I've noticed the SE community evangelist SamtheBrand making some copy editing edits to correct the formatting of the markdown or the proper wording of a phrase. Likely to help improve our (P.SE's) image for showing us off the the world.

Currently, the community evangelist does not have a diamond and isn't a 2k+ user to be able to do free edits and so the suggested edits go through the review queue. Most of the time these have been approved because they're right.

Other times, they're rejected as 'too minor' (putting an 'a' in the title of a question, or minor rewording (IIRC, there was a suggested edit on one of my answers that was rejected that resulted in an awkward phrasing being copied out to ars technica)). This is unfortunate, because they really should go through. The motivation of this user is quite different than your normal sub 500 rep user (I think 500 is where you get cut off for rep from question edits) - he's not after rep. Thus, the minor edits are completely appropriate for what is being done and shouldn't be rejected.

So, is there something that we or SE can do to make it more obvious that these edits should go through because he isn't the normal ~200 rep user picking through old questions for rep, he's our evangelist? A +1800 association bonus from SEEmployeesOnly.SE? A diamond? Awareness of other review queue reviewers?

  • 3
    2,000 rep is the cutoff for rep bonuses on questions - see here
    – enderland
    Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 22:15

4 Answers 4



The blame here is primarily on the reviewers, and I don't see a compelling reason for Stack Exchange employees to be privileged if Stack Exchange doesn't see fit to give them a diamond. What if I copy edited a post in preparation for sharing it in my company newsletter?

Suggested edits are not too minor if they improve the post. An edit is too minor only if what it improves is incommensurate with what the post needs. There are two subcases:

  • if the suggested edit doesn't really improve anything and the original version was just as good as the proposed revision;
  • if the suggested edit makes some improvements, but these are dwarfed by the improvements that the post really needs.

Making a title grammatical is not too minor if the post is otherwise not in need of an edit.

Yes, the guidance on suggested edit review comments kind of sucks.

That being said, it would help if Sam indicated that the question is of particular importance (due to being destined for 15 minutes of fame) and in need of being perfect.

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    I think blame is on editor, I learned it a while ago at MSO. It's the edit summary that sucks: instead of bland "missing word" (is a word, are you serious), something like this would do the freakin magic: "minor edit is justified because as SE team member (<URL to SE team page>) I am copy-editing it for a wider exposure"
    – gnat
    Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 22:54
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    @gnat SO reviewers suck, I think we're all aware of that. “Missing a word” is at least descriptive, unlike the thousands of “fixing grammer” suggested edits that get through. I disagree that “as a SE team member” is relevant. Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 22:58
  • I would likely reject without "SE team member" because I don't give a shit if someone else prepares to wider exposure
    – gnat
    Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 23:00
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    @gnat If you don't give a shit, don't review. Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 23:02
  • one of the reasons I review is to block bumping posts for the cases when I don't give a shit. And in the case if you didn't notice, I would approve if I knew that was going from SE team - another reason I review is to approve things that matter to me. Fair enough?
    – gnat
    Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 23:04
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    Agree that the suggested edit rejection guidance could use some love. Don't hesitate to throw up any suggestions on MSO.
    – Shog9
    Commented Sep 28, 2013 at 15:29
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    @gnat Ack, I'll check it out. [accept rate (is this thing still on?)] Commented Oct 4, 2013 at 8:35

Good to be noticed!

Indeed, I make these minor (occasionally significant) edits once a week in preparation for the week's Ask Stack column at Ars Technica.

As you know, it's easy to get hung up on a minor speling or, punctuation error. And it's important to me that the awesome questions and answers here aren't overshadowed by a trivial slip of the keyboard.

But yes. I understand that my minor edits may seem like rep mining to those who don't know me, and my behavior could conceivably train users to be bad actors. Don't act like me!

Or maybe do... I personally agree with Gilles & MichaelT that even the shortest "correct" edit is a perfectly acceptable edit. Whether minor edits should bump a question to the front page, well, that's a good question for Meta, though it's worth noting that even minor edits can be malicious edits, and thus it might make sense for all edits to get front page exposure.

Thanks for reaching out. And even more thanks for creating content that demonstrates the best of what our network, communities, and individuals have to offer.

Feel free to ping me any time in chat if you think I'm making an edit in error, being unreasonably heavy-handed, or if you just want to say hi. Going forward I'll try to be more articulate in my edit descriptions.

Slowly, I will grind my way towards 2,000 rep. Until then, I hope you approve me.

  • could you please flag for mod attention to protect questions prior to publishing these at Ars Technika? This would help avoid polluting such questions by low quality answers brought by passers by
    – gnat
    Commented Dec 28, 2013 at 17:38

Generally speaking and with no offense to Sam... my initial reaction is that no, we shouldn't do anything special here.

Most employees don't require special privileges across the network. Heck, many of us aren't really using the sites and/or aren't always in tune with how individual communities work. Those of us who do have network-wide diamonds take great care to avoid abusing them or overstepping any bounds when it comes to site-specific privileges.

So, while these edits are likely good, the fact that they're made by an employee doesn't necessarily mean that they should go through any more than any other suggested edit by any other user.

That said, I'll see if others on the team (including Sam :)) disagree. We'll discuss it next week.

