Re: the edit to this question.

This is less of a question, and more of a suggestion that we remind ourselves to not overdo the editing when it comes to the many and varied ways English is written.

Editing (even comprehensive edits) for clarity, spelling, and grammar is fine, I'd argue, but let's be careful when confronted with British, American (and the creative way Canadians use both), and international English spelling. This can be tricky, given many of us will use the red underlines the browser provides as a guide. Of course, these annotations are often using our own locale settings.

Perhaps an edit can maintain spelling consistency (but be careful of those Canadians, who are anything but consistent to either BrE or AmE). My feelings are that we should edit for clarity and readability first; the idea is to make the questions and answers easily scanned for the information they impart.

So, even inconsistent English use should not be a problem as long as the information is presented clearly and concisely. Not to mention that "correcting" someone's correct English can feel a bit unwelcoming. Which sometimes means maintaining an unfamiliar style during edits.

Though, I admit it still feels weird for me to spell the word "color", but I'll try to do it if the Q or A is obviously AmE. (As much as I'd love to rename it the TRS-80 Colour Computer.)

  • Proper nouns should be written correctly. I have no idea what a retropie is, and is there a fuse in software? Without specific knowledge this could be misunderstood (maybe not this specific example though). And in general SE discourages "thank you" type comments. AmE/BrE differences shouldn't be changed, but doing so probably doesn't affect anything.
    – user3169
    Jun 8, 2016 at 16:39
  • @user3169 with "fuse" I can think of at least 4 different ways the word can be used. Even the microcontroller folks have their own meaning for the word. Even more confusing is that here it is an acronym with only an initial cap (and that "u" is now a misnomer; so it goes.)
    – user12
    Jun 8, 2016 at 18:37
  • For retropie, see retropie.org.uk. I would like to add one item. I remember reading a translation of a classic French engineering article. In the article, he used the word "dish", which caused great confusion in my mind. I finally realized that he should have used the word "plate" or "tray". I might make an edit to fix a problem like this, but I would also add a note. When using proper names, it is also useful to have a link such as the Fender FUSE software fuse.fender.com. Jun 21, 2016 at 21:18

2 Answers 2


Editing someone's post for strictly stylistic or pedantic preferences, like changing contractions to full words or changing British English to American variants is highly discouraged (essentially prohibited), but I'm not seeing that in the post you cited. Correcting proper use and capitalization of pronouns is not what I would consider a matter of dictionary preference.

Certainly edits should be encouraged whenever the intention of a post can be made more clear. Titles should always be improved wherever possible — they comprise the front page listing of your site and are what draw users into your questions (or not).

Beyond that, any substantive edits that makes the user (or the site) look more authoritative and presentable could and should be edited. We have to get over this don't touch my stuff sensitivity. At its core, Stack Exchange is a wiki collaboration, so we should be helping each other make these posts great!

But just take care not to make a nuisance of yourself. Appointing yourself the grammar police hovering over every post is just annoying. Pedantic edits plasters your name conspicuously on every post, and they re-bump every question to the top of the activity queue without cause. But I have no problem helping a non-native English speaker make their posts more understandable (for example), or correcting posts that use the wrong vernacular or misuse the terminology or spelling conventions that are well known to a community more accustomed to the subject.

  • The example I gave has a British English word corrected to American, at least in the history.
    – user12
    Jun 8, 2016 at 2:46
  • @jdv Do you mean recognise/recognize? To my eye, that looked simply wrong. Incorrect. Of course, that would be my misunderstanding; so point taken. As long as I was in there fixing other "problems" with the post (← that's important), I might have corrected that myself. Jun 8, 2016 at 2:51
  • 4
    Recognise is English. I understand it looks wrong to some, and autocorrect will flag it. Which is kinda my point.
    – user12
    Jun 8, 2016 at 2:55
  • 1
    That being said, I agree with your approach, above. Hence, my stress on editing for readability and clarity.
    – user12
    Jun 8, 2016 at 2:56

I think you're talking about my edit. Sorry for the trouble!

My original reason to edit was to add the tag, but I saw the fluff and decided to edit the body because I saw fluff. From there, I think spell check messed me up; most BrE spellings are indistinguishable from typos (but at least I changed the title to be consistent).

I'm not very familiar with all the differences between BrE and AmE, but I do a significant number of edits, 99.9% of which are on Stack Overflow (there are a significant number of serious spelling/grammar problems that appear daily at SO). Given that I rely enough on spellcheck to help me spell the way I do, I'm not always going to remember the other ways to spell things very well.

If you feel strongly enough about the other spelling, you are free to edit your post to have the spelling you prefer; it's not a big deal. I probably wouldn't have noticed, and I certainly don't care either way, since I don't see spellcheck lines unless I'm editing :).

  • 1
    The main point I was making is that we ought to be careful and recognize that SE is an international English site (except for those sites that are specifically in another language). It's not that I feel strongly about a particular spelling -- I don't -- but that the author of the Q or A might feel... perturbed that someone corrected their perfectly good English along with actual good edits. I didn't even look to see who had made that edit, only noted that it had been made (and that someone called out the wrongful edit in a comment).
    – user12
    Jun 16, 2016 at 16:03
  • @jdv An @ping is needed to alert an editor. I would have preferred to deal with this in comments instead of: visiting some random meta question, realizing that (without any prior notice) my edit was being called out as an example of some type of malicious edit, and being reminded of it every time I visit meta (and now the main site with "Hot Meta Posts"). My answer was never actually about diversity (I do think a lot about diversity); it was the best reply I had to this nightmare that hasn't gone away. :'(
    – Laurel
    Jun 16, 2016 at 23:36
  • Well, we'll all have to struggle along, somehow. If it helps, this was only one of similar types of edits I'd seen across SE that prompted the meta post. Also, to be fair, not once has anyone used the word "malicious" to describe the intent of the edit. At most, this is an oversight. Plainly: this instance of an edit is an example only, and the specifics of it are actually not that important.
    – user12
    Jun 17, 2016 at 2:31

You must log in to answer this question.