Academia.SE users (myself included) have been known to make edits to other users' posts that are merely a matter of style. For example, edits that:

It is my opinion that some of these edits are generally useful; some are useful only if you are anyways making more substantial changes to a post at the same time; some are useful only if it doesn't involve bumping an old post; and some are not useful at all, or even annoying to some users. However, I think it's hard to tell which edits fall in which category.

What are some guidelines for users to determine whether to make an edit that is purely a matter of style, as in the examples above? How, specifically, would these guidelines apply to the examples above?

This has been discussed on main meta, but only with regard to style of code snippets. There, the consensus seems to be that subjective style changes to code snippets are inappropriate.

  • As long as the users have the opportunity to rollback the edits made to their posts, this post of yours seems to be irrelevant and gives me sense of imposing your preference on edits to me as far as most of the referred edits are the ones which I made recently.
    – enthu
    Sep 30, 2014 at 16:30
  • @EnthusiasticStudent Your edits are heavily represented because you are an especially prolific editor lately; that is all.
    – ff524
    Sep 30, 2014 at 16:58
  • 1
    @EnthusiasticStudent However, if your suggested approach is that all edits in the list I gave are OK because rollbacks are possible, please post this as an answer. If it's upvoted, it will become site policy. If it's not posted as an answer, it won't become site policy.
    – ff524
    Sep 30, 2014 at 17:05

1 Answer 1


My own suggested guidelines are (a) to check whether a style is your own preference, or seems to be used very widely on Academia.SE, and (b) to check the impact of the edit.

1. Style that is used consistently by many long-term users of the site

This category has two sub-categories:

1.1 If the edit makes a big difference to readability of post, or appearance of front page

I think that these edits are generally good edits. But I would usually avoid doing them if it'll bump an old post, to which I'm not making more substantial edits at the same time.

Examples of edits in this category:

  • Break up wall of text
  • Fix title capitalization

1.2 If the edit doesn't make a big difference to readability, or appearance of front page

I think these edits are helpful if you're also making more substantial edits at the same time, or if it's already near the top of the front page:


  • Remove a "Q" denoting beginning of question
  • Add 'quote' formatting to quotes
  • Capitalize acronyms like "IEEE" or "DOI" in body of post
  • Add question mark at the end of question title (this one's a little questionable)
  • Change numbered lists to proper markdown formatting

2. Style that isn't used consistently by long-term users of the site

I would suggest that edits like these should not generally be made at all (unless it's brought up on meta first and the community agrees to adopt this style). It's perfectly fine to use your preferred style in your own posts, but injecting it into others' seems a bit rude to me.

Edits in this category would include:

  • Add semi-colons to the end of list items
  • Add clickable links to widely known sites
  • Add full citation for links that are given inline as clickable text
  • Add links to users' profile pages if they're mentioned by name in text of post
  • Change inline numbered lists with a couple of items (like in the first paragraph of this answer) to a non-inline list
  • Changing the spelling between British and American English (or other variants)
  • In my opinion, only 1.1 and edits that fix clear spelling errors should be done. 1.2 and 2 really don't add much to the question, and I myself find those edits of my posts at least a little bit annoying.
    – xLeitix
    Sep 30, 2014 at 10:51
  • 2
    I'd add to 1.1 conversion of URL links to plain text format (as I've done in both of the answers to this question).
    – aeismail
    Sep 30, 2014 at 16:39
  • While I mostly agree, I find that, in some cases, quote formatting, markdown lists and capitalising acronyms make a big difference to the readability of the post. I would therefore make clear that these are only guidelines. Also I would add converting between two variants of English (such as British and American) to 2.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Sep 30, 2014 at 20:38
  • @Wrzlprmft please go ahead and edit in the language variant thing. I strongly agree
    – ff524
    Sep 30, 2014 at 20:43

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