Original question:

I have noticed that some moderators like editing questions that are already good; sometimes there is no change at all, but still the question is marked as edited. Why does white vinegar taste better when at restaurants? is an example. When there really are some changes, often they don't make the question any better. Editing a question that is already good is just a way to offend the original author.


This question has evolved to point out the fact that retags are shown as edits. I believe this is confusing and should be investigated.

  • 1
    Your example isn't even an edit, it's a retag. Do you have a better example? – Aaronut Sep 5 '11 at 21:13
  • You are right. I did not notice that the retagging occurred. Then that is the answer to my question. Still confusing that the question is marked as edited if only the tags are edited. I see them as separate from the question itself. – Godisemo Sep 6 '11 at 14:22
  • Slightly related (which hints at that issue that re-tagging is shown as being an edit) : meta.cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/432/… – Joe Sep 6 '11 at 21:11
  • Oh ... and I'm not sure if you need a high enough rep to be able to do it ... but I've rolled back edits to at least one of my questions, (it might've been a re-tag), when I didn't think it was appropriate. You can see what was changed by clicking on the 'edited (time) ago' text. – Joe Sep 6 '11 at 21:12
  • @Aaronut, I'll give you a great example of what OP is talking about. cooking.stackexchange.com/q/17130/6279 After the question was answered several times, and an answer was accepted, someone (guess who) went through and edited it. (FYI, I think the edit was a "good edit", but it also serves as an example of what the OP is inquiring about.) – Cos Callis Sep 7 '11 at 21:22
  • @Cos: How is that a great example? The last edit was a retag, and the edit before that was converting photo links into inline images. Neither of these are strange or surprising. – Aaronut Sep 7 '11 at 22:47
  • @Aaronut, because those edits were done AFTER the answer was accepted. Strictly speaking the edits were needed. – Cos Callis Sep 7 '11 at 22:52
  • @Cos: Yes, they were. So? I could maybe understand the concern if an edit materially changed the meaning of a question after answers were posted/accepted, but in my experience, that type of dubious edit is done more frequently by the original author than it is by an editor. – Aaronut Sep 7 '11 at 22:55
  • @Aaronut, you miss the point of OP's question entirely. He wants to know "Why do you edit questions that are already good?" Your first response is to ask for an example, but the example provide was indeed just a retag. So I offered up a perfectly good example of you editing a question that was "already good" (good enough that it got an answer of which the OP was satisfied). Fortunately Yossarian already gave a perfectly good answer, maybe if you hadn't felt the need to argue about the question you given a perfectly good answer. – Cos Callis Sep 7 '11 at 23:40
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    @Cos: I believe you are missing the point, which is that retagging is not the same as editing. It's not counted as an edit. It doesn't even require the same privileges. Your example was also a retag from me, not an edit. – Aaronut Sep 7 '11 at 23:44
  • No, the pictures were an edit (I was mistaken that YOU added them, actually they were added by @kiamlaluno) that happened after the question was answered. – Cos Callis Sep 7 '11 at 23:55
  • @aaronut, if the retag is not counted as an edit, as you say, it is a problem with the retags displaying as edits. This should be investigated according to me. – Godisemo Sep 9 '11 at 19:41
  • @Cos: The links were added by the original author. The edit converted them to actual images. You'd be hard-pressed to claim that edit wasn't a substantial improvement. – Aaronut Sep 9 '11 at 20:27
  • 1
    That's what this is about? The fact that the word "edited" shows up in tiny print on the screen? Who cares? – Aaronut Sep 9 '11 at 22:38
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    @Aaronut, 1. The links and the pictures are separate (those links do not go to those pictures) 2. The pictures were added AFTER the answer was accepted by the OP. 3. That 'adding the pictures' is a 'substantial improvement' is a great answer to Godisemo's question. 4. This scenario (which occurs not infrequently here) caused OP to ask "Why do moderators edit questions that are already good?". Your response (the first comment) boils down to "Prove it". Yossarian's response no fewer than 6 pretty good reasons why a moderator (or other user) might edit an "already good" question. – Cos Callis Sep 9 '11 at 23:29

Lots of people edit questions and answers, not just moderators. All users can edit posts, however users below 2000 rep must have their edits approved by users who have more than 2000 rep. Community editing is a large part of the Stack Exchange DNA and is actively encouraged. There are lots of reasons to edit questions and answers:

  • Edit tags associated with the question
  • Update question heading to be clearer
  • Edit borderline questions so they are considered on topic for the site
  • Add metric / US measurement conversions
  • Remove profane or offensive content
  • Help clear up confusing posts (often seen with ESL posts)

One type of editing that we see a lot of which is generally not accepted is minor grammatical edits. These edits bump a post to the top of the queue and do not substantially improve the content, so they are usually rejected if that is the only edit that was made.

  • Great explanation. – Godisemo Sep 6 '11 at 14:27
  • What is "ESL posts"? – awe Sep 7 '11 at 6:07
  • 1
    @awe, ESL stands for English as a Second Language (common abbreviation in the US). Most of the non-native speakers here speak very good English, but sometimes a post needs serious help. – yossarian Sep 7 '11 at 12:10

If you are bothered by the text "edited by" being shown when only the tags have changed, then please look at/vote on/start a bounty on the original feature request:

Edited by versus Retagged by

This proposes changing "edited" to "retagged" in those cases. The feature request is quite old, but hasn't been explicitly declined (yet), so the dev team may do it if there's enough support.

Personally, I think it's rather pedantic and don't really care what it says. Editing is explicitly encouraged by the FAQ and there are a whole bunch of badges around editing. Unless an edit or retag is actually inappropriate (defacing a post, adding useless tags) it should be expected and encouraged. As the FAQ explains, this site is not like a discussion forum:

All contributions are licensed under Creative Commons and this site is collaboratively edited, like Wikipedia. If you see something that needs improvement, click edit and help us make it so!

[...] 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.

Please get used to the "edited by" link, as it should be the rule rather than the exception.


Moderators have the same reasons for editing a post that other users have. The block that users without the privilege of editing any post see reports the following points:

  • fix grammatical or spelling errors
  • clarify meaning without changing it
  • correct minor mistakes
  • add related resources or links

If the edit is done following those points, the edit is correct, and it can be done whenever the question has already an accepted answer or not, as the purpose of an answer is not just helping the user who asked the question, but any other user who is interested in an answer for the same question.
Clearly, an edit that just changes "Quoted sentence with comma, and period". in "Quoted sentence with comma, and period." is merely changing the sentence from the style used in UK to the style used in USA, and it doesn't improve the question in any way. Differently, an edit that permits the users to understand a question without to follow a link to an external site, which could be down for any reason (including the fact the site has been closed), is an improvement.

As for the moderators editing questions, there are two actual moderators who has the Strunk & White badge, which means they have edited 80 posts (including the ones they edited before to become moderators), and which includes answers. There are other 3 users with the same badge; that means the edits done by the moderators are a minimal part.

The edits considered for getting that badge don't include those edits that just change the tags used for a question, but those are just edits done to better classify a question, and help other users finding it, or help other users in finding duplicates; they are not edits that change the meaning of the question (which should be what other edits do too).

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