Recently there's been a spat of questions whose suggested edits consist of deleting "Thanks in advance" type of endings. These suggested edits have to be peer reviewed before they are passed.

Whenever I've seen these edits and have noted the post contains various inaccuracies which have been ignored, I reject the edit and tick the box which says the edit is too minor. If I see the post is perfectly acceptable except for the "thanks" bit I still believe the edit is minor, and reject it. I believe this is the most appropriate policy and one which makes more sense to follow. Apparently, however, there are users who disagree and "approve" these edits in what appears, to me, in a knee-jerk type of way.

Should these suggested edits that consist of deleting "Thanks for your help" etc. be passed through, regardless of whether it has failed to improve and/or address multiple issues in the post?

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    Why would you not allow a correct edit to pass through even if minor? If they avoid doing more substantial obvious edits, then instead of rejecting as 'too minor' reject as 'other' saying explicitly that the editor should do more (fix the other obvious errors). – Mitch Feb 17 '14 at 17:59
  • @Mitch but what "improvement" does deleting a "thank you" do for the post itself? I would much rather approve a typo, the addition of a question mark, giving a capital E for English. The site is called English language, if a person is polite, why is removing "thanks" considered a correct edit? – Mari-Lou A Feb 17 '14 at 21:44
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    Sure. I'm just thinking, why worry over it, and just approve it to get a necessary edit through quickly. If the other items bother you enough, you can easily right there edit those things. Why stop minimal progress out of rule following? – Mitch Feb 17 '14 at 22:16
  • @Mitch I do edit questions where I see fit, I prefer to see clarity, and sometimes it's clear that an OP is unaware of how to format his/her posts with the tools provided. And sometimes they are simply too lazy... if you're happy with seeing six or more suggested edits at a time that subsist of only deleting "thanks" fine by me. The ones I had rejected passed through regardless. I guess these "trivial" and "minor" edits aren't as trivial as I believed they were. – Mari-Lou A Feb 17 '14 at 22:22
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    @Mari-LouA - I, too, have rejected as "too minor" edits where words are bolded that were italicized, only to see the edit get approved one minute later. I saw KitFox's rejection of similar edits, and thought that a substantial improvement was more than adding a comma, while ignoring multiple other obvious errors, such as caps, inappropriate abbreviations (lk ths), etc. I also tend to see the same users making minor edits while leaving multiple errors. Seems strange to me, and I will still reject these with a comment. – anongoodnurse Feb 18 '14 at 13:51
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    @Susan The comment which explains the rejection says: "This edit is too minor; suggested edits should be substantive improvements addressing multiple issues in the post." I think that basically covers it, if someone rejects an edit which only changes quotes in bold (I've seen those edits too!) there's no need to add anything else. But go and figure. Weirdly, I haven't seen any suggested edits recently, perhaps they tend to crop up late afternoon, and early evening here in Europe. – Mari-Lou A Feb 18 '14 at 19:37
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    When I first read your initial sentence about “a spat of questions”, I misread spat for spate. Curiously, those words can be both synonyms and antonyms, depending on one’s perspective. It turns out that the spat you’re using there (the OED lists 4 others) derives from the identical word and meaning in Dutch, and means a small splash of something. Spate, on the other hand, is an inundation of something, and they don’t know the term’s origin. When does a splash become a flood, you might well ask; here, apparently, it’s when the word gets a final e appended. Curiouser and curiouser! – tchrist Mar 1 '14 at 1:41
  • @tchrist turned out it was but a brief episode and the suggested edits (deleting 'thanks') have all dried up. In the end it was barely a gush. – Mari-Lou A Mar 1 '14 at 5:42

Hellos and thank yous can be deleted even if there's other edits needed. I would approve such suggested edits.

From a related answer by RegDwigнt♦:

The key thing to remember is that this site is not a traditional forum or a social network; it is all about questions and answers, not "addressing fellow users". When you write an answer, you don't write it just for the original poster, you write it for anyone and everyone who might have that question in the future. Personal salutations are extraneous clutter at best, and completely misleading at worst. Remember that anyone can change their user name at any time without notice, or even completely delete their account, so you will end up addressing a meaningless string of characters.

And from Kosmonaut:

Usually we restrict the question area to the question itself, since the site is intentionally structured as Q&A rather than forum discussion. So introductions, thank-yous, signatures, and the like are generally deleted. (Of course, these aren't seen as "poor etiquette" per se, they are just not part of the format of the site, so they will be removed when not relevant to the question.) The same goes for answers.

Here's the top, accepted answer from MSO: Should 'Hi', 'thanks,' taglines, and salutations be removed from posts?

I've always been against the greetings and salutations (along with other extraneous clutter) in questions for a number of reasons:

  1. It will leave even less room in the question preview so that we have more difficulty gauging what a question consists of by reading the preview.

  2. It takes time to read and parse through those questions when I am trying to spend my time more efficiently reading through the actual question and figuring out how to appropriately answer it. If I have to start reading all the little side comments and snarky humor inserted in there it detracts from the overall message.

  3. If this is supposed to be a website which is servicing more than just the primary author, we need to think about how we construct messages so that they appear more clearly to those searching on google for questions that match their own. If I am looking for a solution for question X, I want to find someone who had the same problem, not their short autobiography and formalities before getting to that actual question.

(The second answer says salutations are automatically removed, but thank yous are harder so aren't touched.)

  • All sounds sensible to me. I don't think removing "Thanks in advance!" from a question is "too minor" to approve. I've made that edit myself several times lately to one particular user's questions, and commented once or twice asking him not to keep doing it. And because I'm allowed to, I sometimes make single-character edits (changing it's to its, or sentense to sentence, for example). So what if maybe I missed some other errors (or didn't even look for them)? The journey of a thousand miles, and all that... – FumbleFingers Feb 28 '14 at 4:50

There's a longstanding tradition on the Stack Exchange network to discourage "extraneous chatter," including comments such as "Thank you!" at the bottom of a question. (Whether that's the best policy may be up for debate, but that's the way it is.)

This issue has been brought up from time to time on MSO; see, for example:

I don't think saying thank you is a particularly egregious faux pas, but I suspect that some folks might be trying to drop a subtle hint to an O.P., a hint that says, "No need to put that here." Although such an edit might be considered very minor, some regulars could be thinking that the cultural hint is more significant than the edit, and thus worth approving. Those who think the hint is worthwhile would be more inclined to accept the edit, while those who don't would not.

Perhaps it would be best to leave such edits to higher-rep users, so that these edits wouldn't need to be peer-reviewed. That's the thrust of the accepted answer of this related MSO discussion:

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    I can't specifically remember if I've approved any edits that just delete "Thanks!". But I certainly wouldn't reject one on any given occasion. If some particular user did nothing except that, on several questions every day, I suppose I might have given the matter more thought. But that hasn't happened, so I haven't had to think about it until now. And I still don't need to think about it much, because I don't think there is any such user. – FumbleFingers Feb 28 '14 at 5:04
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    @Fumble – I remember seeing a comment some time ago that said, essentially, @user - stop fixing quotes. (Evidently, that particular user had gotten into the habit of changing quotes "quotes" into smart quotes “quotes”, a purely cosmetic change.) I can see why someone would shrug, think to themselves, "Why not?", and click approve after the first few instances. But when the practice persisted for three or four days in a row, one might get tired of it. Aside from that isolated instance, though, I don't recall noticing anything like that on ELU. Your comment pretty much mirrors my thoughts. – J.R. Feb 28 '14 at 9:46

The subjective line around what is or is not minor is the whole reason the Suggested Edit queue exists. There will always be people who disagree and that is okay.

My two cents on the subject is that removing chaff from posts is relatively high on the "not minor" side of the scale. Loosely, from "not minor" to "minor", this is how I personally rank things:

  • Replacing a generic title with a specific title
  • Tag changes
  • Adding content from a linked website
  • Removing unnecessary images
  • Replacing long link URLs with a proper link
  • Major reformatting or grammar changes that improve readability
  • Major rewording that improves readability and unequivocally does not alter meaning
  • Fixing malformed markdown
  • Removing greetings and thanks
  • Fixing quotes, highlights or other minor formatting
  • Fixing spelling errors or minor grammar errors
  • Whitespace (really?)

I'm sure I missed some. I usually draw the "too minor" line right under "removing greetings and thanks" but, as with all subjective things, there are exceptions. If one edit hits a bunch of the smaller things at once I'll vote to accept it.

  • I don't get this. You really think that an unreadable lengthy question with no whitespace should be left "as is" on the grounds that making it legible would be "too minor"? Surely any edit that unmistakably improves the text is good. Edits that are "too minor" should just be those where there wouldn't be 100% agreement that the revised text is any better than the original (pointlessly replacing a word with a synonym, for example). – FumbleFingers Feb 28 '14 at 4:57
  • "As with all subjective things, there are exceptions". Any individual bullet point has a "major" form that could be accepted on its own. – MrHen Feb 28 '14 at 14:12
  • I don't understand that. But are we on the same page to start with? To me as a programmer, "white space" includes spaces, tabs, linebreaks, etc - basically, "page formatting". I've often seen posts that have little or none, and which in consequence are extremely difficult to read. In such cases, reformatting seems to me to be essential, hardly the "most minor" of all possible edits. – FumbleFingers Feb 28 '14 at 15:36
  • Edits such as what you are describing would fit under the "major reformatting" bullet. What I am describing is someone altering one or two whitespace characters. These edits are akin to adding an HTML comment and very rarely alter how the post is actually displayed. But I do vaguely remember someone trying to explicitly add nbsp characters... – MrHen Feb 28 '14 at 15:46
  • oic - sorry, I didn't actually read your complete list very carefully (probably because your (really?) drew my attention). Yeah - I would almost certainly reject an edit involving just a few few irrelevant whitespace chars as "timewasting". Not that it would have occurred to me until now that this might eventually lead to the proposer ending up with reduced or delayed access to edit facilities. But thinking about it now, I'm all in favour of that potential "censure". – FumbleFingers Feb 28 '14 at 16:07

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