Over the last couple of weeks, I've noticed several edits, like this one to my answers. These edits aren't really substantial (spelling/capitalization of one or two words).

The user in question, over this period of time, raised their rep from 4300 to 4800. I didn't double-check if this is purely from edits, as this user has some fairly upvoted questions and answers.

Is this something to worry about?

  • 3
    As far as I experienced SE once you've got the privilege of editing posts without your edits entering a peer review queue you won't gain any reputation from your edits.
    – Medi1Saif Mod
    Sep 14, 2016 at 7:08

1 Answer 1


After a user has gained the edit privilege, there's no direct reputation gain from edits (trivial or otherwise).

The biggest concern, reputation-wise, of this is that edits will bump a post to the top of the page: More eyes = more chance of users voting on the posts. However, as long as it's still only good posts that are getting upvoted (be they posts by the editor or not), this isn't really a huge problem.

If bad posts are getting upvoted, that's potentially voting fraud and would need to be looked into on a case-by-case basis, but that seems tangential: Fraudulent voting in my experience is less likely a result of posts appearing on the front page as it is a result of users diving into a target's history, at which point being edited or not would be irrelevant.

For the most part, the only real issue with insubstantial edits is noise: Edits bump posts — usually older and often answered posts — to the front page, which often knocks other posts off the front page. We usually want more eyes on newer unanswered questions than we do on older answered ones, because the former are the ones that need answers.

In addition, all edits (grace window notwithstanding) are stored in the history of the post: Large numbers of minor edits to the same post just means more work for future users who want to see what has actually changed between revisions.

When it comes to edits, there are two real questions:

Are there more issues in the post that should be improved by editing?

Sometimes, a minor edit is the only thing wrong with the post. If a post is more or less perfect with one or two tiny (but obvious) spelling errors, then an edit which improves those and does nothing else is perfectly reasonable.

If, however, a post has myriad spelling and grammar errors, and an edit only fixes one of them, that's expressly discouraged in the help centre:

Tiny, trivial edits are discouraged - try to make the post significantly better when you edit, correcting all problems that you observe.

The main reason this is discouraged is, again, noise. Such edits bump the post to the front page (knocking down fresher questions), and if there's more obvious problems with it it'll just need another edit later which will do the same. If it's just one or two at a time, that's not really a big deal, but large numbers of edits all at once (trivial or no) can be distracting and should be expressly discouraged.

Noise is the antithesis to Stack Exchange Q&A, and should be reduced whenever possible. If you can take the same amount of time fixing a few things in five posts, or fixing everything in one, not only does the former generate five times as much noise, but the latter also wouldn't need a later edit to fix what was left behind, which reduces future noise as well.

However, it's important to note that, just because there are still obvious problems remaining after an edit, that doesn't necessarily mean that the editor was lazy. Especially with the large number of users here not fluent in English, it's not unreasonable that many obvious grammar and spelling errors just don't get noticed.

On the other hand, if the post started out with a whole host of spelling and grammar errors, it should've probably just been downvoted into oblivion and/or deleted anyway: We expect edits to be substantial, but when the level of editing required is more effort than just writing an entirely new post, that's just laziness on the original poster's part, not the editor's.

Which brings up the second question:

Does the edit result in a net improvement to the post?

In many cases, even minor edits are a net improvement: They have made the Internet a (slightly) better place. You explicitly mention spelling and capitalization: These are things that, yes, should be fixed when they're clear errors. Edits like this might be minor, but they're not really "insubstantial" (and, as mentioned above, could well be the only problems in the post).

On the other hand, if they're not clear errors (e.g. changing Canadian spelling to American spelling), then they're noise. Such noise should be expressly discouraged for the reasons mentioned above: They distract experts from the questions that actually need answers, and prevent questioners from getting the answers that they're actually interested in.

However, in the case linked to in OP, it's not really clear if this is a net improvement or not: The only meta post I can think of which really discussed this issue is "How can we make this site more friendly to non-Muslims?", which explicitly discourages "dumbing down" questions, but not necessarily answers. I quote:

Answers should cater to the level of the question; don't throw around terms like al-walaa' wal-baraa' (at least not without explanation) unless it's reasonable to assume the questioner would understand it. So if a question is obviously asked from an outside or beginner perspective, a good answer would take more time to explain complex terms, and translate everything into simpler English.

While the questioner in the link you posted seems to be a knowledgeable, articulate and handsome guy, that doesn't necessarily mean that everybody who has a similar question would know what "Rasulullah" means. Of course, it also doesn't mean they wouldn't.

I personally would avoid such edits unless I was sure they were necessary (e.g. comments left explicitly asking for clarification of terms, or the question appeared to be of particularly "newbish" quality); in cases where it's not clear that they're necessary, it should probably be brought up on meta for discussion case-by-case: You obviously don't think it's necessary, the editor obviously thought it was. Without a relevant meta discussion to point to, everyone pretty much just has to guess what is or is not "substantial" here.

  • Firstly, thanks for mentioning that. Secondly, I agree with you to some extent. (Hopefully I'll do more care about it). Thirdly, about some @users who sometimes are opposer of it if I edit theirs ..., to be honest, I personally feel that: they assume it means their English is not perfect and they feel it demonstrates their English is incomplete..., but I/it don't mean that, even perhaps their English is better than mine. Sep 17, 2016 at 7:18
  • Fourthly, I (personally) think/feel that dear non-Shia users show a more strict reaction about my edition, that’s why I often edit Shi’i users who don’t show me … (but, I’ve had similar conflict with some other non-Shi’i users who seemed to be opposer of it!) (That can be due to being in opposite sect (although we all are brother, and ought not …) Sep 17, 2016 at 7:18
  • Eventually, regarding obtaining reputation by that: the questions/answers are shown (can be read) by four types (active/hot/week/month), so they can choose one of those 4 categories, not necessarily one of them. (Besides, I don’t feel of obtaining any remarkable reputation by that. E.g. you can look at here to see how much (so few) reputation I’ve obtained in compare with others if it is assumed that I … : islam.stackexchange.com/users?tab=Reputation&filter=month Anyhow, I hope to do a better effect. Thank you. Good luck. Sep 17, 2016 at 7:18
  • @Shia_Sunni___________UNITY Yes, I feel it would be good if someone improved the English (grammar or spelling) of so many poorly written posts, But unfortunately, there is no provision in SE for minor edits, in turn it is not advisable to do so. And yes, many people have found it irritating to see posts on the main page due to minor edits. So, please don't it. Thanks for the time you spent improving mate. Sep 21, 2016 at 2:10

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