There are four editions of Bartle & Sherbert's Intro to Real Analysis. The posters didn't clarify which.

Keen-ameteur and José Carlos Santos rejected https://math.stackexchange.com/review/suggested-edits/1462452.

Äres rejected, Leucippus approved, José Carlos Santos rejected https://math.stackexchange.com/review/suggested-edits/1462460. The poster omitted two exercise numbers, and omitted details in the book's question. If you don't believe me, I can screen shot.

https://math.stackexchange.com/review/suggested-edits/1462323 and https://math.stackexchange.com/review/suggested-edits/1462321 have no edition or page number. https://math.stackexchange.com/review/suggested-edits/1462321 also didn't use blockquotes to distinguish the book's question from the poster's writing.

Isn't it obvious and common courtesy that posters are supposed to cite books fully, like edition, exercise and page numbers? I'm always nagged when posters don't do this.

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    $\begingroup$ Perhaps the comments describing your edits could be more descriptive; is it still called a typo if you're adding a source and or changing the title to something more informative? I also prefer the descriptive title of the first edit over adding the full source into the title, but I think I broadly agree with you. It might also be noted that you were editing some older posts ('14, '17) but that should not be a deterrent if you're making good edits $\endgroup$ Oct 3, 2020 at 1:30
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    $\begingroup$ Some users have taken to implementing your edits, and that last one I see that you had a second edit approved. It still garnered a Reject vote with reason "This edit deviates from the original intent of the post. Even edits that must make drastic changes should strive to preserve the goals of the post's owner." I don't agree $\endgroup$ Oct 3, 2020 at 5:59
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    $\begingroup$ I guess there is room for differences of opinion, but I don't find such edits necessarily useful. Adding a precise page and equation number is, in my opinion, not an improvement in an old post. More often than not the same exercise appears in the other editions of the same book also. But, it may have a different number, or appear on a different page. Meaning that the information you added made it more difficult to locate the question for a user who happens to own a different edition of the book. $\endgroup$ Oct 3, 2020 at 6:17
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    $\begingroup$ (cont'd) Remember that the purpose of adding the source to the question was not to give an extremely precise reference. Rather it is there to help the future readers as well as the past and present answerers gauge the background level of the asker. So that they can adapt the level of detail in their answers to match the level of the book. And this last piece of information does not change from one edition to the next. $\endgroup$ Oct 3, 2020 at 6:20
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    $\begingroup$ Nevertheless, it's fine that you brought up this topic. I'm not sure we have discussed this particular concern much at all. I may have overlooked something, and will reconsider, if overriding concerns emerge. $\endgroup$ Oct 3, 2020 at 6:22
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    $\begingroup$ I can easily see that someone might not find the edits significant enough. But I don't follow, how can adding details about the source make it harder to find for anyone with a different edition? (Unrelated to specifically the questions at hand but a precise source can be helpful when the book has an error causing the confusion) $\endgroup$ Oct 3, 2020 at 6:26
  • $\begingroup$ For example, the kind of precise location information may be useful/necessary, when the question is about understanding a single step in an argument/development split into several Lemmas, Propositions and Theorems $\endgroup$ Oct 3, 2020 at 6:27
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    $\begingroup$ @CalvinKhor I concede that I overstated that point. I had in mind an exact homework problem in a calculus book that may be relocated between editions for trivial reasons. Like may be a figure was added to another problem, and then you would have to fight LaTeX figure placement logic and such :-) $\endgroup$ Oct 3, 2020 at 6:31
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    $\begingroup$ Searching my soul. I might have rejected edits like that simply if I see six of them in a row in our review queue. All on old posts. That makes it likely that the edits were made as a result of them being searched with an engine (as opposed to being stumbled upon). Badge hunter -> reject, is a primitive reaction I can associate with. $\endgroup$ Oct 3, 2020 at 6:36
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    $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen Calvin Khor answers your questions well, and I won't repeat. But I want to affirm that I'm not hunting for any badges. I'm using this book now, and that's why I'm editing now. $\endgroup$
    – user53259
    Oct 3, 2020 at 17:24
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    $\begingroup$ That's fine @AmatAlbAPTV. I decided to upvote your post. You see, I am just allergic to most forms of mass editing. If you stick to the usual rule of keeping the edit sprees to 3-5 at a time (then pause for a couple of hours at least), I don't have a problem with this :-) We have had many users using a search engine and then bump dozens of posts to the front page in a span of 15 minutes or so. And then it is a problem :-) $\endgroup$ Oct 3, 2020 at 18:35

2 Answers 2


I think several of your edits were useful and should have been approved.

I think edits that add more information about the source of the problem are useful -- especially the edits of yours that added the exercise number. We are building an archive of questions and answers that hopefully will be useful to others in the future, and part of that is helping others with a similar question find it by search. Including the textbook title and exercise number can be one helpful way to help others find that page by search.

That said, my personal experience has been that Math.SE is a bit less appreciative of edits by anyone other than the author of the post than other SE sites I've been on. I don't really understand why; I guess it is a matter of site culture. I personally don't find that to be a positive aspect of this site's culture, but I can understand opinions will vary on the topic.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm just speculating, but it could be that mathematics posts—especially the symbolic portions—are especially prone to small changes that can dramatically change the meaning. This is something that the original author can best be expected to know (except for beginners, I suppose). A culture that is protective of original poster's intent can naturally arise...even when, as in this case, the proposed edits may be unexceptional. $\endgroup$
    – Brian Tung
    Oct 6, 2020 at 21:50

I accepted the first edit suggested by you concerning Bartle's Introduction to Real Analysis, but then I started to notice that there were several of them. I found them weird. Why to edit the question this way years after the question was posted? Why to do it only about one specific textbook? What sense does it make to add the specific page of the textbook, when this information may change from one edition to another? Why to add a link to the Amazon page concerning this textbook?

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    $\begingroup$ "Why to edit the question this way years after the question was posted?" Because I'm using the book now? "What sense does it make to add the specific page of the textbook, when this information may change from one edition to another?" Because then you can locate the question faster for this fourth edition? If you specify the fourth edition, why wouldn't you add page number? $\endgroup$
    – user53259
    Oct 3, 2020 at 17:22
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    $\begingroup$ And the link to Amazon? What was that for? $\endgroup$ Oct 3, 2020 at 17:27
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    $\begingroup$ I see nothing wrong with editing questions from years ago to have correct book references. If these old questions are still been read today then any improvement will likely be useful to others in the future. Although I think the Amazon link should have been omitted, or replaced with a Google Scholar one to the correct page, since at least that can be read. $\endgroup$
    – user400188
    Oct 4, 2020 at 3:30
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    $\begingroup$ @JoséCarlosSantos Apology. I won't link to Amazon in future. But I did because first Amazon alerts you to new editions of textbooks, and second Amazon contains user reviews. I find that publishers just remove or delete the Web page of an older edition. $\endgroup$
    – user53259
    Oct 7, 2020 at 17:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Nai: The nice thing about an Amazon book link is that the identifier number is the book's ISBN. The down side is that since Amazon is a bookseller, the links may come across as commercial promotion. I'd recommend linking to some less overtly commercial ISBN lookup tool, like Wikipedia's ISBN lookup or even just Google search. $\endgroup$ Oct 14, 2020 at 22:53

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