I am wondering why edits are required to be at least 6 characters.

As an example, someone answered the question How to calculate the integral of a Legendre polynomial excellently but for a typo, which requires just one character change (it should say "Choosing $u=v=\alpha$" rather than "Choosing $u=v=2\alpha$"). When I tried to edit the answer, I'm told that edits must be at least 6 characters long. I suppose there must be a reason for this, but it seems totally unnecessary, particularly for examples like this.

Is there a way of getting around this without doing another superfluous edit?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ See also: Minimum suggested edit length and other questions linked there (on this meta). You can find some related posts on Meta Stack Exchange, such as: How to overcome “Edits must be at least 6 characters”. Again, the linked posts might be also of interest. There is also this declined FR: Increase the character limit of the custom edit rejection reasons. $\endgroup$ May 28, 2021 at 6:43
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    $\begingroup$ The only reason in the links I can find is along the lines of 'if there's one error, there must be several, so these should all be corrected'. However, (a) one user might not pick up on all errors, (b) if a user finds an error, why should they then have to search for other errors before making the edit? and, most importantly, (c) what if there aren't any other errors? It's as if an answer with one error can't be corrected (unless you have enough rep.). This seems very counterproductive to me. Also nowhere does it say how to get around this without doing something artificially non-trivial. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    May 28, 2021 at 6:52
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, the feature request mentioned in my first comment is not about this particular limit, my mistake. This is the closest ones I was able to find: Remove trivial edit restriction (this one is about beta sites) and Allow under 6 character changes if they are inside code tags. In fact, I have posted this feature request: Can minimum character limit or reputation threshold for suggested edits be changed locally (per site)? I hope I learned a bit about SE since then. $\endgroup$ May 28, 2021 at 7:08
  • $\begingroup$ You say that you have to do "something artificially non-trivial". I am not sure that leaving a comment under the answer is that non-trivial. But you should keep in mind that if you make an edit suggestion, that requires also some effort from two other users. (And of course, this is only restricted to suggested edits, so if you gain 2k reputation points, this is no longer an issue.) $\endgroup$ May 28, 2021 at 7:10
  • $\begingroup$ I'm not talking about the comment when I say "artificially non-trivial", I'm talking about the edit. I could put 5 spaces after the answer to get to the character limit, but this seems artificial to me. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    May 28, 2021 at 7:13
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think that what you wrote in the previous is correct. Simply adding 5 blank spaces at the end does not work - the software will still recognize this as 1 character edit (as far as I can tell). BTW I left a comment on that answer, to alert the answerer to this. $\endgroup$ May 28, 2021 at 7:19
  • $\begingroup$ Ah ok, apologies. But you see my point? I have to work out how to do something completely artificial just to get up to the character limit. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    May 28, 2021 at 7:22
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    $\begingroup$ Under these conditions if your rep is below 2k, just leave a comment regarding the typo. Using tactics to beat the character limit defeats the purpose of the limit. This should be compared with some hacks involving mathjax to beat character limit in comments. $\endgroup$
    – Paramanand Singh Mod
    May 28, 2021 at 7:26
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    $\begingroup$ A comment has now been left. But if the typo is obvious to me, why can't I just change it? Surely a longer edit is more likely to damage the post anyway. If they don't allow short edits, why allow longer ones? Doesn't make sense to me. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    May 28, 2021 at 7:34
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    $\begingroup$ You may have to dig around on meta.stackexchange.com for a complete explanation, but I think the six character limit is to discourage 'trivial' edits to question since a single typo here or there makes little difference to a reader's understanding of the question, and each edit bumps the question back to the homepage at the top. Of course, some sites like ours and chemistry have technical posts where a single character typo can be very significant... but we're in a minority and the rules apply to everyone $\endgroup$
    – postmortes
    May 28, 2021 at 8:13
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    $\begingroup$ Fair enough, although 'trivial' edits may make the difference between the answer being right or wrong, or at least lead to significant confusion. So I agree in mathematics, the limit should probably be removed. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    May 28, 2021 at 8:18
  • $\begingroup$ The question of what edits should be performed is orthogonal. I removed the discussio of that. $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    May 28, 2021 at 19:43

1 Answer 1


There is no character limit for edits; there is a character limit for suggested edits.

Users that do not yet have the editing privilege can suggest edits that are reviewed by other users. Successful suggestions are rewarded with two points.

The idea is to send a message that very minor changes should not be proposed as suggested edits. There is a balance to be found. Some very minor changes in terms of changed characters can be important, but others are maybe not crucial.

There is also the general concern of avoiding "noise" by bumps of the question, and that is another goal of this restriction.

The method is certainly not ideal and one obviously could have drawn the line somewhere else. But as said the idea is to prevent very minor suggested edits, in an effort to curb reviewers being flooded by trivial proposals (distracting from more important ones) maybe proposed for the purpose of getting a few points.

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    $\begingroup$ "very minor changes should not be proposed as suggested edits". I disagree with this notion. If it is important to the understanding, then it proposing it should be encouraged. I wonder how many mistakes have been noticed and have gone unedited because people don't 'have the privilege' to make the edit. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    May 28, 2021 at 8:39
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    $\begingroup$ @Chris, consider "then it proposing it" in your comment. If that were an answer rather than a comment, should I submit a proposal to remove the extra "it"? As is, it is wrong, but the few people that read it will understand it. If I submitted a change proposal, someone would have to spend a minute or two of their time to understand the context, review the suggestion, and approve the change. For the slight benefit to others, it really isn't worth their valuable time. ¶ But "important to the understanding" (e.g. "7" vs. "1" in a recipe) is a different case, so do make the superfluous edit. $\endgroup$ May 28, 2021 at 13:34
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    $\begingroup$ The problem is the system judges how minor or major a comment is by how many characters it involves changing, rather than how important the edit really is. I hardly think many people are going round suggesting trivial grammatical edits (and if they are, they can kindly be asked to stop), so I suspect not too much time is wasted, and indeed time could be saved by allowing me to make important edits involving fewer than 7 character changes, rather the wasting the time of moderators. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    May 28, 2021 at 13:45
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    $\begingroup$ This is a network-wide policy, not math.se policy, that applies to active sites in the network. Go complain at Meta Stack Exchange. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    May 28, 2021 at 14:29
  • $\begingroup$ Why can't it just be changed for maths se? $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    May 28, 2021 at 16:31
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    $\begingroup$ @Chris: No one on Math.SE has the physical ability to make this change; only the Stack Exchange admins can modify the site code in the necessary way. In theory it is possible they could make this modification just for Math.SE, but given the approach they take to the network it is unfortunately highly unlikely they would agree to do so. $\endgroup$ May 28, 2021 at 16:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Chris Martin FYR: asked a similar question several years ago here. $\endgroup$ May 29, 2021 at 2:43

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