Are there edits that are too small to make or to approve? Or is any improvement of a question or post good?

I am especially thinking about:

  • minor spelling mistakes, typos, or grammatical mistakes
  • minor formatting mistakes (for example not using code tags for variable names)
  • etc (removing smilies, removing thanks, ...)

I'm sure that I at some point read a question about this topic, but now I'm not able to find it anymore, so maybe this has not been discussed before?

  • 7
    \$\begingroup\$ edits post... did I fall for the trap? D: \$\endgroup\$
    – Jamal Mod
    Oct 7 '14 at 20:04
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @TopinFrassi yes, I noticed that as well (which is why I'm asking :) ). I approved some of them, because there's no rule against those edits. On the one hand, I think it's not all that bad: Even slight improvements make a post better, not worse. On the other hand, it pollutes the active question tab. \$\endgroup\$
    – tim
    Oct 7 '14 at 20:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related Meta Stack Exchange post: Why are trivial edits discouraged? \$\endgroup\$ Oct 7 '14 at 21:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related Meta Stack Exchange posts that suggest the 'trivial edit' rules are changing: Blog Post with new workflow \$\endgroup\$
    – rolfl
    Oct 8 '14 at 10:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Especially concernig the etc. Section: removing fluff has never actually been deemed too minor, see this answer of mine on MSO \$\endgroup\$
    – Vogel612
    Oct 14 '14 at 23:23

The whole issue of editing posts is currently being discussed at a Stack Exchange 'site wide' level.

Just hours after this question as asked, Stack Exchange introduced the second of potentially many new features and processes in the Suggested Edit workflow (I consider the first to be the auto-convert-to-wiki process of many-times-edited posts being removed).

Part of the revised attitude toward editing is that editing is actively encouraged, "... while ensuring that truly helpful edits – even small ones – are more consistently approved."

No more "Too Trivial" Reject reason!

The new workflow, introduced hours ago, no longer has a 'too trivial' reject reason. The threshold is now: "no improvement whatsoever", which is a lower threshold.

It is my feeling that the current thresholds for what is considered to be 'too minor' needs to be revisited. Fixing typos and spelling mistakes in posts (no matter how old), will lead to improved quality over the site, improved visibility for questions that matter (why were you looking at the post if it did not matter?), leading to more eyes-on-code.

The abuse-side of editing - editing just to bump, or vandalize, or spam - are still managed through the review queues, and still managed by the increased visibility (bumping) of the post. The downside is easily controlled.

I think a new attitude toward editing, suggesting edits, and approving edits is in order.


When you perceive a suggested edit as too minor, consider looking for the rest of the post to see if there were obvious things that could've been improved. Of course, you can accept/reject and improve yourself, but it's not necessary. As this is a suggested edit, users should be taking more time to make sure the post is really improved. If there's nothing else you see that could've been improved, then it may be worth approving. If not, you could consider rejecting edit, but then you'd have to come up with a custom reason. Then you can ask yourself: does this edit still improve something, and was it worth the time to review?

Another thing to keep in mind: there is a limited queue for suggested edits, so it's not good if a user is suggested a lot of minor edits, while there are more substantial suggested edits being added. However, given the low number of suggested edits seen regularly, that's probably not an issue on this site. But it could still be an indication that someone is not taking too much care in their suggested edits.

  • \$\begingroup\$ what is the limit for the queue? Normally, we get a really small amount of suggested edits, but right now, someone is quite obviously looking for common spelling mistakes (such as wierd), and correcting them in all posts. Could this lead to a full queue? \$\endgroup\$
    – tim
    Oct 7 '14 at 20:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @tim: Probably not, unless no one else was around and the edits kept coming in. I don't know the exact number, either. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jamal Mod
    Oct 7 '14 at 20:30

Personally, I think an edit should add value to the question/answer. If the edit consists of correcting a spelling mistake, I don't see how it makes the question any better.

I think that fixing tags, formatting code and removing the casual thanks/hello/etc.. or fixing a plain wrong post (full of spelling mistakes for example) is okay.

  • \$\begingroup\$ "If the edit consists of correcting a spelling mistake, I don't see how it makes the question any better." - I hate these kinds of things and not being able to fix them due to arbitrary barriers enrages me to the point where I leave. \$\endgroup\$
    – Pimgd
    Oct 11 '14 at 0:01
  • \$\begingroup\$ I understand your point, though now I think the question isn't important because of the changes SE brought to the edit system. If the system says no edits are too minor, then be it and it's fine with me :) \$\endgroup\$
    – IEatBagels
    Oct 11 '14 at 2:30

For users who don't yet have editing privileges, the editing screen will say:

Your edit will be placed in a queue until it is peer reviewed.

We welcome all constructive edits, but please make them substantial. Avoid trivial edits unless absolutely necessary.

Users should avoid making trivial edit suggestions, and reviewers should reject such trivial suggestions. This is especially true for old posts that are no longer featured on the front page. Stack Exchange policy for suggested edits has changed! The new rules now encourage any suggestion that has a positive impact.

Examples of good edit suggestions include:

  • Tagging improvements
  • Correcting a mis-worded post when it is obvious from the context that the author meant something else (e.g. "override" vs. "overload")
  • Changing a generic title to be descriptive
  • Reorganizing thoughts to flow more logically
  • Reducing noise (discarding irrelevant introductory sentences, sorry, thanks, etc.)
  • Typesetting expressions in MathJax — only if it enhances comprehension or eliminates use of an image
  • Adding links to non-obvious resources
  • Incorporating descriptions of questions
  • \$\begingroup\$ You should note that it's a non-exhaustive list. =) \$\endgroup\$
    – RubberDuck
    Oct 8 '14 at 0:34

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