Many times I look over some questions and answers and see the following scenarios:

  • Places where spelling, grammar, punctuation, syntax, and format could be improved.
  • Tags that are synonyms only. Based tags not used
    • Example : Question Tagged sql-server-2008 but not with sql-server tag
    • Example : Question Tagged mysql-5.1 but not with mysql tag
    • Example : Question Tagged oracle-10g but not with oracle tag
  • Question without a Question Mark
  • Question not properly phrased
    • Example : I saw "How to show SQL executing on an Oracle database?". I rephrased it "How do you show SQL executing on an Oracle database?" I could have simply removed the Question Mark as well
    • Example : Here is the question "PostgreSQL: Separate tables vs single table to perserve disk space?" submitted August 5, 2011. IMHO the question is awkwardly phrased. Also, note the misspelling of preserve.

When DBA.SE was in beta, I edited many entries because I wanted to enhance the site's content from this viewpoint: If someone came to a website and saw all the technical contributions in the DBA.SE with bad spelling, grammar, diction, etc., many would not take the answers in the DBA.SE seriously, even if the questions were noteworthy and its answers were brilliant.

In lieu of these observations, I invite DBA.SE members to answer the following questions:

QUESTION 1

If an edit is rather small, (i.e., adding a tag only, adding or removing a question mark, adding a comma to breakup a run-on sentence, etc.), should it still be considered a valid post edit?

QUESTION 2

Votes per day is limited to 40. Should an edits-per-day limit be imposed as well (if so, how many) ?

UPDATE 2011-12-06 14:30 EDT

In some cases, I do leave some spellings alone. For example, there are two questions I have seen initialized spelled initialised.

Millions of people do spell with 's' in place of 'z'. So, I will not try impose that kind of rigor.

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Because people would misconstrue my answer as having final weight (since I can't be held separate from my diamond) I would like to see community feedback before offering my own. However, do not assume this to mean I do not already have a viewpoint and that I could write less than 500 words about it right now. –  jcolebrand Dec 6 '11 at 18:23
    
err, what jcolebrand said. :) –  Jack Douglas Dec 6 '11 at 18:45
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But right now I would like to say thanks for posting here Rolando, this is the right place and time for this discussion –  Jack Douglas Dec 6 '11 at 18:46
    
The s vs z is British vs US English. But forgotten which way around... –  gbn Dec 6 '11 at 20:09
    
The z sound is very americanized. ;-) –  jcolebrand Dec 6 '11 at 23:27

4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Some thoughts:

  1. I'm a native British English speaker, there will be differences in how you and I use the language
  2. Tag synonyms are added to the tag for auto-correction. However sql-server-2008 is different to sql-server in many cases: I often can give 3 different answers for 2000, 2005 and 2008
  3. Not all posters are native English speakers. "How to show SQL executing on an Oracle database" is understandable to them: "How do you show SQL executing on an Oracle database?" complicates the sentence and may not be.
  4. Add you adding actual value? Or is it pedantry?
  5. I'm sure meta.so has views on this too

Edit, extending point 3:

Having been out of the UK for some time, I'm probably more aware of how other folk understand English. To the point that I probably write and speak it differently to how I did 7 years ago.

On SO and here I tend to ignore minor errors because of this

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I appreciate all these points, especially number 2. Since I am not a SQL Server guy by nature, I should leave that kind of editing to you or to the poster of the any SQL Server question. +1 !!! –  RolandoMySQLDBA Dec 6 '11 at 19:35
    
To the final thought, my interactions with non-Southerners has broadened my views on English to the point that I have found myself using some weird mannerisms in respect to the language. Sometimes I use a very British tone and cadence, sometimes archaic, sometimes pidgin. It's as much to do with my intuited audience as it is to do with conscious thought on the subject. Afterwards I often ponder on what I wasn't thinking but it's always interesting to see that in myself. And yet, I don't even realize I've done it, most of the time. –  jcolebrand Dec 6 '11 at 23:27
    
OT - should we get rid of sql-server and add something like sql-server-non-version-specific (but shorter and cleverer of course)? –  Jack Douglas Dec 7 '11 at 12:29
    
@JackDouglas: could be useful but it'd have to be across SF and SO tool So probably not for sheer confusion –  gbn Dec 7 '11 at 12:32
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Though I leave it alone when I see it, "How to do X" cuts my heart like a knife. –  Ben Brocka Dec 7 '11 at 21:29

I am strongly for tasteful editing to improve the quality of posts on our site, both new and old.

