the question Glossaries with more hierarchical categories has a pending edit that only removes spaces before colons and an exclamation mark.

i hesitate to reject it, since it appears to have been made in good faith.

however, the op is a resident of france, where the convention is to use a space before such punctuation.

so the question is, how intrusive should one be in such a situation? there is no facility (that i can find) that allows for comments on why an edit is rejected. if such a facility existed, i would use it and reject the edit, but without the ability to comment, i hesitate.

  • 1
    Certainly if this were UK/US spelling I'd expect it to be left alone.
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Jun 27, 2016 at 16:18
  • thanks for adding the tags, @werner. Jun 27, 2016 at 17:38

1 Answer 1


Well we've had this discussion on other grounds too, as you well know, but I think that since the language of the site is English, editing other-language typographical practices doesn't seem to me to be so out of line, especially if the question is already active. While it's true that it could be thought of as too minor an edit, and could be rejected on those grounds, I still think it's reasonable to accept the edit.

I don't think the analogy to British vs. American spelling (or punctuation) practice is relevant here, since those are both valid ways of writing in English, and therefore should never be subject to edits on those grounds.

One other consideration: we all consider it helpful to clean up grammatical and spelling errors in English since many users of the site are not native English speakers. And I think this help is generally appreciated by those users, since it makes their question more understandable to all. I don't really see why typographical practice shouldn't fall under the same rubric. I find it unlikely that a French speaker who puts spaces before punctuation out of habit of writing in French is deliberately using such practice when writing in English, just as they are not deliberately making any other kind of English error. This again is different from the case of British vs. American spelling conventions, which for some of us are quite conscious decisions.

  • 5
    +1. It is a minor edit, on the level of typos not in code snippets, but IIRC, we're fine with minor edits on fresh questions.
    – yo'
    Jun 27, 2016 at 16:27
  • 1
    Broadly true but typographic practice isn't exactly linked to language but rather to locale :-)
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Jun 27, 2016 at 16:30
  • @JosephWright -- that (locale) was exactly my point, although probably not as well expressed as it might have been. Jun 27, 2016 at 16:39
  • 5
    I honestly don't think this is a locale issue. And it's not clear that the site has a 'locale' in that respect. Documents written in English typically conform to English typographical conventions. If there are any compelling counterexamples to that, I'd be interested to see them.
    – Alan Munn
    Jun 27, 2016 at 16:52
  • okay. i find the considerations in the final paragraph (added later) compelling. thanks. Jun 27, 2016 at 17:37
  • 2
    French typography adds space before punctuation . ¿What would we do with other typographical styles?
    – Johannes_B
    Jun 28, 2016 at 7:30
  • @AlanMunn I definitely agree with your point. In French, typographical conventions would be treated as an element of proper spelling. If there are several locales, typography and spelling should be compatible with the chosen locale.
    – ienissei
    Jul 4, 2016 at 20:47
  • You should still put spaces in front of commas when you cite a French text in a British journal. It's not a question of place, but of language. (I mean, typography is an essential part of a language.)
    – yo'
    Jul 8, 2016 at 8:55
  • 2
    @yo' I think this depends very much on the journal: e.g. Journal of French Studies (OUP) says "Punctuation of articles written in French: even when writing in French, please use the English conventions outlined here, not French-style punctuation. For example, please do not leave a space before colons, semi-colons, question marks, before and after quotation marks, etc. — write ‘fleur:’ and ‘fleur?’ not ‘fleur :’ and ‘fleur ?’. Please use English-style quotation marks, not French-style ones — ‘/’ not «/». [ ... ]"
    – Alan Munn
    Jul 8, 2016 at 16:25

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