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I’ve had people edit my answers to change many things, for example to improve the formatting, fix typos and add new information.

However, there have been several cases of people editing answers to change very simple things that may not need fixing in the first place. For example, I use British spellings (colour, visualise, colourise), but have had several instances of people editing my answers just to change those certain words (color, visualize, colorize).

Should we lay down some rules about when and when not it is appropriate or necessary to edit answers?

In part, I think we should add guidelines to make sure that unnecessary edits aren’t made.

However, this comes at the risk of discouraging people from making edits that are warranted and that would in fact enhance the post.

What do you think?

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As far as regional spellings are concerned this has already been answered on Meta:SE.

In short, It is not generally considered acceptable to change American to British spellings or vice versa. The "correct" spelling in those cases is that used by the OP of the question or answer.

[Although, as Catija observed below in comments, the one exception here is tagging, where the American English term is, by default, the "correct" one]


More broadly, the help page about the Edit questions and answers privilege already makes it clear that:

Tiny, trivial edits are discouraged - try to make the post significantly better when you edit, correcting all problems that you observe.

and

Editing a post also bumps the question to the top of the homepage. Please be mindful of this and make your edits count, so that the new attention is brought to something substantial.


If the homepage is being swamped by trivial edits, drowning out new posts, it might be worth flagging one of the edited posts for moderator attention, and explaining the problem in the dialogue box with the flag. A polite mod message reminding people of the guidelines is sometimes all it takes to make SE communities a nicer place for everyone.

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    Okay - thanks that makes sense. – Drones and Whatnot Apr 24 at 1:55
  • The one exception here is tagging. The American English term is, by default, the "correct" one... which makes for fun on sites like cooking where a "cookie" and a "biscuit" are very different things. – Catija Apr 24 at 6:34
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I think we should be stricter on editing, especially when we get more traffic.

Unnecessary edits bump those question to the top of the front page, meaning new questions don't get as much attention as they deserve.

I think the best way to think about this is if you edit and you have enough reputation for it to go through without review, only edit if your edit would've gone through review if you had less reuptation.

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  • Does editing the question and answer send it to the front page, or just the question? – ifconfig Apr 24 at 16:33
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    @ifconfig both. There is already guidance for editing. See the page about the Edit questions and answers privilege. – sempaiscuba Apr 26 at 3:38
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I think part of the problem is that the user doing most of these edits (including one-character edits that actually worsen the grammar) is trying to rush the badges for editing, based on a chat comment.

Hopefully the edit privilege abuse will subside once the individual reaches the 'Copy Editor' badge.

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  • Agreed, I think I know who you're talking about ;) – Xnero Apr 26 at 20:02
  • Mind posting a link to the chat message (you can delete it afterwards)? – Xnero Apr 26 at 20:39

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