the question had been asked: Why are trivial edits discouraged? The highest voted answer starts with "I think this is an excellent question and I'm unsure about the answer myself."

So to my question - actually a feature request. Please can we allow fixing trivial edits?

In the case I was looking at, the word "no" was typed when it should have been "not" and it took me a few reads to figure it out. For people who find English difficult, it might confuse them further.

(I think concerns about bumping posts or posts becoming "Community wiki" could be dealt with, e.g. by introducing a "this is a minor edit" button - again, like Wikipedia.)

  • 10
    It is making me nervous that I cannot fix the typical "it's" vs "its", "they're" vs "their" etc due to the 6 character restriction.
    – donquixote
    Commented Jul 1, 2014 at 2:35
  • 2
    Oh my freaking goodness, YES. Commented Jul 24, 2015 at 17:45
  • @donquixote You are already not far away from the 2k on the drupal SE. Also I am annoyed by this, but what time is going, I have the 2k on nearly all the sites I am active on. And, if anybody could edit anything, like on the wiki, it would really overload the review queues. I think the best solution would be if anybody could make edit suggestion, but without the 6-char limit. Although most of the sloppy writers commit far enough mistakes to have the 6-char change.
    – peterh
    Commented Sep 3, 2017 at 17:55

5 Answers 5


Yes, the trivial edit restriction should be removed from all sites, not just betas. All helpful edits should be encouraged and welcomed.

The number of characters is not a good metric for the constructiveness of an edit. Some small edits are very important. Some large edits are not. As long as the edit is improving the quality of the site's content, who cares how many characters are involved? Should we also ban edits that only consist of numerals? That would be equally arbitrary.

In fact, the How to Edit box next to the edit window encourages exactly these kinds of changes:

How to Edit

► fix grammatical or spelling errors

► correct minor mistakes

It's pretty hypocritical and counterproductive to ask users to make such contributions and then reject them after they try.


  • Some argue that reputation is awarded for making edits, so people could use spell-checking bots to "game the system" and gain rep without doing any work.
    • True, but that's not solved by banning small edits. It's solved by not rewarding rep for small edits.
  • Others argue that the small edits contribute to community wiki status or bump topics to the front page unnecessarily.
    • Again, this is not solved by banning small edits. It's solved by not counting small edits towards CW status and not bumping when they are made.
  • Others argue that there's always something that can be improved in an answer, so the small edit limitation is not actually a limitation.
    • This is false. While there are often additional things to be fixed, there aren't always. Forcing users to make additional changes can actually harm answers through changing the meaning of the original poster or by confusing people with nonsense edits to meet the quota. Encourage people to look for further changes that need to be made, sure, but don't mandate it. Pop up a window asking them to look for more things that need changing, make them click a button more than once, sure, but don't reject their help if they've looked and can't find anything else to improve.

These are all flaws in the site's design, not in the person going out of their way to improve the quality of its content. Don't punish people for trying to help.

