# Should we use American or British spelling?

I just noticed that 'aeroplane' was used in a question, and I thought for a second about changing it to 'airplane' - the American spelling of the word.

However, I started thinking about what might happen - such as small edit wars, etc.

Therefore, I would like to pose the question to the community: Which spelling should be used where there is an option: American or British?

• Whichever the writer used? Should not matter much. – tshepang Aug 21 '13 at 22:25
• @Tshepang Yes, but it would be nice to decide on a spelling system to be used when editing - to keep things nice and consistent. – Undo Aug 21 '13 at 23:05
• @Undo, it would be nice, but how is an American to even know all the British spellings and vice versa? – Joe Aug 22 '13 at 0:16
• Such edits are too minor and counterproductive. Editing for the sake of editing is not what we're here for. If you edit, please do so for the sake of clarity. – Deer Hunter Aug 22 '13 at 4:31

In addition to Tidal's answer, I would like to add one addition bit, namely about tags. I believe tags should use the American spelling, as it seems to be the slightly more popular variant on the internet, and Stack Exchange as a whole. They should be tag synonyms.

But I agree, let the OP decide which English to use for the questions themselves.

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.

• Oww well spotted, yes I forgot about the tags and I agree - American English for tags, also because they are limited in length and US EN is usually the shorter spelling of the two. – TildalWave Aug 22 '13 at 15:04
• Hmmm, would you practice what you preach? space.stackexchange.com/questions/131/… – Deer Hunter Jul 22 '15 at 19:01
• Sometimes it's hard to know what's British English and what's just spelled wrong... I know the basic British/American differences, but I'm far from an expert... – PearsonArtPhoto Jul 22 '15 at 19:07

This would be difficult to enforce either way, and even if we tried, it will be a losing battle. Some will favor one, others will favour the other, and us in between the two, fighting over a u. The site's language is English, but I didn't see it specified anywhere if that's American, or British English. Probably for the better, as I personally wouldn't want to be forced in favouring (or is it favoring?) any side of the Pond, not in this day and age and on the Internet, at that.

And then there's a lot of users like me, trying to stick with one spelling, but occasionally and unwittingly mixing the two, either by force of habit, or typos that spell checker doesn't detect, because it's fine with either one of the two correct ones.

As for editing for grammar and spelling, try to follow the preference of the poster. If that's not clear by the poster's choice, use whichever you feel more comfortable in. We should avoid minor, insignificant edits as it is, not to needlessly move posts towards the community wiki status, with the limit of 10 revisions that keep the post authored. Edit for clarity, formatting, specificity, where necessary, and correct spelling and grammar while at it. See to it that any edit significantly improves user's contribution. Too hectic corrections might also discourage users to post more frequently, or even edit to improve their contributions on their own.

In short, one spells it as color, the other one spells it as colour, but they will both have to name the specific shade, if they care about any in particular. Insisting on either color or colour will eventually (depending on their patience) only result in losing at least one of them, possibly both. And that's counterproductive.

• for editing [...] follow the preference of the poster ... Yes, please. There is no way to enforce a single spelling across this site, but please go with a single spelling within a single text. – s-m-e Aug 22 '13 at 19:13