There have been a number of instances now where I've gone in and edited questions that were probably reasonable, but had lots of bad formatting, no LaTeX, and so on. I wouldn't edit these questions (and would merely drop a comment) except for the fact that they tend to occur in bunches and clutter up the front page at a time when we're still trying to establish a 'brand quality' for the site.

Am I being overzealous ? Should I merely limit myself to comments, or ignore the post and let the badly written question fade away slowly from the front page (as it often tends to) ?

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    $\begingroup$ I think you're doing great! Thank you. $\endgroup$ Sep 13, 2010 at 13:15
  • $\begingroup$ I second Aaron, and IMO what you and Ryan are doing is working, I just saw Luca. I think another important requirement to establish a brand quality is to show them that the site is helpful and really working, i.e. their questions would get useful answers. $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Sep 13, 2010 at 15:14
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe we should have something similar to this, and show a link to it when someone asks a question: mathoverflow.net/howtoask $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Sep 13, 2010 at 15:15
  • $\begingroup$ Kaveh: that's a great idea. Maybe you can start another question thread with the express purpose of formulating such a list, and then we can link it to the official FAQ ? $\endgroup$ Sep 13, 2010 at 15:35
  • $\begingroup$ Don't less this kind of task consume too much of your time. You can ask for a third moderator if you think the workload is rather high. $\endgroup$ Sep 15, 2010 at 8:41

1 Answer 1


I have seen a number of my (and many others') questions edited by you. You've been pretty serious at keeping this forum up and tidy, and we should all appreciate your work.

However, I have a problem: I see a notice that "Suresh edited this question," yet there's no notice what has changed. Many times I try to figure that out, but can't see the tiny edit within the bunches of words and sentence. (I think there's a "history" feature on this forum, but forget how to access it.)

So, I suggest several things:

  1. Designating rules for posting questions, answers, or comments. The FAQ is pretty loose on this side; for instance, it does not mandate that formulas must be typeset in LaTeX.
  2. Mandating all members to adhere to the rules. (The reputation score is a pretty good mechanism to enforce this.)
  3. Highlighting the reason for edit, if necessary.
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    $\begingroup$ There is a "history" feature, just learn how to use it. If it says "edited 8 hours ago", the part "8 hours ago" is a link that shows the full history of the post. $\endgroup$ Sep 13, 2010 at 12:25
  • $\begingroup$ Not saying what you edited may feel awkward. For example, if someone comments pointing to an error, then you will orphan that comment if you fix your mistake without saying so. However, in the long run it's probably nicer to aim for easy to read questions and answers. The orphaned comment may be removed; if someone really wants to see the history of the Q/A, then it is available. $\endgroup$ Sep 13, 2010 at 14:08
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    $\begingroup$ On the one hand, Jukka is correct. On the other hand, we want things as readable as possible by someone new to the site. I think a line at the bottom that starts "Edit: ..." and explains the edit in a few words, is not unreasonable to ask for. $\endgroup$ Sep 13, 2010 at 15:02
  • $\begingroup$ I've been lazy with adding comments in the revision history - I should be more diligent in doing so. I don't think duplicating in the comment feed is necessary. $\endgroup$ Sep 13, 2010 at 15:35
  • $\begingroup$ Please don't add any unnecessary noise in the comment feed. Comments that have become obsolete should be deleted by those who posted them; once the question is fixed, we should have fewer comments, not more comments. $\endgroup$ Sep 13, 2010 at 17:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Suresh: Not having editing privileges, I've not done a whole lot of editing here, but on SO I mostly use standard, one-word edit summaries, e.g., "spelling", "readability", "formatting", or the infamous "remove greeting". Firefox kindly remembers these, so they involve tapping two letters and clicking. $\endgroup$ Sep 14, 2010 at 19:39

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