I know etiquette about editing has been heavily discussed, both on this meta and on StackExchange-meta but I couldn't find an answer for a particular problem.

I found this answer on Unix&Linux. It has been posted by a new user, and in its original non-edited version, it didn't respect formatting rules and cite an external resource without being self-sufficient. So, I posted a comment saying welcome and giving advice on how to improve the answer. And I also edited the answer to make it closer to the quality standards of StackExchange.

And here is my problem. Should we give new authors the opportunity to improve their answer or just do it ourselves? Of course, it seems better to give authors the time to correct themselves but on the other hand, maybe giving an example is not a bad thing to do? And if we "give time", when does it become appropriate to edit instead of letting the author do so?

  • I think that the general rule is: feel free to improve the post as long as it doesn't alter the original meaning.
    – Braiam
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 23:04
  • 1
    FYI: You linked to the question, not the answer. I fixed that for you. You can get the answer link by clicking on "share" under the answer (to the left of "edit")
    – derobert
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 23:16
  • @derobert Ah, so, here is the trick. I've been looking for it. :-)
    – lgeorget
    Commented Mar 8, 2014 at 8:17

1 Answer 1


Well, first off, that user is not a new user having started with Stack Overflow 2 years ago.

That said, I don't think there is any reason to avoid improvement via editing for posts from new users. In fact, there is a review queue for first posts from new users (link requires 500 rep). One of the things you're encouraged to do is edit posts to improve them.

That said, if there is anything, you could make the comment a little friendlier:

Welcome on StackExchange! And thank you for your answer. Nevertheless, you should improve it to meet the quality standards of this site. Even if you cite an external resource such as a URL, you must put enough content in your post to make it self-sufficient. – lgeorget

if you swapped out "meet quality standards" (read: your answer is crap) with something about link-only answers being discouraged because adding context to links makes the answer better, and avoids problems with link-rot, etc., it'd be more positive. You could also refer to one of these in the comment:

  • 1
    Ok, thank you for your answer. Reading it again, I have to admit that my comment was not really nice. I'll improve it to meet the quality standards. :D
    – lgeorget
    Commented Mar 8, 2014 at 8:19
  • Where is the MetaMeta off-topic place so I can link to this!
    – Johan
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 20:08
  • @Johan The what place? No idea what you're talking about.
    – derobert
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 20:10
  • Where we talk about where we talk about the SE site.
    – Johan
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 20:12
  • I am of course talking about the phenomenon of having had the post about editing people's posts to improve them edited to improve it.
    – Johan
    Commented Apr 1, 2014 at 20:14

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