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Why isn't the edit queue (/review -> suggested edits) anonymous until after a decision has been made? I think that would help make sure that reviewers are objective.

I'd wondered about it in the past, but hadn't encountered any edits where I think it made a negative difference in the past until today. There are a lot of pending edits in the queue, all from one (well intentioned) user which seem to be misusing the inline code `` markup to inappropriately add emphasis on "keywords" and acronyms. Some of the edits are appropriate or contain appropriate use of inline code markup too.

The user in question registered today and all of the their reputation so far has come from edits. It's reached a point now though that I've spotted this user and I specifically notice edits from them in the queue. Without reject reasons a large string of rejects will probably destroy their enthusiasm for editing I suspect and possibly the site in general, which would be a shame. I'm aware of the improve button - for some of the edits which were close enough to what I'd normally just accept I've been using improve to fix the bad bits. For the ones which are plain wrong or the negatives of it far outweigh the positives I've been rejecting and then doing an appropriate edit if there were issues worth editing for.

I'm now paranoid I've lost my ability to be objective reviewing these edits when I know they're from this user. I'm worried I'm being too harsh on the user with the rejects and that leads me to worry that I might be over-compensating for that in the opposite direction. Consequently since I know I've lost my objectivity I've stopped taking any actions with edits from that user, which isn't ideal either. With anonymity for all editors, at least until the result is decided this would be a non-issue.

share|improve this question
How about making anonymity an option? – Chris Frederick Sep 23 '11 at 18:45
@Chris - that would work to and address Michael's point too. – Flexo Sep 23 '11 at 18:47
Simple solution: stop reviewing edits for a while. There are plenty of other reviewers that can handle it while you take a break. – John Sep 23 '11 at 18:54
"making anonymity an option?" - I can't see how that could ever be useful. Try to actually imagine it: a checkbox next to the editable content that says "Anonymous edit". What's this for? – Wesley Murch Sep 23 '11 at 20:11
@WesleyMurch - I saw that comment as suggesting an option for reviewers to review all pending edits without seeing who wrote them, not as an option for the editors. That's (probably) just some client side logic and might be feasible as a greasmonkey script. – Flexo Sep 23 '11 at 20:14
OK, that actually makes a bit of sense - I interpreted it incorrectly. – Wesley Murch Sep 23 '11 at 20:29
up vote 9 down vote accepted

...a large string of rejects will probably destroy their enthusiasm for editing...

Reviewing the edit queue is a chore. If the author of a "large string of rejects" loses their enthusiasm for editing, I'm happy about it - it reduces the work load of reviewers. Less bad edits in queue means more legitimate edits get to be approved quickly.

That being said, I think the ability to leave a message regarding why the edit was rejected will be an enormous help to both the author and reviewer, but as far as anonymity goes - there's no sensible reason for it.

If I may quote random ♦:

People need to harden up and hit that Reject button more.

You shouldn't feel bad about rejecting the same user's edits over and over. If you feel your judgement is being skewed in some way, you could take a short break from reviewing edits as suggested in the comments.

share|improve this answer
Accepting this answer on the grounds that it assuages my guilt about using the reject button, which on reflection was probably my motivation for asking this question. (I was previously worried that my reject rate seemed unusually high) – Flexo Sep 23 '11 at 20:54
The underlying problem may be that it's so difficult to give feedback on a rejected edit. I would guess that a great deal of users would improve their edits if they simply knew why the edit was rejected, this would also help the next reviewer quite a bit. I guess we'll have to keep waiting for that feature to arrive for now. – Wesley Murch Sep 23 '11 at 21:03
My reject finger is all crinkled. I can't use it to vote to close anymore. – user7116 Sep 23 '11 at 21:15

I prefer non-anonymity for the opposite reason -- there are a few people that have had so many good edits that I recognize them, and all I do is skim the edit to make sure it's not insane before approving it -- I'm trusting that they didn't just suddenly start sucking at editing after weeks of doing well

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Does the reverse happen as well? Someone who makes a ton of bad edits that you recognize them and just skim for insanity? – Some Helpful Commenter Sep 23 '11 at 18:47
I've been in that situation (accepting lots of their edits) before with one user, but anonymity would force me to be objective with them too. That's not such a bad thing. Perhaps optional anonymity would get the best of both worlds. – Flexo Sep 23 '11 at 18:50
@Conrad I guess in theory, but I haven't run into anyone whose edits I reject often enough for me to remember them specifically – Michael Mrozek Sep 23 '11 at 18:50
Also, sometimes someone's premise for adding a bunch of edits is incorrect. Once you identify the problem, it's nice to see which edits (by that person) are included in the list. – Robert Cartaino Sep 23 '11 at 19:26

Without reject reasons a large string of rejects will probably destroy their enthusiasm for editing I suspect

Well, as one of the guys who receives rejected edits :) I would want to make it perfectly clear that these not necessarily destroy enthusiasm...

