A while ago, I asked two questions on U&L. And because I was fairly new to bash (I still am), I mentioned the fact that I was a newbie each time. A bit in the hope to inform any respondents' answers and level of explaining.

Earlier this week, StackOverflow informed me that two of my questions had been edited. Normally, edits from experienced users are a good thing; they help make posts more readable, by fixing grammar or spelling mistakes, by adding formatting, or tags, or by helping with the wording. I was curious what I had missed, so I checked.

The only thing that the user - who has a lot of reputation points - had changed, certainly with the best intentions, was my reference to being a newbie.

I didn't quite understand why, however. After all, my questions had been
And I had added that information for a reason.

Now, if this were a wiki, I'd not have spent a second thought on this - but this isn't a wiki, and there is my name under those questions. So I feel like it should be me as the original author who sets the tone and style of my question. Which is why I rolled back the changes; In my opinion they only reflected someone's personal preference for a more factual style, after all.

The next day, the deletes were back.
Somehow, that feels like somebody is not respecting my wishes, and abusing their edit privileges to do it. (In my mind, you can edit other people's posts to help them express themselves better - but from my point of view, I don't think that's what happened. These edits didn't help. In any case, I am - as you can probably tell - a bit annoyed.)

So, long story short, how can I - as someone with hardly any reputation on U&L - respectfully ask someone with lots to please stop making that kind of edits to my questions? Is there an "internal message" functionality to get in touch?

Or am I missing a community rule that advocates certain styles aren't used?

  • 6
    This is a wiki. The edits are good. – jasonwryan Aug 24 at 21:39
  • 8
    Plenty of people consider that to be just noise: meta.stackexchange.com/a/138646/270345 meta.stackexchange.com/a/203727/270345 If you get an answer above your level, just ask for clarification on the comments. – muru Aug 24 at 21:48
  • 6
    Consider the perspective that SX aims to solve more than just your particular problem— anyone who has your problem can benefit from the solution(s). Your current knowledge level is a side commentary on the overall picture; it can help inform the level of the response but is not a critical element. – Jeff Schaller Aug 24 at 21:51
  • 2
    @muru Fair point; I'll ponder over that a while. Although your first link seems to support my initial thought: "Note that sometimes, the OP stating that s/he has little to no experience in a certain field is helpful to the user attempting to provide a solution." – Christian Aug 24 at 22:44
  • 1
    "Sometimes". Once you have already got and accepted an answer, what's the point of keeping that around? And also, that information doesn't need to be stated in the question, the comments work just as fine. – muru Aug 24 at 22:57
  • 2
    See also the FAQ regarding posts and edits. – Jeff Schaller Aug 24 at 23:54
  • 3
    I did see the FAQ, but fail to see how the "newbie" debate meets the first test - although I can appreciate seeing it over and over is annoying, and will do my best to refrain from using it going forward: "Edits are expected to be substantial..." Maybe someone should update the Tour saying that niceties can be dispensed with; a link to it could then go in the edit comment, so people are aware what they did "wrong". Just correcting without explaining isn't helping. – Christian Aug 25 at 8:13
up vote 21 down vote accepted

First of all, thank you for coming here and posting a civil and calm question about it. That is always appreciated. That said, this site is actually partly a wiki. The Stack Exchange sites were always aiming to be a cross between a wiki, a blog, a forum and sites like Digg or Reddit:

SE ven diagramm

This was explained in one of the first blog posts announcing the launch of Stack Overflow, the first SE site. So yes, this is indeed at least partly a wiki.

The specific edits did slightly improve the "signal to noise" ratio. What I mean is that things like "I'm new to this" don't really add anything useful to the question. We can usually tell you're new by seeing what you're asking. More importantly, whether you're new or not isn't really relevant to the technical aspects of your question.

If you get an answer that isn't clear to you because you lack the knowledge to understand it, then you can ask for clarification in the comments. More importantly, answers should always strive to be clearly understandable by users of any level of knowledge. If an answer can only be understood by someone at the level of expertise of the person who answered, then it's essentially useless since anyone who can understand the answer will already know it and will therefore have no need to read it.

This is to say that we try (albeit not always successfully) to answer in ways that are clear both to a newbie and to an expert. And if that's still too complicated, we will happily add further clarifications upon request.

Additionally, and coming back to the "wiki" aspect of the site, we don't answer for the person who asked the question alone. We answer for the person who asked and for every other user who might have the same question and will then find this Q&A. They don't need to know you're new. They just need to know the answer.

We therefore often remove this sort of "noise" (noise being anything not directly related to the question being asked). Things like "I'm new" or even "thanks" or "hello". We try to keep things as streamlined as possible, giving what is needed to ask and answer and nothing else.

It would have been much better if, after you undid the edits, the high rep user had left a comment explaining why the edits were being made instead of just reapplying them. That would have felt like less of an attack on you and I get why you may have felt bullied. But despite the slightly inelegant way in which they were made, the edits themselves are indeed considered OK.

  • 1
    This can also be shown on the tour by entering a particular Konami Code variant on the keyboard (ending in Enter); it used to be there but was replaced by the site logo. (Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right B A Enter) – wizzwizz4 Sep 17 at 20:18

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .