Is organic whole cow's milk better than "toddler milk" powder for a 1 year old? has been involved in an edit war over the OP's original inclusion of the word "organic." Is that a critical part of the question or not?

  • I'm confused by a downvote on this :)
    – Acire
    Mar 18, 2015 at 0:23
  • 1
    @Erica Presumably that's people voting agreement/disagreement with the question as stated in the title. That's common on Meta Stack Exchange and other meta sites.
    – Joe
    Mar 19, 2015 at 13:54
  • 1
    Apologies, that was me. On other meta sites, a +1 means "I agree with this question" or "yes", a -1 means "I disagree", or "no". It's not a vote on the merit of a question. This question, however, is worded such that I should have used a different approach. I've removed my down vote. Apologies especially to @Karl Bielefeldt, with whom I agree. Apr 3, 2015 at 0:30

6 Answers 6


Original poster here. The reason I asked this question was really to distinguish between powdered infant formula and the next best alternative that I would choose personally, which would be organic whole milk.

If you prefer, I could change my question to "what's the best choice of milk for a one-year-old child?

We could easily debate the differences between all various options. Assuming breastmilk is not among the choices (my daughter and I still have 2 nursing sessions per day, but she takes non-breastmilk to daycare and with meals)

Choices are:

  1. Powdered "toddler milk"
  2. Organic whole milk
  3. Conventional whole milk
  4. Organic 2% milk
  5. Conventional 2% milk
  6. Soy milk
  7. Almond milk
  8. Goat milk
  9. Coconut milk
  10. Hedgehog milk (just kidding)

All of the above are assumed to be pasteurized.

As there was some confusion in the comments about what is meant by organic milk, here are some details from Wikipedia:

Organic milk refers to a number of milk products from livestock raised according to organic farming methods. In most jurisdictions, use of the term "organic" or equivalents like "bio" or "eco", on any product is regulated by food authorities. In general these regulations stipulate that livestock must be: allowed to graze, be fed an organically certified fodder or compound feed, not be treated with most drugs (including growth hormone), and in general must be treated humanely.[1][2]

Will be glad to adapt the question this way if everyone is in agreement.

  • This looks like a good idea. It would make the question more comprehensive and not invalidate existing answers.
    – bjb568
    Mar 18, 2015 at 14:52
  • We don't have one about the different kinds of milk (formula, organic, cow, soy, etc), which could be very useful. But the wording should be different enough from this question title, to be clear. (I'm also going to edit that question's existing title, because it's too vague in light of this).
    – user11394
    Mar 18, 2015 at 15:31
  • 1
    I don't agree with this change in the original question. The original question was, ultimately, "Is powdered toddler formula valuable/not valuable", the alternative wasn't particularly important in my view. Changing to "What is the best milk..." is an entirely different question. You're welcome to ask it as a different question, but please do not modify the question as it currently stands.
    – Joe
    Mar 19, 2015 at 13:58
  • Thinking about this more, I'm leaning toward Joe's view. The core question here is about powdered formula milk specifically, so that should remain the focus of the question.
    – bjb568
    Mar 19, 2015 at 14:28

These are the listed reasons to edit:

Edits are expected to be substantial and to leave the post better than you found it. Common reasons for edits include:

  • To fix grammar and spelling mistakes
  • To clarify the meaning of the post (without changing that meaning)
  • To include additional information only found in comments, so all of the information relevant to the post is contained in one place
  • To correct minor mistakes or add updates as the post ages
  • To add related resources or hyperlinks

In the initial suggested edit, the changes were to reword a sentence that didn't necessarily make the sentence more clear (but seemed to contain a preference for certain wording) and it removed the organic label.

The question initially contained organic in both the body and the title. Since "organic" is a highly searchable key word, and is often signifies certain lifestyle choices, it would seem to add to the question and it's accessibility.

Determining whether or not organic is a relevant quality of milk is the responsibility of those answering. It's very common for people to have an answer that boils down to: "This attribute doesn't make a difference" or "Don't be concerned about that, it's only this you need to worry about." That doesn't mean those qualities shouldn't be included in the question.

That the comments and answers address the fact that organic milk isn't objectively better than regular milk is a signal that it's relevant to the question. We were presented an opportunity to share more information and address some misconceptions which may be shared by a number of future visitors.

As to the OP approving the edit, a new user may accept edits because they presume all suggestions are better, don't understand the system, or any number of reasons that aren't actually good. That's why higher rep users have the ability to make instant edits or rollbacks if they feel the changes aren't actually useful.

Another reason to reject edits is

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.

