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One of the canned messages to reject a suggested edit is 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.

Quite an unfriendly message, if not rude, as has already been discussed elsewhere. I propose that we, reviewers, refrain from using it whenever there is good faith on the suggested edit, and instead write a more kind message to reject the edit, say

Although your suggestion does not harm the post, I fail to see any substantial improvement.

or maybe, for rewording and reformatting attempts,

It is dubious whether the proposed formatting/rewording substantially improves this post.

I mean, you can compose your own and just copy-paste.

Examples

Good faith edits that at least partially improve the post, yet have "no improvement whatsoever" rejection votes, and whose true rejection reason I am guessing in the labels:

  1. Changes "How can I" into "How to".
  2. Too minor.
  3. Too minor.
  4. Also harms.
  5. Too minor.

Good faith edit, rejected, but Muru has written the reason why. This is the behavior I'm trying to encourage, namely, to give a proper reason when rejecting.

Definetly bad edits:

  1. Bad faith.
  2. Inattentive, though probably not ill-intended.

Thus the suggestion

Reserve "no improvement whatsoever" for the bad edits, that really deserve it. Otherwise, do not respond so harshly to a volunteered, good faith attempt of improvement, especially to new users. If in doubt, assume good faith.

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  • 1
    In the good faith edit, the comment isn’t muru’s, it’s the standard reason given for “reject and edit” (see this other example). Jan 12 at 8:35
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You may have a point in general, but I fear your example is a bad one. That edit was absolutely harmful! It changed a correct grammatical question ("How can I?") into something that is grammatically wrong: "How to?".

"How to" is not a question, it is a declaration. So "How to boil pasta" is a fine title for an article explaining how pasta should be boiled. However, "How to boil pasta?" is not a grammatically valid question. So the edit you mention, which only changed the title of the question from this:

How can I use bash's if test and find commands together?

To this:

How to use "if", "test", and "find" commands together in a bash script?

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.

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    @Quasímodo this is one of my personal pet peeves. I hate how often you see questions written as "how to foo?", it drives me up the wall and I regularly edit to make them into actual questions.
    – terdon Mod
    Jan 8 at 15:46
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    "How to _____?" is an abbreviated form of "Can someone show/tell me how to _____?". Colloquially it's fine, but I personally prefer the complete interrogative ("How can I _____?") in the context of a question title.
    – DopeGhoti
    Jan 8 at 20:57
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    @terdon There is nothing unusual in sites that are mainly policed by unpaid volunteers becoming the playthings of those volunteers, regardless of the wider community. Whether it drives away people who don't like being told what to do by people who think they know everything worth knowing doesn't usually bother the perpetrators. Enjoy keeping your little playpen in your idea of perfect order.
    – alephzero
    Jan 10 at 19:35
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    @terdon I think you're going to be increasingly annoyed at this one over time. I suspect within the next 10-20 years it will have slipped into such common use that even grammar text books print it. Quite aside from whether or not the edit was okay, this particular point of grammar is taking on a life (and meaning) of it's own in much the way that LOL now doesn't mean laughing out loud. The incorrect "How to .... ?" scans as a neutral imperative, or less divisive than "how [can|may|should|must] I". It's also more google friendly for much the same reason. Feb 21 at 23:56
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On the reviewer side, there's a meaningful difference between the current message:

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.

And your proposed:

Although your suggestion does not harm the post, I fail to see any substantial improvement.

[or]

It is dubious whether the proposed formatting/rewording substantially improves this post.

(Emphasis mine.)

The current message hints to the reviewer that that flag reason is only appropriate for edits that are truly, completely devoid of benefit. For example, it makes it clear to me that I shouldn't use it to reject an edit that I think is good, but not good enough to be worthwhile. It indicates that even the tiniest improvement is still an improvement worth accepting.

The proposed rewrite, on the other hand, says that the improvement has to be "substantial." That raises the bar for what an edit has to accomplish in order for it to pass review—and that's harmful, I think.


On the editor side, I agree that the message comes off as rude.

Could the editor side use a different phrasing than the reviewer side?

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  • Valid remark. The thing is: It is some reviewers' understanding that too minor edits, i.e., those that improve the post but very slightly, should be rejected. (I have updated the post with more examples of such rejections.) There is no guideline which says that is a wrong or right understanding. The kinder alternatives I have written had those reviews in mind. Another reason for rejection could be "Although this edit improves {this}, it also harms {that}."
    – Quasímodo
    Jan 10 at 21:49
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    @Quasímodo for "Although this edit improves {this}, it also harms {that}", isn't that what the Accept-but-Edit option is for?
    – roaima
    Jan 11 at 10:01
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    @roaima AFAIK there is no consensus on that. Too few {this} and too {much} could warrant a rejection, and vice-versa. Even admittedly 100% good edits, but too minor, are rejected sometimes.
    – Quasímodo
    Jan 11 at 13:47
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    @Quasímodo Exactly. If I have to undo 3 useless/harmful changes just to keep 1 actual improvement, I'd rather reject-and-edit and put that one improvement back in. Jan 18 at 9:46
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    @Quasímodo the rule of thumb is whenever you spend less time going from 0 (for reject-and-edit ) or you can build upon the edit (improve).
    – Braiam
    Jan 18 at 14:45

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