I've just hit the 2000rep mark, and can now edit questions (hurrah! woot! etc, etc...).

But, I'm a little uneasy about editing other people's posts, as it's not something I've really experienced before (eg, I'm not a wiki user elsewhere), but at the same time would like to "fix" "broken" questions to help them along.

Are there any guidelines? I've looked over MSO and found a few, but a lot of the relevant questions seem pretty old, and are related directly to SO. Obviously over time (and different sites) communities change, so I thought I'd ask if anyone has any important points they'd like to throw at me for the here and now?

I understand that the golden rule of editing is do not change the meaning, but what else?

Just hoping to get a feel for what is expected and can maybe help out where relevant.


Also, would someone mind telling me if the edit I made on this question was justified and if it was within expected bounds, or maybe a bit excessive (I did play around with the grammer quite a bit...)?

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that was a good edit –  Sathya Aug 25 '10 at 16:38
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For example, I just edited your post to fix some grammar (others', not other's, since there are multiple others) and misspelling (I think you meant golden rule, not golder rule). Those sorts of tiny edits are pretty minor but help keep things grammatically correct and easier to read, and are helpful even though they're minor. –  nhinkle Aug 28 '10 at 17:08

1 Answer 1

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Make the question title magic

Spruce up vague and messy titles with keywords and clarity. Make it so it summarises as best as possible the problem at hand or what they want to achieve.

Don't leave tags all over the title. Leave or work in a reference to the program or OS if it reads naturally and pre-empts any possible ambiguity.

Formatting for beans

If you spot a post and you know it can look like it's had a shower if only it was using the markdown properly, jump in and scrub it up.

That could mean setting command line entries on their own code block for clarity, fixing up a bullet list to use proper numbering and indentation (you'll spot them easy if you see number+close parenthesis) or spreading a wall of text into easier to parse paragraphs.

Stories and fireside chats

Whenever possible, try and have the first few sentences directly relate to the problem at hand. Often times you'll see people who feel the need to give us all a 10 minute life history before they even start their question. Leave those in, but after the nitty gritty.

No excess, no surrender

An edit isn't at all excessive if the version after you've edited reads clearer and is formatted better. That helps us all.

No signatures or greetings

Remove these as they just clutter up the question and serve no purpose. But no need to go on a spree if it's just "Hi" and everything else is fine.

Make it count

Go in and get dirty, but make nice with the edits and really jazz up the post all you can while keeping the original intent intact.

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Thanks for this. It's just nice to know what I can aim for, rather than having to test the waters with increasingly more complicated edits, which frankly will just waste everyone's time - because a half-hearted edit that leaves the post needing another effort to finish fixing it is pointless, and I didn't want to be the person generating those edits! –  DMA57361 Aug 25 '10 at 18:50

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