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I did a quick search on this, but none of the questions seemed to address the topic (the answer may be buried in a question somewhere; I didn't look at them all).

I have a reputation on other sites as a grammar fanatic. This isn't exactly true; it's just that I had grammar drilled into me, and can't help but notice grammar/spelling errors.

Every now and then, I'll come across a question by a beginning writer, and the grammar/spelling will be really bad. Sometimes it's so bad that I find it difficult to read. I refrain from editing, however, for two reasons. First, if it needed to be edited, I would assume Neil Fein would have done so already. ;) Second, editing only for grammar/spelling seems like something trivial.

Hence my question: Is it okay to edit a question simply to fix the grammar/spelling? Is it okay to do this only under certain circumstances (like if the question is difficult to understand)? Or is it not okay at all?

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Speaking for myself, grammar is fairly important and I wouldn't fault you for editing to improve grammar. I personally don't make a habit of it unless I'm editing for some other reason, but in my opinion it's fine.

Just be aware that there are lots of points about grammar that are, shall we say, disputed among people who like to correct grammar. Singular they, comma placement, etc. I think in cases where there is debate about what's acceptable you should leave what the author had, unless there are significant improvements to be made by changing from one disputed grammatical construction to another.

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    Regarding things like singular they, I'd do my best to follow the original writer's intent and style. There are also times when correcting grammar is inappropriate - style can be important enough that grammar ain't no big thing. – Neil Fein Jun 2 '15 at 17:33
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There are other editors here as well, and we don't proofread all the questions. My personal take on this is to edit when I see something, but I prefer to also improve the question in some way when editing to fix a typo or something grammatical.

I would consider making an edit to fix one tiny thing to be trivial.. but use sometimes one word can make a big difference in a question.

Regarding questions that are so badly written that corrections would take forever, I'd just vote to close those as unclear. Improving our content is important, but we're not a proofreading service and we're not mindreaders.

So I'd go ahead and edit when you have something substantial. Remember that edits can be rolled back, or further edited.

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Editing should come from the whole community, not just Neil. :-) As others said, respect the author's voice (correct unambiguous errors, not style that differs from your own) and take a look to see if there's anything else you can improve while you're in there. Proofread the whole post rather than just fixing that typo in the first paragraph, if possible.

Editing bumps a post to the front page. If it's already on the front page, that doesn't matter. If it's not but you're only editing a few, that doesn't matter either. If you want to edit 20 old questions, divide them into a few batches.

Thanks for the help!

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I strongly object to anyone polishing questions or answers.

The internet is anonymous enough as it is, and all I have to get a feel for a person is their personal style of writing. So please leave that as it is, even if it contains minor mistakes made by a non-native speaker. We are not writing here to impress each other with our eloquence, but to help each other out, and I find it endearing to see the native languages poke through the English we are forced to use to communicate.

If a post is unintelligible or ambiguous, edit it to clarify its meaning (as you perceive it).

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