I feel like the purpose of editing a post should be to correct typos, correct wrong information, add clarification, etc. I don't think you should be allowed to edit a post just to change someone's style of writing (this is clearly different than if it is unreadable or incomprehensible because of poor grammar, lack of continuity, or other).

Case in point is the editing of my post from earlier today. On the internet, I tend to write as I speak. But this edit seemed to exist just to change my writing style. This really bothered me, so I changed it back to the way it was. Yes, there were also two furigana edits with it, but the style part of it I feel was very unnecessary. This heading in the FAQ says, "If you see something that needs improvement, click edit and help us make it so!", but trying to influence one's style of writing seems over-the-line to me.

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    Possible references meta.stackexchange.com/questions/11474/… (official FAQ, but dated 2008) and meta.stackexchange.com/questions/99221/…. Seems to depend on if the writing style impairs readability and if the edit makes the question more valuable for future viewers. – Troyen Oct 5 '11 at 6:34
  • The primary motivation of my edit was to correct your wrong usage of ruby. Then, I realized that you have three consecutive question marks, which is clearly a wrong usage of the punctuation. It is not about style; they are clearly wrong. And, 'OK' at the beginning of the question did not make sense. 'OK' means that you are accepting something. What were you accepting? I just tried to improve the look of the question; but since you don't seem to like it, I will keep away from editing your questions even when they are wrong. – user458 Oct 6 '11 at 2:27
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    Why do you think 3 question marks is wrong??? Where did you learn this??? Will you show me this grammar rule??? It's called "emphasis". And "OK" at the beginning of a sentence is like さあ or え~とっ. It shows some hesitation of your thought process while you decide what to say. Plus, if you haven't noticed, I like to keep my related topics consistent. I was trying to make it the same as my other "SMACKDOWN" topic. – istrasci Oct 6 '11 at 2:39
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    @istrasci Repeated punctuation marks (like !!!! or ???) are discouraged on StackExchange. There's actually a filter in place to strip them out (as I think you noticed when your !! was initially changed to a ?). See meta.stackexchange.com/q/99871/160551 as a reference for this point. – Troyen Oct 7 '11 at 0:38
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    Here's what appeared as comment to my post. -1 for low quality formatting. – sawa 12 hours ago (accompanied by an actual downvote). This happened a full day and half after I changed back his initial edits. This is the epitome of a childish, pouty retribution. If were an honest downvote, why wasn't it voted down when it first appeared? I'm trying to be civil and objective here. I explained why I didn't think the edit was necessary and I changed it back. I did not attack him in any way. – istrasci Oct 7 '11 at 15:06
  • As I wrote in a comment below, I read the faq and was encouraged again that I was right. I am not attacking you. I am just downvoting against a question not well formatted and further refuses to be fixed. – user458 Oct 7 '11 at 16:32
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    @sawa - If you really think it was not well formatted, then you must be convinced that someone else would also believe it needed to be "fixed" and would have certainly made the same changes if you hadn't (excluding the Ruby because I admit that this was a mistake that I didn't notice until I viewed the changes side-by-side). I firmly believe that never would have happened. So I guess we disagree. – istrasci Oct 7 '11 at 17:14

First off: you're free to roll back an edit you feel harms one of your posts. There's even a "rollback" link right at the bottom of the post when you're viewing it after someone has edited it...

That said, don't take it so personally. You may think starting a question with, "Ok" and ending with a triple-exclamation mark is a fine way to let your personality bleed through into what can often be a bland, sterile wall of text...

...but it's still just text. Folks reading it can't actually hear your chipper "oh kay" as you gather your thoughts in preparation for asking the question, or your plaintive tone as the question itself escapes your lips. They just see the expletive and the superfluous punctuation. Maybe they interpret it the way you meant it, or maybe they don't. And if someone misses the point and has some other reason to edit... well, shucks.

My point is, give 'em the benefit of the doubt. Maybe you're seeing someone hell-bent on smothering your creative spark... or maybe it's an honest attempt to help you out, unaware that the careless slips they're removing are in fact calculated attempts to convey personality via an inherently impersonal medium.


