Every once in a while when I go to review, I am prompted with edits that seem to be made just for the sake of editing, such that they fix simple typos but do nothing for the clarity or content.

Recently I was tasked with passing judgement an edit made by a new user that corrected a typo, changed effect to affect, and added periods to an i.e. example. Obviously there is nothing wrong with the content of the edit (though I still can't figure out if the affect/effect change was correct). By approving an edit, I feel I am taking something from the questions OP by adding the editors name when they essentially did nothing for the question. By rejecting, I feel like I'm sending the wrong message to the user who made the edit.

Personally, I wouldn't bother making such a trivial edit as it does nothing for the question, and I have gotten called out in the past for approving edits that were, to quote one particular OP, 'retarded'. I ended up skipping this edit due to immense personal conflict, and I was hoping to get some input on the matter from the community.


3 Answers 3


tl;dr: as always, it depends.

Speaking purely as myself and not as a mod:

I will often edit a post if a one-word spelling error jumps out at me. I'm not a great speller by nature and so I've basically memorized all the words but not a lot of the rules. I've also got some sort of crazy speed reading going on in my peripheral vision that sees the errors but won't tell me where they are. As a result, I'm super distracted until that one stupid word is fixed.

For example, I see the "i.e." above and I'm having real trouble not changing it to "e.g." (the second one means "for example" whereas the first means something close to "in effect").

Would a change like that add a lot of value? Perhaps not. Would the result be better? Maybe a little bit.

As a mod:

Have I approved edits that are this tiny? Sure. If I can't see any reason why not to approve an edit, I generally will, no matter how small. We need participation in the community more than we need me fussing about whether I feel editorially validated.

So what to do?

Ask. Someone is almost always hanging around the chat these days. Have a question? Ask it and opinions will come your way.

  • 1
    I guess my apprehension also comes from being a relatively new user, as I don't even bat an eye when I see your name (or paulster, ducati, zaid, rory, nick, movecomments) on an edit, but I usually check revision history when it's a new users edit. Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 13:57
  • @MooseLucifer which always takes me aback: I'm just this guy, okay? I could be dead wrong just like anyone else. And your instincts of "hm, this is a super low rep newbie, maybe I should look more closely" are just fine.
    – Bob Cross Mod
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 14:08

Speaking as someone who has done a ton of edits throughout my life here on Mech.SE as well as reviewed a ton of edits, I have no issue with the small edit. We all make mistakes. Even the edits contain mistakes which need to be fixed or rejected. If you do not feel comfortable with approving an edit which seems trivial, skip it and let someone else do the review.

There are very few times I have rejected an edit. If I have an issue with the edit, I'll usually improve on the edit. There are many reasons to go whichever way the edit trail will go. Ultimately, whether it's a small edit or a large one, the outcome is about providing a better Q or A, which ultimately benefits the site.

Remember a lot of people who visit this site do not have English as their first language. It's easier for them to translate it over. If there are punctuation errors or some minor grammatical things going on, this can affect how the translation may come out. Some people are so wrapped up in texting, they write in that truncated way which nobody outside of the US would ever understand. That's one of those things which drives me nuts.

IIRC, it still takes two approvals on edits for them to become live. If you make a mistake in what you're review isn't spot on, hopefully the next reviewer will pick up on it. Hopefully someone's got your back.

PS: The affect v. effect war is a tough one. It can be hard to differentiate which is needed. While I do pretty well in the grammar department, this one stumps me from time to time as well. I (right or wrongly) think of them as before or after an event. I try to remember:

Affect - To change the outcome of an event (most often used as a verb)

Effect - Describing the event (most often used as a noun)

Here is what Dictionary.com has to say about it.

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    Thanks for the input. It does make me feel a little more vain when you put it that way - it's all for the greater good of the site, and it doesn't matter how many names are listed on a question. Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 16:01
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    @MooseLucifer - Exactly. I am truly glad you are here and are worrying about these things. It shows me you care about the site. That is a great thing and means a lot to me. Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 16:36

I think that correcting the spelling and grammar imporves the quality of a post. For this reason I consider them non-trivial and I tend to always accept them. In addition, a suggested edit shows that the user actually read the post. Very often I find upvoted posts of mine with minor typos that nobody picked up on. This sometimes makes me think that people don't read the text thoroughly and that sometimes one gets upvotes just because one has a lot of rep.

For completeness sake note that I have suggested and approved plenty of these edits myself.

  • Thanks for contributing. I can see how you might think that people are skimming over posts, and I'm sure many people do, but I definitely read posts carefully, and as IHaveNoIdeaWID commented earlier, I'm not the only one who has felt this way about edits. Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 12:49
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    +1 for the well placed proof-of-concept. Commented Jun 14, 2016 at 17:44

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