In my case this is definitely not so, rather the opposite - receiving negative feedback typically helps me focus more on the quality of the edits I suggest.

  • I kinda believe that it's my duty to make edit suggestions good enough to satisfy reviewer. Any reviewer, biased or not. Getting rejected edits makes a helpful indication when I miss that target
share|improve this answer
Easy on the inline "code" blocks! :P – Matthew Read Sep 23 '11 at 19:04
It seemed to be like the reviewers must feel like a "mysterious black box", especially with an edit that does contain productive bits or things you've seen other users (possibly wrongly) do. It's seemed like playing one of those "guess what I'm thinking" games, only with your time and effort as a bet. – Flexo Sep 23 '11 at 19:04
@awoodland well to me, reviewers indeed feel like mysterious black box. As for productive bits my perspective is that edits failing the reviewer biased against me are just not productive enough - good test if you wish. Game you refer to feels there indeed, I am using that game to improve my skills in editing. Biased reviewer? that's good it's like a tough monster in Quake - I need to learn how to pass through, that's real fun (sorry to all the reviewers who happen to read monster bit) – gnat Sep 23 '11 at 19:13
@MatthewRead I actually tried to make more of misused code blocks but in preview it looked just too disgusting to press submit – gnat Sep 23 '11 at 19:16
I never understood why people use inline code blocks for emphasis. Perhaps people misinterpret the bracket symbols {} in the editor to mean emphasis? – Chris Frederick Sep 23 '11 at 19:23
Emphasis in written text should be made with the <em> element (that's why it's called em, after all). Chicago Manual of Style: "Emphasize a keyword or phrase in your text by placing it in italics. The next time the term or phrase is used it should be in plain text.". The code blocks are very uncomfortable to read because you expect actual code or commands in there. – slhck Sep 23 '11 at 19:58
@Chris I tend to believe they misuse code blocks that way intentionally. Per my observations, at SO code blocks are stronger distinguishable visually than, say bold or italics - tempting for those thinking the stronger the better – gnat Sep 24 '11 at 5:50

It's nice to know who they are, so that if you reject the edit, you can then find some way to let them know, especially if you see a pattern. I've notified a few of things that needed to be done differently.

share|improve this answer
You could still get that effect by removing the anonymity once a decision has been made, although without any direct and appropriate feedback mechanism (I'm not a mod so I can't message users) it's next to impossible to take any actions. – Flexo Sep 23 '11 at 18:54
How does one contact the author of a rejected edit? There doesn't seem to be any clear way to do so, the faq on @ replies does not clarify this. – Wesley Murch Sep 23 '11 at 18:54
@awoodland, yes that could be done. Note that it's easy to see the pattern when you have a list of suggested edits all by the same editor. – Lance Roberts Sep 23 '11 at 18:56
@Wesley, I usually have to @ notify them, here or in chat. – Lance Roberts Sep 23 '11 at 19:00
I believe there is some feature recently being discussed that will allow us to leave comments on rejected edits, that will be a great help. – Wesley Murch Sep 23 '11 at 19:03
@WesleyMurch - yes, I linked to this question in my question, but anonymity would be a comparatively small change I suspect compared to waiting for that to be completed. (It's been there since Feb) – Flexo Sep 23 '11 at 19:06
@LanceRoberts - can you @ notify anyone? I thought in comments it was restricted to people who've been active on the post and in chat they had to be in the room in question. – Flexo Sep 23 '11 at 19:07
@awoodland, you're right, you have to find a post they were involved in. – Lance Roberts Sep 23 '11 at 22:29
@LanceRoberts - I've almost never done that since it's usually so off-topic – Flexo Sep 23 '11 at 22:53
@awoodland, yep, it's a crappy way to have to communicate, but that's what we have. Feature Requests have been brought up before but always turned down for a better way. – Lance Roberts Sep 23 '11 at 23:05

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