Every now and then I come across a question that uses American units, which I am not familiar with. That's not a big deal, I simply use Google to convert everything to metric, and it only takes a few minutes.

I also agree with the general consensus here that it should not be a rule to post in any particular unit system, nor to provide conversions yourself when posting. (cf. others questions)

However, since in such cases I have done the conversions already, I might as well save a few minutes to the next persons who will read the post, or to myself if I return to it later. Hence I'm always tempted to edit along these lines

the monster is about 5ft tall and exactly 3.14ft wide. Its claws are 5-6 inches long

the monster is about 5ft tall [1.5 m] and exactly 3.14ft wide [0.95 m]. Its claws are 5-6 inches long. [13-15 cm]

Would that be inappropriate, in the sense that it would be felt as if I'm correcting OP on something that was not required from them in the first place?

EDIT regarding the possible duplicate: two previous questions in asked if rules about units existed or were needed, one in general, and the other in the specific case of questions. The conclusions of both was not to impose any rule and let readers convert units. My question is different because it asks not about rules, but rather if that sort of editing would be considered welcome or rude.

  • $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of Imperial vs. Metric System $\endgroup$ – dot_Sp0T Jan 12 at 19:31
  • $\begingroup$ not that I'm disagreeing with the answer you marked as accepted but maybe its a little early to accept an answer? (I mean it I've seen unit arguments get heated before esp. when precision is a factor) $\endgroup$ – JGreenwell Jan 13 at 2:20
  • $\begingroup$ @JGreenwell true, I unaccepted it for now. $\endgroup$ – Alexis 2 days ago

When rejecting an edit, we need to justify the rejection through a dialog. It provides the following options:

spam or vandalism

This edit defaces the post in order to promote a product or service, or is deliberately destructive.

no improvement whatsoever

This edit does not make the post even a little bit easier to read, easier to find, more accurate or more accessible. Changes are either completely superfluous or actively harm readability.

clearly conflicts with author's intent

This edit deviates from the original intent of the post. Even edits that must make drastic changes should strive to preserve the goals of the post's owner.

attempt to reply

This edit was intended to address the author of the post and makes no sense as an edit. It should have been written as a comment or an answer.

causes harm

(Textbox for you to say why it causes harm)

Editing a post to add unit conversion falls in none of the above cases, so anyone who doesn't like the edit can go take a hike.

That kind of edit is appreciated as it adds clarity, and you are encouraged to do it through some badges. Also, until you reach 2,000 reputation, you'll be awarded 2 rep points per edit. So keep editing :)

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    $\begingroup$ "in nome of the above" -> should be "none of the above". Can't edit to fix this, so I guess, I'll go take a hike now $\endgroup$ – vlaz yesterday
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    $\begingroup$ @vlaz you can edit to fix typos and you are awarded for that ;) I always accept those edits on my posts when I'm alerted to them. $\endgroup$ – Renan yesterday
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    $\begingroup$ I would have done that but clicking "edit" on meta gives me "Suggested edits are not allowed on non-tag-wiki posts on meta sites." $\endgroup$ – vlaz yesterday
  • $\begingroup$ @vlaz I see. Sorry for that :( once you get to 2,000 rep you don't get that anymore, so please keep participating. $\endgroup$ – Renan yesterday

That's something I have done by myself various times, as jumping between the question and the converter is not so handy.

Since it is an integration and definitely improves clarity, especially in those cases where the number is highly meaningful to the question, I would see no reason to reject such an edit.


It is inappropriate to add incorrect unit conversions.

If you are going to put words in the author's mouth, you need to make sure that they match the author's intent. At a minimum, any parenthetical notes need to be correct to the same number of significant figures as the author's original values.

The example proposed edit is wrong, even within the number of significant figures given. "Exactly 3.14 feet" is 0.957 meters, or approximately 0.96 meters. The proposed edit should therefore either be further edited to match the author's intent, or be rejected as "clearly conflicts with author's intent".

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    $\begingroup$ "Put words in the author's mouth"? Dude, it's a conversion from feet to meters. It's the exact same words they're already saying, just in a different language. OP's example is only wrong because of rounding errors, and you could easily just correct it if you saw it in the "Suggested Edits" queue. I feel like you're taking this a bit too seriously. $\endgroup$ – F1Krazy 21 hours ago
  • $\begingroup$ You could help a lot of shy nerds in parties. They would be comparatively more interesting to talk to. Really? Discussing a tenth of a centimeter? Did you know that there is more than one way to round numbers? $\endgroup$ – Renan 16 hours ago
  • $\begingroup$ @F1Krazy -- Stack Exchange gives many editors the ability to change the text attributed to an author without the author's knowledge. That is morally the same as "putting words in the author's mouth". $\endgroup$ – Jasper 14 hours ago
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    $\begingroup$ Regarding your last remark - well, that seems to be kinda nitpicky (and this is from someone who can admittedly be extremely nitpicky at times). "Clearly conflicts with the author's intent" is usually used as a rejection reason for edits that dramatically change the meaning of a paragraph or the answer as a whole, and I don't think using an uncommon rounding convention counts. Plus . . . I don't know. It's a single centimeter. The addition of the unit conversions is to make things more intuitive for folks who used that unit system. "0.95 m" and "0.96 m" both adequately convey that. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 14 hours ago
  • $\begingroup$ @HDE226868 -- Yes, it is a fine point. But the example used the word "exactly". $\endgroup$ – Jasper 14 hours ago
  • $\begingroup$ @Jasper Sure. And I think it would be prudent for the reviewer to hit "approve and edit" (which I think is maybe an underused feature?) rather than "reject" if that's the only issue; again, that's not really what "conflicts with the author's intent" is meant for. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 14 hours ago
  • $\begingroup$ @HDE226868 -- Yes, "Approve and edit" is appropriate. But notice that none of edits made by the posters in this comment thread go through the review queue. Technically, mine might, but won't after my reputation increases modestly. $\endgroup$ – Jasper 14 hours ago
  • $\begingroup$ @HDE226868 -- I have updated the answer to mention the further editing possibility. $\endgroup$ – Jasper 14 hours ago
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    $\begingroup$ Ah oops, you are perfectly right, sorry. That was indeed the intent of writing "exactly" in my example, to illustrate the same precision should be kept, and then I forgot about it when I wrote the edited example. $\endgroup$ – Alexis 6 hours ago

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