In this question I was told that it is incorrect to make edits to math mistakes, and instead inform the OP of such mistakes. However, this doesn't make much sense to me. When the equation or expression in question is not the topic of the question and instead an example, commenting about it seems tangential to the topic at hand, and perhaps even impolite as it would come off as taking away from the topic at hand just to nitpick little details. It seems more prudent to just be proactive and make the edits yourself.

In general if the correction doesn't change the meaning or intent of the question, it's not worth discussing in the comments.

So is it generally considered bad practice to make small mathematical corrections to posts when said corrections don't change the original meaning or intent?

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    $\begingroup$ As this seems to be a beginning calculus student's question, I don't think it contributes to the OP's education to gloss his/her mistakes over. Another example of an edit I'd be uncomfortable with is adding $\mathrm dx$ to a question asking about $\int x^2$; it is best that students be already alerted at the outset that what they're doing is not kosher. $\endgroup$ Jun 23 '13 at 17:22
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    $\begingroup$ @J.M.: <insert another discussion about kosher laws here>. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Jun 23 '13 at 18:07
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    $\begingroup$ Dear Zetta, I think the point is that in the context of this particular question, it was not clear a priori whether the misplaced $3$ was a typo, or the result of a misconception. In fact, it seems (looking at the comments) that it was the result of a misconception. In this case, it is important that the OP understand why what they wrote was wrong, and simply editing in the correct statement reduces the possibility of that happening. In cases like this it is better to engage the OP and explain why what they wrote was mistaken, which is what eventually seems to have happened. Regards, $\endgroup$
    – Matt E
    Jun 25 '13 at 0:27
  • $\begingroup$ See also: Editing Other's Answers Etiquette $\endgroup$ Feb 29 '16 at 8:22

It depends on the nature of the mistake. It is important that the OP address conceptual mathematical mistakes himself in order to help clarify misconceptions. If he doesn't understand why a correction needs to be made, we will then know to explain this in the answer. On the other hand, if the mistake is obviously a typo, e.g. $$\sum_{j=0}^ni=\frac{n(n+1)}{2},$$ then minor technical corrections can be made without further discussion.

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    $\begingroup$ For example, he writes $sin$ instead of $\sin$ but does it correctly elsewhere. Go ahead and put the backslash in. $\endgroup$
    – GEdgar
    Jun 24 '13 at 13:49
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    $\begingroup$ @GEdgar I think it's a sin to talk about sin when talking about mathematical sins. (just a pun) $\endgroup$ Jun 24 '13 at 16:37
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    $\begingroup$ I see nothing wrong with the displayed equation, so I presume that someone took the liberty of correcting it without saying anything. $\endgroup$
    – Jeff
    Jun 26 '13 at 18:30
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    $\begingroup$ @Jeff The index $j$ should be $i$. $\endgroup$
    – Casey Chu
    Jun 26 '13 at 23:54
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    $\begingroup$ Damn, foiled again. Or should that be metafoiled? $\endgroup$
    – Jeff
    Jun 26 '13 at 23:57
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    $\begingroup$ @GEdgar I think $sin$ vs. $\sin$ is rather a typographic or $\LaTeX$ usage mistake, not a math mistake. $\endgroup$ Jun 30 '13 at 17:35
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    $\begingroup$ Well obviously the right hand side needs to be fixed into $i\cdot (n+1)$... $\endgroup$ Jul 1 '13 at 10:19

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