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I originally posted this question on MSE. People over there tend to feel like editing stuff is trivial enough that it doesn't deserve its own question. However, I do feel that edits on IPS are much more tricky and should be dealt with much more caution than, say, an edit on a technical site.

This is why I'm asking here again (also because I didn't get an answer on MSE).


I tried to find a faq post about that, but couldn't find one.

When should one directly edit a post and when should one just suggest improvement in comments instead?

So far, I have been using my "gut feelings" but, for people on the autism spectrum (like me), clearly stated rules are much less stressful.

I'm asking this because we had an "incident" recently when someone took real offense of an edit while the all issue was only due to miscommunication.

I'm also asking this because I know I'm not the only one wondering when one should just edit and when one should leave a comment instead (or do both).


Some related faq that are linked to the subject:

The faq post about What is the etiquette for modifying posts? is interesting but doesn't talk about when one should be commenting instead of editing.

The faq about How do suggested edits work? don't really talk about when one should edit or not.

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  • Well, in my case, removing the part was harming, because it was changing the meaning. But it was not clear enough, because one user and one mod understood the opposite of my meaning. All wrong for all 3 of us :)) I think a comment would have been nice in my case, as intended: ask for clarification and improve. Many of us don't have English as their 1st language. In doubt, "good intent + be nice". And ask. – OldPadawan Oct 27 '19 at 12:34
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When there's an ambiguity about something in the question, and I am asking OP to add more info, I tell them to edit both things in the question. It saves me making two edits, and then flagging comments.

But say OP is not being very active, and the comments already there are being neglected in the recent conversation, we cannot say for sure if poster would incorporate the replies in the post. So to avoid derailing the comments, and making the post itself complete, editing looks good to me.

As for answers, I agree they are very different from those on technical sites. Sometimes people add their own info, to make the answer complete. It is rare on IPS. So for me, answer edits are reduced to typos. Adding new info is inferior to writing a new answer. But if it minor for an answer, comments to the rescue.

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    I think this question is a pretty good example of an OP that's been saved by the way the community handled it. From comments to edit, back and forth, the VTC/VTRO, the voting pattern went way up until someone could answer. I'm happy when we do that that way :) – OldPadawan Oct 27 '19 at 17:04
  • Oh that is really cool! I didn't recognise the post for a sec. P.S. And me having the final close and reopen votes :p – anki Oct 27 '19 at 17:07
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Here is the "rule of thumb" I have used so far:

  • If the edit won't change the meaning/message of the post, just edit.

  • If you think the other person would mind the edit, ask first.

  • If the edit is to remove potentially rude/abusive/harmful language, edit as quickly as possible (this is also stated in the faq here).

  • If you are unsure, it's always possible to edit and leave a comment explaining what you have done, why and that the person is free to rollback.

    • Please note that those explanations should also be on the "Edit Summary" but new users might not see those, which is why leaving a comment under the post can also be important.
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    This is meta. May DVer leave a comment please? – OldPadawan Oct 27 '19 at 14:12
  • apple.stackexchange.com/posts/362859/revisions An example of huge edits to improve the posts on technical sites. CC: @OldPadawan – anki Oct 28 '19 at 13:33
  • @ankii : well, actually, your link shows more like 1 NAA and 1 answer :)) in this particular case, I would just add a comment asking to improve the A with more details, like when you say "we discourage 1 liner". Not sure I would do to an A what I do to a Q. – OldPadawan Oct 28 '19 at 13:40
  • @OldPadawan At best, I'd just add two icons and link OP to a manual.. And it's not NAA on Apple. I have even shorter answers upvoted. – anki Oct 28 '19 at 13:48

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