1

I've noticed many QAs have similar errors and they could be easily enhanced, grammatically speaking.

This got me wondering if that was the right behaviour or not. So, after exploring, found in the documentation

When should I edit posts? Any time you feel you can make the post better, and are inclined to do so. Editing is encouraged!

Some common reasons to edit are:

to fix grammatical or spelling mistakes; to clarify the meaning of a post without changing it; to correct minor mistakes or add addendums / updates as the post ages; to add related resources or hyperlinks. Tiny, trivial edits are discouraged - try to make the post significantly better when you edit, correcting all problems that you observe.

And the following question where users seem to agree that

(...) I figure that I should edit in the following circumstances:

Grammatical or spelling errors. Clarification where the meaning is not changed. For instance if the title does not describe the question very well. Where the user has made a very minor mistake that doesn't justify a full post to clarify. To add related resources or links that will help someone answer the post, or provide context (...)

Both the documentation and the question seem to allow me to go ahead and edit the posts.

Now would like feedback from you here; If we correct all problems that we observe and they are very few (let's say 1 or two words), is that considered trivia and, therefore, discouraged?

  • 1
    If we correct all problems that we observe and they are very few (let's say 1 or two words), is that considered trivia and, therefore, discouraged? Usually such edits should be discourage, but there can be exceptions where such minor edits make a material difference. There's a network effect to edits that I address in more detail in my answer below. – Todd A. Jacobs Jul 21 at 20:13
2

TL;DR

By all means, invest time in improving questions and answers on the site whenever you come across a post that needs improvement. However, actively seeking out edits that are primarily "missions of grammar" or otherwise trivial edits can waste other people's time, and may color their perception of the editor's activities on the site. You don't want people thinking you're rep-farming or badge-seeking in your edits, or simply being a philosophunculist or grammar nerd and wasting their time in the process.

Don't be afraid to make necessary changes. On the other hand, if one starts getting a lot of rejected edits or rollbacks, it's probably a good idea to reconsider whether the community values the changes being made.

Edits Should Make Posts Better

In general, the goal of edits should be to:

  1. Make a post or question title clearer.
  2. Fix outdated links or other "broken window" effects.
  3. Help bring a problematic post into on-topic status.
  4. Clean up a post that violates our community standards (e.g. removing signature lines).

Aside from creating noise, trivial edits are those that don't add significant value. Defining "value" is hard, because it varies somewhat across SE communities. In general, though, I would classify trivial edits as:

  • Edits that fix minor spelling errors or insignificant typos while leaving poor grammar or other issues behind.
  • Edits that focus on semantically minor word-choice selections.
  • Edits that attempt to change the authorial voice without material improvement to the content of the post.
  • Purely stylistic changes that add no real value, e.g. deciding that someone's post should use fixed-width instead of italics when the author's usage wasn't unclear.
  • Highly-upvoted questions are probably fine just the way they are.
  • Accepted, highly-upvoted answers should most likely be left alone.

In addition, edits that change authorial intent (other than to bring an otherwise off-topic or non-conforming post into line with community standards) are never okay.

Perception Matters

Back in the day, too many trivial edits would also trigger an automatic conversion of a post to community wiki status. This was often undesireable. That doesn't happen anymore, but that legacy often informs the opinions of people reviewing your reviews.

Another consideration is that trivial edits are often perceived as either unnecessarily critical (which violates the "be friendly" code of conduct), or uselessly punctilious. If your edit doesn't add enough value to overcome either of these perceptions, I'd recommend that you skip it.

As an example, while I would personally like to edit EVERY...SINGLE...POST that fails to include the Oxford comma in lists, or replace commas with semicolons in lists with conjunctions, doing that throughout the site as a personal mission wouldn't accomplish much except to annoy people and clutter up the home page. However, I will certainly fix those types of issues if I'm making other, more significant changes to a post anyway.

Consider that until you reach a certain level of reputation, your edits enter a review queue. Cluttering up the queue with edits that other reviewers don't consider meaningful or useful can result in rejected edits and a more jaundiced view of your future edits. While people should review proposed edits, flags, and other actions idempotently and without regard to the person making the change, realistically someone faced with dozens of "useless" edits from the same person is likely to start rejecting that individual's queued or future edits without giving them the benefit of the doubt each time.

