I am now invited to review proposed edits on this site, and would like some guidance from the Community.

This morning I was presented with an edit to this question. It consisted of adding a single sentence to the list of terms OP had offered:

"Furthermore, they all have a negative connotation, so you'd have to use them with caution, depending on what message you are trying to send."

I was thoroughly in sympathy with this warning; I thought it made the Answer a Better Answer. But there was no evidence whatever that it was part of the Answer which the Answerer intended.

I am very chary of introducing new substance into an answer. My own practice, in a situation like this, would be to append the new substance in a Comment and invite the Answerer to incorporate it. However, my experience is limited to ELU, where this attitude seems general; I can easily conceive that practice may be different on other sites.

I Skipped the review.

In the event, somebody else accepted the edit; and some time later the original Answerer modified the edit in the direction of tying it even more closely to the original question. So apparently All's Well.

But should I have Accepted the suggested edit, or Rejected it? And what should our policy be respecting edits of this sort?

  • 4
    I think in this particular case it was correct to skip the edit, but I don't think it would have been wrong to actually reject it. I don't have the rep to review on ELL, but if and when I do, I might well reject a change like this. If I was feeling charitable, I might copy the text and add it as a comment, flagging @editor further text to advise against excessive "embellishment" of non-Wiki answers (and to publicly credit him with his own words now in the comment). Feb 8 '13 at 22:37
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    @FumbleFingers That's a helpful suggestion. Feb 8 '13 at 22:40

I think the policy for suggested edits doesn't change much from site to site. Those who suggest edits see the following points in a block:

  1. Fix grammatical or spelling errors
  2. Clarify meaning without changing it
  3. Correct minor mistakes
  4. Add related resources or links
  5. Always respect the original author

The only difference I can eventually see is between sites where posts can contain code written in a programming language, and sites where such code is never shown. In the first case, the third point is not considered applicable to code, nor is the first point. If a user shows code that is using the wrong function, or wrongly writes the name of the function, fixing the function name is not considered correcting minor mistakes, or fixing spelling errors.

In general, a suggested edit should not add to a post something that has not been said by its author. If the added sentence was written in a comment from the post's author, then it could be acceptable to add it to the post, but I would make a distinction:

  • If the post is a question, and the OP added something that is relevant for answering it in a comment (possibly the Nth comment, which is not immediately visible to those who read the question), then suggesting an edit to incorporate the content of that comment in the question is perfectly fine. That helps not only the users who answer the question, but also any future readers, who could not understand why an answer as been given for that question, without reading that important detail that is hidden between other comments.

  • If the post is an answer, then I would let the author of that answer decide what to do. Generally, I would not incorporate a comment that, taken out of context from the previous comments, doesn't have any meaning. If the comment is independent of other comments, then it could be incorporated into the answer, but I would leave the decision to whomever wrote that answer, not to whomever suggests edits. (I imagine a comment similar to "I forgot to say that […].")

As side note, suggested edits are sometimes used by users who don't still have the privilege of commenting everywhere, but would like to leave a comment. In some cases, I have seen users using suggested edits as a way to ask a question to whomever answered a question, or to add a comment about the correctness of the answer.

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    This is valuable; the last paragraph in particular was something I had not considered. Feb 8 '13 at 16:02

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