  • 5
    Who's being punished here? Editing is a privilege, which you're expected to use judiciously; if anything, the current system is extremely generous - you can submit edits without even bothering to create an account.
    – Shog9
    Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 19:22
  • 13
    @Shog9: Users like Wikis are being punished when they try to make helpful contributions to the site and the site rejects their work and wastes their time. I've experienced this many times and it's pretty infuriating to spend time improving something and then have your efforts rebuffed.
    – endolith
    Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 19:26
  • 14
    @Shog9: And how is editing a "privilege"? Users are volunteering their time and effort to improve other users' answers for the benefit of all. Editors should be thanked for their work. They're not benefiting directly in any other way.
    – endolith
    Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 19:33
  • 6
    At 2k, you can edit without approval or any length restrictions - that's a privilege. Prior to that, you're potentially wasting three other people's time - that's a privilege. You can argue that it shouldn't be a privilege, but the way editing is implemented here it most certainly is.
    – Shog9
    Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 19:51
  • 15
    @Shog9: The system is currently designed to waste the time of editors who go out of their way to make small fixes, and then, when the fixes are rejected, to waste the time of thousands of readers who encounter the unfixed errors. Editing is work. Low-rep users are restricted from editing because they haven't proven themselves trustworthy yet, not because editing is a super-fun game that they aren't yet cool enough to play.
    – endolith
    Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 20:03
  • 2
    @endolith The system is designed to "waste" the time of users who don't take the time to learn how the site is intended to be used and who subsequently propose edits that aren't up to the site's quality standards. The idea is that by rejecting their edits they will learn what is and isn't appropriate and suggest more appropriate edits in the future that can be more productive. If you find the guidelines for suggesting edits unacceptable then you aren't forced to use the system; simply don't suggest edits. You already think that it's work.
    – Servy
    Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 20:07
  • 13
    @Servy: Right, and the problem is that 3 character edits are considered "not up to the site's quality standards". Why? There's no logical reason. That's the whole point. There's no relationship between edit length and quality. This is an arbitrary rule that doesn't serve any purpose and wastes the time of people who are trying to make positive contributions to the site. Any edit that improves the content should be welcomed and accepted.
    – endolith
    Commented Nov 23, 2012 at 1:32
  • 2
    "There's no relationship between edit length and quality." I disagree. There is indeed a correlation between the two. While it's theoretically possible for an edit to be significant but only touch a few characters, such cases are quite rare. Most edits that involve a significant improvement end up touching quite a bit more than 6 characters. Additionally, most of the edits that just touch a few characters tend to not have significant value. Is it a global rule that no 5 character edits are helpful, no, but is it an appropriate general guideline, yes.
    – Servy
    Commented Nov 23, 2012 at 3:18
  • 7
    @Servy: You haven't provided any evidence for your hypothetical correlation, but even if it's correct, it doesn't follow that small edits should be banned. If you agree that some 5 character edits are helpful, then you should agree that it's harmful to unconditionally reject 5 character edits.
    – endolith
    Commented Nov 24, 2012 at 2:57
  • 1
    " If you agree that some 5 character edits are helpful, then you should agree that it's harmful to unconditionally reject 5 character edits." I agree to no such thing. The harm caused by all of the harmful or unhelpful edits outweighs any help that would be provided from the very rare possibly helpful edit, especially considering you can still leave a comment or have a 2k+ user make the 5 char edit if it's that important. Also note you're the one proposing a change to the system; the burden of proof lies on you to demonstrate your case, not on me to prove mine.
    – Servy
    Commented Nov 24, 2012 at 3:52
  • 2
    @Servy: Keeping good edits and rejecting bad edits, as I've proposed, is obviously better than rejecting both good and bad. And no, the burden of proof is on those who claim that there's a correlation between edit size and quality. The null hypothesis is to assume that there is no correlation. There has been absolutely no evidence presented that small edits are more harmful or unhelpful than large edits. Repeatedly stating something doesn't make it true.
    – endolith
    Commented Nov 24, 2012 at 17:04
  • 3
    Your link to the question English Language & Usage is important, and demonstrates well the harm and confusion caused by this absurd policy. Perhaps you should highlight it a little more somehow?
    – TRiG
    Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 22:08
  • 6
    @Servy: I disagree that possibly-helpful edits are rare per se. They are rare now because they are effectively disallowed. I cannot just change a post's two spelling mistakes or remove stupid ungrammatical apostrophes. Worse, I get a very unhelpful error message the first time or two around, as the question states. If trivial bad edits are truly a problem, which nobody has demonstrated yet, then disallow them for low-reputation people. Problem solved. Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 15:34
  • 1
    so…is there any plan to actually implement this? just got bitten by it on a new beta site.
    – lensovet
    Commented Jan 16, 2018 at 2:47
  • 2
    Just have the look at the main site. Somebody posts a fully correct answer, but has a missing minus somewhere. Now you need to look desperately if you can add some unneeded words in their text, so the system will accept the added minus sign. You just set incentives to add some random stuff to get the edit through, or just to let the answer be wrong, because you are demotivated from helping, because it is more complicated than it needs to be as you need to work against the system by looking for something unrelated in the post, that can be changed as well.
    – allo
    Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 14:24

So to my question - actually a feature request. Please can we allow fixing trivial edits?

Nope. In fact, trivial edits (by low-rep users) are explicitly discouraged:

Sam was against making this stricter, but I am going to overrule him on this and implement more strict checking myself; I would rather be too strict and reject some edits than have to deal with a continal stream of character-twiddling edit suggesting users.

