I've noticed one contributor is rewriting people's answers to change many minor things which I would not call fixing problems but personalizing style.
For instance changing between British and American spellings.

I thought this was not the purpose of the post-editing power as I've used it and seen it used on other SEs.

Or am I wrong?

3 Answers 3


No, people should definitely not be doing that. BrE and AmE are equally valid.

However, if they do change it, it's not worth the time to roll it back. A comment advising them not to bother would be better.


When people start out editing as new users and their edits go to the wait list to be approved, they are asked not to do minor edits.

I feel that is a good basic rule. But there are exceptions.
Sometimes a small edit can change a lot.
I personally will edit when the name of a city, country or area has been spelled wrong or clearly in a language other than English, to make finding questions easier.
Changing the whole post from one version of English to an other is not acceptable, but changing some words to get all the words into the same version of English is acceptable.
Or sometimes I edit small edits to get a question to the top so it gets to be seen again.

Editing out personal style is a No No in my view. We are a site with a very diverse community, let that show in the questions, as long as the words used are real words and the language is understandable for people from other English speaking areas and for people who have learned English as a second language.

Something I am against is people doing serial edits, 10 in a series is about the maximum I am happy with and that can be repeated a few times.
Sometimes it may be needed to edit more, in that case I feel it is important to discuss it in chat and wait for an outcome of that discussion before starting the editing.

  • I'll add that even edits to get everything into the "same version" of English are tricky, because most people don't understand all the rules — realize is equally "British" as realise, but realise is definitively less "American" than realize — and there are differences of usage within both British and American Englishes, which are of course far from the only standard Englishes in the world. We've escaped most of that here, but elsewhere it leads to hypercorrections (e.g. defencible) and mangling of Canadian and (to a much lesser extent) Australian spelling in general.
    – choster
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 16:41
  • As someone who learned English as a second language and now reads British and American English in big amounts, I know I make a mix and can write one word in two different versions in the same text. Editing out that kind of mix is certainly acceptable. But you are right, it is not a need and often best left alone.
    – Willeke Mod
    Commented Jun 17, 2019 at 16:47
  • It's also worth noting that some users have spell checkers that flag some regional spellings as "incorrect", so when users fix all spelling errors in a post, those regional spellings get "fixed" too.
    – gparyani
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 15:31

I copy-edited a couple of questions to correct typos and incorrect grammar, which is considered standard on English Language & Usage (but that may be because it is, after all, about 'proper' English usage). I do think questions /answers should be copyedited - agree?

When copy-editing, I did click through and make a few BrE-AmE spelling switches while typing just because I'm used to one convention, will stop that.

  • I usually make only the minimum changes possible even though I'm perfectly capable of proofreading/copyediting, such as obvious typos and spellos and ambiguities which we have figured out in the comments. Is there a SO or meta FAQ on this topic? Commented Jun 29, 2011 at 11:53
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    @hippietrail: I think while editing there's a limit that at least six characters need to be changed. Sometimes there might be 3-4 typos in an otherwise grammatically correct text; tweaking between BrE-AmE allows to push through that limit without changing much of rest of OP's text. Commented Jun 29, 2011 at 12:00
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    Then I think you're forcing your way through a limit that's there just for such reasons. But I do await word from our benevolent dictators (-; Commented Jun 29, 2011 at 12:03
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    @hippietrail: Correct spelling and grammar may not matter on stackoverflow.com, where the primary topic is coding - it makes sense there to prevent small edits as that's not the point of an answer. EL&U, of course, those edits are needed. Not sure what the standard should be for Travel.SE but if it can make the site look, ah, 'more professional'...then maybe it's worth it? Commented Jun 29, 2011 at 12:07
  • I was very active on EL&U and didn't see this sort of thing there either. I'm not so active since I started this trip. It's also not at that level on JL&U either. Commented Jun 29, 2011 at 12:10
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    Do not change regional spellings, I believe there was a blog post or something about that. Fixing actual errors is fine. Commented Jun 29, 2011 at 13:28
  • @Matthew: What if there are multiple typos, but under the character limit allowed for edits? Commented Jun 29, 2011 at 15:20
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    @Ankur That's always annoying, but if you can't make a substantive and appropriate edit then you should just leave it be. If the typos seriously obscure the meaning or are words that would normally be highly useful in a web search, then you might want to flag for moderator attention or even just leave a comment so that users with edit privileges, or the question owner, can make the edit. Commented Jun 29, 2011 at 15:31
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    @Matthew: Okay, noted. Commented Jun 29, 2011 at 15:33

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