I've noticed several questions that are poorly written (in terms of the English used to compose them). I'm not an English major by any means, but I tend to want to edit them to make it easier to read. However, I'd like some feedback on how far we should take the edit. Should I just try to edit the user's sentences to be as correct as possible, but keep their overall sentence structure/flow? Or can I reword their question to make it easier to read (paying special attention as to not loose any piece of or intent behind the original question of course)?

I realize this isn't that big of an issue with most questions or to most people but I feel that questions asked by people who's first language is not English would be better responded to in the present and easier to refer to in the future if they were easier to read.


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    $\begingroup$ It might be worth looking at the following thread: meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/1880/… $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 16:00
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    $\begingroup$ I just saw one post that spelled $\pi$ as pie. In this instance, would editing it be right, or would some form of getting the OP to change it himself be right? $\endgroup$
    – picakhu
    Commented Apr 5, 2011 at 21:06
  • $\begingroup$ picakhu, as calling $\pi$ "pie" is a problem in understanding how mathematical terms are used I think you should inform the author in a polite kind way. $\endgroup$
    – futurebird
    Commented Apr 6, 2011 at 22:48

1 Answer 1


I will express an opinion: I think that questions should be edited for things like spelling, TeX errors, minor grammar, paragraphs, etc. But, I do think the original "tone" or the "voice" of the author is important. Depending on the level of comfort an author shows with mathematical ideas and vocabulary, one may adjust the complexity of the response. A question written in very basic English might indicate that verbose responses are not the best. I would be concerned that extensive editing might erase some of this information present in the style of the writing and the quality of the writing.

I have encountered very few questions where the use of English made it too hard to understand. More often I encounter questions that are about something very specific outside of the the core knowledge most people in mathematics have... I find background information in these cases very helpful. (I am aware that I have been guilty of making such questions myself.)


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