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Without naming individuals or calling out specific examples, I've noticed a pattern on this site where OPs' questions as well as respondents' comments and / or answers are being edited, without actually improving quality of the respective question or answer - i.e. trivial changes such as formatting or spelling are being made.

My conspiratorial mind makes me think that the only purpose of these edits is to increase reputation score, which is neither helpful to those posting questions nor to the success of this forum.

What can be done to avoid / discourage this?

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I would argue that formatting and spelling does increase the quality of the question/answer.

That said, as I understand it there is no reputation gain from editting a question once you are above a certain level - you get reputation if a suggested edit is approved before you are high enough to edit without approval. See here: https://meta.stackexchange.com/a/7238. You can earn badges (Editor, Strunk and White, Copy Editor) from editting questions and answers, but not reputation once you have the edit privilege.

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  • Aesthetically, yes, it could improve the quality, but generally not in terms of relevance or meaning. :) Thanks for clarifying the point about reputation not being earned for edits beyond the threshold of achieving the edit privilege.
    – Tristan CW
    Jun 25 '13 at 17:54
  • 3
    I personally am definitely one who will score high on edits, main reason I do that is always to try and improve the question/answer, mostly through improving readability which might be as simple as correcting a spelling mistake or adding syntax highlighting/formatting code. Simple edits which I personally find of great gain, and hope it would help others too Jun 27 '13 at 19:34
  • +1. Sometimes there's not much to (I can) answer when I visit, so while I'm here, might as well add some hopefully helpful edits. At 2 points an edit for a max of 1,000 points, it's much easier simply asking and answering questions to get points.
    – Alvin Reyes Mod
    Jul 2 '13 at 19:42
  • I also make lots of edits related to Grammar and Spelling, which my old English teachers would probably all find extremely amusing. Like Rob and Bart as one of the current moderators I don't earn rep for it. I do try to not make too many such edits at one time as it bumps the questions up to the top of the home page again although I have noticed sometimes this results knew activity (i.e. new answers) for old questions. Jul 6 '13 at 22:02
  • @GlennStevens s/knew/new ;-) Jul 19 '13 at 17:59
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I have no issue with people correcting my spelling mistakes in both answers and questions. And as Rob Stevenson-Leggett said, no rep is gained after you reach a certain threshold by performing edits.

I also want more people with rep on this site - the more people use it, the faster we will get out of beta. I am sure people who try to boost there rep by duplicating answers will find that it is not a very fruitful way to get points. If they become repeat offenders, feel free to flag the answers for attention by a moderator.

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  • I shall keep an eye open for the duplicate answer button. I too don't mind my typos/mistakes being amended if it makes it easier to read. Jun 25 '13 at 18:42
  • @JonathanWilliams: I just wish people would make their typos in batches. It can be annoying to not be able to fix a spelling mistake, just because it's less than 6 characters. Jul 27 '13 at 1:46
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It may just be that the people in question are very detail focused and feel that they are enhancing the site by making these small amends.

A bigger bugbear of mine are answers that just give the same information as a previous answer that has been given (potentially to just increase reputation). If the earlier answer could be clarified, then this should be done. Adding the same information twice is just more to scroll though.

I considered modifying your question to include by bugbear! :)

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  • I agree that the motivation to edit in this manner may be buried in the nature of our profession, but at the same time IMHO in could be perceived as rather patronising, especially in the context of our global audience. I wholly agree with your bugbear around duplicate answers, another trend I have noticed. Taking a note from @ChrisSummers response, perhaps the duplicate responses should be flagged?
    – Tristan CW
    Jun 25 '13 at 17:44
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    +1 @JonathanWilliams for resisting the urge to edit my question!
    – Tristan CW
    Jun 25 '13 at 17:58
  • I'd suspect (hope) repeat answers are just times we answer quickly without checking existing answers. It's harder on multi-point questions/answers to avoid repeating certain points, so we should check our answers in context before submitting.
    – Alvin Reyes Mod
    Jul 2 '13 at 19:32
  • I suspect at least some of the repeat answers are due to someone wanting to make a correction to (or in the case of code a refactor to) a previous answer when the poster may not know they can edit previously left answers. Jul 6 '13 at 22:06
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In general, editing of questions is encouraged on SE sites. Mostly the edits are improvements: you first have to go through a period of having your edits approved, which should weed out the people who make the wrong kind of edits.

On a site like this, it will often be true that people make different kinds of contributions. Back in the day of the first wiki, much discussion was had, and the role of WikiGnome was explicitly recognised and highly regarded.

Some people aren't comfortable with the communal ownership of the content, but most of us get over that quite quickly. If you want to own the content, get a blog. Really. Many of us do both.

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    And to your point one needs look no further than Frank van Puffelen's contributions to this Site for a good example of the different types of contributions people make to the site. He has made a ton of edits to questions and answers mostly around formatting, grammar and spelling all of which have really improved the quality of the posts in question. Jul 6 '13 at 22:12
  • Thanks Glenn (and Dominic) for the shout out. Here as well as on SO, I wish there was a way to not get my face on every edit I make. Not because I don't want to be associated with the edit, but purely because it takes away attention from the OP. /me chuckles at being a 2 point ho Jul 19 '13 at 17:58

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