This question

The Euclidean Algorithm (for finding the greatest common divisor)

originally had the title "A Euclidean Algorithm."

A user (who happens to be German according to his profile) proposed an edit as follows:

"An Euclidean Algorithm"

Now I can understand this mistake from a native German speaker because "An Eulerian Algorithm" (German-speaking Swiss mathematician, German pronounciation) would be correct while "A Eulerian Algorithm" would be wrong.

But the pronounciation of "Euclid" is either Greek or an Anglicised version of it, so it's definitely "A Euclidean Algorithm" just like it would be "A European Algorithm."

This is an edit I would personally not have bothered to make, even if the original was wrong, because it is a single character that does nothing to enhance the intelligibility of the post. What I find surprising, is that two other reviewers approved this edit, even though the original was correct and the edit was wrong.

The OP has dealt with this by using "The Euclidean Algorithm" instead (I am considering enhancing the title to a more descriptive one.)

  1. Do we really need trivial edits based on grammar, if the meaning is clear?

  2. When "reviewing" other people's edits, can we please do just that. The idea is to review, not blindly approve.

  3. I made my reasons for rejecting this edit clear. Did the other reviewers not read them? There are currently no other suggested edits in the review queue, so I cannot check if other people's edit rejections show up clearly.

  4. Problems with the system: There was sufficient space in the "reject reason" box to explain that Euclid is pronounced "Yuclid" but not to compare and contrast with the pronunciation of Euler. I don't know why this box has to be so small. Also, I've noticed before that while you can ping a commenter on a question with another comment, if you see a wrong edit after it has been made, there seems to be no way to ping the editor (unless they happen to have also left a comment on the question.)

EDIT: In response to Timwi's answer, I'd like to point out that this is not the only incident of incorrect edit approval. To mention just one example, in my answer Suggested Edits: Reject Golfing? I mention an incorrect tag edit that got accepted. If you're not sure about an edit, you can "Skip."

  • \$\begingroup\$ Huh, I was under the impression that you could only do minor (<6 char) edits if you had full edit privileges, not as suggestions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Geobits
    Sep 24, 2015 at 14:37
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @Geobits the only thing that appears in the edit history is the title. It's likely that the 6 character restriction does not apply to question titles. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 24, 2015 at 15:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ In fairness, there probably are native English-speakers who would use "an" there, just are there are BBC new presenters who talk about "an historical occasion". Although I agree that it's too trivial a change to approve. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 25, 2015 at 8:04

1 Answer 1


1. Even small edits should be welcome

First off, I understand and sympathize with the urge programmers experience to fix apparent mistakes, including trivial grammar/spelling errors. Even if they don’t significantly impede comprehension, they do blemish the overall experience on an aesthetic level.

I don’t really understand why the 6 character restriction exists — a single character can easily make the difference between a correct and an invalid program, so the existence of the restriction is surprising especially on Q&A sites like StackOverflow, where subtly incorrect answers really matter.

2. The review queue is not toxic

You explicitly stated that the queue was empty when you last looked. Therefore, it seems that the review queue is far from growing quicker than the reviewers could handle. Therefore, for as long as the growth rate of the queue is no-where near problematic, I don’t see any problem with even the most minor of edits.

3. Cut editors and reviewers some slack and assume good faith

It is not clear whether the specific example you pointed out is due to negligence on the part of the reviewers. It could just be innocent ignorance. But then, even if it is negligence, someone can still submit another edit to fix the error. It is unlikely that somebody would repeatedly change it to the wrong version without wondering why it keeps getting reverted. Unless and until that actually happens, we shouldn’t prematurely worry about the hypothetical possibility.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for your answer. 1. We need to be careful here, there are several correct forms of English for example British and American English. There is no point in edit wars over grammar and spelling, and even if we were to consider German English to be a third valid dialect, I think it's an unnecessary edit. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 25, 2015 at 8:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ 3. I've deliberately not said much against the editor even though he was wrong. I'm sure it was an honest mistake. The issue is that reviews are not being carried out correctly, and this is a recurring problem. I've mentioned another example in my edit to my OP (and linked our policy on editing code.) 2. The low workload is precisely why reviews should be carried out properly. You are under no obligation to review. If you are unsure, you shouldn't blindly approve. You can click Skip and let someone else review instead. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 25, 2015 at 8:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @steveverrill I don't think that he meant grammar war - I think he was simply trying to improve grammar of the post, because he spotted what he thought was a grammar error. Of course it's unnecessary, but so are (arguably) many others - I'd assume a good faith - there is no harm in making small changes, but if we discourage people from editing early on, then we might have a problem. \$\endgroup\$ Sep 25, 2015 at 8:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @steveverrill 1. I don’t see what problem we need to be “careful” about. Someone changing “colour” to “color” would be pointless, but not problematic. 2. Agreed. 3. My post was unclear — I was referring to the reviewers, not the editors. Edited accordingly. \$\endgroup\$
    – Timwi
    Sep 25, 2015 at 14:31

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