Why are users accepting revisions to old answers, where the revision is simply converting my British spelling to the American spelling?

Is there a rule where the spelling of answers has to be in "American"?

See this revision for an example.

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    well i take issue with the fact that you're assuming that "american" english is "incorrect." otherwise, i agree that folks shouldnt be editing them. although i dont think i'd get bent out of shape over edits – swasheck Mar 16 '16 at 16:51
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    @swasheck I didn't interpret it as getting bent out but a sincere question about the rules – Tom V Mar 16 '16 at 17:22
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    @TomV there's a fair amount of emotion conveyed in the words "perfectly correct" and "incorrect" that indicate this isnt simply a P&P question – swasheck Mar 16 '16 at 17:52
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    Let's be clear: it's not just British who spell things properly. It's a labour of love how things are spelt. – Karen Lopez Mar 28 '16 at 17:46
up vote 27 down vote accepted

Is there a rule where the spelling of answers has to be in "American"?

No. See What should the standard spelling be - British or US?

From that meta Stack Exchange Q & A's accepted answer by a Community Manager:

Does SOFU have an accepted standard on language and spelling? Which is it?

For bodies, no. For tags, US-English.

And from the second answer with more votes:

It is not acceptable to change American to British spellings or British to American.


Why do people accept revisions to old answers...

If the only edit has been from neighbourhood to neighborhood, I'm pretty sure it would have been rejected. I would have, anyway. As it was, the edit seemed good overall, correcting several minor errors. The age of the post really has no bearing on the matter.

I'll admit I missed the change to neighborhood, removing the 'u', but that is easily fixed (and done).

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    Right, but I will occasionally change whilst to while or performant to efficient because those have nothing to do with spelling, more to not sound pretentious in the first case, and use a real word in the second case. :-) – Aaron Bertrand Mar 16 '16 at 15:41
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    Thou speakest most oddly and with an accente yet I ken thy righteousness in theyse matters. – Paul White Mar 16 '16 at 15:46
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    shakespearean english should be the default standard on the network. also, has someone seen my <shift> key? – swasheck Mar 16 '16 at 17:12
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    @AaronBertrand you sure do... and while I certainly see the benefit to using "simple english" in forum posts, I felt a little salty about being spoken down to with the "keep it for your English Professor" commentary... one working professional to another... – Peter Vandivier Mar 17 '16 at 1:03
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    @Peter sorry to hurt your feelings, but it really irks me when people use big words for no other reason than to use big words. – Aaron Bertrand Mar 17 '16 at 1:06
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    @PeterVandivier You could also take into account that a lot of visitors here are not native English speakers. I would have had to google "elucidate" – Tom V Mar 21 '16 at 17:40
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    @TomV Yes, in fact I only speak English, grew up in North America, and I also had to look up the meaning. It's not exactly a word that would be used in a verbal conversation, even among academics, unless they were discussing the meaning of the word or trying to sound pompous. So I see no reason to force people to translate answers here, either. – Aaron Bertrand Mar 22 '16 at 18:17
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    @TomV As I said, I get it and actually I agree with the edit: it clarifies the question. As it happens, I'm a fan of 5-dollar words and thought it was appropriate in context ( at the time when I wrote the post ). You'll have to forgive me for taking the available opportunity to give grief to a highly respected mod. However, while I agree with the edit, the commentary certainly adds nothing but a poke in the eye ( idioms presumably discouraged in context of this thread ). I hope the poke can be considered returned ;-) – Peter Vandivier Mar 22 '16 at 23:38
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    "Whilst" is a perfectly acceptable word in many cultures. As are many of the -t forms or usages. – Karen Lopez Mar 28 '16 at 17:48
  • @AaronBertrand I honestly fail to see how "efficient" is better or "more real". Jargon is created for a reason, words get coined, languages evolve ("robotics" didn't exist till Asimov). I've read "SQL performance tuning" rather than "SQL efficiency tuning". Prior to your post I would not think of query efficiency as that - for me is about resource usage - space-consuming query? fast, not efficient. We may use efficiency; viva space-efficiency, viva time-efficiency; bye "complexity". But then: what's wrong with performant? To me what you wrote comes across as "your own preference". – LIttle Ancient Forest Kami May 26 '16 at 9:45

I would say that conventions like this are going to gravitate toward the majority of the user base. I don't know if SE keeps stats on this but I suspect it is mostly American english (or ESL where E is really American E). This is also why the site is in English and not Spanish or Russian or French (however that is a rule).

