I'm relatively new to serverfault/stackexchange, though not to systems administration. I've posted only a few answers here so far. In the last day, two of my posts were edited by other users. I get it, creative commons, etc. - I've been editing on wikipedia for many years, have 10k edits there, I know how it works. If I don't like it, tough noogies.

As a matter of, well, I don't know, courtesy? I find it rather annoying to have someone come in behind me and fix my lack of capitalization.

I've habitually written like this for longer than I can remember (and for the young'uns, that means at least thirty years now). It's a stylistic choice. where necessary/appropriate, I'll use proper capitalisation. In the relatively informal setting of the internet, and a gathering place where one's expertise is what matters, it seems a bit passive-aggressive to be editing another bloke's words for such a trivial reason.

Another post that was edited also fixed the caps, but in addition did some trimming of what I wrote to conform to what that author apparently thought was nicer wording or style - perhaps a touch less verbose than it initially was. Still, it strikes me as a bit passive aggressive. The actual useful information of both posts was unchanged - and isn't it the informative content that matters? Editing other's posts wily-nilly for stylistic reasons just seems rather in-your-face.

If my posts had typos, I'd have no issue with someone bouncing in and fixing them for clarity, that seems an appropriate fix of someone else's post. Likewise, if I wrote something largely correct but left out a 'not' or something that completely changed the meaning, sure, go ahead and fix the error. My writing style? Really?

Hey, this is 'meta', so I figure it's worth asking what others think of this.

  • 13
    Poor grammar and spelling cast doubt upon the veracity of a document.
    – user9517
    Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 8:30
  • While capitalization is a part of grammar, I personally think it's a mischaracterization to refer to it as 'poor grammar', and certainly less egregious than mangling syntax, bad spelling, etc. - the inclusion of those would certainly cast doubt on the accuracy of a document - lack of caps in a personal meta comment, no. And I certainly think it's rather silly to fix the caps in this self-same meta post, as it renders it...well, completely bizarro. So, perhaps for the next reader, I'll note here that the original post was written as I characterized it, lacking caps. Sheez.
    – anastrophe
    Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 8:45
  • 8
    See that's the problem, you "think it's a mischaracterization to refer to it as 'poor grammar'", others know it's not and choose to spend their time fixing your problem. This site is for professionals and while we don't all write every post perfectly we also don't whine about it if someone fixes our problems.
    – Chopper3
    Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 8:55
  • Your relentless rudeness in your posts is pretty overwhelming. I wonder which is the greater problem here.
    – anastrophe
    Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 9:09
  • 5
    The problem I have is that it's not just that you don't appreciate the efforts of those who choose to use their own time to address your unprofessionalism but that you thought it wise to come here to question and deride their efforts while trying to justify your own laziness or lack of care. Basically you're putting down those that add to the site, and that's counter to the site's beliefs.
    – Chopper3
    Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 9:16
  • quod erat demonstrandum.
    – anastrophe
    Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 9:18
  • 2
    The irony of @womble editing this post
    – Nixphoe
    Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 13:19
  • @Nixphoe Hey, Iain started it...
    – womble Mod
    Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 13:21
  • 5
    The irony of you calling other people editing your posts passive aggressive is hilarious, in the context of this meta question. It's already been said that these kinds of editing are improving the site. That is what you are getting all the negative feedback from. And I mean no disrespect to you, but you're coming off quite pompous and that is where the irony comes from. This post should probably be flagged as off topic and moved to english.stackexchange.com.
    – Nixphoe
    Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 14:41
  • Actually, it's not a case of "passive aggressive", its a question of "OCD".
    – AviD
    Commented Jul 24, 2011 at 21:33
  • 1
    Illiteracy is not a "stylistic choice". Commented Jul 24, 2011 at 22:56
  • More condescension. How droll!
    – anastrophe
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 4:51

5 Answers 5


It's not just the information that matters, it's the communication of the information. If your post could be understood better through some rewording and proper capitalization, then those edits should be done. Try to not take it so personally. It's not personal. Your knowledge is valuable but your grammar may not be infallible.

Besides all of that, he may just be trying to earn a badge and sees proper capitalization as an easy, legitimate edit.


I'm also going to add that a site whose FAQ recognizes its mission as being for professionals should look as though the answers were written by professionals. Would you write a proposal to your board or your clients that used slang, used abbreviations, and didn't capitalize?

