Possible Duplicate:
Title edit plus minor body edit return 'too short' error

This Ask Ubuntu question has to do with Unity and panels, but its original title was "ronald plopper 999" (the OP's user name followed by 999).

So I edited the title and removed a superfluous newline in the text of the question itself, and got an error message stating that I changed too few characters. It could only have meant the characters of the message, ignoring the title.

  1. I was forced to add a comment to the message to make my change happen. That seems foolish and should be changed.

  2. Since the "editing help" encourages minor improvements, why am I forced to change at least n characters? Shouldn't spelling errors be corrected?

Would it have been better to ask this on Meta Ask Ubuntu?

Note: For search engines to succeed, you sometimes only need to correct a single character. Therefore changing a single character shouldn't be discouraged.

Note: In SE, SU, AU and Unix & Linux (maybe more?), a single character can make a significant difference. I don't think that the quality improvement can be measured or estimated by the number of characters changed.

Note: This question is not about how to properly change the cited example.

  • "You should've asked on Meta AU" was my first thought, but this is almost certainly a problem with the engine that affects every site, so here's fine.
    – Pops
    Mar 16, 2011 at 15:40
  • Nothing appears to be preventing me from making superfluous edits. Is that a Meta thing or a 10k+ thing?
    – Welbog
    Mar 16, 2011 at 16:00
  • 1
    @Whom: The minimum is for users who don't have 2k rep. They can still suggest edits, but they have to change at least six characters and the edit has to be approved by a 10k user or a moderator.
    – mmyers
    Mar 16, 2011 at 16:01
  • Check out the first "DON'T" in this answer on another question, which is related.
    – Benjol
    Mar 17, 2011 at 7:18
  • @Benjol: No, it's not at all related. The title of the question was a mess - I guess you agree, and I was forced to do some cargo-cult-editing in the body of the message. I wasn't in a rush. The body of the message wasn't clear enough to be rephrased. Mar 17, 2011 at 7:48
  • I guess you mean "odd" or something like that, not "foreign".
    – Arjan
    Apr 13, 2011 at 13:42
  • LOL @ "top panel shut off auto-hide how to?"
    – Gabe
    Apr 13, 2011 at 13:48
  • @Arjan: I meant not 'title of my own post, but title of a ?foreign? post, post of a different person. Don't you say foreign post? Um - I see 'titel' instead of 'titel' - but delay this edit. Apr 13, 2011 at 13:59
  • @user unknown: no, because 'foreign' does not mean "someone else's". And I think the fact that this problem comes up when you're editing someone else's post (not your own) is pretty much understood.
    – Marti
    Apr 13, 2011 at 14:09
  • As the question is about suggested edits, I feel @Popular's edit into What's the point of the "Too few characters" error for edits? was just fine. You could add the word "title" to that? Like: What's the point of the "Too few characters" error for title edits?
    – Arjan
    Apr 13, 2011 at 14:09
  • "Foreign" means "from some where else", not "from some body else".
    – Gabe
    Apr 13, 2011 at 14:31
  • @Arjan: But my question wasn't so much: "Why do I have to do at least a 6-character-edit when editing a text body", but "Why can't I just edit the title of a message?" Only the answers turned it into an topic of the body of the message, which I want to prevent. There is a different post for that question. Apr 13, 2011 at 15:15
  • Yup, actually your two questions describe the same thing, I think. But well.
    – Arjan
    Apr 13, 2011 at 15:52
  • The duplicate link is at the top of the question. Another duplicate was asked yesterday, which prompted my search. (By the way, you can @ping any moderator who closes a question without having to go find one of their posts to comment on.)
    – mmyers
    Aug 13, 2011 at 5:02

3 Answers 3


If you just edit the title, you don't run into this issue.

It's only because you did go and remove a single linebreak that you ended up also including a body edit, which ended up being less than 6 characters. Were you to just stick with revising the title, it will follow through. I recently tested this on Game Development, I submitted a title edit without any modifications to the body, and it ended up going into the edit suggestion queue without an error.

As such, if you only want to fix the title, fix only the title. If you're going to touch the body, then you will have to take that the full distance.