I find nothing wrong with sawa’s edit of your question which you linked. It improved readability of your question by removing superfluous words and punctuation as well as correcting the usage of ruby.

  • @istrasci: Oops. While I was typing this answer, I was wondering whether the word “punctuations” is a valid word or not, but I did not check a dictionary because the spell checker of Firefox did not flag it and I was too lazy. Thanks! – Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 7 '11 at 22:12

I re-edited your question but it will need to be peer-reviewed.

I agree with Sawa and Shog9 on some major points but I'd like to go a bit into detail:

  1. I am not sure about English punctuation but I guess ??? or !!! is technically correct. Still, correct does not mean that you can necessarily use it here.
    This is an informal usage of punctuation and you must remember that this site is not only visited by students but from any kind of person, old, young, students, workers. On the internet there are some standards you must think about and while on a forum it might be ok, here it's not since this is not a forum.

  2. the SMACKDOWN!! in your title was unnecessary, you could add "What's the real difference?" which I added, by the way. But that ALL-CAPS word was only distracting, not to mention that writing all caps on the internet means you're SHOUTING. (It's Netiquette.)

Don't take my post personally, I hope I didn't sound harsh because it was not my intention. But there are many ways to express those things you did before. They're not "wrong", I just think they're not fit to this site.

  • 1) I mentioned that I keep my titles for similar posts the same, so that users (especially new ones) can easily see that posts with the same title will probably have the same content formatting, etc. No one had a problem with my other SMACKDOWN post, so why this one? 2) I hate when something is "not against the rules, but frowned upon". You (the community, not @Alenanno personally) either need to outright forbid it, or accept the fact that it will happen sometimes. – istrasci Oct 7 '11 at 14:28
  • @istrasci I didn't see the other question. I haven't been here too much lately. :) but the logic is the same. What I meant by "they're not wrong" was that in general, yes, they convey that meaning, but they ruin your own posts here. I didn't find anything specifically about this yet, but it's also true you should expect people to edit your posts and sometimes also down-vote you. – Alenanno Oct 7 '11 at 14:37
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    @istrasci "so that users can easily see that posts with the same title will probably have the same content formatting"--This is rediculous. Questions should not be formatted in a different style for each OP. This site is an integrated whole. Someone interested in Japanese will just do a search with a keyword of the interested topic. Ideally, each question and answer should well blend with one another, and have consistent formatting throughout the site. In reality, that is hard to reach, but at least, you should not intentionally do a different formatting from others. – user458 Oct 7 '11 at 16:38
  • I will remove the downvote to the main question because Alenanno's edit made it even better than my edit. If Alenanno's edit is reverted, I might downvote again. – user458 Oct 7 '11 at 16:46
  • Why is that ridiculous? I'm not "going against" how other people post. Frankly, I don't care. I AM staying consistent with my own posts, which as you just mentioned, will blend well with one another and have consistent formatting. So when a user finds one of my SMACKDOWN posts, they're gonna see all the other SMACKDOWN posts under the "Related" column on the right, and think "Maybe I'll check these out too". – istrasci Oct 7 '11 at 16:50
  • If you write similar terms inside the questions, they will appear in the related links anyway. – Alenanno Oct 7 '11 at 16:51
  • Besides, I don't think post titles should have to follow a particular format to give a complete indication of content. That's what tags are for. If I use some (or all) the same tags that post "What's the difference between X & Y" uses, why shouldn't I be allowed to customize my title? – istrasci Oct 7 '11 at 16:57
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    @istrasci The point is that the rule of thumb is stick with the norm. No-one capitalizes the words in titles? Don't do it. No-one writes all caps? Same answer. Etcetera. It's all a matter of being part of a community. Some rules may not be explicitly written (I'm not aware if this is the case for our discussion), but you are part of a community, so you must sacrifice some things, make a compromise. For example, have you noticed no-one, or almost, writes emoticons in their answers like ":D" or ":)"? They mostly appear in comments. – Alenanno Oct 7 '11 at 17:02
  • @Alenanno - I'm not talking about caps or not. I'm just talking about making the words what I want them to be (within reason of them not being vulgar, etc.). I have no problem making it "Smackdown" in normal case; I do have a problem with the title being changed simply because the changer doesn't like the word "smackdown" itself. – istrasci Oct 7 '11 at 17:06
  • @istrasci Wait, just to make it clear, I didn't edit because I didn't like the word itself, but rather because, regardless of being written low caps or not, it gave your question another style, like a blog/forum/etc title, not a SE title. You can make your words do anything you want, but there are many ways to do that. – Alenanno Oct 7 '11 at 17:15
  • @Alenanno - I'm not saying it was you personally that didn't like it, I meant just whoever the editor is. "SE titles"? Well where is this defined? I've never seen anything that says "your title must look like ____". As I said earlier, this needs to be either clearly defined in the rules to say exactly what it should look like, or allow for leniency that each individual may or may not like. – istrasci Oct 7 '11 at 17:23
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    @istrasci I am not aware of something treating that point, but check Meta.SO. You can write what you like, theoretically, but you must be aware of the consequences, I mean, you should expect something, from the simple editing, to down-votes, etc. – Alenanno Oct 7 '11 at 17:26
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    @istrasci The title is the most important part of a question. Someone who is looking for the difference between X and Y on Google is going to see the title and maybe a small amount of words from the actual question. They won't see the tags unless they actually click on the link, and they won't do that if the title doesn't seem like it contains an immediate answer to their question. A lot of the SE traffic comes from search engines, so to grow that traffic, we need to make sure our titles are clear and useful to visitors. – Troyen Oct 7 '11 at 20:29
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    There are references for this on MSO, the stackoverflow blog, and the StackExchange podcast, but I won't have the time to find and link them for a while. – Troyen Oct 7 '11 at 20:30

