8

My personal preference is not to edit a question for spelling and grammar as the difficulties the OP has with the English language actually give clues to the meaning of the question. On DA, where the operating language is not the first language of so many users, if the meaning of the question is clear, I think it should be strictly left alone. If the meaning is not clear, then comments should be used for clarification.

When reviewing Suggested edits I am seeing an abundance of edits which appear to be made simply for the sake of doing an edit. In many cases the meaning of the question is subtly changed, and the Queen's English format hides the fact that the OP is struggling to express himself in a difficult language.

Today I rejected an edit as Too Minor, and I was not alone in this assessment. A short while later, exactly the same edit was proposed by the same user again. The edit added absolutely nothing to the readability of the question and did not make the meaning any clearer.

Although I certainly appreciated the 2 pt bump when my edits were accepted, I did not use non-capitalized pronouns as an excuse to make the edits, and I do not think I have changed my editing habits since I gained 2K. I feel edits should be meaningful.

Am I being too strict when reviewing suggested edits? Where should the Too minor line be drawn?

5

Personally, I will only approve an edit when

  • links are added for modules and API references
  • raw URLs are converted to proper links
  • code formatting is applied, or is cleaned up to reduce horizontal and/or vertical whitespace,
  • the language is substantially improved (eg, someone takes the time to clean up an ESL post)
  • it fixes a typo that would help with search results
  • someone tries to consolidate comments into a question

I will reject as Too Minor when I see just some caps changes, removing salutations / thanks, and similar edits.

Unfortunately, this is really a judgement thing, and opinions will vary.

Most of the time I use the skip link. In these cases, the text isn't better, it's just different. I really think the OP should make the judgement call on these.

  • I think what you said about this being a judgement call sums it up perfectly. I disagree with your approach (only very slightly, no downvote :P) but the point is that really doesn't matter. Different people will edit/accept/reject different things and I don't see that as a problem – Clive Jun 15 '13 at 14:01
4

If someone is going through the trouble of suggesting improvements, I'm typically watching more for issue of vandalism and excessive pedantic edits than taking a stand against "that's not helpful enough."

But here's the basic guidance I've compiled for where folks should be directing their efforts:

The "avoid trivial edits" guidance is designed to keep otherwise well-meaning user from annoying everyone with endless, overly-pedantic changes that bump every post with trivial "activity." It's a bit user-hostile to have someone micro-editing every post; so we ask that most punctuation and semantic changes be accompanied by substantive changes that actually improve the post.

Having said that, some content is more visible (an thus more important) than others, and needs to be kept in optimal condition. So in order of importance:

#1, Titles should be top notch. Period. There is no excuse for sloppy or vague titles with punctuation or spelling errors. The titles on your front page say a lot about your community, and when experts are drawn to your site, those titles set the authority and tone of your site. It defines who you are. Keep titles pristine, clear, and easily understood.

Edit titles anytime they can be improved or clarified.

Question introductions need extra attention, too. A close second to titles, the opening lines of every question should clearly summarize what the question is about. Don't ramble; Get to the point. Editors: keep them error free.

It's those first few lines that appear below the title on the 'questions' page. Remember that the lifeblood of this site is search; and its the question openings which will drive Google searchers (potential users) to click through to your site… or not. Keep openings clear and error free. Edit away!

Question bodies should be relevant, but concise. This is where editing out unnecessary salutations, ranting, and off topic minutiae is helpful. Edits to improve formatting are often helpful; not all users are familiar with our markup.

Widely-appealing top answers should also be pristine. The top answers in highly-upvoted post get a lot of eyeballs. Make sure everything "above the fold" (i.e. the top-voted answers) get top attention, too. These posts get Tweeted out and reused (with attribution linked back here), and they may even get syndicated by some of our partners. So let's be sure to give that content a lot of love, too.

So what kind of routine edits are appropriate?

Certainly any overly distracting or egregious grammatical errors — especially those that make the post difficult to understand — should be fixed. Always try to edit any comments that help the post back into the body of the text (i.e. don't leave useful information in comments). Beyond that, we like any edits that clearly improve the post. We just don't want to create an overly user-hostile environment where the punctuation-and-grammar police are always ready to pounce and call you out on every little faux pas.

3

I don't see the problem with accepting edits that are 'too minor' in one person's opinion. It's been discussed dozens of times on the main meta.so site, and the outcome is always the same:

Minor edits to questions that improve grammar, readability, capitalisation, code formatting, remove salutations etc, are all perfectly acceptable, and indeed encouraged, as long as the golden rule is upheld - if you're going to edit a question/answer, make sure you fix everything that is wrong with it.

