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I've recently seen a number of edits in the "Suggested Edits" queue that basically involved two changes:

  • Changing "dont" to "don't" (1-3 times per edit); and
  • Removing a closing "Thanks!" from the message.

I know it's OK to remove "Thanks!" from a posting, and do it myself if I'm editing the message.

Prior to this, I'd seen an number of edits by one or two individuals that involved multiple changes, that cleaned up a number of spelling/grammatical errors, as well as attempts to improve formatting.

That may well have been newer users trying to improve their reputations by making edits; still, there was a clear improvement to the post, and no harm done. Regardless of motive, even on older posts, I have no problem approving these.

However, this new batch doesn't feel like it's improving things much - it feels much more like someone trying to build reputation quickly, with minimal participation. So, I've taken to skipping approving these edits.

Which technically is fine - only, it means even more of us have to look at them and make an assessment.

Thinking of the wording of the reasons for rejection - It's hard to see how correcting a couple of spelling/punctuation errors and removing the thanks harms the posts, and correcting even a couple of spelling mistakes should, in fact, cause some small improvement.

So, it seemed worthwhile to ask: if the only way the edit actually qualified as an edit was the removal of "Thanks!", and the only other changes are this minor, should the edit be approved even if it causes no harm?

4

Findings

I've been noticing the same. In many cases the reason for the change was "Improve spelling", "improve grammar", and other minimal invasive edits.

Analysing

On further examination it turned out that in some cases the editor had started improving the question, but then suddenly quit. The "dont"s further down weren't corrected any more. And capitalisation (the action of writing or printing in capital letters or with an initial capital.) of "i" stopped.

Example: Why does Log Shipping .TRN file copy just stop

Conclusion

This led me to the conclusion that the editor is really just seeking an easy way to collect reputation by applying minimal editing skills to the posts to allow a quick skim in the review queue to result in increased reputation.

Solutions

Re-read the question over and over again and ...

  1. ... If it's an edit of an old post (especially if the Q has an accepted A) and the changes are minor: Reject

  2. ... if the edit is valid: Approve

  3. ... if there are other minor corrections to be made: Improve Edit

  4. ... if there are major additional corrections to be made: Reject and Edit

  5. ... if the edit is really minor: Reject

IMHO

I personally have no objections when users/editors improve minor spelling mistakes or grammar issues to increase the readability of the question and their personal reputation. Such edits will receive an Approve from me. But when the editor stops half way through, then I'll edit it to the end.

  • 1
    I might also consider rejecting an edit of a very old post if it's grammar/spelling only and the post is clear as it is (even though I prefer seeing valid spelling and grammar in posts myself). Bumping an old question to the top page only because no-one bothered correcting the "i"s at the time seems absolutely unnecessary – unless you as an editor genuinely believe it should have more attention (which for me as a reviewer is hard to judge, I admit, but still...) – Andriy M Sep 8 '17 at 13:15
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    When it's few and far between, it's fine, I guess, but purposely hunting them down is another matter.</vent> – Andriy M Sep 8 '17 at 13:18
  • @AndriyM Good point: Old posts != Edits. – John aka hot2use Sep 8 '17 at 14:14
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    This seems like a reasonable approach to the situation. I'd already started applying some of these rules (Reject and Edit when the question really needed much more help than was given), and I like @AndriyM 's point about older posts where little is done tot improve them - especially of a question with an accepted answer, or of an accepted answer itself; in either case, someone was able to follow it just fine. – RDFozz Sep 8 '17 at 15:58
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    lol I'd really like to change "me" to "be" in your third clause but that would violate the fifth clause and this post already was accepted over a week ago possibly violating the first clause....... :) – Erik Sep 18 '17 at 22:31
  • @Erik go for it – John aka hot2use Sep 19 '17 at 4:05
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If those are the only problems in the post and there is nothing else that needs fixing there there should be no problems with the edit. If there are other changes that need to be made to the post then you can always do the reject and edit which would prevent the editor from gaining reputation from the edit. Or you can select improve edit to fix additional things that where missed in the suggested edit.

Related links on meta.SE:

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An improvement is an improvement. I'm not sure of the problem. Myself, I'm a real stickler for code formatting and DDL. Sometimes I'll fix really minor things like " that pad a PostgreSQL query plan because someone dumped it through a web interface. Sometimes I'll just add the DDL and leave the question for others.

If someone else is a stickler for grammar, by all means fix it. I'm not sure what the problem is here. It's hard as hell to get unicorn points on this site. Its low activity leaves a lot to be desired. I didn't even know edits got unicorn points before I found this,

There is also a cap on the reputation that can be earned this way. Once you've had 500 edits accepted - that's 1,000 points - you don't earn any more reputation.

So essentially, the gripe is that 1,000 points are causing people to improve the site with edits so small we think 1,000 points is too much of an incentive? Respectfully, if the edit is good it should stay regardless of if more can be done. And, even if it's a problem which I'm unconvinced of I would think we could all agree that we have bigger fish to fry.

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