I just edited an answer to a question I asked. The only edit was to put the code in code sample mode to make it readable. I wouldn't have bothered except that I couldn't parse the code because of the way it was formatted. When I went to edit the post, the formatting in the box was actually readable because it had appropriate line breaks. I simply highlighted the code snippet and clicked on the {} icon. However, I wasn't allowed to submit the edit without making 6 nontrivial character changes. There wasn't anything I particularly felt needed revision in the answer other than formatting, and as it happened the answer wasn't a particularly helpful one. In the end, I added some extra words just to get up to 6 characters, but this was silly to force.

Should there be an option to edit a post just with formatting? That is, if I do not change any text, but alter the format of at least 6 characters or perhaps add a relevant link to a word, shouldn't that be a legitimate edit without requiring the 6 character minimum?

  • 3
    If you ever add a link to a word, you're going well past 6 characters. Just sayin'.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    May 18, 2011 at 16:57
  • I wasn't aware that the link counted as characters. Thanks.
    – PengOne
    May 18, 2011 at 17:00
  • I'd also recommend taking a gander at this request.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    May 18, 2011 at 17:02
  • I saw that in my search for related posts. Here I didn't want to change a single character of the text, only put the code into code format so that it could be read.
    – PengOne
    May 18, 2011 at 17:08
  • possible duplicate of Low rep users should be able to fix broken links (okay, the title isn't an exact duplicate, but it's obviously a request in the identical spirit. and denied again, as usual.) May 19, 2011 at 4:21

1 Answer 1


On minor edits, Jeff writes:

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

The idea is that while you're at it, you should improve everything that needs improvement, not just the formatting.

I disagree that this applies to formatting chunks of code as code. Often, improving a question (or an answer, but the problem is far more common on questions) requires knowledge of the subject matter. Proper formatting can be done by anyone. When I see a question:

  1. If I know nothing about the subject matter, I can still recognize a code block wannabe that's missing its indentation.
  2. If I know something about the subject matter, I'll want to understand the question and quickly decide whether I can answer, or should look for a duplicate, or if the question deserves an upvote or a downvote, or if I just pass on. This decision is a lot easier to make if I don't need to first pause and edit the post to be able to figure out what it's about.

Even if the first edit only improves the formatting, it's a big step forward and makes the life of potential answerers easier. So yes, allowing formatting-only edits improves the collective quality control process. They are useful, and overall not wasting time.

(These edits should still be reviewed.)


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