If you edit a post by improving grammar, punctuation, and sentence flow, what do you do if the OP rolls it back to the poorly structure version?

Here is the case in point:

I'm using acronym package but I just realized that it has some problem with spacing. It is the last version (2012). All the time that the acronym start in a new line on the previous one there is a small white space, very annoying to me!

My edit:

I'm using the acronym package, but I just realized that it has some problems with spacing. It is the last version (2012). The acronym starts on a new line all the time, and on the previous line, there is a small white space which is very annoying to me!

Here is the link to the post as well: Acronym generates abnormal spacing

  • 6
    That edit changed the meaning (making it false) the OP was correct to revert it. The acronym does not start on a new line all the time. The issue arises if a line break happens. Jun 23, 2013 at 17:07
  • @DavidCarlisle what about the rest of the grammatical errors such as commas and saying I'm using acronym package? If something is wrong, change it but there are other issues in the structure too.
    – dustin
    Jun 23, 2013 at 17:09
  • 8
    If someone takes an answer of mine fixes a couple of spelling errors and grammar issues and at the same time changes the meaning to be false. I would revert rather than work through the changes. I might later if I thought it important apply some fixes, or I might not depending how important I thought it was or how much time I had. But reverting it first so the meaning is quickly restored is reasonable. Jun 23, 2013 at 17:14
  • @DavidCarlisle maybe I am missing something. Don't the post here reflect the community as a whole since the community controls content? Over at SO, one of the moderators said: "That's what the segment of the community over 2K rep is for. It's all a collaborative effort and everyone pitches in to clean up, whether it be with fixing up formatting or even going through and cleaning up the grammar and English." Do we here not care about this?
    – dustin
    Jun 23, 2013 at 17:18
  • 13
    Better grammar is obviously better than bad grammar. But an edit that produces something that is grammatically correct but has a different (and false) meaning to the original is a bad edit and should be reverted. Jun 23, 2013 at 17:20
  • @DavidCarlisle then fix that part of the edit. I am not saying don't do that.
    – dustin
    Jun 23, 2013 at 17:21
  • 1
    @dustin -- (i have just re-edited the text of the item in question to clarify the meaning. but the wording i used is different than what you had done.) yes, we do care about how questions and answers are expressed; they should be clear to anyone who reads them, and not misleading. but i agree with david here -- it's most important that the intended meaning of a question not be changed, and the quickest way to remedy such a change is to roll back, so readers "between changes" don't get the wrong message. clarification can come in another step. Jun 23, 2013 at 17:24
  • I'm not planning to do anything to the edit. I am just saying that given the texts you show in your question, the original is better text than the suggested edit and had I been the OP I would have reverted it too. There are a couple of grammar issues with the original text, if they bother you, you could always fix those. Jun 23, 2013 at 17:26
  • @DavidCarlisle it just seems weird that we use sophisticated document preparation software but don't care as much about sentence structure especially since many people here are in higher education and have or are working on advanced degrees.
    – dustin
    Jun 23, 2013 at 17:30
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    Why on earth to you say we don't care about sentence structure? You seem to be completely missing the point that a grammatically correct sentence that means something completely different to the original is not an improvement. If you choose to edit someone's text you have an obligation not to change the meaning. Jun 23, 2013 at 17:33
  • @DavidCarlisle I said numerous times that yes if something shouldn't be changed fix that. You keep harping on the meaning being changed when I say fix that portion. I am ok with that. What you keep saying is poor grammar is better than wrong meaning. Yes the meaning is important. I continually say though fix the meaning and keep the grammar. Why advocate poor grammar and meaning? Why not have proper grammar and correct meaning?
    – dustin
    Jun 23, 2013 at 17:35
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    OK then answer to the question of "what to do if the edit is revered" is "look why it was reverted and don't make the same mistake when doing future edits". I'm not sure what answer you expected to your question? Jun 23, 2013 at 17:39
  • It is my firm belief that NO ONE should be allowed to edit a person's words, without their permission first. It is the same as putting words in someone's mouth. Yes, there are times when a phrase or punctuation is needed, but it should ba a suggestion and NOT a "do first and ask for forgiveness later" thing. Especially when forgiveness will never be asked for. The Edit someone else words should be a "Suggestion and wait for approval feature. Link to the edits but leave the original until the person agrees or makes the changes themselves.
    – Mouthpear
    Dec 29, 2023 at 4:14

3 Answers 3


To round up the comment thread.

You seemed to be surprised that the edit should be reverted in is entirety rather than being fixed/improved. In fact reverting is the natural action to take in this circumstance.

Someone who decides to edit a question (or answer) can decide to do it at a time convenient for them, and to spend as much or as little time as they wish.

For a person whose question or answer has been edited the situation is completely different. They get a notification of the edit at a time over which they have no control and have to decide whether to accept it or revert it.

In a case such as this where the meaning has been changed, reverting is the correct thing to do. The fact that someone felt the need to edit may be an indication of some unclarity or grammatical errors in the text so then an OP may wish to come back later to edit the question at a convenient time, but certainly in my own case if one of my answers is incorrectly edited I don't feel any obligation to fix the edit although I might fix the answer if it does in fact need fixing.

So the answer to the question of what you should do if an edit is reverted, is (normally) nothing, leave it to the original author to fix, or (sometimes) if it is clear that just one part of the edit was wrong, you could try to re-submit a fixed edit.


I completely agree with David's comments. The edit fixed some grammar issues, but also changed the meaning of the question. The problem was in the usage of "all the time that", an almost word by word translation from Italian "tutte le volte che" ("each time" would have been a proper translation). Unfortunately, "all the time" has a different meaning in English, and this led to your misinterpretation.

Rolling back was probably the best action, under the circumstances; but fixing the grammar, now that's clear what the question means, is surely a good thing to do.

Indeed, this shows how poor grammar can lead to misunderstandings, so careful edits are welcome.


Already David and egreg summed up well.

My View points:

Simple Answer : It's OP's Choice, give him full control of his Q. He is the first benefiter out of the Q & A.

Some Thoughts:

  • Giving more words/comments inside the editing area " I have made some blah blah changes and feel free to roll back incase you feel so" If in real doubt of changing the meaning of Q.

  • I usually edit very minimal the content of Q for English etc as we cannot predict the OP's mind too correctly and sometimes I am really worried if I have changed the Q meaning/message of OP and harming his Q.

  • Ideally all editing/tagging efforts are directed towards helping OP get a Quick/better answer with minimal edits to Q and building a knowledge bank for future visitors.

Some Q pointers:

When is (and isn't) it acceptable to edit?

First post questions: Good reviewing practice

Last but not least : Patience/Kindness towards OP as he/she might come from any backgrounds/regions (non native english/ non-engg/ arts/etc.. many more) unlike other forums.

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