I am aware that we already have this question about editing OP posts, but I would like to raise a similar issue about editing answers to the OP.

I recently had a response edited in this thread, where the edit was deleting the whole post except the first sentence. Naturally, I rolled it back. This edit raises two issues:

  • As deleting 90+% of a post is without a doubt changing the nature and content of the response, what is the purpose of an edit: tidy up the language and formatting, or change the answer?

  • As the post was a selected answer with plenty of upvotes, and this edit got two approvals, is there a conflict between the style of answers the community likes, and the post that the editors like?

Edit Added November 15th

Responses below indicate that several people are failing to understand the construction of the post, and compounding that by conflating their opinions with fact, and at least one post has commented that no explanation has been given to say why the deleted section was relevant - though really the onus lies with the editor to prove irrelevance rather than simply repeating it over and over. Bear with this edit; there is a point to it:

Paragraph one is the direct answer. It is placed right at the top of the post so that semi-interested people can read it and then decide if they want more information or not.

Paragraph two tells the OP that I did not see the actual episode she refers to. This is there so that the OP has necessary information to judge my response. "I saw it and it was lame" is different to "I didn't see it, but it sounds as if it was lame". I deliberatley phrased in a friendly way as me and the OP have clashed in the past, and because as a result of those clashes I know the OP is smart enough to understand what it says even if some others obviously don't.

Paragraph three is there to contextualise the suggested language by providing background. It raises widely stated views that writing a good finale for a TV series is more difficult than writing a finale for a movie or a novel. This context is needed because the 'average' ending for a TV series is not the same as an average ending in other media or formats.

Paragraphs four and five are there for balance. There are counter arguments to the views given in paragraph three, illustrated by the example given in paragraph 5, which the OP should be pointed to. I chose not to dumb it down by spelling out the obvious as the OP doesn't need it.

The point here is that the post is a cohesive item. It gives information, then background information needed to judge the accuracy of the information, then background information needed to put the information in context - finales for TV shows are often lame, so they have a different standard of 'lameness' to movies, and finally a counter view for balance.

What the editor did was delete all the context and information needed for the OP to asses the information, saying it was irrelevant because they failed to understand why it was there.

This is precisely why I ask wether censoring content should be condoned. It is all too easy for editors, particularly low-rep ones, to remove information that is needed through failing to read the authors intentions.

