Just rejected edits to a simple post in AU. Someone decided to go all 'OCD English Teacher' on my post. Seriously!?!

It wasn't bad or difficult to understand at all. But, it was marked up like a freshman term paper written during a tequila hangover. There were about twenty edits to a post containing SIX lines. Most of the edits were actually wrong or opinion-based IMO. But, I am certainly NOT OCD nor am I an English teacher.

This person goes through my post making edits to capitalization, and grammar... And makes no contribution to the overall quality of the post whatsoever. And, makes no effort to provide any solutions. Ridiculous!

I did not realize that perfect grammar and capitalization were a requirement for asking questions here. And, personally, even though I have seen some terrible English here, I would NEVER insult someone by editing their post for grammar and capitalization. That's just over-the-top.

Is this sort of thing encouraged or (even worse) expected on this communication platform?

  • In addition to a snarky downvote... Do you have any explanation or answer to the question that was asked?
    – Orian
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 10:51
  • 20
    It's not an insult if someone corrects your grammar. They're just trying to help. We take properly-formatted posts very seriously on StackExchange Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 10:56
  • 15
    Downvoting is never snarky, but much less so on meta where it indicates disagreement with the position taken by the poster. In this case, I assume the downvotes are also objecting to the tone of your question which, unlike the helpful edit you are objecting to, is indeed quite snarky.
    – terdon
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 10:59
  • The post WAS properly formatted. And it was VERY clear what was being asked. No one gets to tell me how to speak or how I want to express my thoughts and questions. And, it could not, possibly, have been difficult to understand. You all seem more concerned here, with trivial micro-managing and control - than helping Ubuntu users in finding answers. Where, in the terms of this forum, does it say that I am not allowed to express MY thoughts and questions how I see fit? Now, it is locked because some 48k'er decided to exercise their supreme authority over us peons who just want to find answers.
    – Orian
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 11:08
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    No, it was locked because one of the moderators of the site (me) needed to stop you from rolling back helpful edits. And no, I'm sorry, but it was neither clear nor properly formatted. Which is why someone took the time to help you and improve it. I honestly don't understand why you would object to this. As for where it says so, see here. Specifically "Correct use of English spelling and grammar to the best of your ability."
    – terdon
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 11:13
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    Also here: If you are not comfortable with the idea of your contributions being collaboratively edited by other trusted users, this may not be the site for you.
    – terdon
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 11:38
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    Editing posts for clarity is one of the best things about this site. An answer that I provided 3 years ago is much more useful if folks keep updating and correcting it. Whether for grammar/phrasing reasons, or just keeping up with version changes, I like that folks care enough to be nitpicky. Commented Apr 1, 2017 at 2:48
  • 1
    The comments we make, the answers we give and the questions we ask here are reviewed and sometimes edited by trusted users. You should not take such things as an insult. Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 8:59

2 Answers 2


cOrrect CAPitaliZation and grammar is eXtreMely impotrtant to the understandment opf your posstes, aNd, quit frenkly, iF iT b0thers u that other person took a times too edIt and improvo yours poster, you preBably should post not here be.

More seriously, yes, such edits are absolutely encouraged here. We aim to have a higher quality than what you find in YouTube comments and Yahoo! Answers posts. Which is not to say that your post is in any way comparable to that sort of egregious example, but only to point out that yes, even small things like capitalization and minor grammar tweaks are important. Anything that makes the post clearer, easier to read and more correct is a good thing.

Also, many (most?) people who post here are not native speakers of English and, very understandably, will make mistakes when writing in the language. We don't expect or require everyone to write in 100% correct English here, but that's why other users have the right to edit so that such issues can be fixed. And yes, incorrect grammar is absolutely a problem that needs to be fixed. Not because we're "OCD" or "English teachers", but because correct grammar is essential for communication in any language.

The important point is not to take it personally. Such edits are not in any way an attack on you. They are simply part of a collective effort to improve the quality of the site's content. If you can't be bothered to write USB instead of usb, that isn't a big deal. However, if someone else cares to take the time and 'correct' that, it does no harm and does do a little bit of good. I don't see why you'd object. I remember being very impressed back when I first joined Stack Exchange and saw that some helpful user had gone through my post and corrected all capitalizations I had been too lazy to use. My reaction was to thank them in a comment and that sort of thing was one of the major reasons I stuck around. The internet is already full of examples of writing similar to my first paragraph here. Let's not add to them.

Now, having seen the edit which, I assume, prompted this question I have to say that every change made improved your post. Those weren't minor changes, you had written something that required editing to fix both grammar and punctuation. The edited post is much clearer and easier to read which increases your chances of getting an answer since it makes it more likely that people will read it.

So, yes such edits are both encouraged and expected here and are a very large part of the reason the Stack Exchange sites have become so popular.

