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I see a lot of edits in the edit queue for adding the "Preformatted text" markdown. Here's an extreme example from this morning:

enter image description here

I generally just approve them, under the theory that a low-rep user is trying to help clean things up and that's useful and it also encourages that newer user to keep contributing.

But I'm curious how useful those tags are. When I see them (and use them myself) in posts, they're really just eye candy. For filenames sometimes they help set the filename apart, but that doesn't seem like a huge benefit. Is there some deeper reason to use them? Do they help sort search results, or benefit screen readers, or something else I'm not aware of?

And, the real reason I ask those questions: should I keep approving edits like this?

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    Not necessarily the case here, but just for general information: related discussion on useless backticking edits. There are some good examples linked there of what BAD use of backticks looks like. – SeldomNeedy Apr 30 '16 at 5:52
  • @SeldomNeedy thanks that was the sort of thing I was asking about... would you please turn that into an answer so meta users can vote between it and the existing answer? – user4443 Apr 30 '16 at 6:35
  • To make understanding this question easier, here's a link to the original question. – SeldomNeedy Apr 30 '16 at 7:47
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I agree that it's likely a low rep user, attempting to gain rep, which is fine. I would put this to you, is the edit worthwhile enough that it makes the Q or A better than it was before? If so then approve it, otherwise I'd reject it.

IMO these are worthwhile edits, so I'd approve them as well, if that helps.

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    Agree they are usefull: anything that distinguishes between genuine content and the random punctuation or walls of text that often appears in posts makes them much more readable... – jasonwryan Apr 29 '16 at 21:48
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    Every little bit helps, but if I can borrow the soapbox for a moment, if (general) "you" are going to edit a post for the +2 rep, please do more than just add formatting or capitalization, if there are other improvements to make! – Jeff Schaller Apr 30 '16 at 0:48
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The user may have improved the post to some degree. But to what extent is up for debate; deciding what to do with edits which consist primarily of changes in formatting are a matter of balance between allowing small improvements through, and inviting a pile of tiny edits to constantly be suggested, stealing time away from the more important activities on the site.

There are a few comments (1, 2) on the subject of format-only edits which this question brings to memory, both from Stackoverflow's meta site. The first, more-relevant one states:

Formatting edits are only valid when the post had no / barely any formatting to begin with.

Although a bit tougher-sounding than the remark made by jasonwryan, they both flow along the lines that a little bit of visual variation can improve the legibility of a post, make it easier to find things and harder to lose one's place (or one's interest in actually reading it, for that matter).

In the specific context of the question, I can imagine a person who would have a better chance of understanding what was going on in the discussion * if * the tricky characters appeared in separate blocks (or if they were delimited somehow). This potential reader might be new to ext4, and perhaps barely understands NTFS or filesystems in general, needing all the clues they can get.

Speaking generally again, the popularity/utility of a question-andanswer are also worth considering; there's more added value from smaller edits to highly-seen posts than to ones that are basically just a conversation between the OP and one or two answerers.

If you have edits on a new question, it's really up to the individual reviewer to make a judgement as to whether the suggester is just somebody grabbing low-hanging fruit for rep while overlooking potential improvements to informational content (adding links or updating outdated statements) or whether the post is solid otherwise, and this is just the pretty cherry on top.

There's more discussion which generally applies to this topic of "backtick edits" here and here.

  • I fix the formatting of posts which have used quote formatting for code or code formatting for quotes. I wouldn't bother fixing it in your post above because a) it's only 1 line, and b) (more importantly) it doesn't have a horizontal scroll bar. – cas May 2 '16 at 5:49
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When I had low enough rep to still go through edit moderation, I was explained that such edits (also, fixing up bad tags, with no other changes to the text body) are frowned upon as they are too small to provide worth (unless it’s something like, making a program snippet legible at all by prepending four spaces to every line) and the moderators should not be burdened by lots of such small edits.

This means:

For the user: Do not submit such edits to the edit queue. Wait until you gain enough reputation to be able to edit without moderation; after that, this kind of edits is perfectly fine.

For the moderator: If possible, explain this situation to the user. Decline the edit in the moderation queue.

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