Another area where this happens is date formats in SQL Server. I harp on people all the time to use YYYYMMDD and YYYY-MM-DD precisely because of our audience. When I see a post that uses British date format (dd/mm/yyyy) I usually comment or just correct it because I know that a large portion of our audience will be unsure if 07/06/2016 is July 6th or June 7th. This is a much different comprehension issue than color vs. colour, but a similar concept (the difference in spelling can't cause misinterpretation in any cases I'm aware of).

So, this is going to happen. Some people refuse to acknowledge British spelling, and some people are just ignorant of it. I suspect in almost all cases it has nothing to do with being anti-British or posturing that American spelling is correct and British spelling isn't.

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    I wouldn't be surprised to see the more pedant among us changing Americanese to The Queen's English. – Max Vernon Mar 16 '16 at 18:09
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    @Max Come on, you meant amongst us, didn't you? – Aaron Bertrand Mar 17 '16 at 16:30
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    YES!!!!!!!!!!!!! – Max Vernon Mar 17 '16 at 17:16
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    Yes please, use ISO 8601 for dates; that is, YYYY-MM-DD. I wish there was a way to configure the ugly way Stack Exchange sites display dates ("Mar 6 '14") to ISO 8601. – Teemu Leisti Mar 18 '16 at 13:15
  • @teemu that format is NOT SAFE and I highly recommend against it, especially in answers. Try it with SET LANGUAGE FRENCH for example. I only recommend with dashes when you use the full format (with time and the T separator) or when it's just in the text and not in code. – Aaron Bertrand Mar 18 '16 at 13:22
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    @AaronBertrand The standard international date format is not safe? How so? – Teemu Leisti Mar 21 '16 at 13:05
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    @Teemu Well, tell me what you get here (and no, French isn't the only situation where this can happen, but after the U.S., they are the ones most likely to not conform to so-called international standards): SET LANGUAGE FRENCH; DECLARE @d DATETIME = '2016-03-07'; SELECT DATEPART(MONTH, @d);. I've been preaching about this for years, but people still get surprised by it. This article I wrote in 2009... – Aaron Bertrand Mar 21 '16 at 14:15
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    @Teemu the only language-, dateformat- and regional settings-safe formats are yyyyMMdd and yyyy-MM-ddTHH:mm:ss.fffZ. They're the only formats where SQL Server will ignore regional/language rules. Anything else can be misinterpreted. – Aaron Bertrand Mar 21 '16 at 14:40
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    @AaronBertrand You had not mentioned any particular piece of software, or other specific usage situation, in your warnings about ISO 8601 being "NOT SAFE". One buggy DB server does not make the entire ISO 8601 "unsafe" everywhere; you just need to be aware of the bug and act accordingly with regards to that piece of software. – Teemu Leisti Mar 22 '16 at 8:03
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    @Teemu admittedly yes I think about these things from a SQL Server-specific standpoint. My advice still holds if you are providing generic, non-RDBMS-specific answers as you need to be aware of exceptions that your reader might not know. And I'm a big fan of using syntax that works more universally, when practical, than syntax that works locally but breaks elsewhere. Ymmv. The bit in my answer was just commentary about where else I try to urge for more standardized language/format, not a command for everyone to do so everywhere. I've clarified for you that I was talking about SQL Server . – Aaron Bertrand Mar 22 '16 at 12:36

Just to add my view in addition to Paul's answer

Hi, I was one of the reviewers that clicked accept. I saw the the per sei fixed, the syncronous fixed, the dashes correction looked a bit superfluous and honestly didn't think about neighbourhood being correct in British English while reviewing (even though I know).

Just like Paul I wouldn't have accepted if it didn't fix the syncronous among others.

I do agree I probably wouldn't have bothered to edit the answer myself as it's perfectly readable.

As to editing old posts, I think that's a good thing when done to a good question/answer as it pushes the question back to the top where it can be noticed by others offering other (maybe more up to date) insights.

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