What's the point of being able to improve a suggested edit if you have to make substantial changes in order for the improvement to be considered 'substantive enough'?

I was recently reviewing a suggested edit in which most of the changes were to the TeX - fairly standard grounds to accept. However, the edit left a few things sub-par in terms of their formatting and also removed a comment by the OP that seemed pertinent to their question (the OP asked if a certain method was a likely route to a solution). I figured I would put this comment back in and also tidy up the more substantial formatting edits made by the editor.

I was not able to make this edit as the system said the changes were not substantive enough. Am I expected to do one of the following then?

  • reject the edit and then edit it myself. (needing to do a lot more work as I would have to make all the, mostly correct, TeX changes that the original editor already made).
  • accept the edit, rollback the edit and then do as above.
  • find some useless way to edit the question to trick the system into thinking it is a substantive edit.
  • reject the edit and do nothing else.
  • accept the edit and do nothing else.

None of these seem like ideal choices given the obvious better choice of just improving the changes already made by the editor - but which the system is impeding. Are those with high enough rep to review suggested edits not trusted enough to also improve those edits in minor ways? The only reason I can possibly see why this would not be ideal is because it increases the count of people that have edited the question - and so pushes it closer to auto-CW.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Usually, improving an edit doesn't require substantial changes. I think what happened is that the edit suggestion was already approved (or improved by someone else) while you were cleaning up, and in that case, the system wants a substantial diff. Can you link to the suggestion or post in question? $\endgroup$ Nov 27, 2013 at 17:13
  • $\begingroup$ Had to go hunting for it as it didn't appear in my 'history' tab (which suggests you're right that someone else accepted/rejected while I was reviewing). math.stackexchange.com/review/suggested-edits/131315 $\endgroup$
    – Dan Rust
    Nov 27, 2013 at 17:18
  • $\begingroup$ One would need a dev to be sure (if the logs even include cancelled actions, I don't know), but it looks like the OP approved it while you were editing. $\endgroup$ Nov 27, 2013 at 17:23
  • $\begingroup$ If that is the case, then I think the UI should make this situation more clear. $\endgroup$
    – Dan Rust
    Nov 27, 2013 at 17:25
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Well... I think the message already includes something like "was already edited by somebody else. Your ... must be more substantial ...", and if you know where to look for it, you can find it. But certainly, a "Here is what happened: ..., sorry for the inconvenience." would be better. $\endgroup$ Nov 27, 2013 at 17:30

1 Answer 1


If you get the message “your edit must be more substantive to override the current edit”, this means that someone else submitted an edit while you were composing yours.

There is a long-standing bug that you always get this message if you improve an edit but another reviewer causes it to be approved in the meantime. This is unrelated to the amount of changes you made, the suggested edit is always counted as more substantive than the improvement (probably a comparison written in the wrong direction).


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