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So here's what the Editing Help says:

When should I edit posts?

Any time you feel you can make the post better, and are inclined to do so. Editing is encouraged!

Some common reasons to edit are:

  • to fix grammatical or spelling mistakes
  • to clarify the meaning of a post without changing it
  • to correct minor mistakes or add addendums / updates as the post ages
  • to add related resources or hyperlinks

Tiny, trivial edits are discouraged - try to make the post significantly better when you edit, correcting all problems that you observe.

But having just had an edit rejected as "makes no sense as an edit" (which I then put in a comment, which was then deleted), I suspect that the standard is actually not "any time you feel you can make the post better."

The last line especially confuses me; I would consider most spelling/grammatical fixes to be trivial unless you're missing a "not" or half a sentence. So I think this may have set me into thinkiing that edits should be more substantial than is normally accepted here.

So my question is: How do I know when to edit someone's question or answer vs. commenting and suggesting they do so?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Related: When editing, how drastic is too drastic? That question was looking for a quantitative answer (how much); I'm looking for more of a qualitative heuristic (what kind). \$\endgroup\$ – SirTechSpec Apr 1 '16 at 3:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ Personally, I have a sort of "ownership" feeling with my answers and questions. I can usually let it go when things are edited and it doesnt happen often, but because of that feeling I usually take heed of the potential ownership that many others might feel. I don't add on to answers, rather I suggest it in a comment and leave it up to the answerer. At the end of the day, they get the points and you don't, so adding onto an answer can change the focus of the answer or clutter it up. That's just the way I do it. I usually don't edit answers at all really, since I feel its up to them. \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov Apr 9 '16 at 16:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ On the other hand, I feel more of a responsibility as a user to edit other people's questions to be clear and concise, since that more affects the quality of the answers as a whole, whereas editing individual answers affects only that answer. As someone who can edit without revision, I feel less inclined to do so, since I would rather have the input of other users on the edits I make. \$\endgroup\$ – Premier Bromanov Apr 9 '16 at 16:20
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I think I'm kind of zeroing in on something, though it's still a little fuzzy. here goes:

Edit

  • To add links and page numbers, and when appropriate, to cite exact rules instead of vague paraphrases
  • To address issues of wording, grammar, or spelling that make the intent less clear (though it should still be pretty clear)
  • To update as rules and errata are released
  • To correct specific factual errors like wrong page numbers or rules quotations

Comment

  • When you think the answer is mostly good but you wish it would address an additional point
  • When the intended meaning is sufficiently unclear that you're not confident you can fix it yourself
  • When you want to be more polite about correcting a factual error in an otherwise okay post

Downvote

  • When an answer is factually wrong or bad advice or doesn't answer the question

Add Your Own Answer

  • When you have enough to say not covered in other posts that it's worth it; if it's mostly based on another answer plus your own spin, comment on that one instead and hope they agree

Overall

Edit to improve by removing problems; comment to suggest improving by adding content

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is a pretty good first-order approximation of what seems to be the cultural norms at RPG.se, yeah! \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Apr 1 '16 at 3:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ This seems correct. I can't help but wonder what your edit/comment was that caused it to be deleted. \$\endgroup\$ – Polyducks Apr 1 '16 at 8:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ It was, according to this heuristic that I developed in response, adding too much content for an edit on someone else's post. As for the comment, if I had to guess, I'd say it was less about "this is a bad comment why would you even say that" and more "I don't agree that that would be an improvement, and no one else will see this since it's an old post, so I'll just remove it in accordance with the policy/habit of deleting old comments." Which I also kind of wonder about, but that's a separate question. \$\endgroup\$ – SirTechSpec Apr 1 '16 at 12:11

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