What counts as a “minor mistake” for the entry

To correct minor mistakes or add updates as the post ages

in the editing guidelines?

I’ve been trying to improve this answer, which is in general good enough that I don’t see the need to write my own answer, by correcting a detail of a plot point that the author misremembered. (By the author’s own admission at the beginning of the answer, the the author hadn’t read the book recently and had refreshed their memory via Wikipedia; at the time of answering the Wikipedia article had the plot detail wrong, and this incorrect detail made its way into the main body of the answer.)

Correcting this detail* in no way changes the point that the author of the answer was making,† and improves the overall content of the site by cutting off the propagation of misunderstandings,** but I’ve had the edit rejected three times now for

This edit deviates from the original intent of the post. Even edits that must make drastic changes should strive to preserve the goals of the post's owner.

despite explaining as much of the context as I can in the edit summary.

Am I misunderstanding what a “minor mistake” means?


*The book takes place on a planet that long ago hosted an advanced civilization; the current population evolved to sapience from minor life forms with no direct connection to the ancients; the answer (and then-Wikipedia) states that the population is members of the ancient civilization who have “rebuilt” from their fall.

†In the context of the answer, either version is sufficient for the idea that “there used to be a high-tech civilization here, but the current population is at 1940s tech”.

**The idea that we’re not just dealing with a fallen-and-rebuilt society, but instead enough time has elapsed since the fall to have run through evolution from minor insects to full sapience, is important for themes in the book outside of the scope of the question-and-answer.


1 Answer 1


I'm no expert in this particular novel series so I can't speak to the rights and wrongs of your argument, but I would say that it appears that you've become very fixated on making changes to this user's answer, to the point that your edits have been rolled back multiple times, incurring an automated penalty.

Instead of continuing to fix what you perceive as the things wrong with their answer, the better course of action would be to write your own answer. If it's better, it will receive upvotes and overtake the existing answer.

  • 1
    Putting aside the history of my interaction with this answer — which involves multiple approved edits on one point being rolled back and then quashed, which triggered an automatic penalty when an entirely separate edit to the answer was rejected — I’d like to use this meta question to get a definitive policy on “Do edits that bolster an answer by replacing minority incorrect supporting details with correct supporting details ‘Deviate from the intent of the post’?”
    – RLH
    Commented Feb 7 at 15:28
  • 1
    continuing For example, if an otherwise good answer said “the protagonist recognized his contact by his distinctive green hat” when the hat in the book was purple, and the color of the hat isn’t relevant to the point the answer author is making, does that warrant a downvote and new answer, or should it be edited in? I can edit/repost my meta question if the tie to the answer I was trying to improve is a distraction.
    – RLH
    Commented Feb 7 at 15:31
  • 6
    @RLH - What you're describing probably warrants making a comment so that OP can fix their own answer. If they ignore the comment, then just downvote and let it go.
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 7 at 16:39
  • 2
    I think applying that process is inconsistent with "comments are transitory" and much of scifi.stackexchange.com/help/editing, but if that's the current standard of practice here, I'm not going to keep pushing the issue.
    – RLH
    Commented Feb 7 at 18:57
  • 3
    @RLH - if you think it's important enough that there needs to be a permanent record, then post it as an answer. If it's not, then post it as a comment and OP may decide to fix their answer. Until you're more established and competent at editing, I'd avoid trying to fix their answer for them.
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 7 at 19:01

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