I recently came across several suggested edits by the same user (I won't link here, but they should be easy to find if you have access to the review queues).

Each one amounted to changing "How to...?" titles to "How can I...?" titles, with the comment "improving grammar."

In the first case, I tried to improve the edit. My gut instinct is that edits that only change a few characters may need to look at the rest of the post for improvements; rarely is such a short (non-meaning changing) edit necessary.

The next I rejected as not a substantial improvement (I wish I had the exact wording available, but no matter).

I skipped the rest because I thought, well, maybe I'm just being a little uptight about this whole thing.

I would welcome feedback: the edits meant no harm, obviously, and I don't want to signal to the user that editing is "bad." But they didn't seem a substantial improvement to readability or quality. I don't think this any thing to get worked up over (we have enough of that already)—consider this more of a "Seeking guidance—what do you do in this situation?" kind of post.

  • Because it's actually incorrect grammar: english.stackexchange.com/q/56625/180866
    – Zoe
    Commented Oct 27, 2019 at 21:43
  • 2
    @Zoethetransgirl I never disagreed, and in general I’m quite picky about grammatical usage, at least in my own writing. In this case, however, I just wasnt sure what value it added, or how else to handle effectively meaningless edits. The intent of the questions edited was clear, despite the lack of correctness. I could see correcting this in the course of a bigger edit for formatting or content or something, but actively seeking out these kinds of small changes seems like it just creates edit noise.
    – D. Ben Knoble Mod
    Commented Oct 27, 2019 at 21:54
  • I just reviewed the edit queue before seeing this question and rejected the edits as 'no improvement': I totally agree with Martin's answer this is more like a pet peeve which gives more work to reviewers than it adds quality to the site.
    – statox
    Commented Oct 28, 2019 at 9:36

1 Answer 1


There is no authoritative body for the English language to decide on the correct or incorrect grammar, so any claims that it's "incorrect" are wrong. It could be non-standard, or incorrect according to my preferred style guide, but that's not the same as flat-out stating it's "incorrect".

The question shouldn't be whether or not it's "correct" or "incorrect", but whether it's "clear" or "unclear". And I would argue that everyone understands a sentence in the form of "how to do X?", and that no one is confused by it, or has to re-read the sentence to understand what the author intended.

I would approve edits which change this as part of a more substantial edit, but I would reject any edits that change just this, as it's merely changing one clear sentence to ... another clear sentence. It's pedantic editing of pet peeves, does not improve this site, and imposes additional work on people reviewing the edit queue.

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