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    And may I add, I (the OP) accepted your answer before the drastic edit. – Mari-Lou A Nov 14 '14 at 5:24
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    Regardless of whether the edit is valid or not, the intent was correct: everything after the first paragraph is irrelevant, off-topic, and should be removed. If an editor isn't allowed to do it, and you are (hypothetically) unwilling to, then what do we do, just continue to allow content which is 100% unrelated to this site's scope? – Chris Hayes Nov 14 '14 at 7:54
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    OK, that second rollback? Unnecessary. It was a friendly edit and improved your post. Also, it was approved by a mod. The piscis doth protest too much, methinks. – anongoodnurse Nov 14 '14 at 9:27
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    @ChrisHayes I didn't find everything after the first para irrelevant. The way OP fitted the expression "seriously “lame” In: the UK finale is excellent while the US one is seriously lame. was helpful. I don't think replacing it with a cop-out ending would have had the same effect. – Mari-Lou A Nov 14 '14 at 9:37
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    @ChrisHayes ~ clearly I, and the OP, and the upvoters, disagree with your opinion that it is irrelevant. Regardless of that, you neatly illustrate the issue here. You see the editors role as censoring a post by removing content they don't like, while I see the editors role as correcting typos, formatting, etc while leaving the content intact wether they agree with it or not. What I would like to know is how ELU sees it. – Roaring Fish Nov 14 '14 at 10:25
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    I've no wish to get drawn intothe merits of any particular answer, but the answer to your last question is on the help page: "Editing is important for keeping questions and answers clear, relevant, and up-to-date". It is designedly more than sub-editing. – Tim Lymington Nov 14 '14 at 14:16
  • That gives reasons for editing, but says nothing about the line between editing for typos etc, and altering the answers content - if there is on one ELU. The help page does say that "Brevity is acceptable, but fuller explanations are better." which suggests that more background is wanted, but it is rather vague. – Roaring Fish Nov 14 '14 at 14:24
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    @RoaringFish: Your treatise about the problems facing TV shows was not background for the English term. It was not a "fuller explanation". It was not relevant to the post, at all. I honestly don't know how to make this any clearer for you. – Lightness Races in Orbit Nov 14 '14 at 18:25
  • @ChrisHayes - That's exactly right, Chris. I would value the opinion of the most argumentative high rep user here (whoever that might be) over yours, a stranger who nosed into a quarrel where he didn't belong. – anongoodnurse Nov 15 '14 at 2:27
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    @ChrisHayes ~ you are still mistaking your opinion for a fact. It is not at all clear that it is off-topic. have you read the question that is being answered? It is about the finale of a TV show, just like my response. You are still missing the point too. The point here is that we can edit, as in correcting mistakes in language use, or we can censor as in removing content we don't like the look of. Think of it this way: would you be happy if an editor changed your answer to a different answer? – Roaring Fish Nov 15 '14 at 4:43
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    @RoaringFish Quite frankly it's as close to fact as most discussions will get. I suppose if a question here said "I read this word in a comment on some code, what does it mean", I could post an answer saying "it means this, by the way I like Ruby the best, here's a cool framework somebody wrote, and how do you feel about Java code?" I honestly can't imagine how you justify this to yourself as not being off-topic. – Chris Hayes Nov 15 '14 at 5:29
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    Regarding context: if you think all of that is relevant (I'm not sure I agree but I wouldn't edit it out myself), then make that much more clear in the answer itself. From the outside looking in, it just looks like you want to talk about TV shows. If you think it's important context to understanding your answer, your answer should make it clear why this context is important. If it did that, the answers here might look very different. The line of reasoning you began in your last comment belongs in that answer. – Chris Hayes Nov 15 '14 at 6:00
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    @ChrisHayes I can't find any comments of yours which have been deleted by moderators. – Andrew Leach Nov 15 '14 at 11:32
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    @ChrisHayes No, on this page, which is what I thought you were referring to. Long comment chains are routinely pruned, and other comments of yours may have been casualties of that process. I can't check other sites. If my misunderstanding has caused a misrepresentation, I apologise. – Andrew Leach Nov 15 '14 at 18:21
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    @AndrewLeach Ah yes, I just meant in general. No worries. – Chris Hayes Nov 15 '14 at 18:30

This edit raises two issues:

No, it doesn't. You raised those issues. But you raised them in a way that took the focus off of you and started a big argument about tangential topics. That's not really fair to anyone involved, including yourself. So, in the future, try to avoid that. If you're concerned that your writing style involves too many irrelevant stories, focus on that; otherwise, just roll back and get on with your life.

The best advice I can give anyone about editing is found in this blog post: In Defense of Editing - it's short, but packed full of wisdom... Particularly the three guidelines which I'll quote here in full:

  1. If you are going to edit a post, make sure you’re substantively improving it. Avoid making isolated, trivial edits, as they are the source of much friction. For example, don’t bother changing “its” to “it’s” unless you have several other edits to make in the same post. There has to be a legitimate case that your edit made multiple changes transforming the post from good to great — or at least substantively improving it. (Except when you happen to be editing that rare “perfect except for this one misspelled word” post. This is obviously OK to edit. In my experience, the type of posts that really cry out for editing need a lot of editing to be whipped into shape.)

    To be very specific, I would discourage editing a post solely to remove salutations like “hi” and “thanks”. That’s just adding an unnecessary edit on top of an unnecessary set of salutations. I completely agree that salutations add little to a question or answer, but if you’re going to take the time to go in and remove salutations, fix the whole post while you’re at it! If there’s nothing else to edit, then don’t bother.

  2. Be diplomatic in your edit-related comments. If you are going to make edits, you have to be more diplomatic and friendly than “suck it up, the FAQ says I can do this.” Explain that the spirit of SO is collaborative editing, and you’re only trying to make substantive improvements (see rule #1). More readable questions and answers leads to better information for all future travellers! Above all, be nice. And as mentioned in the blog entry on edit wars, if there’s any resistance — even unwarranted and unjustifiable resistance — just let go and move on.

  3. Every edit is a judgment call. Do we encourage editing? Yes! Do we demand that every user accept every edit? No. There’s no way I can make a blanket statement like that. Do I trust my wife? Sure. Do I agree with every single thing she’s ever done? No. It would be irrational to expect any person on the internet to extend more trust than this to me. We know editing is a net good, but not everyone does… yet. Forcing the issue does nobody any favors, generating active hostility and ill will. Unless the edit is of critical importance (which seems implausible, except in cases of vandalism or evil, which is a wholly different thing) you have to just let them learn the system at their own pace. As they say, you’ll get more flies with honey than vinegar.

    The vast majority of edits I see, I am fine with. But in the case where the original poster is unwilling to accept the edits and actively rejects them — please do not force the issue. It just leads to heartache. When in doubt, move on. There’s no shortage of editing opportunities, in fact, more are being written every minute. There are thousands of users who would appreciate reasonable edits that improve their post. Do not fight an edit war over a crumb of bread — there’s nothing there worth fighting for! It’s easier to just move on and get work done than create pain all out of proportion to the importance of the individual edit.

You got a problem with an edit someone made to your post? Then roll it back - as the author, that's your prerogative. But if that edit was made in good faith, you really don't need to start hand-wringing about it - folks naturally disagree on what makes a good edit because folks disagree on what makes a good post! If the edit opened your eyes to the fact that some people might have issues with the way you write, then treat that as an opportunity for you to learn something, don't attack the messenger.

The other issues being discussed here (lack of substance in answers, subjective questions, why y'all are discussing Dexter here instead of going to the site where that's on-topic...) - they're all things you probably should be discussing. But do it honestly, focusing on the issues themselves, not using some poor sap who tried to edit a bloated, sophomoric discussion into something approaching Q&A as your scapegoat.


The Immediate Issue

As deleting 90+% of a post is without a doubt changing the nature and content of the response, what is the purpose of an edit: tidy up the language and formatting, or change the answer?

The amount of change is not in and of itself determinative of whether an edit is correct or not. You ask "what is the purpose of an edit [...]?" This is indeed where the focus should be rather than whether or not 90% is too much. For instance, I would expect most would not have an issue with editing an answer that starts with a couple sentences that do answer the question but continues with what is essentially advertisement for proofreading services. It does not matter if the advertisement constitutes 10%, 20% or 90% of the post. It does not belong there.

The issue with the part that Lightness Races in Orbit removed is that it does not appear relevant to actually answering the question. It reads as some really tangential observation as to how such and such series ended. Now, one certainly could use various TV series to illustrate how one could apply the expression "cop-out ending" but the part that was removed actually does not do this.

I'll note here that I at the time I wrote this answer none of the responses here against the edit have explained why the passage is somehow doing relevant work in answering the question. (Asserting that it is relevant does not amount to explaining why it is relevant.) The focus instead is on the amount removed.

The Larger Picture

In the comments here, much has been made of the fact that Lightness Races in Orbit is more active on SO than here. This is irrelevant.

And let me note here I'm not an SE employee nor do I have any special relationship with SE.

While it is true that the various SE sites can self-direct and thus one site may allow things that would be off-topic elsewhere, it remains that the sites of the SE network must conform to some core rules. To take an example that I think few would disagree with: plagiarism is not allowed, anywhere. If one community on the SE network would somehow decide to allow plagiarism, I would expect SE employees to step in and rectify the situation. The Islam.SE site, for instance, has been put on notice due to plagiarized contents.

Here the issue is not plagiarism but whether the answer contained contents that was irrelevant to the question. Allowing irrelevant contents degrades quality, and this goes to the core of what being a quality question-and-answer site means. What ELU risks by allowing irrelevant contents is that eventually --- probably not today, probably not next week, but eventually --- this will harm the quality of the site to such an extent that someone at SE will have to step in. I've already mentioned Islam.SE. Another example is Programmers.SE: when quality went downhill, SE stepped in to refocus the site.

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    Have you actually read the post? It's written perfectly well, I wouldn't accept a crappy, vaporous answer. I have edited 912 posts since May 2013, my sole aim was to improve legibility, coherence, grammar, and spelling. Things that are perhaps secondary on SO. RF's post is written in clear English, and I enjoyed reading it! And who is to say that non native speakers didn't learn something from that same post? This is a language site; it's about communication, it's about exchanging our ideas with one another. It's not about writing the shortest answer possible. – Mari-Lou A Nov 14 '14 at 17:57
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    @Mari-LouA: It's not about exchanging any old ideas with one another, no. You appear to be confusing it for a message board, forum or chat room. – Lightness Races in Orbit Nov 14 '14 at 18:02
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit a good answer will be upvoted, a bad answer won't be. A very poor answer will even risk being deleted. It's the community that makes this decision. Not the single individual. – Mari-Lou A Nov 14 '14 at 18:05
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    @Mari-LouA: The answer was great. It didn't need deleting, or downvoting. It just needed irrelevant, off-topic stuff removing from after that answer. That occurred, successfully. I honestly cannot fathom why something so obvious is causing such a fuss. – Lightness Races in Orbit Nov 14 '14 at 18:14
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit but that's your opinion. In mine, it was fine as it was. And who was asking the question in the first place? Me. – Mari-Lou A Nov 14 '14 at 18:16
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    @Mari-LouA: It's my opinion, the opinion of a clear majority on this page, and the opinion of the people who wrote the rules for the entire website. The rules we are bound to follow. The fact that you asked the original question doesn't really mean anything special. – Lightness Races in Orbit Nov 14 '14 at 18:16

I removed that content because it:

  • added nothing to the question, which was a question about English Language & Usage
  • added nothing to this website, which is a website about English Language & Usage

I did not touch, not even a single bit, the part of your answer that was actually an answer to the question.

I simply removed the vast chunk of it — and the fact that this was more than three quarters of your post is your fault, not mine — that quite obviously belongs somewhere else entirely. If you want to write an exploratory essay on why some TV shows have bad endings, write it in your blog. Perhaps make it a self-answered question on Movies & TV!

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    Do you still want my definition of blasting someone? – anongoodnurse Nov 14 '14 at 10:38
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    Read the above. Remember that tone is difficult to interpret from the written word. – anongoodnurse Nov 14 '14 at 10:42
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    @medica: Read what above? Follow your own advice? I have no idea what you're trying to get at in your multiple comments throughout this post, but I would like to ask you to stay on-topic and either contribute something to the discussion at hand or don't say anything at all. Thanks. – Lightness Races in Orbit Nov 14 '14 at 10:43
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    Good grief! You're less tolerant than the OP was about your edit! Who is "everybody"? – anongoodnurse Nov 14 '14 at 10:43
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    @RoaringFish: What on earth are you going on about? "Why TV shows frequently have bad endings" has absolutely nothing to do with picking an English term. Absolutely nothing whatsoever. The website giving us the authority to decide what you can "discuss" is the rules of Stack Exchange. What is and is not on topic is very clearly defined across the BROAD WEALTH of help material available on this site and on the wider network. I invite you to read it now. It's rather disappointing, actually, that an 8k rep user should have such a poor grasp on this. – Lightness Races in Orbit Nov 14 '14 at 10:46
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    @RoaringFish It's not really "content you don't like" in this case though. It's content that doesn't add anything of value to the answer. Your answer is given in the first couple of sentences. The rest is sitting-in-a-bar "I know, right?" kind of fluff you discuss among friends. The sites in the network are Q&A's. Question and Answer. Not question, answer, and general chitchat. If that is what is seen as appropriate on this particular site, I'm going to be so arrogant to say that something is wrong. – Bart Nov 14 '14 at 10:50
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    @RoaringFish: A review of Dexter and an essay on TV show endings in general is not "background". Your fluff does not help the OP with their word choice. Your fluff does not aid the OP in making that word choice. It doesn't do anything but tell us what you think about why some TV shows have bad endings. It's irrelevant. I'm not sure how else to explain this to you. – Lightness Races in Orbit Nov 14 '14 at 11:02
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    Keep it civil, folks. – Matt E. Эллен Nov 14 '14 at 11:53
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit That edit was egregious. Editing is for minor fixes, ones that don't change the intent of the original author. Votes will say how good it is or not. – Mitch Nov 14 '14 at 13:24
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    I appreciated the answer, all of it. It was interesting to see how he fitted one of his suggestions lame within the post. It appeared very natural, and I could have kicked myself for not thinking of it myself. This also includes anticlimactic, which nobody else had suggested. I'm not defending RF's answer, but my right to say: "This answer in its entirety was the most helpful to me." In my opinion your suggested edit was too radical, it distorted the original post. – Mari-Lou A Nov 14 '14 at 14:13
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    Speaking from a Stack Overflow perspective, sure, much worse has happened @Mari-LouA. Not so much on the meme level (that is more Meta SO than SO) but the site has its history. But it has changed. And you know why? Because it simply doesn't scale. Small communities can manage a bit of "banter". And there is indeed an aspect of "between ourselves" when you start of. But as you grow (and let's hope that happens) you'll notice sooner or later that you'll need to narrow down and focus. Focus on the real answer. And that's what the edit did. It was substantial, but it highlighted. – Bart Nov 14 '14 at 14:25
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    Yeah, we can debate the value of some parts @Mari-LouA. I don't think they were particularly valuable, but opinions will differ. I don't buy the idea of the edit being "too substantial" though because it removed 4 paragraphs. I'd say you want to end up with focused content. But as a (frequent) lurker rather than an active participant over here, I'll admit that's an outside perspective. – Bart Nov 14 '14 at 14:34
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    @Mitch: Edits are for minor fixes to an answer to the question, and within that context you are certainly correct. However, my edit didn't change his answer to the question by even one character. His answer to the question was the first two paragraphs of his post. My edit removed the following unrelated paragraphs that had nothing to do with being an answer to the question, which certainly falls within the remit of editors. If his "intent" is to post something that is not an answer to the question, as if it were an answer to the question, then he should find someplace else for his content! – Lightness Races in Orbit Nov 14 '14 at 15:14
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    @LightnessRacesinOrbit I disagree. The whole thing was his answer, he was giving supporting evidence and nuance from examples. He might have worded it better, or given a final wrap up sentence to make it better, but it was still content. Why start an edit war? Comment first. From the very new names on this question (both meta and main), you've brought in a lot of lurkers and infrequent visitors to this case that don't seem to share the ELU culture. – Mitch Nov 14 '14 at 18:44
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    @Mitch: I didn't "start an edit war". I made an edit. I am not obliged to request permission before doing so. You will notice that I did not undo his rollback and actually start an edit war, so I would ask you for just a modicum of good faith. As for "ELU culture": utterly irrelevant. This site is part of SE. As I said elsewhere, if this site is fragrantly disregarding SE's mission and rules, then it urgently requires review. – Lightness Races in Orbit Nov 14 '14 at 18:46

The edit removed the tangential speculation about how TV shows are written and why endings suck which was completely and 100% off-topic. In fact, the Question itself contained lots of off-topic rambling. It could have been boiled down to

What do you call a frustrating and inexplicable ending? I was really disappointed by the series finale of Dexter. The plot and characters made no sense. Is there a word or expression which describes a sudden and inexplicable "cop-out ending", wherein the reader of a novel or TV viewer feels cheated in some way. Can I say: “a cop-out ending”? Is it idiomatic?

The entire rest of the question is not relevant and a good case could be made that it needs editing for brevity.

Similarly, all of the rest of the content of that answer regarding this or that TV show, congratulating Mari-Lou A for having made it through Dexter, etc, etc, is just aimless chitchat. It has no bearing whatsoever on the answer to the question.

The question itself even asks about

novel or TV

and does not limit it to TV shows. It could equally be about film or plays or interpretive dance. The meat of the answer still stands. The rest is filler by-product and should be removed.


At the time of writing this, the four top-voted answers defend the editor. And I agree with that. I am especially pleased that the editor has made no attempts to press the issue by trying to force the edit through. But I think it's only fair to defend the OP too.

In the Terms of Service (in Section 3: Subscriber Content) we grant Stack Exchange and others who use SE the right to modify what we post. The editor thought they were improving the post and a considerable number of members agree. The editor was acting within his rights. The In Defense of Editing link Shog9 opens with: "Editing is the backbone of Stack Overflow..." And it also cites the FAQ as saying:

Other people can edit my stuff?!

Like Wikipedia, this site is collaboratively edited. If you are not comfortable with the idea of your questions and answers being edited by other trusted users, this may not be the site for you.

The editor was participating in a crucial and normal part of the workings of SE.

But at the same time we are also asked in the ToS that if we use someone's post outside of SE, we must cite back (and hyperlink, if we're using the Internet) to that person. A post the Defense of Editing article links to is The Great Edit Wars, which says:

Stack Overflow is a bit different than wikipedia.

  • We have a much stronger authorship and owner attribution bent than Wikipedia.

What we post does not completely belong to the community. Each post is still the author's and we must respect that.

One user says: "[Everything] after the first paragraph is irrelevant, off-topic, and should be removed." This is not completely accurate. Irrelevancies can also be demonstrated relevant, for example. It may be the OP was going somewhere relevant with their idea, but it didn't come out right. For example, here the OP provided use cases of their word, as in:

The first word that springs to my mind is anticlimactic, though lame seems to be a popular phrase. Compare the UK and US versions of the old series Life on Mars... the UK finale is excellent while the US one is seriously lame. [emphasis added]


...one has a lame [emphasis added] ending and the other a great one...

I think it would have been more diplomatic to have left a comment asking OP to clarify and/or strengthen the purpose and motivation of the last part of the post. (Perhaps the upvotes to the comment would have given OP an idea of how many in the community agree, which is something an edit doesn't do as easily.)

Instead what happened was: a majority of OP's own post was deleted without warning and without their permission. And not just the majority, quite possibly the justification of OP's answer. If it were the editor's idea to shield OP from downvotes, I think this has potential to backfire: It's not unreasonable to think that the answer that remained

The first word that springs to my mind is anticlimactic, though lame seems to be a popular phrase. I wouldn't say your 'cop-out ending' is idiomatic, but it is definitely descriptive.

makes it look like OP was just throwing words out willy-nilly, which is just as much cause for downvotes as irrelevancies. This edit did change the nature of the post: It made a post that may have been providing too much irrelevant information become a post that may not have provided enough relevant information.

If that's the case: Would the potential downvoters have looked at the edit history first, or would they have assumed that all the editor did was format, perhaps italicizing anticlimactic and lame? Given that OP has 8k rep, there is good reason to investigate first. But I know I wouldn't have. Perhaps for this reason, the editor should have made what (or how much) they deleted more public via comment.

I really do think the editor was doing our community and OP a service. And I also think this is a genuinely good question, that it is not wrong for the OP to have been upset, and that we all can take Shog9's advice and use this as an opportunity to learn something. My answer is: Deleting (or modifying) a large part of a post ought to be handled carefully. (If only because it leads to misunderstandings like this.) I strongly encourage transparency and communication, both with the public and the poster whenever sensible.

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    Please do be aware that authors are notified of any non-trivial edit to their posts, making editing as much a form of communication as commenting. Your critique of the edit itself is fair, but I don't think editors need be as timid as you suggest. Few actions are as easily reverted here as an overzealous edit; indeed, while an author can easily roll back an edit, he has no direct control over comments on his post. – Shog9 Nov 15 '14 at 4:25
  • @Shog9 I didn't know that; thanks for telling me. I don't want to promote timidity but to encourage transparency. If a large portion of a post had to be modified by a non-OP member, is there any other way to tell aside from full revision history? If not, commenting is a necessity IMO. Am I correct in reasoning that if the OP visits once a day, they may not know for at least 3 hours (the minimum setting I see for e-mail digests in preferences) before they're notified that their post has been edited? I would like to know, to cast informed votes. But I believe I can change my votes on each edit? – user39720 Nov 15 '14 at 5:15
  • Correct, dan - each edit unlocks voting. – Shog9 Nov 15 '14 at 5:17
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    @InfiniteRecursion I didn't mean from "What we post does not belong completely to the community" that that's how Wikipedia worked; I meant that (to my understanding) that's not how SE worked. I don't see how what I've said about SE content ownership is wrong. (Asking for OP permission is probably going overboard.) But I don't like the idea one can post in the morning and return in the evening to a drastically edited post that was downvoted b/c of it. (That didn't happen here, but still...) A melodramatic cynic's POV: It's my rep on the line after a drastic edit, not the editor's/reviewers'. – user39720 Nov 15 '14 at 15:23

The extent of that edit (and most certainly the comment made with it) is inappropriate, in my opinion. Lots of people write answers that are longer than necessary, myself included, but removing 4 out of 5 paragraphs is a bit much. The second edit was much better; not necessary, but completely acceptable.

Please note that the editor was a low-rep user (791 rep), but ultimately the persons who authorized that edit are responsible for letting it go through. In this case, one user is relatively new to the site (has been active less than one month) and the other, well, it shouldn't have happened. Please note that a more seasoned user rejected that edit.

I think this one slipped by. Perhaps it brings into question what criteria should be met before users can approve edits. Truthfully (see, my answer is too long already, and I'm still going on), I've only seen this a couple of times in my 11 months here.

Ideally, an edit like that should be rejected by the reviewer, or the reviewer should use the reject and edit function to remove what they think is the excessive portion of the post.

Edited to add: As much as most people would have it so, not all SE sites conduct themselves equally. Some are strictly business, some are rough and tumble, some are sweetness and light, some are laid back (and that's only the ones I know about). SE may pretend there are only questions and answers, not personalities, but that's wishful thinking. Look at what happened here: someone made an edit, and someone else complained about it. Suddenly people with no association with this site are jumping all over people they don't know with a kind of favoritism that belies the whole issue. WTF happened to The NEW new “Be Nice” Policy (“Code of Conduct”)? Was that posted for laughs? Does the following fit the supposedly new be nice guidelines?

But do it honestly, focusing on the issues themselves, not using some poor sap who tried to edit a bloated, sophomoric discussion into something approaching Q&A as your scapegoat.

This should have been taken care of by members and users here instead of becoming a free-for-all.

It just reminds me that everyone has feelings and the more we ignore those feelings, the worse the problem becomes. What is the point of a be nice policy if only some people try to be nice?

The edit was egregious and accompanied by a dismissive (not helpful) remark. The OP took it to Meta, as he has a right to do. And because the editor has friends, it became fubar.

clown vomiting a sparkly rainbow

This is the worst of SE right here. If you don't think this edit addresses the original problem, you have a problem.