These discussions are getting quite long, so I'm posting this as a fresh answer. As @Troyen mentioned in one of the comments

A lot of the SE traffic comes from search engines,

so the key to all this that I think we all missed at some point or other is that this information is essentially for the whole world. Not just for a certain person. Not even for just the contributing community on SE. But potentially anyone from anywhere could see links to our topics in results from search engines, shared through social networking, etc.

Of course in the back of my mind I know this, but that honestly does not go through my head when creating a post or editing. So after thinking about it for a while, I realized that, yes, my post titles in question may not make sense for someone who stumbles across it from a search engine or wherever. So it is right to change them to something more appropriate that more clearly tells the content (although I don't like the current wording to them and will probably change them to something else -- no offense).

AT THE SAME TIME, we need to take this into account when editing. You're not editing for yourself, not for the poster, and not for the SE community. You're editing for the whole world. So before you change something, you need to be thinking "Is this gonna benefit anyone who reads this or just me?" I think this especially applies to non-native English speakers. If there is a typo or incorrect grammar, that's one thing. But if it's a particular saying or nuance of the English language that you're not familiar with, you probably should avoid editing it. (As an objective example) In this case, @sawa edited out the 'OK' at the beginning of my sentence because he thought it meant I was accepting something and it didn't make sense to him. I don't believe he was thinking, "This doesn't make sense to me, but maybe it's an expression that makes sense to native English speakers. Maybe I should leave it alone." It seems like he edited it to his own understanding and not to the understanding of your average English speaker. Or maybe he honestly did, I don't know.

But the point is, the scope is not just us, but the world, so we need to tune these things for any potential visitor to the site. This discussion has made me think and learn. Thanks to all who participated and I hope there are no hurt feelings anywhere.


https://japanese.stackexchange.com/faq#editing says:

