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I just realized that I can approve or reject post edits with this nifty tool (5k+ only). Using it, I've seen which types of edits are generally approved:

  • Fixing English (e.g. spelling, punctuation, grammar, making things more idiomatic)
  • Removing happy talk (e.g. salutations, greetings, pointless meandering)
  • Tidying up formatting (e.g. adding code blocks, breaking up text into paragraphs)
  • Fixing dead links and images
  • Fixing tags

I think all of this is awesome. It's really great that posts by non-native speakers who put reams of text in one paragraph with broken links next to some unformatted code with five tags that aren't really relevant to the question are quickly tidied up by the community.

That said, there is a certain category of edits that could potentially be helpful but are generally rejeccted because they are too hard to moderate:

  • Correcting factually erroneous or incomplete information
  • Adding helpful information or code examples
  • Fixing bad practices in the code
  • ...anything that changes the meaning of the post

I can easily see the problems that could arise by allowing these types of edits. Even so, I think that most of the time, these edits are actually constructive, and having a mechanism to accomodate them would increase the quality of posts.

Currently, comments sort of fill this role. When there is something wrong with a post people will usually comment to say so. I'm usually grateful when people point this sort of thing out and will fix it most of the time.

What if people could suggest these sorts of edits and the poster could approve of them? That way, posts could be improved more directly.

Personally, I think it would be really neat if people were encouraged to enhance the actual content of my posts. They would get satisfaction from fixing the internet, and I would be happy to have other people make me look good. It would make editing more powerful and I think it would do a lot to encourage even more community effort.

Does this sound like a good idea?

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+1 with two conditions. They shouldn't be allowed for questions (that information could be what the OP is doing wrong), and the OP of the answer should be the only one allowed approve those types of edits. –  Belinda Sep 29 '11 at 16:45
    
@Belinda I think this could still work for questions. I do agree that you shouldn't fix errors in the code in questions. I have seen cases, though, where it would have been useful if somebody could add examples of desired input/output on questions that might be hard to understand. (e.g. see edit 3 on this post) –  Peter Olson Sep 29 '11 at 16:51
    
I like the idea of having a way to direct suggestions to OPs; I've occasionally left a message telling an OP that there's a pending suggestion on their post, and then somebody else comes along and rejects it before the OP can see it –  Michael Mrozek Sep 29 '11 at 17:06
    
(2k+ only) - I'm 4k, but it says 404 –  Darhazer Sep 29 '11 at 17:33
    
To your point @MichaelMrozek, if the suggested edit looks to edit the meaning of the code (maybe to update it) I'll place a comment with the "suggestion" and reject the edit. That way the OP can choose if it is an appropriate update. Usually this is a 250 rep user editing 10k+ user's answer, but sometimes it's a higher rep user. –  user7116 Sep 29 '11 at 17:49
    
@six But then the person suggesting the edit doesn't get credit if the OP ends up using it –  Michael Mrozek Sep 29 '11 at 17:55
    
@Darhazer Good catch; it's actually 10k-only –  Michael Mrozek Sep 29 '11 at 17:56
    
@MichaelMrozek It's less than 10k-only, because I have 5k and can see it. I guess it must be 5k+ only, then. I'll edit the question accordingly. –  Peter Olson Sep 29 '11 at 17:58
    
@MichaelMrozek: indeed. I try and include it when I do that. I figure it is better than me just outright rejecting a potentially useful edit because it changed the meaning of the OP's code. –  user7116 Sep 29 '11 at 17:59
    
@Peter Oh, so it is. I don't know when they changed that; it was definitely 10k at one point –  Michael Mrozek Sep 29 '11 at 18:27

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I think you're extrapolating a bit too much from suggested edits.

Suggested edits are merely training wheels for full editing privileges which you will earn at 2k rep.

training wheels

Once you've earned the right to do full edits, you don't need to ask permission to change anyone's post -- you can just make the edit.

This is explicitly encouraged!

http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/04/in-defense-of-editing/

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Ooh, so it's actually OK for 2k+ users to make edits that correct change the meaning of posts? I usually see this being discouraged (I've tried it before) and I almost never see this sort of edit done when it should be. If this type of editing actually is OK, could you clarify the policy about it, since it doesn't seem to be well-understood in practice? –  Peter Olson Sep 30 '11 at 13:23
    
@peter if it's just a style change, then it's bad. Books could be written about this. Use your judgment. Would you be pissed off or annoyed if someone edited your post as you intend to? Then don't do that. Otherwise, proceed. –  Jeff Atwood Oct 1 '11 at 3:18

What if people could suggest these sorts of edits and the poster could approve of them? That way, posts could be improved more directly.

It probably wouldn't create the value you're seeking

Right now if I make a comment the OP will either agree and make a change, disagree and make no change, or simply ignore it. What you've described would create the same situation with the small benefit of direct editing for under-2K users.

It would complicate currently working features

Would a to-the-OP-only suggested edit block 2K user edits and suggested edits? If it doesn't would it override those changes or just integrate them if the OP accepts it? There's no perfect way to handle this.

Seems like a very complicated feature for little benfit

Here's an example


Question:

Why doesn't this SQL work

 sql = "UPDATE Foo set bar = " + stringVariable; 
 execute sql

Answer:

U forget yr sngle qutes e.g.

sql = "UPDATE Foo set bar = '" + stringVariable "'"; execute sql;


Two users want to make suggested edits of each type to the answer

To-The-OP-Only Suggested Edit

Avoid SQL injection attacks using parameters.

 sql = "UPDATE Foo set bar = ?"; 
 sql.AddParameter(stringVariable);
 execute sql;

In case you're interested you forgot to include single quotes

Normal Suggested Edit

You forgot to add single quotes around your variable e.g.

 sql = "UPDATE Foo set bar = '" + stringVariable + "'"; 
 execute sql;

If the to-the-op-only suggested edit comes first you now need to decide whether or not to show it to the normal suggested edit. If you do, except for a complete rollback the edit will likely be rejected. If you don't you create a weird state of affairs if the normal edit gets accepted before the To-The-OP-only edit gets reviewed.

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I don't think it makes things much more complicated. Right now, if you try to edit a post, and somebody else beat you to it, it will tell you to look at that edit before you submit yours. If there is an edit between the suggestion and the OP's approval, I'd imagine it should work the same way. –  Peter Olson Sep 29 '11 at 17:26
    
@PeterOlson I've updated my answer. I hope I've clarified why I think its more complicated that you're saying. –  Some Helpful Commenter Sep 29 '11 at 17:51
    
So, I'm not sure what's wrong with the normal suggested edit having normal behavior, but is overwritten if the OP approves the OP-only edit... –  Peter Olson Sep 29 '11 at 20:02
    
If you do that you're functionally rolling back N edits. Just so a <2K user can make a suggested edit that would normally get rejected. All the while a comment is likely to be just as effective. –  Some Helpful Commenter Sep 29 '11 at 20:17
    
First, it's not just <2K users that would use this feature. Second, comments are not just as effective: they produce clutter and are not as directly useful. Third, N is usually very small, and for the special cases, it's easy to just reject the OP-approved-only edit if it's not as good as the normal ones. –  Peter Olson Sep 29 '11 at 20:38
    
(1) If you're above 2k you can just make the edit, why would anyone do anything else, unless its to comment. (2) What I mean by as effective is that the OP will be notified then they will either agree, disagree or ignore. Just as you can ignore this comment (3) What makes you say N is small? How do you define small? What would you do when its not small? Even then is 10 tiny edits the same as 1 big edit? –  Some Helpful Commenter Sep 29 '11 at 21:01

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