# What is the motivation for pointless edits? [duplicate]

I am trying to understand why a certain user keeps making pointless edits that add nothing to a question. The one that sparked this post is the fourth edit to this question, which simply inserts a comma where a comma is not required.

What is the point of such activity? Are there reputation points to be gained? Should such edits be discouraged?

• If a user is below the 2,000 point reputation for making self-approved edits, then yes, they might get 2pts. if their Edit is approved by others. However one can earn only a limited amount of reputation this way. I think there are maybe incentives connected with badges. On the other hand I have made trivial edits to permit myself to retract a mistaken downvote or something of the kind. But I'm adverse to comma splices! Mar 4, 2021 at 18:28
• Looks like a way to Reject and edit singlehandedly. See the old posts here Mar 4, 2021 at 18:31
• This is more in line with the policy of suggested edits which was recently formulated. The suggested edit was an improvement but rather a trivial one (just removing parentheses from denominator in some expression). Usually such suggested edits should be avoided. Also for those who aren't aware, the targeted user was instrumental in the formulation of this policy. The goal is to discourage suggested edits just as a tool for rep hunt (at small scale) and rather focus on significant improvement.
– Paramanand Singh Mod
Mar 5, 2021 at 14:34
• You have asked two questions here: (1) why to people make pointless edits, and (2) should this be encouraged. The answer to question (1) is largely a matter of opinion, and a matter of speculation. The answer to question (2) can be found here.
– Xander Henderson Mod
Mar 7, 2021 at 13:22

New users sometimes are still getting the hang of the editing feature and may attempt something like this; but they don’t get their edit in automatically, it has to be approved, and I for one would reject such an edit as too minor. But that is not the case here.

Setting that aside:

For old questions that have not had activity recently, minor edits like this would be strongly discouraged (in my opinion) because they cause the question to jump up in the “active” queue for no good reason. But they can’t really be “prohibited”; one hopes established users know better than to do so.

Again, that is not the situation here: this is a recent question that had been having sufficient activity to keep it “around”.

So... well, speaking for myself, I am a stickler for good formatting and for grammar. I often have to actively stop myself from making edits that seem minor. Sometimes I edit just to change a \mod to \pmod, or a sin to a \sin. But there is nothing inherently wrong from making an edit that improves the post, no matter in how much of a minor way, provided again that you are dealing with a something that has been not been dormant for a while so you aren’t just kicking it up the queue for no good reason.

• Good idea. When something has just been bumped to the front of the queue, then I feel free to make minor edits on it. Mar 5, 2021 at 17:24
• I second Arturo Magidin with "I am a stickler for good formatting and for grammar" - maybe I'm even more sticklerish - I love the 1900 austrian satirican and poet Karl Kraus, who even forced his publishers to retract a text, if a comma was not set correct to his intentions: his essay on this, with some examples, opened my eyes for the sophisticated differences and incented my love for diligent expression & notation. I've sometimes edited such small corrections here in MSE, but learned to my disgust that it is not well received here ... ;-( (...cntd...) Mar 6, 2021 at 12:52
• (...cntd...) Preciseness in expression and notation broadens the range of meaningful communication (not: reduces) because every variation can be assigned with a specific meaning and/or under-/over-tone. (Well, this is likely just too much for a math-forum...<sigh>...) Mar 6, 2021 at 12:54
• @GottfriedHelms I don't think it matters that this is a math forum : precise and coherent conversation adds a professional outlook to the site, which I feel has been needed with the influx of lingo and loose conversation that litters the site. My initial thoughts were that formal conversation could restrict true expression of emotions and feelings. I found this to be emphatically false. That's why I think we should not be critical of such edits, which increase the professional outlook of the site. Mar 7, 2021 at 8:33

OK, I get it now. If you reject an edit on the edit queue, it stays on the queue until others have rejected it. But you can unilaterally reject the suggested edit by selecting "Reject and edit", in which case your edit overrides the edit on the edit queue, which gets summarily tossed in the bin.

This appears to be what happened in the edit that I linked to $$-$$ the reviewer selected "Reject and edit" and submitted their pointless edit instead.

Obviously this feature only makes sense if your overriding edit has some merit. So I regard the use of this option in my linked edit as an abuse of this feature.

• I noted that you have edited the question on main in desired form. In fact that should have been your first option instead of targeting specific users on meta. I don't think this was really a problem of that serious nature which warranted so much effort.
– Paramanand Singh Mod
Mar 7, 2021 at 2:41
• Also meta discussions are about expressing different viewpoints. Writing a self answer and then accepting it sends a different message here than accepting a self answer on main.
– Paramanand Singh Mod
Mar 7, 2021 at 2:51
• Accepting an answer always mean the OP finds the answer the correct/most useful one and just that, @paramanandsingh. I think this is true on both main and meta, self-answered or not. The vote count is probably more important. Mar 7, 2021 at 3:01
• @ArcticChar: I know that, but the accepted answer is usually shown first. The system treats the accepted answer as different and somehow more important that other answers. It does give a perception to an unseasoned user that this is the right viewpoint and they may not care to read other viewpoints. When you invite for a discussion you can not unilaterally announce that one particular viewpoint is right. I think the viewpoint of asker on meta should be a part of the question itself.
– Paramanand Singh Mod
Mar 7, 2021 at 3:27
• @ArcticChar: also it should rather be obvious that in a debate the viewpoint most useful is one's own viewpoint (that's why they are ready to debate for it).
– Paramanand Singh Mod
Mar 7, 2021 at 3:30
• @ArcticChar: the current stats is 3170 questions with no accepted answer out of 5338 questions with "discussion" tag. I don't know how to filter specifically for self answered and accepted questions in discussion tag. Maybe if Martin Sleziak sees this they can help with a query.
– Paramanand Singh Mod
Mar 7, 2021 at 3:47
• @ArcticChar: my point here is mostly to highlight that accepting self answers on meta discussions is a rare phenomenon and it is best if it remains rare.
– Paramanand Singh Mod
Mar 7, 2021 at 3:52
• I don't see how this answers the question. As stated, your question is about why a user would make a pointless edit. Your answer addresses only one possible explanation, i.e. in order to instantly reject a proposed edit. But this is not the only reason that one might make a pointless edit---indeed, if you look at the edit which was rejected by this "Reject & Edit", it is equally pointless. While I am not a fan of "Reject & Edit"ing in order to instantly remove something from the queue, can you really argue that the rejected edit was any less pointless? How do you explain such edits?
– Xander Henderson Mod
Mar 7, 2021 at 13:20
• @XanderHenderson This answers the question. The OP is asking why a certain user make a trivial edit. To me they are pointing at a very specific situation. And the propose (instant rejection of a proposed edit) is the correct explanation here. To me, it is more appropriate to close it as duplicate of one of those older posts which discuss this "reject and edit" trick. Mar 8, 2021 at 4:14