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I would have thought that, on a site aimed at language learners, it would be helpful to edit questions so they at least use correct English.

The following edits have had rejections when they corrected quite obvious English mistakes in the question. Is this really discouraged?

https://ell.stackexchange.com/review/suggested-edits/9629

https://ell.stackexchange.com/review/suggested-edits/31555

Possibly related meta post: When should I correct an ELL's grammar?

  • It would be really nice if there was a way to explain our thinking when we reject an edit that didn't involve selecting the "Causes harm" reason. Typically I try to reject and edit, then leave something in the edit history comments, but the suggester just sees the rejection, which is not a great user experience as you've pointed out. – ColleenV Dec 5 '15 at 21:23
  • The edit in your first link was thrown out automatically because the OP made a different edit while it was in the queue. It doesn't mean it was a bad edit. – snailboat Dec 5 '15 at 21:33
  • I would suggest leaving a comment about grammatical mistakes rather than just editing them out. It's quite likely the person would like an explanation (more detailed than appropriate for an edit summary) on what was wrong. "Corrected grammar" is not very helpful to someone trying to learn English (or in the second case, helping them learn to write better SE posts). – user15474 Dec 25 '15 at 4:45
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If correcting the grammar makes the questions easier to understand, I think the edits are worthwhile. If the question is easy enough to understand without the edits, I don't think we should do a lot of correcting because it gives a false sense of what level of fluency the asker has.

I view answers differently, and feel that the grammar should be corrected completely. When learners search for a question, they are likely to make similar mistakes to a learner asking the same question. When they are trying to understand an answer, it's easier for the learner to read text that has good grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

We have some very good answers from less fluent folks, and I think fixing them up is worthwhile. Fixing up the questions too much can lead to answers that presume a greater command of English than the asker actually has.


I'm editing this to bubble this discussion back up to the top of the active list. I'm seeing some questions being edited for style, and not to make the question's intent more clear. It destroys valuable information when someone "fixes" a learner's question, and while I whole-heartedly support significant copy-editing on answers, I really wish folks would show more self-restraint on the questions.

  • 1
    I must admit I'd have probably accepted proposed edit #2 (which you apparently rejected). But I might well have rejected #1 simply because it grinds my gears to see someone wanting to change Toilette to toilet (which isn't likely to mislead or confuse many users), whilst ignoring I used a software and it read it like 1 slash 4 - a usage which many nns (notably, Germans) consistently get wrong; we owe it to them not to allow such mistakes to go uncorrected, further reinforcing their misconception of what to native speakers is a glaring error. – FumbleFingers Dec 5 '15 at 21:10
  • @FumbleFingers I think that was a fumble on my part. I saw that the corrections weren't complete, and intended to fix it up but rejected instead of reject and edit, then got distracted and never went back to correct my mistake. – ColleenV Dec 5 '15 at 21:16
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    Ah, right. Yeah - I do that myself sometimes (reject a proposed edit because I intend to do it better myself, but never follow thru). I mostly upvoted you here because of the gives a false sense of what level of fluency the asker has bit. So long as there's no major problem re comprehension, I tend to leave clumsy phrasing in questions alone (except things like a software, which get right up my nose because they happen so often). But if an answer is essentially good, I'm often happy to address niggles (which also helps the answerer, I hope). – FumbleFingers Dec 5 '15 at 21:32
  • I'm not really sure that questions on ELL should be edited for grammar, even if it clarifies intent - by correcting a querent's grammar, the editor implies a greater level of fluency than the querent may in fact possess. I fully support correction of grammar errors in answers, and pointing out errors in grammar in both answers and comments; this to me forwards the stack's implied mission of assisting in the querent's learning process far better than 'silent' corrections directly in the question. – Jeff Zeitlin Aug 3 '17 at 14:18
3

I notice that both of these edits were rejected by a robot. (The Community♦ user is not a real person.)

I think that the first edit was perfectly appropriate: It corrected the capitalization of the example, whereas the question was about the pronunciation of the example, and the capitalization did not affect the pronunciation. The human reviewer also thought the edit was appropriate.

The second edit was marginal. The original poster's text was understandable. The proposed edit was more grammatical. The proposed edit changed both text that was ungrammatical (but understandable) and text that was already grammatically correct. One human reviewer approved. Another human reviewer disapproved, on the grounds that the edit did not make the post better.

I also notice that both human reviewers edited the second post. Weirdly, the Community♦ robot may have rejected the edit because a reviewer made an unrelated edit.

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    That happens when a human reviewer selects "Reject and edit" instead of rejecting it outright. I rejected and edited the title rewrite because while I thought the idea to rewrite the title was good, the suggested title was a bit more complex than necessary. – ColleenV Dec 5 '15 at 21:11
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    The bot rejects or approves edits if the reviewer decides to edit, and rejects automatically if the edit conflicted with another edit. i.e. the 'edit' button was twice clicked by the suggester and someone with the editing privileges of that post and the one with the privileges submitted the edit after the suggester. O_O A weird degree of complexity. – M.A.R. Dec 5 '15 at 21:56

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