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While reading this question, I was quite tempted to edit the whole thing and fix all the typos, since some parts are even hard to understand due to these typos. However, since it specifically deals with learning french, leaving it like it is would give quite a nice idea of the OP's actual level in French, and end up in providing more accurate answers.

Is there a general agreement about how to do in that case?


En lisant cette question, j'étais sur le point de l'éditer et de corriger les très nombreuses fautes d'orthographe, car certains passages en deviennent presque incompréhensibles. Cependant, la question traite de manières d'apprendre le français, et laisser la question telle quelle permet d'avoir un certaine idée du niveau de français de la personne afin de lui apporter des réponses adaptées.

Quelle est la manière habituelle de procéder dans ce cas ?

  • 1
    General rule: Policy on correcting people's French. This doesn't answer everything: should we make an exception for this kind of learner question? Is the question too localized? – Gilles May 16 '13 at 14:27
  • Or maybe edit the question, but making it clear that the original version actually contained a lot of mistakes that reflect the OP's level in French? – Alexis Pigeon May 16 '13 at 15:10
  • The original version is kept in the edit history, so it's quite easy to fetch it at any time to see the OP's level if you want to. – Kareen May 16 '13 at 15:18
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    @Kareen I'm quite aware of that, but I believe most people wouldn't care checking the history if there isn't a clear hint in the latest version of the question. – Alexis Pigeon May 16 '13 at 15:27
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    I think that if people specifically want to know how the OP writes, they'll go check. Add an editor's note if you like, but I don't think spelling level directly correlates with language proficiency. – Kareen May 16 '13 at 15:46
  • Ok I fixed the typos before I saw this meta-question. The phrasing was not exactly idiomatic, but mostly correct. I also think the spelling didn't reflect the language proficiency here. – Stéphane Gimenez May 17 '13 at 9:39
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Yes, please fix grammatical problems and typos… especially in learner questions.

The titles, questions, and answers say a lot about your site. Keep in mind that questions are here to help users well beyond the original author. So worry less about demonstrating the users' (lack of) prowess by preserving the errors, and concentrate on improving your content to make the canon here a better resource for those who come after.

In order of importance — the question titles should always be fixed for grammatical problems— followed by the questions and top-voted answers.

Below is a much broader discussion of where to concentrate your editing efforts… irrespective of the literacy level in the original author —

Are trivial edits necessaries in questions?

The "avoid trivial edits" guidance is designed to keep otherwise well-meaning user from annoying everyone with endless, overly-pedantic changes that bump every post with trivial "activity." It's a bit user-hostile to have someone micro-editing every post; so we ask that most punctuation and semantic changes be accompanied by substantive changes that actually improve the post.

Having said that, some content is more visible (an thus more important) than others, and needs to be kept in optimal condition. So in order of importance:

#1, Titles should be top notch. Period. There is no excuse for sloppy or vague titles with punctuation or spelling errors. The titles on your front page say a lot about your community, and when experts are drawn to your site, those titles set the authority and tone of your site. It defines who you are. Keep titles pristine, clear, and easily understood.

Edit titles anytime they can be improved or clarified.

Question introductions need extra attention, too. A close second to titles, the opening lines of every question should clearly summarize what the question is about. Don't ramble; Get to the point. Editors: keep them error free.

It's those first few lines that appear below the title on the 'questions' page. Remember that the lifeblood of this site is search; and its the question openings which will drive Google searchers (potential users) to click through to your site… or not. Keep openings clear and error free. Edit away!

Question bodies should be relevant, but concise. This is where editing out unnecessary salutations, ranting, and off topic minutiae is helpful. Edits to improve formatting are often helpful; not all users are familiar with our markup.

Widely-appealing top answers should also be pristine. The top answers in highly-upvoted post get a lot of eyeballs. Make sure everything "above the fold" (i.e. the top-voted answers) get top attention, too. These posts get Tweeted out and reused (with attribution linked back here), and they may even get syndicated by some of our partners. So let's be sure to give that content a lot of love, too.

So what kind of routine edits are appropriate?

Certainly any overly distracting or egregious grammatical errors — especially those that make the post difficult to understand — should be fixed. Always try to edit any comments that help the post back into the body of the text (i.e. don't leave useful information in comments). Beyond that, we like any edits that clearly improve the post. We just don't want to create an overly user-hostile environment where the punctuation-and-grammar police are always ready to pounce and call you out on every little faux pas.

  • I used to leave useful information in comments, and I understand the reasons for editing them back into the body of the text (example: comments are not indexed by search requests, they might also not be retained when the contents are reused). Thanks for pointing this. – Stéphane Gimenez May 21 '13 at 11:30

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