  • Geez! I disagree. But, obviously that doesn't matter to anyone of consequence. None of my posts have ever been so heavily edited. And, my English has not suddenly, become so reprehensible as to require mediation by the grammar police. "OCD Overkill" best describes what has happened here. And, what you are saying is so, incredibly, subjective as to border on unbelievable. The post was NOT difficult to understand. Nor, did it ramble; getting to the point in SIX lines. I'm just a peon here. But, yes! It is idiotic and offensive to change someones words to what you THINK they SHOULD have said.
    – Orian
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 11:30
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    @Orian no it absolutely did not ramble. But yes, it was (a little) harder to understand before the edit and (a little) easier to understand after it. The main thing that made it hard to read were the commas since those affect the way sentences are parsed. The other edits improved the grammar which is a good thing as well. Of course the post seems easy to understand to you, you wrote it after all. It's not easy to judge how it comes across to others though. As for subjective, I have no idea what you mean. Grammar, unlike usage, is not really subjective at all.
    – terdon
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 11:35
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    By the way, I both upvoted your question and asked for a clarification that would possibly help me answer it. It's a shame you deleted it and got fixated on the helpful edits instead of adding the missing information and maybe getting an answer. Still, your call.
    – terdon
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 11:36
  • I became fixated on not being able to ask the question in my own voice and my own words. If you people cannot understand that simple fact. Then, I will politely walk away. Nothing more... nothing less. It's your little fiefdom... your edicts. I will not rock the boat again.
    – Orian
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 11:43
  • @elderGeek I see what you did there. . .
    – terdon
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 12:05
  • Sorry, I had to edit in order to read this.
    – Elder Geek
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 12:05
  • @ElderGeek that was kinda the point though :)
    – terdon
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 12:06
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    Roll it back if you must, but I don't think emulating the OP's behaviour helps anything. We should lead by example, and a bad example to make a point is still a bad example.
    – Elder Geek
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 12:08

The site is definitely all about iterative edits to the language and substance of its questions and answers, by anyone. That's very much one of the driving ideas behind the Stack Exchange network.

Your posts will be edited by people who have the time and will to edit your posts. That's what happens here. That can take some getting used to but the only problem from our point of view is when an edit starts to significantly change what the answer said.

But if we're talking about this specific edit war, while I don't agree with every single change —we could talk for decades about title capitalisation— there certainly are several edits in there that make your question easier to read.

To tie this back to the mantra of the site, it really doesn't matter if you think people wasting their time on your grammar is a problem. We only care that you've taken their work and have rejected it wholesale. That's both quite rude and makes your post (and our site) worse. That's not on.

Of course, if there's something bad buried in a big good edit, you're more than welcome to submit another edit on top of theirs, but really, don't make it worse.

  • Just got the text back from an English professor with UMUC here on Okinawa. While the capitalization of "how" and the editing-out of "Problem is," were, technically, correct, (Apologies, It should have been a semicolon, not a comma ) the remainder seem to be punitive corrections due to personal preference; and unrelated to currently-accepted rules of grammar.
    – Orian
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 12:45
  • The old myth that; "You shall not begin a sentence with a conjunction." seems to have found new life here. The conjunctions (and, but, or, for, nor, etc.) are perfectly correct for beginning sentences with related phrases, and complementary subjects (according to the Oxford Dictionary) as long as the trailing comma is present. So, while feeling intellectually-vindicated, I remain ever-so humbly - a peon in this village.
    – Orian
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 12:47
  • @Orian of course they are! That was never anything other than prescriptivist poppycock. In the sentence "But, have not. . . " the issue (for me, anyway) wasn't the but. It was the comma after it which broke the parsing of the sentence, and the lack of a pronoun to act as a subject. You're free to modify the edits to bring back your preferred phrasing, it's the wholesale rejection of all the improvements that was excessive. By the way, if you want to discuss the specifics of the edits, you might want to visit this chat room.
    – terdon
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 13:09
  • According to Oxford; The trailing comma is required when using a conjunction to begin a sentence. It doesn't break the parsing. It defines the relationship between the conjunction and the remainder of the phrase. The "But, have not.."is a perfectly acceptable construct in that context. I have no idea what the problem with that was. There was no missing pronoun. It was "understood" in context. (i.e. "I have searched. But, have not found...) At any rate; No. I do not wish to discuss this any further. The edits were made based on personal, stylistic preferences. And, should not have been made.
    – Orian
    Commented Mar 31, 2017 at 13:43
  • I noticed all of the detractors (piling on) in this thread. Hidden entities who offer their down-votes in sycophantic support of edits they likely, never bothered to look at seriously... However, when the FACTS and errors in those edits were pointed out clearly; It seems all of the cheerleaders and commentators have disappeared. This is the hypocritical part of this system. I don't mind "collaboration" at all. But, re-writing; wholesale, a post from a native English speaker (which may, or may not have made it "a little" clearer), is NOT collaboration. It is forcibly pushing your preference.
    – Orian
    Commented Apr 2, 2017 at 12:25
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    You're awfully talkative for somebody who doesn't wish to discuss this. Your post wasn't unintelligible —nobody said it was— but the edit made it better. I say that as an English-speaking English person in England. We edit stuff on this site so if you're planning to whine about every time somebody changes something, please go away now. You're just sucking in time for something that doesn't actually matter now and I'm bored of it. If you'd like to remain here, you're going to need to get over this...
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Apr 2, 2017 at 18:00
  • Aaannd the other shoe drops. Forty years working with data systems. And, admins/mods have not changed one bit. If you disagree and are able to prove your point, you still get shown the door. If, after the evidence posted above, you still believe those wholesale edits were justified based on "grammar" as asserted; then it is not I who has a problem. But, you. The reason given was not to make it a "little clearer". The reason given was poor "Grammar and capitalization". I have shown that edits were based on personal preference and NOT rules of grammar. Yet, still... The admin is "always right".
    – Orian
    Commented Apr 3, 2017 at 1:16

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