- Someone made an edit to my question/answer. Why did they do that?
We are an edit-happy community
The goal of RPG.SE is creating a repository of questions that have received high quality, expertise-based answers. This influences much of the site’s design and community practices. For editing, this means other users† will make edits to improve posts, both to make the question clearer and easier to understand and get good answers, and to make answers clearer and easier to understand and help readers. This helps both you, the asker or answerer, but also countless other readers down the line who make use of the Q&A.
The majority of these edits are simple things like fixing spelling, fixing grammatical mistakes, fixing broken list formatting and other formatting issues, and breaking up walls of text into paragraphs, which should all be fairly understandable. Fixing spelling and grammar makes it easier to read, but might accidentally change the meaning (in which case you should edit that to correct it; see below). You are allowed to use your preferred flavour of English (e.g. British or American), but well-meaning incorrect edits may occur as an artefact of an editor – or their spell-checker – not recognizing it.
There are a few other types of edits that happen that may or may not have obvious reasons. Do note that we don’t have a strict style guide; these are general practices which help readability/general quality. Such common types of edits include:
- Fixing "pseudoheaders" (bolded lines) into formatted headers to make
them stand out better and for the benefit of text assist software.
See this Q&A:
Use real headers instead of fake headers
- Removing misused code formatting (called “preformatted text” in the
editor). See this Q&A:
Is there a functional purpose to putting things in code text here?
- Formatting extended sections of quoted text as blockquote formatting
(by starting the line with
>) and/or removing unnecessary italicization of the section, which helps clearly outlining it as quotation without affecting readability.
- Using MathJax (which uses a subset of LateX syntax) to format
equations well, making them way easier to
read/parse. See this Q&A:
MathJax guide for RPG.SE: How to format pretty tables and equations?
- Correcting markdown syntax for tables, lists, etc.
- Editing tags to better describe the core of the question and help connect it with other questions and users with that expertise. In particular, other users will often help fix tags, as it is part of question curation, and the use and usefulness of tags (or the existence of a relevant tag) can often be non-obvious.
- Editing clarifications into a question or answer from the comments. Comments are temporary, and while they should be used for requesting clarifications, those clarifications should be added to the question. Especially if the clarifications are important to the question and/or there are a lot of clutters, other users will incorporate clarifications into the question.
- Changing all-caps used for emphasis to italics or bold instead. Using all-caps is often read as shouting, and there is usually not any reason to shout in a question or answer.
- Removing unnecessary edit notes and other meta-commentary. While it
may be considered good practice on other sites, we try to keep our
posts as clean as possible, and as such, certain excesses will often
be trimmed - in particular, saying “thanks” or including the word
“edit:” to signal the edit.
See the Q&As What's our policy on editing "Thanks" from new questions? and Don't signal your edits in text respectively.
With all this said: please don’t rely on other users to edit your answer or question for you. When another user makes an edit that you think improves your post, please take it as something you should be doing to your own posts going forward - though we all let some typpos slip through from time to time.
What should I do if the edit did something wrong?
If an edit introduces an error, changes intent, or is otherwise disagreeable, you can edit the question or answer to correct it/roll back the edit, and/or leave a comment asking the user who did the edit for clarification about it. Users who have edited a post are notified of @username mentions in the comments of the post, even if they don’t appear in the autocomplete.
If you revert an edit and then the edit is repeated, by the same user or someone else, please take a step back and try to get clarity on why the edit was made and thus whether it was correct. If necessary, you can seek guidance from chat or meta, and/or raise a flag for moderator attention - especially if an edit war seems to be brewing. See this Q&A:
What is an "edit war" and is it ever appropriate?
†: Users with at least 2000 reputation may edit posts directly, while users with less than 2000 reputation may suggest edits that can then be approved or rejected by the post author and/or other users who have at least 2000 reputation.