There's recently being a question on our main site which was excessively edited back and forth. The issue was an obvious typo: "now a days" instead of "nowadays".

While I approve editing typos, I think this typo shouldn't be edited as in that case the typo was the reason for asking that question. This typo is significant for the relevance and validity of the question.

I see two possible solutions:

  • Either we fix the typo immediately and close the question (as not being an actual question).
  • Or we do not fix the typo and answers can address the issue.

There might be more alternatives, so any further recommendations are welcome.

Both solutions I suggest do have some disadvantages. The main problem with the second approach has been seen in the linked question, as people were editing the question more than once in order to address the typo and other (like me) performed a rollback, as typo edits invalidated the question itself and most if not all answers and comments.
Good thing, by locking a post we can prevent these edits.

I would vote for approach 2 and locking the question early.

This, however, is just my opinion on that matter. I'd like to see what other thinks and that we find a solution so we can handle this in future in an appropriate way.

Note, this question does not address typos that are irrelevant to the question. An example of an irrelevant typo:

Why is the verb in the subordinate clause not in the last position?
"Ich habe ein Frage, denn ich verstehe des Problem nicht."

These kind of typos has been addressed in another Meta-Question. In this particular discussion here, I'd like to focus on typos of significance to the question.

  • 1
    2 superflous blanks in a word are most probably not typos. A typo is an error, significant to the process of typing. Apr 20 '14 at 14:12


I prefer using approach 3. We do not fix the typo, but vote to close, while providing a corrected word for OP to use.

Stackoverflow has a similar close-reason:

Close-reason: simple typographical error

If the asker then has questions concerning the corrected word / phrase, he should open a new question.

  • 1
    I really like that.
    – Em1
    Apr 7 '14 at 13:14
  • While this applies to the question that motivated this meta question, there may be cases where the typo or spelling error was not commited by the asker (and which may be of general interest).
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Apr 9 '14 at 12:52
  • @Wrzlprmft I don't really know whether I understand correctly... You want to say, that a question with a typo in it does not necessarily mean, that the asker made a typo??
    – Vogel612
    Apr 9 '14 at 13:02

Are errors valuable?

Actually I can not think of any typo or spelling mistake which could only remotely make up a valuable question on our site dedicated to the "finer points of the German language".

Any question on a mistake may only be valuable to the questioner in this very short time until he gets it answered. After that it will neither be interesting to other people who may come here, nor will it be found on searches from this site's content.

Should errors in titles stay?

At the uttermost some very common spelling mistakes could eventually have some tiny value to them but spelling mistakes and typos have nothing to do in the question title which will be displayed everywhere on The Internets. An error there is quite embarrassing for a site on language. I strongly vote to edit a title to quickly remove spelling mistakes, typos or grammar issues whenever we spot them.

What to do with such a question?

From what was said above these kind of questions are not a good fit for the Stack Exchange model of building a community edited collection of valuable questions and answer to a given topic. They should be closed, and deleted to reduce site cluttering.

We also should refrain from answering such questions, as this will then make it so much harder to delete them. People will feel uncomfortable when losing reputation after deletion.

The grey zone

Because the question in discussion here already had upvoted answers we tried to make the best of the bad by editing out the typo and to make it a more general question on the German equivalent of "nowadays". By doing so we did in no way turn this question into a brilliant question, as a translation could easily be looked up in a dictionary with not too many choices to make the correct answer obvious.

In case we accidentally had answered such a question and we dealt there with the spelling mistake we should quickly edit our answer to keep it on topic. If we were unable to salvage our answer with such an edit we should self-delete it. It is also a good idea to scan answers to a question we had edited. They may also need an improvement. We then should edit these answers too, if we can.

Why are edits valuable?

Because it came up again we may also need a word on the value of edits here.

All Stack Exchange sites are community sites. All content is under a Creative Commons 3.0 licence as soon as we post it. Because this is so it is strongly encouraged to edit posts to make them better. This may lead to an evolution making the content of German Language better and better over time. We can also go back in time and improve old, abandoned posts, or we go ahead to help users in editing their posts for good.

There is no restriction for edits, even unregistered users can suggest edits. New users are encouraged to edit by giving them some reputation for every accepted edit suggestion. So edits are very welcome here. We should not leave poor content untouched for the sake of originality.

We should also bow out from the impression that any post is "our's". It is not. It is the post of us, the community of German Language SE. It is all our responsibility to maintain and improve any content here.

It is the community editing, and the community moderation what makes any Stack Exchange Site so great, so successful, and so unique. In case we are not happy with this we may have not come to the right place when posting.

