Just wondering if we have to spell the American way, after a post was updated at https://music.stackexchange.com/posts/11821/revisions.

Is it Either/or, or do we go American because it's the main one used on the site?

@jj I'm fine with the rest, just need clarification!

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    "Respect the original author" is the rule. If it's valid semi-formal English of any dialect it should be left as-is.
    – user28
    Aug 31, 2013 at 9:53
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    I live in hope, and arrive in despair, that people on this site would leave good grammar, spelling ,syntax and phrasing alone, let alone punctuation. Editing can be useful to readers; however, when my efforts are 'corrected' incorrectly, giving no useful addition to the text, and in fact, making it incorrect, I get pretty fed up !!
    – Tim
    Sep 11, 2013 at 7:01
  • @Tim Any incorrect edit should be reverted, for sure. My biggest argument on this topic is simply that SE sites, in addition to being Q&A, are also a collaboratively-edited repository of information a la Wikipedia. If you take that to the extreme, we should be editing everything to be consistent with the same style of English. I know that's realistically not going to happen, of course, but it's one line of reasoning.
    – NReilingh
    Sep 11, 2013 at 16:00
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    @NReilingh, I take your points, but mine is more about those who seem to have become 'teachers', marking, almost, the efforts that we put in, sometimes to their own specification. The site should be about MUSIC, and maybe these individuals would be better served using the Beta language section, rather than spending (wasting) time changing petty 'mistakes' in their eyes.
    – Tim
    Sep 11, 2013 at 16:47
  • I really don't know where people get this idea that -ize is not British English. academia.stackexchange.com/a/4896.
    – TRiG
    Apr 20, 2016 at 10:37

4 Answers 4


This is the official SE view- from meta.so:

Does SOFU have an accepted standard on language and spelling? Which is it?

For bodies, no. For tags, US-English.

So don't bother changing from US to UK or vice-versa in the question or answer, but stick with US tags.


I think if it had just been that spelling on its own there would not have been a reason to edit it, but it looks to me like JJ made a minor information correction and then went ahead and proofed the full post, both to correct the grammar stuff and so the edit didn't look "too minor". I would have made the same changes; when proofing a piece of writing you don't generally cherry-pick based on spelling localizations. :-)

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    Aye, I know there were other fixes, but on the spelling I just wanted clarification Aug 30, 2013 at 18:37
  • I know, at least for me, spell check tells me British spellings are wrong and if I'm not familiar with them, I usually accidentally go ahead and change them to American English. Aug 30, 2013 at 18:38
  • @American Luke- why? Where's the mileage in changing a spelling that's been done in one's native language, just so's it looks American? The original spelling must have been recognised (recognized) otherwise one wouldn't be able to 'correct' it.
    – Tim
    Sep 11, 2013 at 7:09
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    @Tim Some of us have severe negative reactions to red underlines. :P
    – NReilingh
    Sep 11, 2013 at 15:50
  • @NReilingh, if I'm wrong and proved to be so, I'll admit it.However...
    – Tim
    Sep 11, 2013 at 18:38

Since this post and the ensuing answers seem to be about me (and apparently, I missed this whole thing!) I thought I would add my voice here - albeit a little late - to the discussion just to clarify why I did / do what I do.

Concerning Alex's post, I honestly wasn't even thinking about semantic spelling localizations - I merely thought the words were misspelled and was correcting for error. I believe Tim referenced that some people act as "teachers" on the Music SE, and I can't help but feel as if that was directed towards me. I am a teacher by profession, so I'm always looking for ways to help clarify information for others. If I legitimately had questions that I thought would be best answered by the Music SE, I would post questions. The majority of my quandaries are composition related and very specific and wouldn't be helpful for the site. Also, like most people I suspect, I usually am able to answer my own questions with a little bit of research. But I digress.

I don't edit grammar in posts to be "grammar police" or to try and put my stamp on everything. This site serves the larger good of the internet, and I believe that if someone comes to the site looking for answers to their questions, they should be able to read the question / answers with correct grammar and presented in a clear, professional way. It only hurts the Music SE's credibility and reliability for information if visitors have to wade through piles of internet slang and sentence fragments. Further, by having clear communication of ideas (through correct grammar) it minimizes variables that can interfere with learning. And really, when you boil SE down, it's not about the individual subjects, it's about learning.

As NReilingh mentioned in a comment, SE is collaborative, and just because I make an edit on something doesn't mean that my edit(s) are the end-all be-all. I encourage people to change or revert my edits or any other edits as long as they are constructive and attempt to improve the answer or question. Edits I do are not out of hubris, but out of the desire to present a question or a solution in the best possible circumstance.

I whole-heartedly agree with "respecting the original author," however, there is a difference between re-writing an entire question to suite one's own voice and changing simple conventions. I have taken two surveys about Music SE's credibility (and I'm sure others have taken more,) but in reading the questions and answers, I can't help but say that though I agree that international and local language conventions should be respected, those who are posting answers / questions have a duty and responsibility to present their own information in the best way possible.

I've understood this site to be an attempt at being a more professional exchange of information than a forum. But if high standards are not held, what then really differentiates this site from other resources?

Now, I may have over-stepped my bounds editing-wise, and if I'm posting too many answers and you all think I'm a conceited know-it-all, then I can't influence your perception of my intent no matter how earnest or honest I may be in my endeavor. If I've over-stepped, then I sincerely apologize for doing so without realizing. I won't apologize however, for attempting to make Music SE a better place. We should all be holding one another accountable.

Okay, I've said my piece. My response may be a little much, but I care passionately about music and about education, and I just want the best for other people.

  • Hi Jj, I appreciate that you were correcting my post and certainly did not intend to offend in any way. On American vs British spelling I really just wanted to know if there's an expected norm. I imagine most people on SE use American english and thought that it may be the case that American english is always used in order to maintain consistency. I've loved learning from you on this site, and you're one of the members that makes this an invaluable and fantastic site to be on. Your passion about music and education is clear! Oct 27, 2013 at 23:35
  • Thanks, and you're kind. The internet is a funny thing - unless you tell me your British, I wouldn't know otherwise and would just think you were somebody with goofy spelling. Now that I know you're British, I'll be on the look out for "wrong" spellings and other words that don't make sense - "lorries", "flats", "lifts", and "candy-floss". ;) Oct 28, 2013 at 2:27
  • +1 good sport. one of us should probably have given you a "@jjmusicnotes alert: we're talking about you". :) But it was all in your defense. Dec 18, 2013 at 9:21

Either/or seems fine to me. Spelling conventions should be consistent within a post, of course. In the link, it looks to me like jj just got carried away. The punctuation fixes look good. But 's' vs. 'z'? Whatever. They sound the same in my head. :)

I'd say just edit and fix it. It's your own post, so you can safely ignore the "don't make small edits" warning.


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