8

In particular when a user feels compelled to "correct" (edit) questions and answers he sees are "simply" misinformation, ambiguous, typos, common mistakes, etc.

Meaning and usage of "to no end"
(The edited title was: Meaning and usage of "to no end" as a misspoken phrase?)

In the hypothesis that the user is 100% correct, does that justify literally rewriting posts that are two or more years old?

UPDATE

The OP who asked the question has chosen to rollback the edit and commented:

Guys, I don't understand the need for all these edits. I thought my question was pretty clear

1
  • I'm not sure "overriding" is the best expression, I had thought superimposing was more appropriate but the dictionary states place or lay (one thing) over another, typically so that both are still evident, which is not the case here.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 21 '15 at 16:39
10

I think that the editor seriously overreached in this instance, and that the editor's emphasis on erroneousness and misspeaking—as opposed to real-world usage taken at face value—altered the nature of the question asked and the sense, tone, and relevance of the answers that were submitted in response to the question as originally formulated.

The proper approach, in my view, would have been to add comments contesting the validity of the question and of any answers that the editor found flawed, and to submit an answer that made the editor's case at greater length than might be possible in one or more comments. The editor in fact did both of these things, and was well within his rights in so doing. But changing the original question and two or three answers to comport with his views was, I think, a mistake and should not be encouraged.

The legitimate weapons at every high-reputation user's disposal in promoting a particular view of a question are commenting, upvoting, downvoting, and answering. I consider editing an inappropriate tool for such promotion. The central purpose of editing is to help the poster say more coherently what the poster intended to say but somehow failed to say well—and perhaps (in extreme instances) to make a promising question or answer that is in danger of being closed or deleted acceptable under the site's guidelines for asking and answering questions.

Editing questions and answers to make them reflect one's own ideas of correctness—or (in the worst case) to vindicate a peeve—doesn't fulfill the purpose for which we are empowered to edit questions and answers. I am confident that if the changes that occurred in the present case had been submitted through the Suggested Edits queue, they would have been rejected as being inconsistent with the original posters' intent.

I hope that this answer isn't taken as a personal slam of the editor who made the changes. He has made numerous positive contributions to EL&U, I have never had a hostile exchange with him, and I find his enthusiasm and lack of pretense refreshing. But I do think that in this case he exceeded the bounds of appropriate editing, and I would roll back all of the changes he introduced to the question and answers here.

3
  • I'm going to wait a bit before accepting this answer. But thank you for such a sensible and well-thought out answer as always.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 21 '15 at 18:19
  • I would also like to add that the user means well, but this is not the first time he's taken to editing multiple posts without waiting answerer's replies.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 21 '15 at 18:23
  • +1 for each of your five points. In fact, most of the edits have already been rolled back. Aug 21 '15 at 23:03
9

I wouldn't call it overriding. I would call it editing. In this case, it was not appropriate editing.

I see no problem with multiple edits in a thread if they stick to editing guidelines. I've done it. It is imperative that the original intent of the post is never altered. If the editor is respecting the guidelines, it makes the questions and answers more understandable, etc.

However, the edits on the linked question were not appropriate. The editor removed a perfectly valid interpretation of "to no end" in one answer (that, to me, harms the answer), and the edit of the OP's question is based on a personal opinion of proper spoken language. It's just vandalism at that point.

The fact that the editor did this after submitting his own answer makes this an especially unwise use of editorial privilege.

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