  • I agree, except to the part of already upvoted answers. People should learn to distinguish between an accidental question and the real question and learn to correct errors in the question before answering them. The answer in hurry is a selfish attempt to earn upvotes for simple corrections without doing real work. We should not encourage that. Invalid answers can be deleted and should be deleted without doubt. Apr 20 '14 at 14:43

EN: The question is not a duplicate, but part of the already discussed question, linked to by Takkat obove, which I tried to discuss years ago, but which was hijacked to discuss of topic issues which interested the people more.

There is a common reason to handle the questions uniformely, but there are 2 different consequences. Either the question renders invalid by correcting it (i.e.: the question "Was bedeutet Chrank?" is per dictionary trivial to answer, if you know it has to be "Schrank") or not.

The first step is in both cases to correct the question ASAP.

It's a question of genlyness to answer the intended question and not something, someone asked per accident. If you're asked in the city where the station is, but in incorrect language you would surely concentrate on answering the question and guiding the person to the station. Only eventually, you would correct the language en passant. By the way: in most cases the errors aren't typos. A typo is significant due to the process of typing.

If the question is obsolet after correcting it, it can be closed with a comment, but is nonetheless answered for that person.

Is it sanitized, the later answers and discussion will concentrate on what the question was.


Die Frage ist kein Duplikat, aber eine Teilmenge der von Takkat oben verlinkten Frage die ich vor Jahren schon aufzuwerfen versuchte, die damals aber entführt wurde um eine andere Frage, die die Leute mehr beschäftigte, stattdessen zu diskutieren.

Es gibt nur einen gemeinsamen Grund die Fragen einheitlich zu behandeln, aber in der Konsequenz gibt es 2 unterschiedliche Folgen. Entweder durch eine sofort vorgenommene Korrektur erledigt sich die Frage (weil die Frage, "Was bedeutet Chrank?" per Wörterbuch trivial zu beantworten ist, sobald man weiß, dass es "Schrank" heißt) oder nicht.

Der erste Schritt ist aber die Frage so schnell wie möglich zu korrigieren.

Schon die Höflichkeit gebietet, dass man die Frage beantwortet, wie jemand stellen wollte - nicht die, die jemand gestellt hat. Fehler aller Art (oft sind es keine Tippfehler) lenken vom Thema ab und dominieren teils die Antworten, dabei gehört solche Korrektur in die Kommentare. Ist danach die Frage obsolet, so ist sie für den Frager, selbst wenn sie geschlossen wird, damit beantwortet.

Ist die Frage dadurch saniert, dann wird sich die anschließende Diskussion auf das, was Inhalt der Frage war, konzentrieren können.

  • Ich stimme dir zu, nur leider sehen die meisten es so, dass man lieber ein paar Reps dadurch verdient, eine Antwort zu geben, als in einem Kommentar den Fehler anzusprechen. Getreu dem Motto: Lieber Fragen erstmal beantworten, bevor es jemand anders tut. (Was ansich nicht schlimm ist, natürlich)
    – Em1
    Apr 22 '14 at 8:31

User Takkat removed all the comments from the respective question and posted this:

Please avoid multiple rollbacks without further improving the content.

I answered this:

Sorry, I disagree here. The spelling mistake is an integral part of the problem here, so it is a must that the question remains as it is.

and got the following reply:

Please also note, that not a single answer including the accepted answer says anything on this spelling mistake. This makes me believe it is not really that important.

I just want to note that

  1. Takkat is wrong: My answer addressed that spelling mistake. Changing the question title would make my answer look strange.
  2. I think that in this special case, the point is not whether answers address this spelling mistake, but the fact that the question itself arose only from that mistake. If you change the question to correct this mistake, you render the entire question invalid, as nobody will understand why it came up in the first place.

While I am all for editing questions to improve general spelling, it should be done carefully and not in cases when the question is rendered invalid by correcting it.

I don't like EM1's first approach (correcting the error and closing the question) as it will confuse readers. I could live with not correcting the error and still closing the question, either using the appropriate reason (see Vogel612's answer) or by commenting that the question arose only by a spelling mistake.

Personally, I'd like the approach to let the question be as it is and having the answers/comments handle the problem, as it is the most natural thing for a platform like this. It can be seen by all the comments/answers that were posted immediately.

OTOH this increases the need to monitor the question so that the mistake is not corrected by "over-enthusiastic" users, as it was the case with this question (by the way, @Takkat, I think the current title is still invalid).

  • Regarding monitoring: It's possible to prevent any further edits and I asked Takkat to do so. However, this lock has been removed just an hour later by Community. It's a bummer.
    – Em1
    Apr 17 '14 at 7:11
  • IMO this is an unconstructive rant in disguise. If you want to bring moderator behaviour to attention, you should do so in a separate question...
    – Vogel612
    Oct 8 '14 at 9:17

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