  • I don't remember exactly, whether I removed a linebreak or not, and I won't edit someones post, just to prove it. But I will keep it in mind, if I stumble upon a to-be-improved headline next time. I don't have the exact wording of the error message in mind, so maybe it could be improved then. Apr 13, 2011 at 14:21

While I agree with the general idea that title edits should count toward the six-character minimum, in this case the body could have used quite a lot of cleanup. Instead of improving it, you added more noise to it.

This is what Jeff says every time someone brings up the issue of tiny corrections: isn't there anything else you can fix? Surely a post with bad spelling has other issues too.

  • Actually, the exact term Jeff used was "turd polishing".
    – Pops
    Mar 16, 2011 at 15:49
  • My question wasn't 'what else can I improve/fix' but I stumbled over the funny question 'ronald-plopper-999'. So it seemed to need a better title, and I tried to do it. And then I was in the situation, and still think, that an improved title might do more help for Ronald, than my noise is preventing. But here I'm talking about that restriction which forced me to do that noisy thing, and not about the quality of my edits, so here it is you, disturbing the discussion with noise. Mar 16, 2011 at 15:50
  • 1
    @user unknown: I already agreed with your main point about title edits. The rest is about your second point regarding minor improvements.
    – mmyers
    Mar 16, 2011 at 15:54
  • 1
    Spelling errors in keywords can prevent search engines from finding the post. Or a missing 'not' or such can influence the whole meaning. Counting characters seems to me as an attempt to translate quality into quantity. It's not the first time it fails. Mar 16, 2011 at 16:17
  • @mmyers: I'm astonished, that your answer got 11 up votes. I'm asking why. Well - no, that's not what I'm asking. You agree to the general idea - that's it? Is there some ticket which can be opened for the SO-software? Or is this just lamento? Everybody agrees but nothing happens? So in future times, I don't edit the title, if the only thing which needs editing is the title? Mar 17, 2011 at 8:17
  • @user unknown: "So in future times, I don't edit the title, if the only thing which needs editing is the title?" -- That's not what I said at all. I said, if the title needs editing, probably the body needs it too, and you can easily come up with six characters to edit there.
    – mmyers
    Mar 17, 2011 at 22:06
  • I understood that, and my question is: If there is nothing in the body which needs editing, I just don't edit the title? Does the question touch some taboo? Mar 17, 2011 at 23:18
  • @mmyers: Giving a link to this exact duplicate would be nice. Aug 13, 2011 at 1:24

The point of the "Too few characters" restriction is to prevent too many edits. Once a post has six different editors or more than ten edits by the original poster, the system automatically makes it a Community Wiki post. If you just change one typo and bump the question, odds are that it will attract more editors and the post will needlessly end up as CW. Since each editor is required to change more than six characters, it takes fewer edits to get the post in shape.

  • 2
    This seems to be reverse logic. Your reasoning just shows the criterion for CW'ing a post should be based on the actual percentage of the post changed rather than on the number of edits. Mar 16, 2011 at 16:00
  • 1
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I didn't think title edits contributed towards the CW limit?
    – mmyers
    Mar 16, 2011 at 16:02
  • 2
    @mmyers They do not. Only body edits count for anything in that direction.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Mar 16, 2011 at 16:05
  • @mmyers, @Grace, I did not know that. Mar 16, 2011 at 16:09
  • So the real, underlying problem is how many errors there are, not how many characters I corrected. If there is just one error, it shouldn't be corrected? I shall choose my correction not after the criteria what would be the best word/phrasing/spelling or punctation, but whether It helps to reach a 6 character threshold? That's bureaucratic. Mar 26, 2011 at 15:01
  • @user unknown: You asked what the point of the rule was, and I directly answered that question. I have no idea how that's unhelpful. Anyway, yes you should choose edits that change more than six characters. Mar 26, 2011 at 15:51
  • Yes, I down-voted, because to prevent too many edits is a special case, which hasn't much to do with the question. If the error is just as small, why should there be additional edits? Either I see the necessaries of more corrections and execute them, or I don't see them - then I will do some cargo-cult editing, but don't eliminate the second error. Mar 26, 2011 at 16:05

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