People's time also matters. Reviewers will general spend only a couple of seconds on each item in the review queue, and so an edit that only adds one comma or capitalizes a single word is likely to be rejected as trivial most of the time. Even if it's really an "improvement" like changing ruby to Ruby deep inside a long post, it's unlikely to be enough of an improvement to warrant wasting 4+ people's time. Most edits by users with less than 1,000 reputation (2,000 on non-beta sites) involve the editor, two or more non-diamond reviewers, a message to the original poster, and sometimes the moderator queues. That's a lot of people to involve in something that others will consider trivial, and seconds can multiply into man-hours once you start considering the issue at scale.

  • Very good answer! (P.S. Was that on purpose that you didn't write well philosophunculist?) – Tiago supports GoFundMonica Jul 21 at 21:42
  • @TiagoMartinsPeres Nope. It’s just not in my spell check dictionary. But it does sort of illustrate the point. Thanks for calling it out! – Todd A. Jacobs Jul 21 at 22:33
1

I'd say the same approach for tag edition applies - edit is encouraged when

  1. it really adds value (i.e. no trivial edit) OR
  2. you can do it without keeping stuff queued up for review (i.e. edit priviledge).

The case of "grammatical or spelling mistakes" are focused (IMHO) on posts written by non-native English speakers with several errors. Otherwise, an edition will NOT make the post significantly better.

  • 1
    «Any time you feel you can make the post better, and are inclined to do so. Editing is encouraged!», how true is this quote within this community? I mean, I felt already the posts would get better if users respected tags and when to use them (particularly ms-project and version specific tags), grammatical errors were fixed (for instances, users writing "porject", instead of "project", due to whatever reason), titles respected certain and agreed rules (for instances, the usage of tags, ...). All of this seem to come from the same root which is rules are relative and not expected to be followed. – Tiago supports GoFundMonica Jul 15 at 20:47
  • 2
    Rules, as any tool, are a means to a purpose. In the case of community rules, the purpose is to make posts as useful as possible. Happens that if someone start bulk editing questions, the welcome page has all items bumped to the top, hiding actual, real-case questions. In these cases, the overall "balance" (value added to the community - value community won't add as questions won't be answered) will be negative. That's what - I believe - we should consider. One-off (non-bulk) edits are ok(ish) though. – Tiago Cardoso Jul 16 at 8:59
  • 1
    How many of edits per day would be considered non-bulk? 2-3? – Tiago supports GoFundMonica Jul 16 at 11:08
  • 2
    I wouldn't set a fixed value - if there's a lot of activity, more edits won't be noticeable (welcome-page wise)... however, in weekends for instance, 5 edits would stay on top of the welcome page for a while. You know the number better than me :) – Tiago Cardoso Jul 16 at 12:24
  • 1
    @TiagoCardoso I mostly agree with you, but would suggest "pervasive" rather than "several" as the threshold for a post hitting the broken-window threshold, and clarity as the (intended) primary driver of grammar- or spelling-focused edits. --For the benefit of future visitors, notice how I didn't edit the answer just because I disagree with the word choice in the original post? There's probably a lesson in there somewhere. :) – Todd A. Jacobs Jul 21 at 20:17
  • 1
    Good point, @ToddA.Jacobs - and agree that "pervasive" (in the sense of widely spread, for non-native English speakers) represents better the underlying idea. – Tiago Cardoso Jul 21 at 22:46
1

When facts are not available decisions are hard. Decisions become based on opinion, or who has more experience and time in the community. As the moderator Tiago Cardoso says

Rules, as any tool, are a means to a purpose. In the case of community rules, the purpose is to make posts as useful as possible. Happens that if someone start bulk editing questions, the welcome page has all items bumped to the top, hiding actual, real-case questions. In these cases, the overall "balance" (value added to the community - value community won't add as questions won't be answered) will be negative. That's what - I believe - we should consider. One-off (non-bulk) edits are ok(ish) though.

So, as a general rule when it comes to edit, we must ensure there's more QAs on top than edits. Basically, not only we have to think about if the post gets better but also we shall consider the amount of new QAa.

From this we can imply 1 (or 2) edits per day is understandable, no matter what the improvement is.

You must log in to answer this question.

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