-- Jeff Atwood, Should tiny edits be accepted or rejected in review?

Remember: someone - usually three someones - has to review your edit after you've made it. Lots of tiny, inconsequential typo-fixing just ends up making loads of tedious, mind-numbing work for the volunteers who do this. Don't waste their time: make your edits count!

(I think concerns about bumping posts or posts becoming "Community wiki" could be dealt with, e.g. by introducing a "this is a minor edit" button - again, like Wikipedia.)

Implicit in this suggestion (and it's been suggested many times...) is the notion that minor edits don't change anything important (and hence don't need peer review). But if you're changing something that doesn't matter, then why change it at all?!

Now, I understand how irritating one little typo can be. Heck, it's part of why I strive to get the full editing privilege on any site I'm actually interested in - so that I can scratch these little itches...

But we must look at them in perspective: it takes mere seconds to make such an edit. It takes just as long (if not longer!) for reviewers to review and accept them: there's an amount of overhead involved in this regardless of how trivial the actual change is. And that's assuming the post is actually 100% perfect following your edit: if the reviewer has to go in and fix ten other problems anyway... Or the post is utter trash and gets deleted... Then what was the point of your little edit?

The frustration you feel should be a motivation to gain full editing rights on the site you care so much about. For now, do your best to become a better editor.

  • 8
    this does not solve the problem. Wikipedia has a solution which works. Why can't Stack Exchange? Commented Mar 12, 2011 at 18:38
  • 4
    @Wiki Even ignoring the fact that editing on Wikipedia isn't really the same as editing here, I'm pretty sure Wikipedia's solution creates far more work; I can't imagine the amount of time lost by people reverting edits, but it's got to be a lot Commented Mar 12, 2011 at 18:43
  • 2
    @Wikis: the problem isn't going to be solved. Approving trivial edits creates a bigger problem. If you absolutely must make trivial edits, accumulate 2K reputation points and have at it - but in the meantime, try finding other issues with the posts you're fixing... If they're that close to perfect, just let them be (or flag a moderator down if the problem is truly critical).
    – Shog9
    Commented Mar 12, 2011 at 18:44
  • 2
    Ironically, the so-called "trivial" edits are permitted on Beta sites. Which is a good thing! Commented Oct 13, 2011 at 7:47
  • 8
    @Shog9: Yes, we "absolutely must" make them. A single character wrong in an answer could destroy one's entire operating system. All edits should be encouraged, no matter how small. The ban against small edits is insane and purposeless.
    – endolith
    Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 17:38
  • 2
    By that token, we should disallow low-rep / anonymous editing entirely, @endolith. If a single character change can be that destructive, then what are we thinking allowing just anyone to go in and edit?
    – Shog9
    Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 18:13
  • 5
    @Shog9: Huh? That's why edits from low-rep users need to be reviewed before going live. That applies to edits of any size. Has absolutely nothing to do with banning small edits.
    – endolith
    Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 18:36
  • 5
    @Shog9: So you agree that small edits can be just as important as large edits. Then why ban them? There is no logical argument for it.
    – endolith
    Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 19:21
  • 3
    @Shog9: The number of characters has little or no relationship to the beneficialness of the edit. Surely you can understand this. Some small edits are very important, others are not. Some large edits are very important, others are not. So why distinguish between them? Should we also ban edits that only consist of numbers, or edits that only involve rearranging words? You should read through all of the linked questions to see the number of people who run into this flaw while trying to fix something, and the number of users who support removing the restriction.
    – endolith
    Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 19:41
  • 3
    Sounds like a balance fallacy, @endolith: you're arguing that because the potential for small, useful edits exists, they are as frequent and therefore important as large useful edits. I don't believe this to be true, but welcome evidence to the contrary.
    – Shog9
    Commented Nov 21, 2012 at 19:56
  • 3
    @Shog9: The null hypothesis is that there's no relationship between edit length and quality. Why are you arguing from the premise that small edits are bad? It's an unwarranted assumption. I'm not even arguing that they're all equally good. I'm arguing that it's stupid to unconditionally ban small edits when everyone agrees that they can be valuable. If someone makes a small edit, pop up a box encouraging them to look for other things that could be changed. If they've been prodded to look over the submission again, and still don't see anything else to change, let them submit it.
    – endolith
    Commented Nov 23, 2012 at 2:12
  • 6
    I would suggest that tiny edits are not a problem. One glance at the edit, one click good/bad, done, go to the next one. What's time-consuming are the larger edits which you actually have to think about. If there truly is a mind-numbing problem, then lower the number of reviewers necessary for small edits. Or give them their own edit queue; some reviewers probably won't mind. Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 15:37
  • 2
    Only time this is a but frustrating is when you review posts from new users using the review link. Sometimes you just want to make the code have the correct format since it's unreadable otherwise but if it's one chunk of code you are not allowed to fix it due to the "6 changes" limit. Maybe make "review" edits pass even with smaller changes.
    – Qben
    Commented Oct 16, 2013 at 10:59
  • 3
    @Shog9 you speak as if small useful edits are a hypothetical thing that might not exist. While I don't really believe you believe that, I'll play along and give the example that brought me here: math.stackexchange.com/questions/831434/… Someone botched an edit so the text says "irreducible mod every prime" where it should say "is reducible mod every prime". That wasted a bit of my time. I thought I'd correct it so others' time wouldn't be similarly wasted. Can't without introducing further disruption. Odd that you think this is good.
    – Don Hatch
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 7:00
  • 3
    @Shog9, why do you continue to call it speculation when I already gave you an example where it has happened? The example I gave is one of several from my experience. Is it not clear?
    – Don Hatch
    Commented Feb 25, 2015 at 8:34

Absolutely yes, we should remove the restriction.

The argument in favor of the restriction seems to be "It takes at least three people to review and approve an edit, so you should make your edit count."

Do we have any data to back up the theory that more = better? I have to say I find it difficult to buy that proposition. I had a fairly clear counter-example today: A ~1k user edited one of my answers. He made three changes:

  1. He incorrectly changed "You have three choices:" to "You have three choices;".
    This was wrong.

  2. He changed "Frequently it's" to "It's usually".
    This was no improvement.

  3. He changed a typo where I'd written "copy" but I meant "cope."
    This was helpful.

So what happened? Because the first two changes were dodgy at best, instead of it being a no-brainer three approvals, it took five different reviewers to approve it, then me (a sixth person) to fix the damage caused by the first two edits.

I don't know what was in the editor's mind, but my guess is he dropped in to fix the copy/cope typo and got stuck, only making the other edits when he found out he couldn't just fix what was broken.

So: One editor and six reviewers (counting me) to fix a one-character typo. If he'd just been able to fix the typo, even a casual glance at the line he changed would have lead to an "approve" and three of us could have not wasted our time.

  • 1
    I don't agree - in case of typo the user can simply comment, letting the author of the post (or any other 2k user seeing the comment) fix it. Same for any minor issue with the post actually. Commented May 28, 2015 at 7:12
  • 2
    @ShadowWizard: Well, that's true of just about any edit. :-) Commented May 28, 2015 at 7:17
  • Might be, but non trivial edits are possible and encouraged, that's the difference. :) Commented May 28, 2015 at 7:19
  • 3
    @ShadowWizard: So...non-trivial edits should be possible because they should be possible, and trivial edits should be commented because they're not possible? It's a bit circular, isn't it? Surely we want people to fix blatant typos, without having to mess up other parts of the text with random edits to meet some arbitrary character limit? Commented May 28, 2015 at 7:21
  • Well, users who really want to fix typo can use the non-elegant trick of adding a hidden comment - if user is messing up other parts when trying to fix something it's really his/her problem and such edit should be rejected, with all the consequences (edit ban after enough rejections). Anyway, Shog's answer reflects my own ideas as well and I think it's still relevant. Commented May 28, 2015 at 7:25
  • 3
    @ShadowWizard "in case of typo the user can simply comment" ...assuming the poster is still around and cares to fix it, which is a terrible assumption.
    – endolith
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 15:50

It's understandable why this is often requested, and taken at face value it seems it would allow improvements, but most small edits I've seen are a waste of reviewers time, and often are not the only or even most needed edits in a post.

I'm sure yours (reader) are fine, but as so many are not fine there needs to be a quality filter.

For tiny/trivial edits consider this basic criteria - to be useful the edit should be:

  1. Legitimate
  2. Improves the post
  3. Worthy of 3 users' time (review)
  4. The only possible fix in the post

They are all mandatory. NOTE: (4) is mandatory with tiny/trivial edits specifically, otherwise the trivial edit is lazy or someone wanting rep/badges.

"fixing grammar or spelling is an improvement", with small edits specifically I'd say that's only true if also satisfies all of the above four points, 3 and 4 especially.

So the restriction should remain because "less than 6 chars" cannot satisfy the above criteria. E.g. fixing a few lower case "i" doesn't necessarily satisfy 3 even if it satisfies 2. If more is edited and/or 4 is satisfied, it might satisfy 3. But this level of checking cannot be viably scripted.

The minimum 6 character restriction has likely forced many users to re-think about that tiny edit, and made them see potential other improvements to make the edit worthwhile.

The restriction also reduces people who do it for rep and badges, reducing their lowest possible hanging fruit. Yes, people suggest small edits out of good intentions, but the outcome of those people and the rep hunters is the same - additional strain on review queues and not much improvement.

I'd say this is requested mostly by people without the edit privilege. But when you have edit privileges and reviewed a fair few suggested edits on small/trivial things, you should really understand why the restriction does more good than any potential benefit that may come from removing/lowering it.

  • For a certain rep you don't need reviewers.Why can't we trust people who've proved themselves to make simple fixes? Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 20:55
  • How do you define "proved themselves"? And what is a "simple fix"? How can the site's scripts determine that a user has X rep and thus can edit in such a way? The "such a way" is impossible to code (well, technically not impossible but silly to do)
    – James
    Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 20:59

It sort of seems like there is a false choice happening here that all small edits have to go through a human user in order for the edit to be accepted. Why not just put it through a spell checker and grammar checker after the fix before sending it to the humans to be verified? If they pass the grammar and spell checks just let them through without further verification. Or maybe just reduce it to one human instead of three in the case of small edits.

Perhaps Stack Exchange is unnecessarily concerned about vandalism (why else restrict small edits?). I'm pretty sure the community will sort it out if Wikipedia has shown us anything.

I would also suggest lowering the limit of rep points to qualify for small edits to ~100 points. I doubt I'll ever have 2k rep even though I'm a near daily user because I don't go out of my way to answer questions and I have no intention of trying to play the points game but I do want to see the site have better content.

I would also agree that producing gratuitous edits to clear the 6 character limit is stupid. Maybe I don't know what else is wrong with this answer apart from a misspelled word. Part of what I bring to the table is being a native English speaker and a good proofreader but I don't necessarily know anything about the subject I'm editing. Why can't I provide my expertise without additional hassle?

  • 3
    "Why not just put it through a spell checker and grammar checker after the fix before sending it to the humans to be verified?" - Grammar checks are stupid. It won't point out things like "to" vs "too" in most cases. There are other examples also, I just don't feel like listing them, because its late
    – Ramhound
    Commented Sep 4, 2017 at 1:36
  • @Ramhound I realize that a grammar checker is not the universal solution for Stack Exchange but the point is: previous version failed the grammar check, current version passes the grammar check, chances are there was a typo. Permit a single human being to sign off on it to prove there isn't a grammar enlightened vandal craftily altering posts just adding the word 'not' every where.
    – GenericJam
    Commented Sep 4, 2017 at 19:31
  • If you get rid of simple edit improvements like fixing grammar you will take away a big chunk of the reputation, that eligible people earn from edits up for the first couple hundred edits they make.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Sep 4, 2017 at 19:54
  • @Ramhound As covered in my answer I don't really care about rep. I'm just trying to contribute back to the community that has helped me.
    – GenericJam
    Commented Sep 4, 2017 at 20:49
  • Well you might not care, and I might not care, but proposing edits is really easy and helps newer users do so
    – Ramhound
    Commented Sep 5, 2017 at 1:19
  • A spell checker is surely not the right tool for many edits, but what's absolutely right is, that you cannot disallow edits, because the process how edits are handled is broken, but you should fix both trivial editing and the review process for such edits. If it is too complicated to review an edit, make it easier to review it. Improve the queues, e.g., by adding a batch-processing in which you review three grammar-edits at once before submitting. You may come up with other good ideas, but you should not allow an inefficient process to stop people from improving questions and answers.
    – allo
    Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 14:30

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