How do we deal with wording that is wrong or ambiguous? Particularly when the mistake is a very common one, or a widely miss-understood one.

For example, the question on water in a vacuum, someone said it would boil, when really it would evaporate. These two words mean different things in physics, but as a common miss-conception they are the same.

How should we deal with this / correct it in a way that doesn't offend the people involve, but also doesn't perpetuate these miss-conceptions further?


Just edit. SE policy is that users are encouraged to improve posts, also by other users -- this is this wiki element mentioned in about page. Everyone is warned by FAQ that their posts can be edited, so there is no problem in offending anyone.

The problem is that currently only 3 4 (congrats, j.c.) people can edit.

  • $\begingroup$ Exactly; the wiki-like features of this and similar sites are far underused! $\endgroup$ – Noldorin Nov 19 '10 at 21:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Noldorin I think they are mainly underused because of the high point requirement to actually edit questions once in public beta. It gets even higher after beta, and you lose your privileges again until you reach 10K (which is what they usually set). $\endgroup$ – Mark C Nov 19 '10 at 21:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Mark This is a good point; there are voices to lower it: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/68096/… . It seems the limits are based on rep quantiles from SO; while some SE sites will always remain quite compact it is nonsense to measure them with standards of such a giant. $\endgroup$ – user68 Nov 19 '10 at 22:33
  • $\begingroup$ @MBQ Yes, I was there earlier and probably commented. And yes, I too am not satisfied with the (somewhat) arbitrary requirements for all the sites---1500 visits per day and the before-improvement "avid user" requirements were my main complaints. I understand the need to ensure an active user base, but you cannot expect the same in every area. See the GIS site for a good example of a small, specialized, and surely dedicated group. $\endgroup$ – Mark C Nov 19 '10 at 22:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You can flag the question and ask a moderator to edit it. $\endgroup$ – Peter Shor Nov 19 '10 at 23:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Mark: Yes, true. There should be more community wiki answers around. Unfortunately, people don't like them generally, because they don't earn reputation. $\endgroup$ – Noldorin Nov 19 '10 at 23:30
  • $\begingroup$ @Noldorin Oh, I'm no fan of community wiki, I was referring to the ability to edit and retag other users' questions. $\endgroup$ – Mark C Nov 19 '10 at 23:40
  • $\begingroup$ I know you were. I was making two (related) points there. $\endgroup$ – Noldorin Nov 20 '10 at 0:25
  • $\begingroup$ I've posted a proposal of a dynamic limits system on Meta; let's see what will be the response: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/70586/… $\endgroup$ – user68 Nov 20 '10 at 0:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Noldorin It's better to encourage people to vote more, not make more CW answers. $\endgroup$ – kennytm Nov 20 '10 at 11:39
  • $\begingroup$ KennyTM: I disagree. Either is more appropriate depending on the circumstances. $\endgroup$ – Noldorin Nov 20 '10 at 16:44

Good question.

Edit: I finished writing this without answering the question. "MBQ" makes a point I have to agree with. Editing, if done properly, can only help the site. I remember poor questions are improved by editors all the time on Stack Overflow. Additionally, imagine the distraction of correcting and discussing these items in the comments below the question or an answer.

I would like to include (correcting into) proper, understandable English under "wrong wording" as well. I see too, too many questions on SO, Pr, and other sites that are not even phrased as questions, or simply need revision. The question headings are the face of the site, and a low standard reflects poorly on the site as a whole (and looks unprofessional, not that we are "professionals", but we should strive for a high standard on all the sites).

As for the moderator problem: I have suggested having "voting drives" where you can pledge, say, 3 votes per day or 10 per week (to me!), in exchange for special prizes or privileges (to be determined)! I was inspired by politicians and a local radio program. (A classical radio station was encouraging "pledges" in exchange for membership benefits and such). Wikipedia does this, but without direct benefits to the donors.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .