Is there a preferred choice of English (US or British) version that is preferred while asking questions and writing answers on MMSE?

If this is specified, it could perhaps become easier to edit questions and answers using a spell checker software such as Grammarly (which I use).


1 Answer 1


When the question already has an answer

A central mission of MMSE is to help people get their questions answered. Editing questions or answers, causes the question to be bumped to the front page, which causes other questions to fall out of the spotlight. Bumping up a question that already has an answer, steals the spotlight of questions that are still in need of an answer. For this reason, it is highly discouraged to edit a question that already has an answer, even if it has obvious spelling or grammar mistakes.

When the question does not yet have an answer

Occasionally when a question has gone a long time without an answer, we try to help it get an answer by bumping the question to the top of the front page (which is accomplished by editing it). Such edits need to actually improve the post though (e.g. improved title, clarification about the question to make it more likely to get an answer, formatting improvements, re-tagging, spelling/grammar improvements). If the only change you're going to make is something like changing "color" to "colour", it would be highly discouraged. Not only is "color" the preferred spelling by a substantial portion of the world's population and even a bigger proportion of the publishing companies, but it's also the standard spelling in a lot of plotting software and programming languages, and the standard spelling for a lot of scientific terms such as the "color charge" of a particle.

It is preferred that suggested edits are made on recent posts

Except when bumping up a question that has been left unanswered for so long (to help the question get an answer), ideally suggested edits would be on recent posts that are already near the top of the front page. Sometimes a substantial problem with a question (e.g. wrong equation) can show up in a much older question that might even already have an answer, and on such occasions it's okay to cautiously make edits (e.g. not too many on the same day, so the front page doesn't get bombarded with oldest already-answered questions). But ideally these problems would be fixed right away, so ideally suggested edits would be on recent posts that already have an answer. In these cases, my recommendation would be to keep the spelling that the original author used (unless they were inconsistent, for example using "color" and "colour" in the same sentence accidentally, although even in this case I think it's fine to stick with the author's preference, as they might have done that for a reason, such as search engine optimization or poetry). In general, British vs. USA spelling is a sensitive topic: having lived in both England and USA, I have seen that British people can be extremely reluctant to adopt USA spellings, and citizens of USA tend to have a lot of pride in USA spellings. Switching "analyses" to "analyzes" (which is by the way, the "Oxford spelling", and the original spelling of the word in Samuel Johnson's original British English dictionary, and is also the spelling that makes the most sense and avoids the possible misinterpretation of it being a plural noun rather than verb) may seem like a fair edit for many people, but might not leave a good taste in the mouth of the original author (especially if they are a new user and not used to having their content edited to USA English). For changing "analyses" to "analyzes", I would therefore use discretion: If there is any chance that the original author will be less likely to participate in the future because of over-editing, and the meaning of the sentence is clear without any edits, then I would hesitate to make the edit. If it's a user that I know well and who is already contributing to the site daily, then I would hesitate less to edit it (but I might still not edit the word, out of respect for their culture).

  • $\begingroup$ Not correcting mistakes is a mistake I think. In my opinion, caring about (answered, good) questions is more important than "stealing the spotlight" from new ones. $\endgroup$ Mar 25, 2023 at 2:35
  • $\begingroup$ Then why have you made close to 0 edits on this site? $\endgroup$ Mar 25, 2023 at 2:40
  • $\begingroup$ That should be quite obvious, even if it is not true. $\endgroup$ Mar 25, 2023 at 2:52

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