enter image description here

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    I thought of the same thing, but I did not write so because that is a little harsh. You are acting in the 売り言葉に買い言葉 way, which I can understand but cannot think highly of. – Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 7 '11 at 3:19
  • @TsuyoshiIto At first, I thought I will just ignore itrsacsi's questions from now on, but as I was reading the faq, I thought again that my edit was right, and that is what is encouraged. But following your suggestion, I removed my last sentence. This answer is now a simple quotation, and should be completely neutral. – user458 Oct 7 '11 at 3:56
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    I didn't say I wasn't comfortable with my posts being edited. I said that it should only be editing for incorrect spelling, grammar, content, etc., not to suit your personal preference of how to read things. Since a leading "OK" and multiple punctuation are not grammatically incorrect, and not explicitly forbidden, I feel that part should be left alone. It seems like the flipside to the red part you showed above should be, "If you are not comfortable with someone's writing style, this may not be the site for you." – istrasci Oct 7 '11 at 14:18
  • @istrasci: I think that you are essentially saying “I am not comfortable with the idea of my posts being edited for the reasons other than what I think is an error.” Putting aside whether three consecutive question marks is an error or not, editing something other than an error is perfectly acceptable. – Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 7 '11 at 15:01
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    @TsuyoshiIto - yes, and that's the whole point of this post. I'm expressing the fact that I don't think they should be edited for reasons other than errors, readability and everything else I said up there. (And I think it's a REAL stretch to say my SMACKDOWN post was unreadable with the word "OK", and then became readable by removing it). And if enough people agree with my thoughts about editing, then some rules or guidelines might change. Just voicing my opinion in hopes to bring about a change I see as worthwhile. If it gets overruled, then so be it. – istrasci Oct 7 '11 at 15:18
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    @istrasci: The “OK” part and the three-question-mark part of sawa’s edit indeed improved the readability of your question. If you include readability as a valid reason for editing, then sawa’s edit was a valid editing, although I would not commit to your list of valid reasons for editing. – Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 7 '11 at 15:31
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    @TsuyoshiIto - Readability. So you couldn't easily read my post or it was not interesting to read before that edit? Come on now! – istrasci Oct 7 '11 at 15:59
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    @istrasci On other SE sites I personally always remove things like "hey everyone" or "thanks a lot!!!". I didn't decide personally but followed some mod, if I remember well. In any case, they're not mistakes as you can see but they just clutter the post, they don't help at all, they don't give content. So does the "SMACKDOWN" thing for example. Look at the question Etiquette on addressing fellow users regarding my examples at the beginning of the comment. – Alenanno Oct 7 '11 at 16:16
  • @Alennano - I agree with that post about not catering to individual users, etc. However, that's not my intention with using SMACKDOWN. I'm just trying to make my posts memorable, and dare I say, a little "fun". There are a million "What's the difference between X & Y" posts, but if you see one with "SMACKDOWN" in the title, which one are you likely to remember most (esp. if you like wrestling)? – istrasci Oct 7 '11 at 16:54
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    @istrasci: Yes. Your post with many irrelevant words is hard to read. – Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 7 '11 at 17:22
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    @TsuyoshiIto - "irrelevant"? Sure, I'll give you that one. "many"? Really? If you think the one (1) word "OK" is "many", maybe you need to brush up on your math and/or English reading comprehension before you participate on SE, because if that gives you trouble, there are innumerable other posts that will surely be more difficult for you to read. I always respect your input a lot, but now you're just looking for any excuse to complain about this one. – istrasci Oct 7 '11 at 17:38
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    @istrasci: I am not interested in hearing your advice on this matter. I just wonder why you are so ungrateful to sawa, who helped improving the quality of your post. – Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 7 '11 at 17:48
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    @TsuyoshiIto - for the Ruby correction, I am grateful. And as I said, I didn't initially notice that change. For changing the other parts (and now the title itself has been changed), to me, not only does that not improve the quality, it actually takes away from the quality and tells me "I think the way you did this is bad." Why would I be grateful for something that I think ruins the post? Now I fear for every future post I may create that I can't express the content or title in the way that I want to. – istrasci Oct 7 '11 at 18:04
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    @istrasci: Of course you cannot express everything in the way that you want to. If you are not happy with that, this site is not for you — that is the point of the part of the FAQ which sawa quoted. – Tsuyoshi Ito Oct 7 '11 at 18:06
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    @istrasci I didn't read that comment until now. You're not supposed to make your posts "fun". Or make them "memorable" by using words like SMACKDOWN. You're supposed to format them well. I think you didn't understand the difference between StackExchange and a blog or a forum. – Alenanno Oct 7 '11 at 18:52

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