I am confused by the instructions about editing

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

This seems to be a little contradictory to me. Is correcting a couple of typo like misspellings "substantial". In particularly, I am curious because of the edits made to https://academia.stackexchange.com/posts/16976/revisions. The first edit was by a high rep user and fixed a single typo in the question title by adding a character. The second edit was by a new user and changed an American English spelling to British English and fixed two typos by changing a single letter in each case.

How do we fell about seemingly minor edits of these types?

3 Answers 3


Not all typos and misspellings are created equal.

Typos in question titles should always be fixed, in my opinion, as they're what a user initially interacts with. Lots of typos makes the site look less professional.

Beyond that, however, "small" corrections should be avoided unless the typo corrects the meaning of a sentence by replacing an incorrect word with the correct word. Otherwise, the changes should be more than just fixing one or two words.

  • 1
    I agree. The biggest downside to minor (inessential) corrections to the question body is that it bumps up the question again on the main page. Especially for older questions this is annoying, imho. Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 16:18
  • 2
    I really wish there was a "Minor edit" checkbox a'la Wikipedia that would not bump the question up.
    – RoboKaren
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 15:49

Note that when someone with high reputation edits a post, it is instant (I call it being a demi-mod). When someone with low or mid reputation, it blocks further edits, until it is resolved (by a mod, or maybe also a demi-mod).

I guess the rationale behind not making too small changes is:

  • not blocking a question (you've spotted spoted, while someone else has spotted that the title is unrelated to the question's content),
  • not wasting time over trivial things (though, personally, I think that is someone wants to change an annoying typo, we should not block her/him); and if (s)he is a (demi-)mod, I don't see any reason for discouraging making this site better.

At Academia SE, the level of English proficiency varies a great deal. I've noticed that participants here are quite tolerant of non-standard English in all types of posts, but especially in questions. I see this as a good thing, because it encourages international participation.

On the other hand, sometimes I find myself scratching my head a bit to understand what the poster is trying to convey, and once I've figured it out, I edit for clarity, so that other participants can capture the poster's intended meaning more quickly.

I also tend to edit for mistakes like "it's" when it should be "its" because I'm happier working with clean text. This is a person idiosyncracy of my own (although over at ELU it's not an unusual one).

I can see @PieterNaaijkens' point that this type of editing can clutter up the Active list. If this is a significant problem, I guess we should put in RoboKaren's proposal as a feature request (a "Minor edit" checkbox à la Wikipedia that would not bump the question up).

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