However...

Answer 1

Unmoderated editing is a privilege that comes with the following admonition (emphasis mine):

Try to make the post substantively better when you edit, not just change a single character. Tiny, trivial edits are discouraged.

To me, an edit is trivial if it only consists of one (or perhaps more, depending on their magnitude) of the following:

  • capitalizing words
  • adding a couple punctuation marks
  • correcting a non-critical spelling error in 1 or 2 words

So to answer your question: No, I don't think trivial edits like that should be encouraged.

If you are making a major edit to a post for other reasons, then by all means take care of the trivialities while you're at it. The trivialities themselves, however, are not reason enough to edit a post.

Answer 2

With regards to an editing limit, there is a relevant discussion on mSO that partially addresses this (emphasis theirs):

Let me be clear: regardless of the editor's intentions, beginning a major series of edits without support from the greater community is dangerous; unilateral, large-scale removing or replacing tags, censoring specific words, or otherwise destroying content that the community has previously accepted without at least some prior meta discussion indicating that the change is desirable is abusive.

I don't think we need an editing limit, but I am against large scale editing campaigns, especially if the changes they make are trivial, and especially more so if they not agreed upon beforehand by the community. On a relatively quiet site like DBA.SE, a large amount of rapid-fire editing will completely flood the homepage and push new or substantially edited posts out of view. Not good.

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On a relatively quiet site like DBA.SE, a large amount of rapid-fire editing will completely flood the homepage and push new or substantially edited posts out of view. Not good. this is actually the argument that most people want to level against Rolando, and not that he's doing the wrong thing. He's absolutely doing the right thing, but this is the essence of the problem. –  jcolebrand Dec 13 '11 at 19:07

I almost always make these sort of edits myself on UX.SE (except for the debatable spelling) as I have unrestricted editing. On sites where I do not have unmoderated editing I don't do minor edits as it would require moderator/ect attention to approve them. You'll note that the copy:

Try to make the post substantively better when you edit, not just change a single character. Tiny, trivial edits are discouraged.

That appears when editing goes away after you have full edit privileges. "Trivial" edits like proper capitalization and small spelling errors go a long way toward making a site look professional, authoritative and genuine. While it seems minor to some, bad copy looks very bad to others, and I would generally prefer that a post is bumped yet corrected forever rather than leave an error in a post forever to avoid bumping it in the questions list for a few minutes.

Improper phrasing makes questions hard to understand and will deter answerers. Poor phrasing makes an asker sound less competent, which may deter help. The original poster may have poor English, but that's why we are there to edit; because not everyone else can word things as well. This is an even more important issue in protecting the copy of our site to remain readable and professional.

Tags are an issue of categorization; this is NOT a trivial edit, ever. A post containing incorrect tags or missing tags will not show up in the proper searches, this is much more significant than spelling.

I support all of these "minor" edits except the final issue of localized spelling. Wikipedia has a style guide about such rules but I find that is a bit too nitpicky, as no side is correct. When an edit is canonically correct it should be made.

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An additional reason frequent editing can be a good thing: siliconfilter.com/… –  Ben Brocka Dec 10 '11 at 23:55
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bumps "for a few minutes" only occurs on a handful of stackexchange sites. Others, like ours, tend to keep the same 75% of content throughout the course of a day. Bumping new questions down, just because of an edit, is somewhat disruptive to the primary front page of most of our users. –  jcolebrand Dec 13 '11 at 19:06
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@jcolebrand It generally does leave them on the front page, but even on UX.SE I've noticed edit bumped posts usually drop off the top 5 questions fairly quickly. Regardless my point is more than the long standing correctness of the post is more important than whether or not an old post has been bumped at any given point in time, especially since these errors make it harder to find posts and tarnish the presentation of the site. –  Ben Brocka Dec 13 '11 at 19:20
    
Oh I got that, I just wanted to pull the part that I saw as the main argument against batched edits of many many posts. –  jcolebrand Dec 13 '11 at 20:05

Correcting egregious spelling mistakes is one thing - but merely changing the style (e.g. replacing sentences with bullet points) is gratuitous. I see you have gotten a badge for it now...

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