If all that's wrong with a question is some minor grammar/spelling issues and/or a salutation, then fixing only that is perfectly appropriate, in fact it's the mandated thing to do.

if the meaning of the question is clear, I think it should be strictly left alone

I'm afraid that's not how it works on the Stack Exchange network - these are collaboratively edited sites and any question/answer is fair game for editing for any number of reasons. For example - if the meaning of a question is perfectly clear, but someone wants to go through and capitalise all the I's that an OP has missed, then that edit should be accepted as it improves the quality of the post.

Just because a question/answer is clear/comprehensible, doesn't mean it's perfect, and that it can't be improved upon.

the Queen's English format hides the fact that the OP is struggling to express himself in a difficult language

It may sound harsh, but that's not an issue we need to worry about. Remember, we're creating a repository of questions and answers for the future; the fact that the OP is struggling in a certain language is completely incidental to the quality of the question, and totally ephemeral information.

Think 2 years down the line when someone stumbles across the question/answer. How could knowing the OP doesn't speak English properly help them at all? It couldn't. Conversely, the fact that the post had been edited into shape, into proper, grammatically correct English, will actually help that person to parse the information more quickly and easily. And that means we've done our job properly.

Correcting their grammar and making the question properly readable by speakers of the English language (this network's stated audience) is actually a service we provide. For free :)

At the end of the day, what harm can be done by making sure every post is grammatically correct? I would argue that there's none at all.

There's also another way of looking at it - you are a trusted member of the community who has earned the privilege of reviewing edits through hard work and service to the site. I'm all for guidelines, they definitely help, but opinion will be fragmented here so it might not help.

I think it's fair to say that whatever instinctive judgment you make about an edit will be a good one. If a pattern of strange edits was to emerge from your account we'd probably engage with you about it, but I doubt very much that would happen.

  • An example from today is related date fields. I am pretty sure what the OP wants, but if I edited the question based on my assumptions I might actually change the question to something other than what the OP wanted. I can agree with cleaning up the language after the meaning is clear, but I believe the ultimate goal of SE is not just to be a Q&A repository, but also to be relevant to the people who first ask the questions. If the OP is struggling to be understood, then I feel we should also struggle to understand. – Triskelion Jun 15 '13 at 15:12
  • However, I was simply stating my own bias in editing to put my question is perspective. I would agree with editing the example post, My question is about the line constituting "Too minor". If as you say no edit is too minor, why is it even given as an option for rejecting an edit? – Triskelion Jun 15 '13 at 15:18
  • 1
    I understand what you're saying, but we can't facilitate that - we can't say that no editing should happen until the OP and those who've seen the question have all agreed on the intent, it's just not practical. If the OP's English skills aren't good enough to get across the intent of a question on an English language website, they need to be seeking help with that. Our mantra is to the question/answer quality, and ensuring that its useful for future users equally as it is to the OP – Clive Jun 15 '13 at 15:20
  • Yeah sorry I've probably gone off on a bit if a tangent from your original question about 'too minor' edits. It's just a judgment call really, there's not much more that can be said about it :) – Clive Jun 15 '13 at 15:21
  • 1
    No offense taken :-) I actually want to see how others view this issue. Trying to audit my own practices and to keep them in line with the others on the site. – Triskelion Jun 15 '13 at 15:26
3

I second what MPD is saying.

In addition I will reject as Too minor any edit that only adding text formatting, in particular if it is done wrong IMHO. This may be a matter of taste, but if formatting are applied to variables or function calls mentioned in the text by an editor, they should appear as code, and not in bold or italics.

MPD wrote:

Most of the time I use the skip link. In these cases, the text isn't better, it's just different. I really think the OP should make the judgement call on these.

I agree with this. However, there need to be concensus among moderators (including those with 2000 rep or more) about this, otherwise Approve may "win".

  • 1
    Just a side note, that moderators don't have the final say with edits. We are just the janitors around here. Everyone with 2000+ rep can approve or reject edits. It just takes two votes either way for non-mods to have a binding decistion. – mpdonadio Jun 15 '13 at 13:09
  • 1
    Mods don't need to come to a consensus about this; and we probably won't. I'm a fan of the English language and am happy to accept what others are calling 'too minor' edits, if they improve the English in a post. As long as any other issues in the post have also been fixed by the same edit then I consider it appropriate. – Clive Jun 15 '13 at 13:43
3

Case I see way to often: simply throwing in a bunch of bold tags is thin line between to minor and simple abuse or even vandalism. Only formatting changes I'm willing to accept is formatting a list as a list and code as code, as these changes does improve post without changing it's meaning. Even change in bold or italics may change answer's impact, move weight from one part to another, and that's unfair to OP.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .