A big thing I try and do is get new users to edit their own questions/answers when its required (and not for instance something inflammatory; I edit myself then.)

I do this because it gives them a sense of ownership and responsibility over their post, that they may not have due to coming from a standard forum. It's also a lot friendlier than 'forcing' a change to a post that's supposedly 'wrong'.

However I often see someone else making the edit after I post a comment, and a new user doesn't learn about editing or the responsibilities.

What do people think? Is this worthwhile doing?

  • @Gilles, getting new users to edit or improve their questions/answers themselves.
    – AncientSwordRage Mod
    Aug 24, 2012 at 22:24

4 Answers 4


I don't think you can have a universal rule. First of all, not everyone is a great communicator. Some of us are Slytherincess and some of us are DVK (hint: I'm NOT the great communicator of this set of 2 people :) I'm experienced and good enough to be able to improve the bad content I might generate with good suggestions; but plenty of people have the same poor communications skills and Just Don't Get It when you try and point how to imprve their content - some because of low IQ, some merely because they aren't experienced enough (It took me ~1 year at $work to teach a junior partner to not sound in written communication like he's a complete moron - and he is extremely sharp and knowlegeable under all that lack of verbal skills).

What I'm trying to ramble on here is the fact that you should always TRY to suggest improvements, but you can't always realistically expect the suggestion to be acted upon, for different reason (lack of care, lack of interest, lack of skills, lack of understanding etc...).


  • First try to comment and suggest improvements. That will catch and teach those who ARE teachable.

  • Then edit yourself after a time period, with a polite comment explaining the edit. That will teach those who have good intentions but not the skill (since second best way to learn to communicate well - after Jeff Atwood's patented way of writing - is reading good edits).

  • Profit!

  • My issue with point two it that people get impatient and edit-snipe. This is an issue as well as a new user might not come back for a week, or might check back hourly.
    – AncientSwordRage Mod
    Aug 25, 2012 at 10:08
  • @Pureferret - you can not solve that one :( - People can and will edit at will. We can promote "good" approaches on Meta which is what you did. Aug 26, 2012 at 14:48
  • I'm beginning to think that's the main outcome of this question, rather than some hard-and-fast rule.
    – AncientSwordRage Mod
    Aug 26, 2012 at 19:43

I think that we should, whenever it's possible and the edit would not be to drastic, just edit the post and leave a comment to the user that explain why his post was edited, encourage him to do it himself next time, and mention they he could rollback or edit it further.

The problem is we have expectations that are not obvious for a new user. Asking a user to edit his own post is something akin to making him jump into a loop. An example: suggesting editing a question to make it more on topic could lead to false hope because there is no grantee the edit will make the post on topic.

Editing the post ourself is leading by example. If you ask of precision in a comment, and the user gave the information in an other comment, it's simpler to edit the post and instruct the user to directly do so the next time : See, this is how we jump into a loop here, try to do this next time.


As with most things, that depends on the situation. If it's a simple matter of typos, or if they have grammatical errors and appear to have less-than-perfect command of the language, I'd say just take care of it when you notice, it's not worth the trouble. But if you, for instance, wheedle more information out of them in the comments, then I think that's a great opportunity to explain to them that they should edit the new information into their post.

  • This is more what I'm on about " But if you, for instance, wheedle more information out of them in the comments," but often they get edit-sniped.
    – AncientSwordRage Mod
    Aug 25, 2012 at 10:05
  • 2
    When you ask for more information, suggest they edit it in directly.
    – Kevin
    Aug 25, 2012 at 15:42

Not editing yourself can also backfire. It's better to learn that this site is community edited and that users should help others by improving their post and that the original poster does not own their post. They are asked to feel responsible for it to the extent of accepting good answers.

I have encountered new users who were put off (or maybe just confused) by other users editing their posts. We shouldn't enforce this attitude by suggesting edits by leaving comments.

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