11

I have stumbled across this edit in the queue and I do not understand what is the improvement here.

I decided to skip it (normal action when not knowing what to do), but I see it eventually got approved and now I am wondering what this edit is about.

Question: How did this edit improve the post?

| |
20

The edit has description:

Use non breaking spaces in monarchs' names

This non-breaking space is a very minor typesetting cosmetic improvement but people like me will notice when it’s missing at the wrong place. The idea is that the numeral belonging to a monarch’s name (as in King Henry VIII) should not be in a different line than the name itself; i.e. the space between the two should not allow a line break.

Bad:

Lorem ipsum Henry
VIII dolor sit amec

Good:

Lorem impsum Henry VIII
dolor sit amec

Also good:

Lorem ipsum
Henry VIII dolor sit amec

This is the same as for spaces separating e.g. a number from its unit (10 km) or an initial and a name (H. G. Wells). This is a typographic convention because if they were separated by a line break they would be further apart than expected and it might take an additional second to notice that they belong together.

Of course, each of us has a different width browser and monitor/smartphone/tablet. So the line breaks will just be whereever there is a convenient space. To prevent line breaks in cases like the above, a non-breaking space is used. This can be inputed in a number of ways including as the HTML entity   and directly from keyboard (Alt-0160 on Windows, Compose Space Space on Linux, ⌥ Opt+Space on MacOS).

A non-breaking space looks like a space but won’t be treated as one with respect to line breaks and usually is also not extended in justified text (not an issue with most websites but a thing in documents or on paper).

The edit is very small and the effects will only be noticable for a small number of users (the breaking space must be in an unlucky position) and an even smaller number of users will notice it. Thus, it is debatable whether it is necessary but it does improve the post ever so slightly.

| |
  • 2
    It's indeed highly questionable. Did it fix everything in that post? Typographically, the ellipsis, the French typography, quoting carets? The French quote would be improved by proper typography, but on the web, almost nobody does it. Certainly no-one here. – LаngLаngС Dec 17 '19 at 15:58
  • @LаngLаngС I do it on German Language but nowhere else in the network. Except in my own posts but I regularly don’t think of nbsp’s. – Jan Dec 17 '19 at 16:08
  • 3
    Thanks for the great answer and for teaching me what non-breaking spaces are actually (aside from messing up regexes) – divibisan Dec 17 '19 at 18:51
  • Two things: whenever I went on to "fix typography" those edits were either denied or rolled back (some even with loads of other stuff, just because it also touched typography). So this is quite uncommon on SE? 2nd: especially this nbsp is completely invisible while editing or reviewing. Meaning for me: unless SE gets their asses up, adds a feature to actually se it in the editor, along with a huge slew of other "good/proper typography" features (it is atrocious when rendered!), this one is so marginal as to be useless. Should I come across such a minor 'fix' in review, I'd reject it. – LаngLаngС Dec 18 '19 at 13:20
  • @LаngLаngС I approved it. I tend to look at markdown, not rendered output. I actually thought it was adding spaces that didn't exist at all (it wasn't that clear in the red and green blocks; though it is on closer inspection). As for not fixing everything, I don't see why I'd reject some useful edits for that. The proposer has put in time to improve something, so if it doesn't do something bad and improves at least something, then I'm happy to approve it. – JJ for Transparency and Monica Dec 18 '19 at 14:36
  • @JJforTransparencyandMonica Just saying that there were other things to fix, some at least on the same level of improvement formatting. Reviewers approving such things should imo at least fix what else they see. Plus here: is "Queen" requiring nbsp on paper? – LаngLаngС Dec 18 '19 at 14:47
  • 3
    @LаngLаngС there's no obligation to fix everything, not for proposers nor for reviewers. Having such a rule would is unworkable as there's almost always something that can be improved. It's a site for volunteers and I don't think professional style proofreading (i.e. having to review beyond the proposed edit and fixing all that you find) doesn't fit with that. If SE wants that, they should look for paid proofreaders. – JJ for Transparency and Monica Dec 18 '19 at 14:51
  • @JJforTransparencyandMonica Of course we should be paid ;) But crossing the 6 char limit it still should be not the content limit for approval Why does this threshold exist?. Technically, I count 5 really changed, 2 of them wrong: that's two low for my taste… – LаngLаngС Dec 18 '19 at 15:03
  • @LаngLаngС sometimes you just need one character, I'm sure you've seen that 2, too. ;) – JJ for Transparency and Monica Dec 18 '19 at 15:13
  • This seems like the kind of thing that a bot could fix automatically on form submission. – SurpriseDog Dec 18 '19 at 17:12
  • 1
    @surpriseDog it’s the kind of thing that bots get wrong about half the time. There was a similar brief discussion about automating edits on German.SE (where a couple of people also edit typographic quotation marks) but it was pointed out that during these edits most instances of " get changed to something other than quotation marks. – Jan Dec 18 '19 at 17:58
  • +1 people like me will notice things like "...people like me will notice when it’s missing at the wrong place" and wonder if something can also be missing at the right place, or if simply "missing" would be a better way to say it. ;-) Luckily I've been educated on the use of non-breaking spaces in another context so I recognize their importance. – uhoh Dec 25 '19 at 4:42
3

