An edit was approved for one of my answers today that seems on the chin rubbing side of pedantry to me.

This edit doesn't particularly offend me (i.e. no whinge desire to roll back), but it does raise the question of whether we should be editing answers down to the facts and just the facts. The removed text in question was due to a comment left by the question owner, which prompted me to add extra additional information: I didn't want the appearance of trying to take credit for a solution that the asker provided.

Does removing the chatty text change the meaning of the answer? Definitely not. Is it removing anecdotes for the sake of doing so? Yeah. Should we be doing that? That's what this question is about.

Full Disclosure: Yes, I admit that this meta question is pedantry of a different sort. I'm the son of a historian and have been brainwashed to question things like this. The tin foil in my house was not thick enough.

Since it's a given that Help Center is going to get quoted at some point, I'll give you a head start: https://serverfault.com/help/editing

  • Thanks for the feedback folks. I know that we're an infobase before a community, and certainly not a forum, but sometimes it's still easy to fall into related traps. – Andrew B Apr 9 '14 at 18:34

Yes, this sort of edit improves the answer.

Ideally, answers (and questions!) should be well-written and not contain notes about the editing process or any other irrelevancies such as signatures. They should be able to stand on their own.

Imagine, if you will, reading a history book and suddenly coming across "EDIT: I expanded this paragraph to explain more about why Napoleon always seems to have his hand in his coat." followed by that explanation. You would wonder about the quality of the book, its publisher, its editor, and possibly even its author.

All of the history (pun intended) of the editing of a post is trivially available just by clicking on it, so long explanations about the edit, the text "EDIT" itself, etc., detract from the post, rather than add to it. If such explanations are necessary, they can be given in the edit summary.


Absolutely. Part of the draw of this site and a big reason for its quality is that you don't have to wade through chat and sequencing stuff and history to get to the solution you want.

For much the same reason we don't like taglines and signatures, don't preserve temporal order in answers, and don't allow replies to anything except in comments, we shouldn't have chatty things in the middle of answers (or questions!).

Narrative and continuity aren't helpful; concise yet thorough answers are.

  • 13
    +1 I've never wasted so much time as trying to whittle down a 22 page forum post to the 17 sentences of relevant content I'm after. – Chris S Apr 7 '14 at 2:43

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .