I provided a comment to a question/answer about the scp command.

Someone noticed a single character error in a command over there, and he was upset because it had cost him and his team time. I suggested we simply fix the error. It was obviously wrong, and we both tested it to be wrong. I even provided proof that it was wrong in the comments. Ultimately, I did what makes sense, I contributed an edit. To my surprise it was rejected within short time:

Thomas reviewed this 11 hours ago: Reject This edit deviates from the original intent of the post. Even edits that must make drastic changes should strive to preserve the goals of the post's owner.

Vlastimil reviewed this 11 hours ago: Reject 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.

I don't really understand the reasoning behind these rejection notices. I simply fixed a syntax error by adding a single colon (:) in the command. I also added an edit notice so that new readers would understand the context of the discussion in the comments below the answer.

This has happened to me before over at other SE sites, so I'm starting to wonder if fixing syntax/coding errors is not encouraged? I checked if this sort of edits were ok over at SO, and it seems like it is encouraged there:

Edits are expected to be substantial and to leave the post better than you found it. Common reasons for edits include:

  • ...
  • To correct minor mistakes or add updates as the post ages

I'm assuming the same applies to U&L?

Anyway, such rejections happen, and I was about to just ignore the whole thing, but then I noticed this. Someone with higher U&L reputation did the same edit as me. This is of course a good thing, however, it does seem like the edit review process needs more work.

Why where the reviewers inclined to reject my original edit? Could I have made a better edit? If it was an ok edit, how can we improve the edit review process?

  • 1
    As a non-native speaker - my questions/answers are routinely corrected. I'm grateful that someone does the hard job of correcting my grammar. Jul 28, 2017 at 19:17

3 Answers 3


Unfortunately reviewers are not perfect—and I think you just happened to run into two very, uh, not perfect reviews. Neither of the reject reasons are correct: fixing a syntax error clearly makes an answer more accurate and I'm pretty sure the answer's author intended to give the correct syntax.

I don't think there is much you can do about a one-off mistake, other than asking in chat or here on meta to get a high-rep user to repeat the edit for you (as high-rep users do not need approval of their edits). If you notice a pattern of bad reviews by a reviewer, though, please feel free to get in touch with the moderators. Best way to get in touch with the moderators is probably to flag the question, pick the 'in need of moderator intervention', and explain in the comment box.

[Also: in case you're new to meta, multiple people may post answers to your meta question, and the community will indicate its opinion on the answers by voting on them.]

  • Ugh, they are spilling from SO. Better we go and take the queues again.
    – Braiam
    Jul 18, 2017 at 15:37
  • @Braiam SO folks are of course welcome to join our community, but you'd hope they'd learn this community's culture in the first few thousand rep before being granted access to the review queues! 2k according to unix.stackexchange.com/help/privileges/edit
    – derobert
    Jul 18, 2017 at 15:51

Fixing a wrong command is indeed a good edit, it's a shame yours got rejected. In the future, don't add the edit comment in the post just to get over the 6-character limit. Instead, fix some syntax / grammar, provide links to man pages or link an uncommon abbreviation to Wikipedia. There's always something to be improved (example).

Also, you may be interested in reading this discussion on the 6-character limit.

  • Thanks Dmitry. That discussion makes sense. That said, I didn't add the edit note only for the chars. I added it because in the context of the comment section argument I wanted people to know the issue was resolved. As it stands a new reader might become confused and skeptical about the answer when reading the comments. Besides I see the edit idiom all over the place on SE, e.g., this extremely popular answer: stackoverflow.com/a/12940384/604048 I don't feel my usage was very different. The edit note was added in order to acknowledged the dialogue. Jul 28, 2017 at 17:47
  • I have to retract the "as it stands" part, because the comments have been removed. Which is an option as well, I suppose. Didn't know there was a "no longer needed" flag option for comments - as stated elsewhere in this question. Typically I'd expect those to be serious violation flaggings. Jul 28, 2017 at 18:03

I would have likely rejected your edit on the basis that it adds the text

edit: Fixed missing : in command.

which belongs in the edit comment rather than the answer body.

This could be what the reviewers latched on to, but they chose a vote reason that doesn't match.

  • 16
    Personally I would go with "Improve" over "Reject" in this situation, but yes, adding the edit line is unnecessary. Instead flag the comments as obsolete and we'll just get rid of them Jul 17, 2017 at 19:31
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    @Kaz There are two reasons for the extra text: 1) Oftentimes edits need to explicitly clarified so that the discussion in the comments give sense to new readers. Here there was talk in the comments about the command not working, and an argument even broke out. I added the note because I wanted it to be very clear that the argument was resolved, and the command was now correct. 2) There is often a minimum character limit to how small an edit can be on SE sites, I was afraid a one char change would be automatically rejected. Jul 17, 2017 at 22:17
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    @AndréChristofferAndersen to (1): the edit history (and timeline) of a question is always available, and (2) if you can't find 5 other characters to edit, consider alerting the chat room, where a 2k+ user may see it and be able to act on it without needing to meet the char limit.
    – Jeff Schaller Mod
    Jul 18, 2017 at 0:47
  • 7
    It does not match because in that circumstance one does not reject the edit. One cuts out the "edit" part and then approves the edit.
    – JdeBP
    Jul 18, 2017 at 10:59
  • 4
    @AndréChristofferAndersen An html comment is a cleaner way of making sure your edit hits the minimum char limit. Jul 21, 2017 at 1:21
  • 2
    @JeffSchaller I would argue that the vast majority of people who need the information never venture into the edit history. Also, there are plenty of cases where people add edit notes to make things clear because of the dynamic nature of the Q&A. Take this extremely popular answer by Jon Skeet: stackoverflow.com/a/176274/604048 He added a note because of the comments, as I did. If such additions is reason for rejecting an edit at U&L, then it should IMO be stated very clearly as a warning in the answer edit form, and usage of it should be purged from existing answers in general. Jul 28, 2017 at 18:02

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