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There's a user who appears to edit posts largely to change ' (apostrophe) to (modified letter apostrophe). Example (revision 2) (includes a minor edit to the title, adding a mistyped question mark to a title ... that's not a question, and changing 3 ''s).

This seems to minor to me, not to mention that I consider the choice between ' and to be ones own (I personally think ' looks better though) and, as such, you shouldn't be changing this in edits (unless you're rewriting large parts of the post).

At best it's an attempt at making an edit appear more significant to prevent rejection as "too minor".

Are these edits appropriate?

Who's approving these things anyway?

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    I agree - simply changing apostrophe styles is a waste. Far too minor. – Joe Strazzere May 15 '14 at 19:15
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The edit by that user is completely invalid, so much so that at first I mistook them for improvements and had the highlighting backwards in my head.

If you see edits like this that are completely invalid, they should be rejected.

In cases where an edit slips through, one thing many people may not realize is that you can @ping the editor on a post. The autocomplete isn't there, so it may feel like they won't get the message, but the @ping will work to give someone some editing feedback.

  • I think you may have looked at the wrong revision or are confusing the pre-edit with post-edit. In revision 2, Jake changed "Help" to "Advice on" in the title (which is an improvement, sure, but, as you mentioned, still isn't ideal), added a / to the title (presumably a mistyped ?), and changed the usual straight-down ' to the backwards-facing . – Dukeling May 16 '14 at 4:15
  • @Dukeling - You are quite correct. For some reason, my brain saw those as improvements. I guess I can't see why anyone would have made such edits. I'll update this to reflect that. – jmort253 May 16 '14 at 4:33
  • Person in question here. I believe the over concern about UTF8 characters is excessive. You say this, “As such, it's possible they may not render correctly on some platforms.” Nonsense. It is 2014 and pretty much all of the web is either UTF8 clean or moving towards being UTF8 clean so I believe the concerns you are raising here—and in that thread—are simply a bit pedantic. Your username is “jmort253♦” so isn’t that problematic? If the concern is the edit is too minor just reject it. If I edit something in a larger scope, smart-quotes & UTF8 is my style & I will stick to it. – JakeGould May 17 '14 at 16:27
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    @JakeGould - Well, I'm always willing to learn more and grow, so your reaction is a bit uncalled for. Your edit on this particular example in this question is invalid because all you did was change punctuation to match your style, which needlessly bumps posts, and that's not what suggested edits are for. As to the actual use of unicode, I suspect you're right, as I see unicode used in other posts without issues, but just don't change punctuation just for the sake of changing it as that's really the larger issue here. Hope this helps clarify. – jmort253 May 17 '14 at 16:48
  • Fair enough. But the calls against UTF8 remind me of e-mails I would get from tenured neck beards in 2007 or so complaining that sites I managed were “unusable” since they had graphic elements & used CSS. Sorry, but there are regressive elements to the discussion here. – JakeGould May 17 '14 at 16:53
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    @JakeGould - Yeh, I get that. I've been on the receiving end of similar discussions and those are indeed no fun. Thanks again for all your edits to help keep the site clean! – jmort253 May 17 '14 at 16:56
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    @JakeGould actually that unicode diamond is not part of jmort253's username, it's an extra symbol added by the system to indicate that he is a moderator. His username is a nice clean ASCII "jmort253". – Carson63000 May 19 '14 at 7:09
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I've seen an uptick recently in suggested edits (yay! community!) that I've rejected as too minor, including suggestions that are purely in changing characters such as the one you describe (boo :( ).

I try to adhere to the rejection reason: "This edit is too minor; suggested edits should be substantive improvements addressing multiple issues in the post."

If there are character or spacing changes that affect readability in a positive way, that's one thing -- such as adding paragraph breaks and transitions to walls-of-text -- but changing spacing or characters for the sake of...reputation? Bumping the question up? Something else? Too minor, IMHO.