  • I rarely use slang, abbreviations are entirely appropriate depending upon context, and no, I wouldn't write something to the board without proper caps. I exchange email with our CEO (there, caps!) on a near daily basis, and I write as I normally do (I report directly to him). The content of the message is what matters, not capitalized first letters. Yes, I do take it personally, but if that's the culture here, then I'll learn to live with it. I will note that it's extremely rare that my words are better understood after another editor has changed them. My command of English has few faults.
    – anastrophe
    Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 8:52
  • 15
    Your command of the English language has one glaring fault; you refuse to use proper capitalization. This may seem like a small thing to you, but it makes your writings more difficult to read (read up on the importance of serif vs. sans-serif fonts. It's a similar thing). On a site for professionals, we do have a standard of professionalism and part of that is reflected in the readability and quality of the posts on the site. Don't conform if you don't want to, but please do not take offense when others edit your posts in order to make them fit with the overall theme of the site.
    – Jason Berg
    Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 8:58
  • As I said, if it's the culture here, I'll learn to live with it. And I guess try to remember to change my writing style when I'm here, though it's hard to make that adjustment as a one-off. I at least appreciate your courteous and thoughtful responses. I'm pretty well flummoxed by the moderator's behavior however.
    – anastrophe
    Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 9:08
  • Are moderators somehow not allowed an opinion? Even if it's one you don't like?
    – Chopper3
    Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 9:13
  • have i said you aren't allowed an opinion? please identify where i did so. i am flummoxed by your relentless rudeness, contra policy. is there any place here where the moderators are moderated for violating policy?
    – anastrophe
    Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 9:19
  • But I've not moderated or editing on any of your posts, not one, I've simply stated my opinions, which would be the same whether I were a moderator or not. So I don't see why my moderator status has even been mentioned by you, unless you expect me to express my opinions differently because of that status. Can you answer that?
    – Chopper3
    Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 9:26
  • i already quoted the policy below. you aren't expected to express your opinions differently because you're a moderator, you're expected to express your opinions in a civil manner and without rudeness, period. your posts have been relentlessly uncivil and have used rude characterizations at every turn, in contravention of policy. there's a saying that 'the police should be held to a higher standard of conduct'. one would reasonalby expect a moderator to conduct himself within the scope of policy, n'est ce pas?
    – anastrophe
    Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 9:28
  • Well edit them then, I could then post here complaining about people editing my comments. I'm not sure you're getting the point of this are you?
    – Chopper3
    Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 9:31
  • likewise. have a pleasant day. i have a funeral to get to in the morning, and its after 2:30am localtime for me. i'm sorry my comments upset you this much. no, i'm not going to redact your inappropriate commentary - that we will allow to speak for itself.
    – anastrophe
    Commented Jul 23, 2011 at 9:34

Per https://serverfault.com/faq#editing

Other people can edit my stuff?!

All contributions are licensed under Creative Commons and this site is collaboratively edited, like Wikipedia. Edits are tracked in public revision history. If you are not comfortable with the idea of your contributions being collaboratively edited by other trusted users, this may not be the site for you.

That said, we do encourage non-trivial edits, that is, edits which make a post substantively better in a few different ways.


  • Yes, I read that before I posted this topic. I think it hinges on what constitutes 'collaborative editing'. I think it also hinges on what people perceive 'professional' to mean. Clearly, some people extend it to the use of caps, rather than simply 'I do this work as my profession'. I note that the two fellows shown on the 'about' page are not dressed like "professionals" - no jacket, no tie. But perhaps that's a matter of style, and they remain professionals regardless. Interesting that.
    – anastrophe
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 5:29
  • 4
    Being a professional and dressing professional are different. Similarly holding a professional job and writing in a professional style are different. You can argue all you want that your aversion to capital letters is a your style, we'll still find it as unprofessional (and make assumptions about your competence based on what little information we have, especially your style) as we did before. Similarly, we have edited peoples' posts in the past to reflect proper capitalization, will do the same with yours, and will continue to do so as we see fit. If this dissuades you from participating, so
    – Chris S
    Commented Jul 27, 2011 at 18:54

Your choice not to use capitalisation is really no different to someone who doesn't know any better.

The official language of this site is English. If I read quantcast correctly then less than 50% of the people who visit this site have English as a first language. Many questions and answers are poorly written because of a poor understanding of English language, it's usage and the vagaries of it's grammar. These usually get 'fixed up'.

Someone editing your posts to conform with more normal English usage should be expected (it's encouraged, we have badges for editing). There are even tools to help do this.


Having fixed a number of your posts myself I had thought that English is not your native language, although that's barely an excuse. The reason I fix such posts are because I don't want to see SF dragged down to the level of common forums, where illiteracy is the norm. I find the failure to use correct capitalisation and punctuation completely unacceptable for anyone working as a professional in any field, as it displays a lack of professionalism and a disregard for others.

  • Thanks. My command of the language is nearly impeccable; the use of upper and lowercase does in any way affect the intelligibility of the content, it merely affects the appearance of the content - for someone to claim that they thought that English was not my native language because of missing uppercase letters is patent trolling. Please note that there has been no failure to use correct punctuation in my writing on SF, so I have to assume that was thrown in merely as a gratuitous insult.
    – anastrophe
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 5:01
  • s/"does in any way"/"does in no way". Oh no, perhaps this is an example of my illiteracy. A typo.
    – anastrophe
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 5:14
  • 1
    @anastrophe, if you can read all lowercase as effectively as proper case you are the exception, not the rule. Proper case is not just a matter of appearance. If you feel insulted by anything I've written then by all means feel free to write correctly and remove my reason for posting such things. Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 5:19
  • The many thousands of people I have communicated with professionally who have never expressed any difficulty understanding my communications because of lack of upper/lowercasing suggest that your anecdotal suggestion is in error. Calling a person "illiterate" whose commentary you have just read is indeed insulting. I will point out that every contribution I have made on SF since this discussion made clear the norm, has conformed to appropriate upper/lowercasing.
    – anastrophe
    Commented Jul 25, 2011 at 5:35

You're obviously proud of your writing and have an emotional attachment to your no-caps style. Unfortunately, in an environment where almost anyone can edit posts, if someone's individual style doesn't fit in there's not much they can do about it. Your style clearly isn't accepted - and I don't think it matters whether it's professional or not - and I don't think anyone else considers it "in your face" to edit posts lacking capitals into a more conventional format.

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