  • 1
    The review that prompted this is programmers.stackexchange.com/review/suggested-edits/40771 - and if this was any other user, a two character typo fix in a question title (that was previously edited by the user just a few minutes prior programmers.stackexchange.com/review/suggested-edits/40764 )... yea, I'd probably reject it too (a low rep user mining rep from minor suggested edits on old posts). But with the awareness of what the failure to fix a typo in the title implies, I'd really want that edit to go through.
    – user40980
    Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 22:16
  • And a random thought I had would could be something as subtle as retaking his photo with one of those diamond mod hats I've heard that SE has occasionally given out. Those in the know for what that means would be clued in to the status of the user without doing too much to change his rep or access.
    – user40980
    Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 22:19
  • @MichaelT Actually all moderators across the network (well, all who wanted one) were given those recently, so this wouldn't be limited to SE employees only. (Plus we posted a looot of pictures of those hats... I'm sure anyone could snag one floating about somewhere :)). Just so you know!
    – WendiKidd
    Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 22:44
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    Would it be possible to have the evangelist (Sam) either call out more clearly what he's doing in the edit reason or drop into The Whiteboard and let some of us know ahead of time? During the times he's putting those edits in, we almost always have enough people in chat to review the edits and get them taken care of. Or they could put better edits in place if necessary.
    – user53019
    Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 23:14
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    @GlenH7 Putting a better edit summary in would probably help, although it certainly doesn't guarantee that the edit will be accepted. I don't think jumping in chat is reasonable or effective in the long term.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 23:19
  • @AnnaLear - that's fair; just trying to find additional ways to make sure the site puts its best foot forward. I'm not suggesting it's a guaranteed accept either. If I picked up the request, I would still look it over and make sure it was appropriate / sufficiently substantial. OTOH, as I know the question is about to be pushed to world+dog via Ars, then I think the rules are a little different. I think the bar for "too trivial" is lower in that case.
    – user53019
    Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 23:23
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    @GlenH7 I think there's a bigger fundamental problem here that Gilles spells out in his answer: "Suggested edits are not too minor if they improve the post.". Folks get too hung up on "oh noes, not enough characters in the diff", which is about par for the course of how literal the interpretation of any rules or guidelines gets over time.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Sep 27, 2013 at 23:32
  • @AnnaLear just a vote for chat... we're reasonably active during the US timzoned workday and would be happy to coordinate any changes or clear up any questions that Sam may have, to expedite changes or to have another set of eyeballs on a given question and answers to catch anything that he may have missed. I've yet to see any edit discussed in chat by an editor who doesn't have free edit privileges not get accepted. We love chatting with SE employees (even those without a diamond) and may also have other questions that we're familiar with that he could think about.
    – user40980
    Commented Sep 28, 2013 at 0:30
  • @MichaelT I'm not sure about pushing things through just because they come from an employee. We (with a diamond or without) are already generally held to a higher standard and/or people assume we're right, so what if one of us were to jump into chat and be like "here's my edit" but it was a bad one? That's just awkward all around and the review system is designed to make that sort of interaction a little easier. I'm not against folks (employee or otherwise) jumping into chat to iron things out, but I'm a bit concerned into it turning into a rubber-stamp fest.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Sep 28, 2013 at 1:35
  • I certain acknowledge the desire not to have a rubber stamp fest. I'm also disappointed that this suggestion didn't get approved and the awkwardness in my wording made its way to ars technica. The key to understanding the edit is what its intent and motivation is. For Sam, this is to make something as well worded as possible - not to gain rep. Most edits from users in similar state are playing the game and are after the rep. As reviewers, when we see such minor changes we say "no, you're improving it enough for 2 rep" ...
    – user40980
    Commented Sep 28, 2013 at 2:18
  • We are concerned that someone will take that 2 rep as encouragement and go and code tag every variable in every post from 2 years ago in the quest for more rep. For the edits that are being done prior to giving the post its 15 minutes, there is no 'too minor'. A correctly worded title and properly worded phrase is very important and the user isn't playing the game of reputation. He won't take this as encouragement to go and tweak ancient titles for a few score rep points. That distinction is one that is difficult to convey in /review. If it takes additional measures to make it ready, so be it.
    – user40980
    Commented Sep 28, 2013 at 2:21
  • I welcome Sam's edits showing up in /review - suggestions for how we, as editors and reviewers can do things better on a page. As you point out, it is a different set of standards for SE and regular users and it is a misapplication of /review to consider his edits as too minor. Its not that you are automatically right, but rather we don't need to worry about the game of rep and badges as part of the review process for Sam.
    – user40980
    Commented Sep 28, 2013 at 2:26

I'm going to go out on a limb here and make this answer more about minor edits than about Sam.

Unless the edit is wrong, approve it. Reviews should be 'stateless'. You look at the original, you look at the suggested and if the suggested is better, approve it. Thats it. Every improvement is an improvement on the site. There really isn't any such thing as 'too minor'.

Now, if a user is apparently abusing the edits (making lots of them on multiple questions and thus causing a disturbance), flag it. Moderators are better equipped to look into the patterns of behavior (this is what you should do if you suspect strange behavior, or odd voting patterns, or otherwise questionable behavior).

Note that I emphasized questions above. Making 5 edits to 4 answers and the question in the same question isn't any more disruptive on the front page than making one edit to one question.

  • 2
    The reviewer should be able to mark an edit as minor whilst still approving the edit, in conjunction with this, if the front page was configured to exclude these minor edits, this would get around the unfortunate habit people have of rejecting good minor edits only to "protect" the front page.
    – user82793
    Commented Sep 30, 2013 at 10:09
  • There are some suggestions relating to that on MSO - meta.stackexchange.com/questions/26483/… is one such. It sounds like such ideas are also (unrelated to this question) in the mulling over at SE.
    – user40980
    Commented Sep 30, 2013 at 12:32
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    I agree with @axrwkr. Every edit that makes an improvement, however minor, is beneficial to the site and should be accepted. If this phobia against 'minor edits' is to protect the front page, then the process should be fixed so that minor edits don't break it.
    – Eric King
    Commented Sep 30, 2013 at 16:41

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