Someone keeps going through various questions and answers making style edits.

One of them is here. I do not understand the significance nor reasoning for changing a code sample to something with four spaces in front of it? Is this a personal style preference of one user, or is it a style standard that is supposed to be enforced as a site change?

1 Answer 1


This seems more like a personal style preference. At least for one line of code you could argue that it does not matter whether it's formatted as inline code or block code. Multiline code should definitely be formatted as a block.

We have a rejection reason that says:

This edit does not make the post even a little bit easier to read, easier to find, more accurate or more accessible. Changes are either completely superfluous or actively harm readability.

I would say the edit you mentioned falls under this category. If you are uncomfortable with it, just roll it back. But let me add that I would really encourage you to use block formatting instead of inline formatting. Inline formatting is supposed to be used for code in a paragraph, whereas block code stands out as a separate paragraph. There's a semantic difference.

Since the post was done by a user with edit privileges, we actually can't review those actions until after they've happened. But that also means you have to trust the user to know what they're doing.

It's also not like they're trying to harass you. Trust me: if you're obsessed with nuances of formatting and proper punctuation, you'll find flaws everywhere. I'll probably go around editing single dash-hyphens (-) to en-dashes (–) for the rest of my life.

If you see a repeated pattern of such edits (i.e. when it happens to more than a handful of posts), it's worth investigating. Otherwise I would not care so much though. The user's edits I've seen are usually quite good (if maybe a little too much focused on minor details such as quotes and whitespace).

  • I personally started using inline formatting because `` gives immediate style preview feedback while block quotes require 4 spaces (tab does not work), or you have to click on the {} icon in the editor. Either way, it is less interactive than using inline formatting. I feel if certain styles are preferred, the web editor can enforce w/o user intervention. To see an edit with 4 characters changed is disappointing and not a good use of anyone's mouse click.
    – Sun
    Nov 28, 2014 at 5:48
  • In principle the user was right to make the change, since they've corrected the semantics of the post (both in terms of Markdown and HTML semantics). Did it make the post better? No. Practically, it does not matter. In any case, it does not hurt either—and it's the editor's decision on whether they want to "waste their time" with details you might not care about. If all they did was editing whitespace and minor formatting, then it would be a problem that needs intervention. But I currently do not see such a problem.
    – slhck
    Nov 28, 2014 at 5:51
  • 2
    @sunk818 - The block code is a little easier on the eyes for the reader. If you get the convenience of writing the Q or A with inline code and then somebody wants to waste their time "polishing" it later, you get the benefit of both unless you have something against block code in the final version (in which case, you can always roll it back). You see it as an annoyance, but you're looking at it wrong. People don't bother polishing valueless posts. If a post is already good and useful, people will try to "perfect it" (community pride). You should take it as a compliment.
    – fixer1234
    Nov 28, 2014 at 6:24
  • IIRC if it's a long line, backticks break it, while tabs will lead to horizontal scrolling (While long lines generally should be broken up into shorter lines, sometimes that's not feasible or defeats the purpose of the answer.)
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Nov 28, 2014 at 9:46
  • @DanielBeck The good thing is that long lines are broken up via CSS, so they do not contain an actual line feed, which would cause problems when copy-pasting.
    – slhck
    Nov 28, 2014 at 10:47
  • That's what I meant: Backticks are a legitimate use for very long one-liners even if not inlined into a paragraph of text.
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Nov 28, 2014 at 10:49

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