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It really bugs me to see tiny edits to posts that need major editing. For example, I mean edits that

  • fix two or three typos but ignore other instances of the same typo just a few sentences away;
  • indent code by four spaces but completely ignore atrocious spelling/grammar; or
  • just remove "thanx" while leaving the entire rest of a post written in txtspk.

I don't know if these show laziness, incompetence or apathy, but these are not complex or subtle problems that certain editors are missing. Technically, these edits do make posts "better," but the improvements are so insignificant that I have a hard time considering them desirable.

This isn't purely griping. These edits can be problematic. If one user submits a comprehensive edit and another user submits a partial edit, the partial edit will get lost. At best, the partial editor's time will have been wasted; at worst, the partial editor will also have fixed something that the comprehensive editor fixed poorly or missed entirely.

Even worse is the situation AnnaLear mentions in a comment under this answer (which inspired this question): two partial editors fixing different parts of a post. At least one person's time will have been wasted, and about half the post will remain unfixed.

How can we reduce the frequency of these low-quality edits and/or encourage better editing? I have two ideas, which I will post as answers. They're not great, but hopefully they'll be useful for brainstorming.

Keep in mind that we can't be too aggressive. Sometimes, people are incapable of making "complete" edits. Often, this is because English isn't their primary language. Lack of expertise in the subject matter can also contribute. We definitely shouldn't alienate partial editors who do a great job at the parts of editing that they can do.

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How often do edit collisions actually happen? Is this an actual problem worth spending time on? –  agf Sep 26 '11 at 15:12
    
I see several every day. –  Pops Sep 26 '11 at 15:38
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If these low quality edits are in the suggested edit queue then approvers just need to be tighter about what is accepted. –  slugster Sep 26 '11 at 19:14
    
@slugster: many of them are made by users with 2k rep, so the queue can't stop them. –  Pops Sep 26 '11 at 19:15

2 Answers 2

Implement a voting system for edits. The task of judging edits would be totally optional and available to all users with full editing privileges. Restrict the editing privileges of users who submit too many bad edits.

As an added bonus, this might also help fix what Jeff calls "turd polishing": people trying to edit posts that are so bad they cannot be fixed and should just be deleted.

(To take this another step further — as if it weren't radical enough — we could remove editing as a rep-based action altogether, and instead award editing privileges based on the quality of users' past edits.)

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The problem is not big enough to merit a whole new score system. –  agf Sep 26 '11 at 15:11

We already have a suggested edit queue and a low quality filter. Perhaps every edit that appears to be "minor" based on some variant of the quality filter could be placed in the suggested edit queue regardless of the editor's rep. Minor might be defined by number of characters changed or percentage of post changed. This would not affect non-minor edits.

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There are already a ton of trivial edits in the suggested edit queue, I don't want to deal with any more. –  agf Sep 26 '11 at 15:12

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