Recently, a user has been filling up the suggested edits queue with very minor edits, most of the time by digging up old questions from last year, and fixing typos/formatting. This happens from time to time, but this is the second time recently that I've had 10+ such edits from that user to review.

I don't review too many edits myself, but I think I remember reading somewhere that minor edits should only be approved if the question is rather recent. Such edits should not be made to old questions, because it brings them back into the top questions list for no significant reason.

Is this still true today, or is it a rule I think I've read somewhere, but actually haven't? Should I keep rejecting these edits to keep the questions down the list, or should I consider approving them, since they usually do improve grammar and formatting?

If the solution is still to reject them, then aside from the chat (which the user might not use), is there any way I can reach out to that user and explain why I keep rejecting his edits like that? I'm considering contacting that member by email, but such information might not be available every time...

  • I saw several edits where all the user did was removing the thanks at the end of the post. It is probably the same user. – dr01 Nov 4 '15 at 10:25
  • Maybe just accept, but without bumping the question? – Vi. Nov 8 '15 at 14:39
  • Related, from worldbuilding: Alarming Number of Edits – SnoringFrog Nov 9 '15 at 21:39
up vote 18 down vote accepted

I have been reviewing the user's edits and, for the vast majority, they are actually quite helpful. Yes, they are more geared towards grammar and formatting, but overall, edits of this type do lift the quality of the site and they should be welcomed.

I have rejected a small proportion of them where the edits themselves may have been correct (grammatically, for example), but they were a classic example of lipstick on a pig, viz. this edit.

I would also draw your attention to the "Improve Edit" button: this gives you the option to include your own contributions to the edit to fill out any shortcomings of the original editor's revision. It is often a better outcome to continue to lift the quality of the site, rather than just reject any effort at improvement, irrespective of how minor you perceive it.

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    I think everyone would appreciate a concrete example of "lipstick on a pig" here. ;{) I agree that doing a little is better than doing nothing at all and should not be discouraged, even if someone is perhaps cherry picking for 2 rep points -- good for them. It ends soon and they will have earned it just by bothering to read that many questions IMO. – goldilocks Oct 28 '15 at 19:55
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    @goldilocks added an example for you... :p – jasonwryan Oct 28 '15 at 20:56
  • Just so I'm sure... Editing a question does bring it back from the depths of U&L, and back into the top questions list, right? I was referring strictly to these "lipstick on a pig" examples (since I usually approve the others, if I'm not wrong). I do believe that these edits improve grammar and readability, I was just wondering whether they were worth "reactivating" the question. I'll try to approve/improve these edits more often from now on (especially if they might restimulate interest in a dead question). Thanks for you input! – John WH Smith Oct 28 '15 at 22:24
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    @JohnWHSmith It does bring them back up: but that is by design (and not considered a flaw). It ensures that the content on the wiki is continually combed over and refined/improved. You will note that older questions are recycled by Community (the bot) to the same effect. – jasonwryan Oct 28 '15 at 22:34
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    I've seen the Community bot recycling older questions. Many of those have either been answered satisfactorily but the OP didn't ever accept the answer, or they were answered trivially in comments. Perhaps this should be a different question altogether but is there any useful way we can stop those questions being recycled due to lack of an accepted answer? (Is there an "accept on behalf of..." type option available to mods or you seriously high scoring users?) – roaima Oct 29 '15 at 18:03
  • @roaima not that I am aware of. It would have to be a mod tool and I certainly haven't seen it deployed in my time here. – jasonwryan Oct 29 '15 at 18:07
  • Just reading meta.unix.stackexchange.com/questions/888/… now – roaima Oct 29 '15 at 18:08
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    I for one being a non-native speaker welcome anyone that commits to keep the quality of language and grammar in check. – Rui F Ribeiro Nov 17 '15 at 7:13

Before suggested edits were revamped last year, there was a rejection reason for this case. It read:

too minor - This edit is too minor; suggested edits should be substantive improvements addressing multiple issues in the post.

Now this is implicit in the "Reject and Edit" option, which implies that there was more wrong with the post that the editor should have fixed. Instead there's a new rejection reason:

no improvement whatsoever - This edit does not make the post even a little bit easier to read, easier to find, more accurate or more accessible. Changes are either completely superfluous or actively harm readability.

These two things make me think Stack Exchange's goal is to reject minor edits only if there were more important edits that the editor missed. They shouldn't just fix a missing apostrophe if half the post is in shambles and needs to be rewritten, but if the only things wrong with the post are minor errors, they might as well fix them.

As for telling the user they're messing up, the site will do that for you. If too high a proportion of a user's suggested edits are rejected, the system will ban them from suggesting new edits for a week, and tell them so when they try. They can look at their own history to see the reasons their previous edits were rejected.

  • Aaah! So there was a too minor option! I was beginning to wonder whether or not I had imagined it. Actually, I should have had a look at the users' history myself: 98% of his edits were approved, while I rejected half of my reviews... That sure calls for some introspection... – John WH Smith Oct 28 '15 at 22:28
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    I realise that U&L has a slightly different culture to SO (and I don't have enough rep here to review edits), but on SO my rule of thumb is that if I think the edit is too trivial I'll "Reject & Edit" rather than "Improve Edit" both to discourage the editor from making such edits and to get the edit out of the review queue. Yes, trivial edits may improve the post, but IMO they shouldn't require 4 brains to make them. – PM 2Ring Oct 31 '15 at 10:45
  • There are a few users who try to do Reputation farming by fixing just a few things in very bad posts and leaving the mess; I usually reject the edit as "no improvement whatsoever". I've also just rejected an edit about spelling on an answer "I have this problem too" which will be deleted anyway soon. – dr01 Aug 28 '17 at 8:16

I routinely reject any post which only changes grammar or spelling as "no improvement whatsoever". If the post makes the poster look ignorant, why should anyone correct it? If the editor can figure out what the poster meant so can the rest of us, and if not they are probably misrepresenting it. I admit the temptation to correct poor spelling, but count to 10 and it goes away.

I occasionally have people edit my posts. I find it offensive if they "correct" my grammar. My expression is sometimes idiosyncratic, but it is mine. If someone changes it they are misrepresenting me. If you really MUST edit someone's grammar you should have the manners to identify yourself.

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    "you should have the manners to identify yourself." how many anonymous edits do you get? – muru Nov 7 '15 at 17:30

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