Let me emphasise that this is not a complaint about the edit made to https://genealogy.stackexchange.com/a/1958/70 by @Luke.

In that answer I referred to my opinion that Dick Eastman was "sceptical" about a claim; which he would be if he were writing where I read it (in Australia). Luke realised (in fact, he probably realized) that as a US resident Dick would have been skeptical.

Without wishing to colour the conversation, the issue at the centre of my concern is that this site has a world-wide audience and world-wide contributors. The English language has taken on different flavours across the globe and there are going to be differences of opinion in how words should be spelt.

What is appropriate response to seeing a word that would be non-standard where you were schooled?

  • I'm a native US Eng speaker. I would never have considered myself an English language scholar, but I now spend a part of my time writing in UK English. I'll only say that my UK English is much improved; my US English is not faring as well. :-)
    – GeneJ
    Nov 7, 2012 at 1:18

7 Answers 7


Let dem peeples write dere posts in der own speeling.


When answering, I've tried to adjust my English to the English of the person asking (or the place being talked about), where it's obvious. In one answer, I've written spelled, in another it's spelt.

I agree that questions can be asked in any version of English that is appropriate to the area - including phrases like "of the current 124 lakh people in Mumbai" or "most of the people in Kerikeri are now Pakeha". But you're much more likely to get a useful answer if local vocabulary is explained!

Not just limited to English, placenames come into this as well. In one answer I wrote Koeln/Cologne to make it clear (and in case Köln didn't display right).

To answer your question, I would very rarely attempt to correct the spelling or usage of somebody else. Although I'd be sorely tempted if an American said "in York County in England".

It might look like a simple grammar or spelling correction, but in one of my questions, somebody tried to edit "In the Scottish Borders" to "Inside the Scottish Borders" - which changes the meaning, the Borders are a region.


My opinion is that posts must be posted in English. Español no está permitido. Français n'est pas autorisé. Deutsch ist nicht erlaubt. The OP, however, can use whatever dialect of English he/she likes. If someone posts in British English, let them put their oar in. If you post in American English, toot your horn and knock yourself out. Don't convert someone else's dialect to your own.

As to the case cited above by Fortiter, I originally edited to expand "g&fh". However, I've read plenty of British English, and I've never seen "sceptical". My apologies. If I'd have realised "sceptical" is valid English, I wouldn't have edited that word.

  • No apology required. Your action prompted a question not any distress.
    – Fortiter
    Nov 7, 2012 at 1:56
  • 1
    The ultimate test: On Google, skeptical gives 45,600,000 results; sceptical gives 9,920,000. ==> Both are valid
    – lkessler
    Nov 7, 2012 at 3:01

I agree that English is the official language here, and I agree it can be any regional dialect of that English.

With that said, I've edited posts before thinking that I was helping by fixing what seemingly looked like a spelling error. Afterwards, the post author politely pointed out that, in the UK, the spelling would be correct. I learned something, and when I see that word today I don't edit it out of posts.

I'd say that if you prefer the correct spelling for your region, roll it back and maybe use a comment to educate the author. I think most people are just trying to help and may be ignorant of the other spellings. :)


There is an official policy. It's here. Note this is for the entire stackexchange and it explicitly states

'It is not our goal to teach English'.

Especially in beta, we should be very careful to not scare people away. Not every question needs to be relevant to every reader of the site. I think we are missing that.

I agree it's better to ask questions that are relevant to more people, and it's better to ask questions that are easier to understand for the worldwide community. Remember that hopefully many of the users of this site will have English as a second language and be sensitive. Correcting them discourages them from asking again if their self-esteem is low with respect to english language skills.

If you were confused by a question because you speak a different dialect, then include a comment pointing out your confusion to the Original Poster (OP). If you understood it well enough to know what the OP asked - then you have achieved both se's and the op's intent.

In other words, if you were able to understand it well enough to correct it - then DON'T!.

Which English implies posters that don't speak that dialect are not welcome on this site. In beta we should be trying to broaden our audience not restrict it. I think we should allow all (ie answer to the question "which english" is 'all dialects' and 'not picky'). Comments should be used to help the OP's broaden their audience to the global community IF it's an issue of clarity and understanding - not just to point out the person doesn't spell as well as you do or that you speak a different dialect.


I would be rather annoyed if someone edited a post of mine simply to change the English. The British (and especially the English) are protective of their language and resist attempts to change our spelling and grammar. There are more issues then simply spelling, though, such as grammatical issues with adverbs being replaced by adjectives. Remember the "Think different" slogan. Arrgg!!

I believe these types of edits should be discouraged as they add nothing to the content.


The important thing is to be understood clearly, whether asking a question or answering it, by our international community.

I'll edit to fix an obvious typo or mispelling, or to correct UK usage -- e.g. Worcestershire rather than Worcester -- because I think those edits aid clarity or at least to allow people to focus on the 'core' of a question without distraction, but I wouldn't change (e.g.) American English to UK English.

I'll always answer in UK English, because that's what comes naturally.

  • How does the changing Worcestershire rather than Worcester relate in reference to post genealogy.stackexchange.com/questions/2005/…?
    – Ash
    Nov 10, 2012 at 21:27
  • @Ash, The example I gave it changing Worcester to Worcestershire was also the edit which prompted the post you refer to.
    – user104
    Nov 10, 2012 at 22:11

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