  • “…but changing spacing or characters for the sake of…reputation? Bumping the question up? Something else? Too minor, IMHO.” If the accusation is anyone doing this is purely doing it to score points or gain the system, that is pretty much assuming bad faith which is a bad way to approach any coding or collaborative work. – JakeGould May 17 '14 at 16:33
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My personal four guidelines for suggested edits:

  1. objectively improve the post
  2. fix all problems at once
  3. do not change the meaning of the post
  4. leave a clear edit summary

Objectively improve the post

This generally means fixing the stuff that is mentioned in the help center on editing:

  • To fix grammar and spelling mistakes
  • To clarify the meaning of the post (without changing that meaning)
  • To include additional information only found in comments, so all of the information relevant to the post is contained in one place
  • To correct minor mistakes or add updates as the post ages
  • To add related resources or hyperlinks

Anyone who takes the time to read your suggested edit in context of the comments and with the clear edit summary should think it is a no-brainer improvement. This means I strongly advise against making changes that primarily affect:

  • changing capitalization to your preferences (I Don't Care How Much You Hate Title Case, or randomly Capitalized Words in an otherwise normal sentence)
  • changing punctuation to your preferences (face it; nobody knows how to use a semi-colon)
  • changing type of emphasis (some people use code blocks for emphasis, which is silly, but that doesn't mean changing it to code blocks is a substantive change)

Fix all problems at once

If you're going to edit the post, do it right. Someone has to review your edit, and if you only fixed half the problems that means they are torn between rejecting (and losing some stuff), accepting (and still having the post need more work), or editing to correct the stuff you missed (and taking up time they may not have wanted to spend on copy editing when they did a review).

The more other stuff you fix in a post, the more leeway you have with switching cosmetic things the way you like them. For instance, if you come across a post like this:

[URGENT]!!! HELP NEEDED NOW PLZ

thx for accespting question. im uplying to job with job descript: must be good with language but dont know how to list language on resume. right now my details are speaking mant diferent languages and very good speaker in aall but dont know how to put on resume docuemtn as requested. requested for languages of english, british english, australian english, new zealand english, and canadian english eh? thx in advance.

Now this has the core of a good question so it's definitely in our best interest to edit it. But there are just so many problems from spelling to capitalization to clarity (and just about everything else).

If you are willing to go through the trouble to edit all the mistakes and make it coherent, I will happily give you carte blanche to make it look however you feel it should. If you just change an its to it's, and then make 10 times the volume of changes in formatting, you're focusing less on improving the content, and more on peccadilloes. Which ain't great.

Do not change the meaning of the post

I'm a huge believer in the power of an aggressive edit, but they are probably beyond the scope of a suggested edit as they are incredibly difficult to handle for a reviewer (who may or may not share my enthusiasm with that type of edit).

Clarifying the post with comments (particularly those by the author, but from other users if they have deciphered abbreviations or jargon that is unfamiliar to you) is all good and doesn't fall under the changing the meaning thing. But it isn't cool if you change a question that is asking, "How do I foo the bar?" to "How do I bar the foo?" without some sort of indication that was what the person really meant.

Leave a clear summary

What was the goal of your edit? The more minor your change, the more important it is to be clear about what it is that you've actually done. Many changes can seem incredibly minor if the person reviewing has it in markup mode rather than display mode, or vice versa (sorry palacsint!!!), so a simple 'fix formatting' may end up rejected as too minor when it really was a great change if you were looking at it in a different mode.

Yes, this is more work, but it's less work that confusing the reviewers and ending up with a couple rollbacks that could have been prevented with a slightly more verbose comment. And the goal is to get the change put in, right? Clear summaries build character (or so I'm told).

  • wrong way! "leave a clear edit summary" should be #1 - above all, it will help an editor better figure what's the purpose of the changes they make (other than that, great guidance, potentially FAQ material:) – gnat May 16 '14 at 6:38
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    @gnat, feel free to reverse the order -- I'm all good with that sort of cosmetic edit... (oh, wait!) – jmac May 16 '14 at 13:17
  • well I gave it a bit more thought during recent downtime and now, your original order looks worth keeping as is :) – gnat May 16 '14 at 14:20

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