I suggested an edit to an answer that improved it IMO quite a bit, but not enough to merit a separate post:


It got rejected because it was "incorrect or an attempt to reply to or comment on the existing post", which seems to me to be a wrong reason.


Different reviewers have different standards, much like different editors have different standards. There are more potential sources of edits than reviewers however, so the reviewers have to win. Outside of automatic audits, there is no system for reviewing the reviewers because that simply gets too meta.

Ubiquitous witty image.

What follows is purely opinion, nothing concrete, but there are a few generalizations that apply here:

  • All edits to ancient posts are suspect. Edits bump a topic back to the front page. The longer it's been since an edit, particularly if the Q&A has run its course, the more likely it is that the edit will be rejected.
  • Style varies from person to person. Edits that split hairs on preferences in presentation style are likely to be rejected, particularly when editing an ancient post. Your attempt to segment the answer into headings falls into this category. That was not the only change it was making, but...
  • The meat of your edit should not be a comment. When the iffy parts are pruned away, if the only surviving material would have done well on its own as a comment to the post that is being edited, then it's probably best to lean in the direction of a reject.
  • Low rep bias. The less time you've spent contributing to the site, the less inclined people are to give you leeway with edits they consider borderline. That's just human nature, and not specific to any individual Stack Exchange site.

I can speak to my reasons for rejecting it:

My two main reasons for rejecting the edit was:

  1. The post was old enough and the answer already clear enough that it did not warrant the edit
  2. You actually added content to the answer to clarify and/or further explain the answer - while the content you added was indeed good and valuable, it wasn't part of the original post's answer which, in my mind, makes an edit invalid. You should add that additional content either as a comment to the answer or an additional answer.
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    Adding information to an original answer is explicitly allowed by the community guidelines. – Wesley Sep 24 '14 at 21:19

This doesn't mean that your edit was technically incorrect. If you look at the options provided when reviewing and rejecting edits,

Options for rejecting an edit

the one used fits best when an edit wasn't required i.e. it is an invalid edit.

  • So we're saying edits that improve answers should be rejected, because they aren't required? – Flimm Sep 24 '14 at 11:50
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    @Flimm I like your edit. I don't think I can approve it after the fact though. – Mark Henderson Sep 24 '14 at 11:55
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    @Flimm You'll note that I have not entered into the debate about whether your edit improved the answer or not. It's only your opinion that it was an improvement, clearly 2 reviewers don't agree with you. – Iain Sep 24 '14 at 11:56
  • They rejected my review because they said it was invalid, when it isn't! They were free to choose another reason. I completely disagree with your entire post, the reason that would fit best is "custom", not "invalid edit" when it is in fact a valid edit. – Flimm Sep 24 '14 at 14:25
  • Also, you didn't answer my question in the first comment. – Flimm Sep 24 '14 at 14:28
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    @Flimm You are focusing too literally on 'invalid'. It is clearly not a valid edit as it has been classed as such by members of the community. I am guessing that the reviewers considered it invalid because it did not enhance the answer sufficiently - note that it currently has 90+ upvotes. It is clearly readable, understandable and has stood the test of time. I did answer you question but you don't like what I said. Your comment is based on your belief that the edit was good when it was deemed not to be by reviewers. Honestly, stop whingeing and move on. – Iain Sep 24 '14 at 14:57
  • This attitude that the reviewers are always right and define validity is very frustrating. – Flimm Sep 24 '14 at 15:08
  • I asked "should edits that improve answers (but that aren't required) be rejected?", where did you answer that question? – Flimm Sep 24 '14 at 15:17
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    @Flimm - the only question I see in your question here is the one in the title: "Why was my edit rejected?". Iain answered that, regardless of whether or not you like the answer. As for the "attitude" you talk about here, I'm not sure what else you'd suggest. If there were no reviewers and edits were always approved then the site would very rapidly become vandalised beyond the point it was useful; there are a lot of attempts made to edit questions to introduce nonsense, "me too" responses, requests for further help from a third party who don't know how the site works, and of course, spam. – Rob Moir Sep 24 '14 at 16:37
  • I'm not suggesting deleting the review system at all! Currently there are no consequences for bad reviews, and only low-rep users bear the brunt of bad reviewing, and they are more likely to just not come back than to complain. (The question referred to by Iain and I is the clarifying question I asked in the first comment of this post.) – Flimm Sep 24 '14 at 17:19
  • I would suggest something like peer-review of maybe 1% of the reviews, the system to detect bots is not enough in my opinion. – Flimm Sep 24 '14 at 17:21
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    @Flimm Suggestions on how to change systems global to all Stack Exchange sites (not just ours) don't accomplish much on a site specific meta site. You can try meta.SE, but search for duplicates as it has almost certainly come up before. – Andrew B Sep 24 '14 at 17:32
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    @Flimm There is no question to answer in your first comment as it is based on a fallacy. To gain the privilege of reviewing edits people have to put some effort into providing content for the site which is approved of by the community. At the rate that you're doing that you'll just about never get that privilege so just quit now whilst you're behind. To be honest I think you're just trolling us now. – Iain Sep 24 '14 at 21:17
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    @Flimm You are a completely new user here with no significant participation (questions or answers); your experience on other SE sites only demonstrates conclusively that you're familiar with the software. In particular, it does not suggest that you will be a high-quality contributor. Our more cynical members might even take it as suggesting that you will end up being a low-quality contributor, based on long observation. Remember that Server Fault is unique among SE sites in its professional focus, and therefore operates somewhat differently. – Michael Hampton Sep 28 '14 at 12:29
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    This will be my last comment, feel free to have the last word. I'm sorry that this got off to a bad start but I do feel that I understand Iain and others' position better now, so thank you for answering my questions :) – Flimm Sep 29 '14 at 14:15

Iain was trying to be non-judgmental in his answer, so I won't be...

The answer to the question you asked in the first comment is: no, edits that improve answers aren't necessarily rejected because they aren't required, but your edit was rejected because it didn't improve the answer. It was a bad edit and deserved to be rejected.

  • It didn't make an overall improvement to the answer. I thought one part of the answer was somewhat clearer after your edit, but most of it was not improved.
  • It made the answer harder to read. The large headings were jarring and didn't add improve the readability of the answer.

As Iain has said, the other 4 canned reject reasons don't really cover this situation, but typing a custom reason takes a significant amount of time, so picking "invalid edit" is a good compromise for a reviewer.

  • Fair enough. ||| – Flimm Sep 24 '14 at 17:57
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    If the other 4 canned reject reasons don't cover the situation, then the custom box should be used, though, that's what it's there for. – Flimm Sep 24 '14 at 18:03
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    You're right I was being pink-and-fluffy. – Iain Sep 24 '14 at 21:32

Everything stated in the other answers can be summarized as:

  • (primary) The edit was controversial at best and a degradation at worst. This alone is enough of a reason.
  • The edit was to an old and high-rated answer. So, it must be on par with its perceived quality (which is proportional to both these parameters) which it isn't.
  • It requires the site's reviewers to invest some time. As they're mostly professionals, they generally wish the edit to be worth their time (to avoid attracting ever more "unworthy" ones and be spending ever more time on them).
    This actually means to have big enough value/time to review ratio. So, you can

    • increase its contributive value (make it more "substantial"), and/or
    • make the improvement more obvious (by any means, including edit summary) to decrease the time required for a "passer-by" to understand:

      1. the essence of the change, and
      2. how it serves the purpose of the original post.

      Note, however, that you cannot decrease the time beyond what is spent on bringing up the review screen and taking a glimpse of it.


Since the question was posted, SE has announced new reviewing changes. Reviewers now have to choose between this new list of reasons:

1. spam or vandalism 2. no improvement whatsoever 3. irrelevant tags 4. clearly conflicts with author's intent 5. attempt to reply

This takes the ambiguity out of "invalid edit", and so hopefully reviews won't reject edits any more because they think it's invalid, using their own definition of invalid.

The reason "no improvement whatsoever" has lowered the bar of how much of an improvement an edit has to be. It doesn't have to be a significant improvement, it just has to be an improvement.

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    I, for one, don't like the new list much; it means I'm constantly having to type in the custom box "too little, too late" (ie, given how old the original material was, I'd want to see much more of an improvement than the sub judice edit introduces"). – MadHatter Oct 10 '14 at 11:37
  • @MadHatter: How does "too little, too late" cause harm? Just because you want to reject edits that you don't like doesn't mean that they cause harm. – Flimm Oct 13 '14 at 8:57
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    See the first point in AndrewB's top-rated answer,above: "Edits bump a topic back to the front page. The longer it's been since an edit, particularly if the Q&A has run its course, the more likely it is that the edit will be rejected.". For my money, if you want to do a grammar fixup, or highlight a link or two, in the first day or two of a post's life, that's brilliant - all clarification helps, and it only bumps the post up a few places on the front page. But if it's from 2009, then I need a much better reason to effectively move the post half a million places up the attention queue. – MadHatter Oct 13 '14 at 9:10
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    tl;dr: If you want me to approve an edit to an old post, it needs to be a much better and more substantial edit than if the post were first made earlier today. – MadHatter Oct 13 '14 at 9:18
  • I can only hope that 2000+ rep users on this site follow the guidance of SE staff, for the sake of low-rep users. – Flimm Nov 10 '14 at 10:06
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    It is a reasonable hope, but your choice of language presumes a bias. Note that, whatever else the SE staff may say, they also note that "At the high end of this reputation spectrum there is little difference between users with high reputation and ♦ moderators. That is intentional. We don’t run this site. The community does.". If the community takes a position, the site's owners may not automatically slap them down. – MadHatter Nov 10 '14 at 18:55

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