This implies that SE is concerned with people's ability to find questions and answers. Other evidence is the fact that we have a tagging system in place. We want people to be able to easily find questions. Removing qualifying words seems contrary to that practice.

Unfortunately, when rejecting edits, users are only given the ability to select one of a few options. There is an "other" option, but deviating from the system options makes it harder to standardize reasoning.

The option that has been selected was, as noted:

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.

But that doesn't mean it's the only reason that the edit was rejected.

Supposing that the OP honestly doesn't care about organic or not, the edit could be rejected because "Changes are either completely superfluous". If you believe that the word itself is irrelevant, and makes no difference to the question, then it's also not harming the question and removing the extra word is, by definition, superfluous.

  • 2
    "How to open green boxes?" can't be edited to "How to open boxes?"? Why? Green is utterly irrelevant to both questions and answers and should be edited out of all. "That's why higher rep users have the ability to make instant edits or rollbacks if they feel the changes aren't actually useful." This is true, but OP is the most invested and has at least a minimal understanding of the subject. OP has a binding vote on edits.
    – bjb568
    Mar 18, 2015 at 0:11
  • 1
    For reference, there is a very similar question that has no mention of organic in it, ever, and so it's not addressed. Since it's not something that's brought up by those answering, it would seem that including "organic" generated additional content.
    – user11394
    Mar 18, 2015 at 0:12
  • I don't see your point.
    – bjb568
    Mar 18, 2015 at 0:12
  • 1
    If a new programmer were to ask, "How do I access a string array in Java" I wouldn't edit the question to just be "How do I access an array in Java". Even if the answer is the same, it's important to the asker that they know the type of the array isn't relevant in accessing it. And while I made up this example, the question actually exists, although it's very old. No one edited "array of strings" to just be "array".
    – user11394
    Mar 18, 2015 at 0:22
  • Also, I contend that on SE the OP doesn't have binding anything except which answer they choose to receive a green check.
    – user11394
    Mar 18, 2015 at 0:23
  • 1
    @bjb568 green is irrelevant. People buying organic might think it has some property, and thus it is not irrelevant. I literally cannot understand why you made the edit; nor why you continue to insist on the edit.
    – DanBeale
    Mar 18, 2015 at 1:13
  • I wouldn't use that question as SO as an example of exemplary standard practices. Research on meta. I can reverse your argument: Organic is irrelevant. People buying green might think it has some property, and thus it is not irrelevant.
    – bjb568
    Mar 18, 2015 at 1:37
  • Reading thru you answer closely, I found that "Since \"organic\" is a highly searchable key word, and is often signifies certain lifestyle choices, it would seem to add to the question and it's accessibility." bugs me a lot. Is a question like "From a [religion] perspective, [question]" or "Is [doing something] a good if you're a [belief]" appropriate? SE values quality over clickbait or discoverability.
    – bjb568
    Mar 18, 2015 at 1:41
  • "We want people to be able to easily find questions." != "Searchability is more important than lasting quality". "This edit deviates from the original intent of the post.": "Changing the meaning/intent is the cardinal sin here - the name and guidance should focus on this."; I believe I have not changed the fundamental meaning of the question.
    – bjb568
    Mar 18, 2015 at 2:42
  • @bjb568 You've also never provided any proof that your edit helps the question or not editing it harms the question. You're providing no evidence that removing the term improves the quality, as you claim. How does the word organic actively harm the question or objectively make the answers worse?
    – user11394
    Mar 18, 2015 at 2:49
  • It is irrelevant so it takes up space, costs readers time, diverts mental effort to itself, and defocuses answers.
    – bjb568
    Mar 18, 2015 at 3:39
  • That's ludicrous and insulting to our intelligence. It takes up bytes of storage, no time, virtually no space in the sentence. Diverts mental effort? I'm sorry, but I think our brains can process this input just fine: It's literally what they're designed to do. This is a website for humans, not robots with rudimentary language processing. What you argue for is negligible, thus superfluous. You're arguing for the sake of arguing at this point, that comment makes it clear. This seems to be more a case of bruised ego than anything.
    – user11394
    Mar 18, 2015 at 4:02
  • See meta.stackexchange.com/q/2950/237813
    – bjb568
    Mar 18, 2015 at 14:45

My feeling on this is that both users involved in the editing made mistakes, by virtue of making changes without discussing with others.

