NB: This is not referring to simply correcting misquoted text or typos.

The answer to this question contains a paragraph quoted from "The Classical Tradition" (by Grafton, Anthony, Glenn W. Most, and Salvatore Settis) that listed a number of military academies including the École Polytechnique in Paris.

This was recently edited because the editor believed that "The Ecole Polytechnique does not aim anymore to train officers. The Ecole Spéciale Militaire de Saint Cyr is the one responsible for it." and the original text was replaced with the new institution. While this edit may genuinely be correcting a factual error in the quote, I don't believe that a quoted text should be edited in this manner as it means the quote is no longer a true representation of the source material. I rejected the edit for this reason but others accepted it and the edit went ahead.

Surely there is a better way to highlight/correct factual errors in quoted material than editing the quote itself?

2 Answers 2


I've had to slap friendly fingers here before for that kind of thing. If its represented as a quote, it needs to be verbatim. If the person wants to paraphrase, it should not have quotes around it or be in a quotation block.

That being said, in the case of an English translation of a quote, I think it would be fair to tweak someone else's translation if the goal is to translate what was said better. Just don't represent your new translation as the previous translator's work.

The traditional way to note errors in the quoted source itself is by following it with the notation [sic]. This is a Latin adverb used here to mean roughly "Yes, I know there are issues, but this is how it was said."


You are correct. It is inappropriate to modify the quote in this case, especially without any note that the quote has been altered. I have restored the quote and inserted [sic] after the name of the old academy (using the function of sic to indicate a surprising assertion), and I added the editor's note on the current academy in small text after the quote.

  • 1
    Good on you for taking the initiative.
    – T.E.D. Mod
    Nov 8, 2016 at 16:23

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