Why is an edit to fix a 1-character spelling mistake required to be at least 6 characters long?

I tried to edit the first line of a good answer to correct "fulfil" into "fulfill". It seems silly that I am unable to do so, especially since spelling corrections are encourage.

Fixing spelling corrections in title or paragraph topic sentences can (unfortunately) affect people's subjective opinion on the authoritativeness of an answer.

At a minimum, the system should permit short edits of the word "spell" is found in the edit reason.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Does a 1-character spelling mistake that doesn't change the meaning or any reader's understanding of a question or answer actually improve that question or answer? I lean towards no. Also, is your question title ironic or what? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 21, 2016 at 19:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ The question title is ironic. I'll disagree that a 1-character spelling error doesn't affect a post. I wish it did not affect a post, but I believe it still does. In the title or the main topic sentences, it (as I said, unfortunately) sends a subliminal signal that the post is less trustworthy. Maybe that is diminishing today, as internet users become more forgiving due to globalization and the realization that mastery of English spelling is not synonymous with intelligence. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 21, 2016 at 20:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ mastery of English spelling is not synonymous with intelligence It isn't? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 21, 2016 at 20:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Some of the smartest people I've known were just godawful spellers and writers, and couldn't care at all about whether they missed a letter. Was writing this as your comment appeared, @KorvinStarmast. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 21, 2016 at 20:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LegendaryDude if the humor did not come across in that comment, apologies. ;-) I expect that this comment too shall pass, like a kidney stone. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 21, 2016 at 20:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast I completely agree with you. Maybe it's different for you younger folk (I'm pushing 60), but in my day spelling and grammar bigots were more common than not. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 21, 2016 at 20:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Actually it came across quite clearly; I was agreeing with you. :) \$\endgroup\$ Apr 21, 2016 at 20:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @LegendaryDude I think we all agree on the main point. Where we might disagree: I believe that -- if performed in a non-judgmental setting -- editing for better spelling and grammar can help good content reach a wider audience. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 21, 2016 at 20:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SorcererQzot I do that with some frequency, and hope that the intent of just what you said is received by those who wrote them in the first place. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 21, 2016 at 20:33

2 Answers 2


Firstly, “fulfil” is not an error, just an acceptable alternate spelling of the word.

Secondly… I think that might partly answer the question. ;)

Thirdly and more generally though:

Edits should be significant, and 1-character edits (even to fix spelling) are most often not, which is why the help page for the full edit privilege says:

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

Free editing is a privilege earned with more reputation, the idea being that those users will have a clearer and more nuanced understanding of what kind of edits are useful to the site and what kinds aren't by the time they've earned that much rep.

That time also gives users the chance to observe existing editing practices to pick up what kinds of edits the community approves of, and which are seen as unnecessary disruption to the front page.

When looking to fix spelling, always look for other changes that would improve the post substantially. If there are none to be found, best leave it be—it's only when spelling errors riddle a post that it really starts affecting it, and at that point there are enough errors that a 6+ character edit is possible. If every other word is spelled correctly, a lone error won't adversely affect the reader's impression of the post. In such cases, its loneliness may even suggest that it's not really an error. This can especially happen with spelling variations between American English and British English, in which case it's best to avoid spelling-based edits, as they may just impose a foreign spelling standard on the original post author rather than improve the post.

It's rare for an under-6 character edit to be necessary for a post to be understood properly. Fortunately, given just a bit of time one of the higher-rep users will likely notice it and make the necessary edit. If enough time goes by with it uncorrected, it's entirely possible that it doesn't actually need changing and is considered fine how it is. Still, if it seems like a serious issue with a post is going unnoticed, you can always use a custom flag to notify a moderator to take a look.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Ah. You are quite right. I checked several references before performing the edit. All happened to be for North American spelling. :( \$\endgroup\$ Apr 21, 2016 at 19:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ And I'll take this as an object lesson, since in my short few days here, I've had my posts edited in ways I found both unnecessary and irksome. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 21, 2016 at 20:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ You are able to revert to a previous form by clicking on the "edited X time ago" orange tag and picking the version you'd prefer ... and you can even edit that one to make it more better. :-) \$\endgroup\$ Apr 21, 2016 at 20:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SorcererQzot You can also ask here on meta about the reasoning behind edits, to bring them to wider attention. Sometimes it will be because of community norms that you (being new, understandably) might not aware of; sometimes the edits will be considered by others unnecessary too. Asking can help learn more about how the site and community works, either way. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 21, 2016 at 20:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ And that's how the site gets better. \$\endgroup\$ Apr 21, 2016 at 20:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ You might want to work "Try to make the post substantively better when you edit, not just change a single character. Tiny, trivial edits are discouraged." into your answer, as the official party line. Also, related. \$\endgroup\$
    – BESW
    Apr 21, 2016 at 20:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm new here but I wanted to add a newcomers impression so far (it's related, I promise.) I tend prefer reading well constructed and grammatically correct text. And since joining I have been impressed with both the professionalism displayed (well put together questions and answers) and the respect shown here. I personally like seeing my posts edited if they contained errors, but feel that the rule stated above really reflects both the respect and professionalism I've witnessed so far. Thank you for both! \$\endgroup\$ Apr 23, 2016 at 17:13

The TL;DR answer is "editing shorter than that is limited to higher-rep users who have probably figured out more nuances of the site, including having seen different British spellings, mass bumps on the front page from mass trivial edits, etc."


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