I don't think that the word "Organic" was particularly important to the question - in fact, I don't think the alternative itself was important to the question. As stated, it was asking if Toddler Formula was valuable in and of itself; milk is the 'default', organic or not. The question didn't go into detail about the alternatives: it presented toddler formula, mentioned that it was popular with parents in the area, mentioned that pediatricians often push it, and then asked if regular milk would be better. Organic is mentioned effectively in passing, as if that's what the default would be for the OP - which she has confirmed.

Hence my answer: addressing the value/lack of value of toddler formula as opposed to milk. Organic milk isn't substantially nutritionally different from conventional milk, unless it's paired with a different method of raising cows; organic milk isn't required to be any more pasture-raised than conventional milks are. There are some slight differences in contents of pasture-raised cow milk versus conventional milk, but as the question doesn't address that, I don't either in my answer.

As such, if bjb568 had asked in comments whether it was appropriate to remove the word "organic", I would've agreed. I don't think it's important to the question, which is about formula, not milk.

However, I think that asking in comments should have been a necessary step here in the editing process. Assuming the OP doesn't care about organic milk is incorrect; the OP did clearly state it in the question title and text. It's possible the OP does think organic milk is different from conventional milk, and wants to specifically compare those - perhaps for reasons other than nutritional content. Additional clarification would be helpful here from the OP in that case.

It's also possible (and seemingly, likely) that the OP would've agreed in comments. At that point, again, there's no argument over edits: if the OP clearly states that the organic aspect of milk isn't important, then it can be removed from the question, as it's not the focus of the question. It never was so much of an important element of the question that an answer should've focused on it, although it certainly would have been reasonable to mention if there were differences (where the answer would be different for the two). Of course, the OP doesn't have the right to make edits that fundamentally change the question (turning it into a chameleon question), but I think it's hard to argue that 'organic' is a remotely important part of this question if the OP doesn't believe it is.

As such, the right thing for CreationEdge to do after seeing the edit would also have been to post a comment asking if it was important. The OP approved the edit, so we have clearly don't have an OP that is asking and ditching; a response as to its import to the question would have been entirely reasonable. There's no reason to rollback the question arbitrarily for a very minor wording change without discussing it, first.

Ultimately, I think this is something that could have been easily addressed with a few comments from any of the parties involved before taking action. Community moderation works best when decisions are discussed before they're taken, when they're neither major issues that need urgent attention, nor are obvious cases with clear fixes. We've got a very active group here and I'm very glad that everyone pitches in to help - just don't forget there's a lot of others who are happy to chime in with opinions when it's not clear.

  • I will note: I didn't see any comment discussion prior to these edits, but if I'm wrong (and comments, made before the edits, have been deleted) let me know and I'll adjust my answer.
    – Joe
    Mar 19, 2015 at 14:53
  • I made a comment after the first rollback, saying that the "organic" was in there intentionally. After that, I don't recall the order of events or what else was in the comments, either. They're removed and no longer visible to me. If there's a discussion that needs to be made about edits, then I think the original form should be preserved until a decision is made.
    – user11394
    Mar 19, 2015 at 17:14

Critical, not necessarily. Intended by the author, yes. Since both answers include it in at least a tangential respect, I am in favor of it being retained.

  • I wouldn't say my answer had anything to do with organic (it mentions the word, but only to say that I'm not talking about it).
    – Joe
    Mar 19, 2015 at 14:38
  • Yes, you're the tangential answer ;) However, if "organic" is removed from the question, "I'm not talking about organic" becomes mildly strange to read in an Answer -- I'm not saying that the impact is terribly significant, mind, but it's there.
    – Acire
    Mar 19, 2015 at 14:44
  • I understand what you're saying, but you are taking my answer which pretty much agrees with bjb's edit and using it to justify arguing against it. Remove organic from the question and it still makes sense, to me, anyway.
    – Joe
    Mar 19, 2015 at 14:47
  • My point in my Answer was that it may as well be kept because of subsequent circumstances that increased the relevance. Yes, the Question will still make sense without "organic" (nobody has disagreed with that), but it also becomes a duplicate of other existing questions (unless edited to be more expansive as suggested by OP) and leads to a need to (slightly) edit Answers. This isn't "somebody else said organic too and therefore the word is critical", it's "the improvement is not substantial enough to outweigh other factors."
    – Acire
    Mar 19, 2015 at 14:58

I'm late coming on board here, but it's my opinion that there is no need to edit the OP's question unless it is to

To fix grammar and spelling mistakes
To clarify the meaning of the post (without changing that meaning)
To add related resources or hyperlinks
To correct minor mistakes
To improve readability: break up a wall of text, remove the obviously superfluous (e.g. oft repeated) material, etc.
To add pertinent information the OP added in comments which might be lost if deleted
To add updates (by the OP perhaps erroneously left in comments or as an answer)
To remove truly offensive material from an otherwise good question (vs. downvoting)
To raise awareness of, or improve, a good question that has not received attention, which might be the same as editing:
To add updates as the post ages

I myself feel uncomfortable editing

To include additional information only found in comments

Changing the OP's post to reflect your particular style or belief of how a question should be worded is not a valid reason to edit. Therefore, I think organic should have been left alone. If someone objects or feels they can help to make the post better, that's what comments are for, and it's up to the OP to incorporate those changes if they agree with them.

In other words, my default position is to respect the OP, and leave the post alone. Being treated respectfully is, I imagine, how every user would like to be treated, especially (but not limited to) users who are new to the site and may be unsure of the culture they have entered.

Having said that, what resulted here was a roll-back war. Please, if you see a roll-back war in progress, flag the question. Flagging is one of the ways every user here can help to moderate this site, help to shape it's culture, it's content, and it's etiquette.

This site is not so busy that flags are a nuisance. I know flags on very busy sites are treated a bit differently (usually without optional comments). While I hope to see this site keep growing, I hope never to feel that flags are anything but the way users help to moderate the site.

Oh, and btw, I'm sorry I was so late here. It was another question which prompted me to finally post.

  • OP here - I appreciate the clarification, and want you to know that I have been hesitant to come back to parenting stack exchange because of the silly debate over my question. With your input here I'm feeling better about the site in general! May 6, 2015 at 14:26
  • @Carolyn - Please do not take this event personally; it is certainly no reflection on you! Your question was fine and in no way unwelcome. Stack Exchange sites are designed to deal with questions and answers, not to say regardless of people, but the main emphasis is on the content. It does often seem to be impersonal. Many people are often more accustomed to forums, which are different. I hope you feel more welcome! If you are having any problems, it's always appropriate to flag or ping a moderator in chat. You can also post your own question in meta to get an answer. :-) May 6, 2015 at 18:26
  • I know I'm not supposed to say thanks, but I'm going to anyway... thanks! May 7, 2015 at 8:15

It appears that CreationEdge rejected my edit with the reason:

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.

Given that OP approved my edit, I don't think this is valid.

I do not see reason to leave organic in the question.

  • 4
    Generally the burden of proof falls on the editor to give a reason to take it out. This applies even when the OP approves, if existing answers took it into account, because it changes the meaning of the question as answerers understood it. As it stands, I still have no idea why you removed it in the first place. Please make your case on its own merits, not based on who did or did not approve. Mar 17, 2015 at 21:58
  • "Generally the burden of proof falls on the editor to give a reason to take it out." Yes - it's irrelevant. That's why things get edited out… It's reflected in answers too "For most children, cow's milk (organic or not at your preference)", "Organic vs \"Regular\" Milk: There isn't clear evidence that either of these is better than the other.". Organic seems to be a needless detail that doesn't affect the meaning of the question.
    – bjb568
    Mar 17, 2015 at 22:21
  • @CreationEdge That doesn't appear to be relevant to this discussion.
    – bjb568
    Mar 18, 2015 at 0:14
  • 1
    For reference, two votes are required to accept/reject an edit, so it's not as simple as "The OP approved it and another user rejected it" (I wasn't actually aware that the system would tell you who the approvers or rejecters were, I've learned something today...)
    – Acire
    Mar 18, 2015 at 0:33
  • 2
    You leave "organic" in the question because it is a useful qualifier. What is meant by organic? Unpastuerised? That carries significant health risks (children lose kidneys because of unpasteurised milk); or perhaps something else.
    – DanBeale
    Mar 18, 2015 at 1:17
  • @CreationEdge I refuted the claim that the edit deviated from the intention of OP with evidence related to OP. The fact my argument mentioned a specific person doesn't merit any other mentions of specific people. If you are trying to argue that the policy should be to not allow those edits because the majority of reviewers disapproved of them, recognize that both of my edits got thru the review system with a majority vote.
    – bjb568
    Mar 18, 2015 at 1:45
  • I've removed the comments relevant to my stance and instead expanded on my own answer.
    – user11394
    Mar 18, 2015 at 2:36
  • 2
    @Erica The OP gets an overriding vote to accept or decline an edit, if she/he chooses to use it.
    – Joe
    Mar 19, 2015 at 13:56
  • 2
    Note that's not meant to imply the OP's decision is always right or should always be respected: simply that the vote is overriding in the system.
    – Joe
    Mar 19, 2015 at 14:41

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