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Editing is a beautiful thing. It is, however, a square peg and some holes are round.

Editing is good when you can fix grammar or spelling mistakes, format for easier readability, fix a broken link, or otherwise improve on a post.

Editing is bad when you make changes that affect the authors intended meaning, even if you think the wording is better.

Our subject matter varies from some other SE sites. In my experience on Unix.SE, if somebody is factually wrong on some detail in an otherwise good post, those who know better can just edit it, maybe leave a comment so the OP learns, and move on. On Christianity.SE, it's not so easy and we need to take this into account. When somebody holds a view on a matter, even if it is factually wrong, you cannot just edit their mind in hopes of making a better answer.

When a post contains views that you do not think are true (even if they are offensive) you cannot just edit the post to make it better. This won't help change the OP's mind, and it will start an edit war. Only change the content of a post if you are reasonably sure the OP will like your changes. If you even suspect that they will have an objection to your edits, you need to pursue a different line action.

  • Instead, Comment. Try to make a reasonable explanation for why the facts are wrong, the wording can be improved, or the content is simply not acceptable on the site.

  • Then Flag. If the content is outright offensive, or if the OP does not prove helpful after commenting, flag it for the moderators to deal with.

  • You can also downvote. Remember! Don't downvote because you disagree with a view -- but you can downvote if an answer wrongly represents the view it claims to speak for, says a right thing in an offensive way, isn't on topic or any number of other reasons.

Lastly high rep users, please do not approve suggested edits that fall outside these boundaries.

If anybody has other suggestions on how to handle this, please add answers!

TL;DR I am raising an objection to viewpoint-changing edits. The place for dealing with wrong or offensive views just isn't the edit system.

  • I understand the principle (as I have been convicted of it on Software Engineering, although I was vindicated by the OP), but can you put in some links to the offending questions? – Peter Turner Sep 16 '11 at 13:31
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    @PeterTurner: I think it might be better if I don't. I'm not trying to call specific people out for a mistake (and it wasn't you), I just want people to keep this in mind moving forward. If other OP's think it's ok to link to case studies I will, but I'm going to hold off for now. – Caleb Sep 16 '11 at 13:34
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    I probably sparked this by editing an answer that strongly stated a certain group was not Christian. I thought it would be ok to soften the answer to be in line with the guidelines for this site. In the future I'll leave a comment instead. (Sorry to cause a problem, but thanks for the way you are handling this Caleb.) – jimreed Sep 16 '11 at 13:56
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    @jim That was one of a couple that had me concerned. I agree that the original statement can't be made the way it was on this site. However I don't think we can call removing it as "softening". It wasn't a tone change it was a meaning change that the OP clearly wasn't in accord with. "X have significantly different views than other Christians" is not a softened version of "no X are Christians", it is an entirely different statement. – Caleb Sep 16 '11 at 14:49
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    My objection here is to viewpoint changing edits. The place for dealing with wrong or offensive views just isn't the edit system. Savvy mates? – Caleb Sep 16 '11 at 14:51
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    I think your advice on down voting should appear that the top of every page in the site. – aceinthehole Sep 16 '11 at 19:30
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Something else to think about before editing:

  • If you agree with the OP's view but think they made a detail mistake or the wording was unclear, an edit might be ok.

  • If you disagree with the OP and feel like they are factually wrong, you should probably not be the one to edit. Instead use the other means of participating. Comment and flag.

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