It's indeed highly questionable.

The almost always invisible change is explained in Jan's answer. So now we know what it did, or tried to achieve. Improve the web typography.

Things we should discuss around such a minor edit:

  1. Was it correct in what it tried to do?
  2. Did it fix everything in that post? Typographically, the ellipsis, the French typography, quoting carets? The French quote would be improved by proper typography, but on the web, almost nobody does it. Certainly no-one here.

Two things of note: whenever I went on to "fix typography" on SE posts, those edits were either rejected outright or rolled back (some even with loads of other stuff, just because it also touched typography). So this is quite uncommon on SE? Second: especially this nbsp is completely invisible while editing or reviewing. Meaning for me: unless SE gets their asses up, adds a feature for editors and reviewers to actually see it in the editor, along with a huge slew of other "good/proper typography" features (it is atrocious when rendered! Just look at the broken for ages distance between headlines and preceding content.), this one is so marginal as to be useless. Should I come across such a minor 'fix' in review, I'd reject it.

Just saying that there were other things to fix, some at least on the same level of improvement formatting. Reviewers approving such things should in my opinion at least try to fix what ever else they see. What I did see left worth improving on this level of "correctness" I did change in this edit for illustrating the points.

Additionally: is "King" or "Queen" requiring nbsp on paper? It doesn't as these are titles and not part of the name.

The technical character limit is 6 characters.

That limit means that the system will automatically reject such a minor improvement and ask: "Don't you see anything else for improvement?"

That alone still should be not the content limit for approval:

Yes, all suggested edits that modify the body in any way must change at least six characters in the post body. Each character added or removed counts as one towards this check. Characters that will be stripped upon edit submission will not count towards the check. Edits that modify the title, or that only modify the tags without modifying the post body, are exempt from this check.

Why does this threshold exist?

Suggested edits are intended to be substantive and improve the post overall, rather than just focusing on one issue. Keep in mind that all edits, no matter how major or minor, require the same amount of reviewer effort and award the same amount of reputation; allowing extremely minor edits wouldn't be fair to other users who take the time to suggest more substantive improvements.

In some cases, you may believe that there is only one thing that needs to be changed. But in 99.9% of cases, there is something else that could use some revision as well. The six-character threshold is very small; just a couple of small edits will satisfy it. Yes, it is true that in 0.1% of cases, there may be nothing whatsoever that needs modification aside from one issue that takes less than six characters to fix. But the SE team has deemed that to be an extreme edge case not worth working around.
— MSE: How do suggested edits work?: Why does this threshold exist?.

Technically, I count 5 characters really changed, and 2 of them were wrong: that's too low for my taste.

Thus: yes, the edit under discussion hints at a tiny improvement. We should perhaps not approve those. If we approve such minor edits, or even those that are bigger, we should not just hit a button, but read through that post and fix what else is left to fix.

| |

You must log in to answer this question.

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