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I just edited a question which was missing a couple of {} in its LaTeX markup. The effect was to make it hard to work out what was going on for people (such as, I presume, the OP) who don't know LaTeX or know it only at an even more superficial level than me.

However, when I tried to submit the edit I was told that it was too short: it had to be at least six characters, and it was only four.

My question therefore is: would it not be advisable to remove the minimum edit distance from Math.SE, given that there are circumstances in which even a one-character edit can have a dramatic effect on the legibility of the question?

(Or perhaps remove the minimum edit distance when the edit is to LaTeX markup)

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    $\begingroup$ We can't tweak these kinds of features locally (as far as I know); if you want to make such a request, make it on meta.stackoverflow.com. $\endgroup$ – Qiaochu Yuan May 20 '11 at 12:35
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    $\begingroup$ As a silly experiment, I note that you can add trailing space to the post which is nearly invisible to everything (it shows up in the HTML source, but makes no difference in rendering, and does not show up in the differences in the edit history). This counts towards the 6 character limit. $\endgroup$ – Jack Schmidt May 20 '11 at 12:55
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    $\begingroup$ Stupid minimum character count policies usually are acccompanied by silly oversights like that---unless of course this is by design, which would then be a different kind of stupid. $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez May 20 '11 at 13:54
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    $\begingroup$ I don't know for sure (and haven't researched it), but I strongly suspect that this is limited to the proposed-edit feature that allows editing by lower-rep users—I'm pretty sure I've made edits that were fewer than 6 characters. $\endgroup$ – Isaac May 20 '11 at 16:21
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    $\begingroup$ @Isaac Apparently so. I just edited the above question by simply deleting a space at the end, and the edit was allowed. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque May 20 '11 at 16:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Jack: Spaces don't count for the 6 character minimum. $\endgroup$ – Hendrik Vogt May 20 '11 at 16:34
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    $\begingroup$ @Isaac: Your quite right, that limit is only for suggested edits of users with <2000 rep. $\endgroup$ – Hendrik Vogt May 20 '11 at 16:35
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    $\begingroup$ @Mariano: It's very much by design indeed, see this answer of Jeff. There have been lots of complaints about it on Meta.SO, but to no avail. $\endgroup$ – Hendrik Vogt May 20 '11 at 16:37
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    $\begingroup$ One thing that is good to know: That 6 character minimum doesn't apply to title edits or retags. (Ping, @Qiaochu.) $\endgroup$ – Hendrik Vogt May 20 '11 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, all, especially @Hendrik for the link. $\endgroup$ – Peter Taylor May 20 '11 at 17:53
  • $\begingroup$ Phantom and some more {} signs count for the 6 character limits, though. $\endgroup$ – Phira May 21 '11 at 11:39
  • $\begingroup$ Just do an extra bit of harmless editing, such as I just did in your post. $\endgroup$ – John Bentin Oct 8 '16 at 13:34
  • $\begingroup$ What is used here is MathJax, not LaTeX. It is misleading to call it LaTeX. If someone masters MathJax and thinks they know LaTeX, they're in for a shock if they encounter actual LaTeX. $\endgroup$ – Michael Hardy Aug 24 '18 at 6:03
  • $\begingroup$ @MichaelHardy or read the wikibook on LaTeX $\endgroup$ – Roddy MacPhee May 27 at 16:04
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Note: this is specific to edit suggestions. This rule does not apply to users with > 2k rep who have full editing privileges.

This has been asked before on the general Stack Overflow Meta site, with suggestions to auto-approve formatting-only edits, but we have not implemented this (yet) because it could create new possibilities for gaming the system.

The general answer is "Is the post otherwise so perfect that nothing in it can be improved?" We want to prevent multiple small edits that fix one thing but ignore other existing errors in the post, because every suggested edit requires attention from another user to approve it.

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    $\begingroup$ Every necessary edit which isn't made requires attention from another user to make it, so that seems rather a weak argument. $\endgroup$ – Peter Taylor May 21 '11 at 9:51
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    $\begingroup$ @peter once you earn 2k rep you won't be subject to the suggested edit character limit. There are certain tradeoffs one makes when building sites that allow and invite participation from anonymous internet users. $\endgroup$ – Jeff Atwood May 21 '11 at 9:53
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    $\begingroup$ I tried to fix a small TeX error in another user's post, but couldn't. I had to leave it in because it's just one character and not six. Of course the site is worse with broken TeX rmeaining there, but hey, at least no one's gaming the system. $\endgroup$ – kviiri May 4 '16 at 8:46
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    $\begingroup$ @kviiri was that post otherwise so perfect that nothing in it could be improved? That's hard to believe! $\endgroup$ – Jeff Atwood May 10 '16 at 8:27
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, that's in the nature of Math answers pretty often. A single missing character can wreck the answer because of the TeX, it would've taken me a second to fix but the stupid rule wouldn't let me. The whole "gaming the system" argument is pointless, shouldn't improving the content be a top priority, not policing rep gains? $\endgroup$ – kviiri May 10 '16 at 8:54
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    $\begingroup$ I suggest leaving a comment about the edit, then. $\endgroup$ – Jeff Atwood May 10 '16 at 8:57
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Some options available to users below 2k:

If you have an edit which consists of less than 6 characters and you consider it important (and cannot think of any additional improvements of the post which would get you above the character limit), you can:

  • add comment (which will notify the OP and they might make the edit, or some other user who see your comment);
  • mention it in chat (this room is related to editing and improving posts - among other things) - perhaps some of the chat users with sufficient reputation will make the edit.

Other than that I cannot think of much better advice than trying to earn 2k.

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