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    "my answer is too long already", +1 – Mazura Nov 14 '14 at 7:44
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    The aforementioned editor may be a low-rep user on EL&U but not on "Stack Overflow". The person has been around SE for a long time, and I feel that what is considered good practice in SO, removing excess fluff (so to speak) does not necessarily apply to EL&U. The second edit recommended was much more respectful, if that had been the first, who knows if the OP would have simply shrugged their shoulders, improved on it, or rolled-back. – Mari-Lou A Nov 14 '14 at 9:43
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    The comment was uncalled for, bordering on rudeness, but it explained the motivation behind the edit. – Mari-Lou A Nov 14 '14 at 9:50
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    The fact that 4 or 5 paragraphs were removed does not make it a bad edit. The fact that 4 or 5 paragraphs needed to be removed made it a bad post, which is why I edited it. And despite the fact that I have only 791 rep on ELU, I have over 133,000 rep on Stack Exchange in general and therefore know quite well what "on-topic" means. (cont.) – Lightness Races in Orbit Nov 14 '14 at 10:30
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    (cont.) There is literally no way that "Discussion of the difficulties facing TV series and providing examples" can be considered on-topic for ELU (try Movies & TV) and if, for some reason, this community has come to think otherwise, then SE needs to take a closer look at ELU's mandate. As for "blasting someone", I have literally no idea what you are talking about but that's quite the accusation. – Lightness Races in Orbit Nov 14 '14 at 10:32
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    @RoaringFish, I have to disagree; If there's some solid information and some fluff, then removing the fluff is not censorship, it is editing the message for focus. Doesn't matter if the fluff is 10% or 90% of the original. Clearly you disagree about whether the 90% was actually fluff or not, but I don't see how removing it actually changed your message. – Hellion Nov 14 '14 at 16:01
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    @Roaring If the "message" was "I don't give a tinker's dam about this site's topic" then I've done you a favour by masking it from everyone else before you get in trouble. :) – Lightness Races in Orbit Nov 14 '14 at 17:51
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    You and the rest of the folks thinking this is "the editor and his friends" might want to poke around a bit; this fine discussion blew up in at least three different chat rooms over the course of the afternoon, caused a bit of consternation for the mod team and... Generally produced a ton of heat and not much light. Which is why I got involved in the first place: this is a terrible way to settle a misunderstanding, a trivial matter made ridiculous. It may be too much to ask folks to just talk to one another, but standing up on a soapbox to talk past each other isn't an improvement. – Shog9 Nov 15 '14 at 4:34
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    @Shog9 although I appreciated the guidelines concerning the Do's and Dont's for editing, your final comment in your well-argued post did not help to dissipate the tension. It's clear you think this is a storm in a teacup, but Lightness etc. intervention made this debate into a "I'm right and I have the upvotes and SO policy to prove it" VS. "No, I'm right and I have my experience and my rep earned on EL&U to prove it". – Mari-Lou A Nov 15 '14 at 4:42
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    Doesn't 'blown up in at least three different chatrooms' support the folks thinking this the editor and his friends? Who apparently went to three chatrooms to get friends... – Roaring Fish Nov 15 '14 at 4:46
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    The tension you speak of predates this kerfuffle by quite a bit, @mari-lou. I've written about this before... - and if years of calm debate hasn't resolved it, then vicious finger-pointing certainly won't. As I said, folks disagree on edits because they disagree on posts... – Shog9 Nov 15 '14 at 4:50
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    @Shog9 I understand your intention was to act like the calm voice of reason, but, IMO, your last gratuitous comment did not help. Perhaps you are asking yourself why I have become involved so much in this kerfuffle. There was an edit proposed by Lightness to my post which was rejected by two ELUers. The edit did not change the substance of my question, but it removed some of the context. The comment accompanied with the edit was a bit of a shock, too. Removed irrelevant ranting. – Mari-Lou A Nov 15 '14 at 5:13
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    medica, If I were to moderate, I would roll back to the first edit and remove the irrelevant stuff. It's been improved slightly since then (although the spoiler really does need to be hidden), so that's no longer so necessary. However, mods have day jobs and this coincided with them. @Shog9 is an SE employee who knows the system inside out and said everything the moderators would have said had not real life got in the way. – Andrew Leach Nov 15 '14 at 9:33
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    @medica: "Your comment labeling the person whose insensitivity started this - it was a dismissive remark, and unkind" You still haven't told me what "remark" you're referring to. I don't remember writing anything dismissive or unkind. – Lightness Races in Orbit Nov 15 '14 at 12:17
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    If by "bleats it out to all her chums" you mean to imply that the editor notified us in a chatroom to get our sympathy because we're friends ... well, you're wrong. The editor isn't all that frequent a visitor and (as far as I'm concerned) merely asked for our view on the matter. I happen to agree with the editor, but would have been equally vocal about it (though perhaps not here) if I would have disagreed. At most I tried to offer an outsider's perspective. That it's not appreciated is unfortunate, but I'll let this be the last thing I'll say on the matter. Good luck. – Bart Nov 15 '14 at 15:52

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