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I have seen a number of posts where someone has indicated they have edited it. Things like

  • EDIT: Blah-d-bla
  • UPDATE: Some new thing just occurred to me...
  • EDIT
  • EDIT: Lots of new italicized text*
  • etc.

I totally get why people do this; they want to draw attention to the new information or add relevant context to their question or answer. However, like salutations and saying thanks (also understand why people do this even if discouraged) these markers add some noise.

I propose some things, which may be used alone or in combination:

  • Discourage the use of edit markers (add a How to Edit box when the user begins an edit (e.g. we have How to Tag and How to Ask already).
  • Try to detect the case and notify the user (e.g. if I begin to edit a question and EDIT is one of the first few things I type, it would be nice to have a banner tell me It appears you are trying to indicate you're editing the answer. This is not necessary, we'll highlight the changes when you save.
  • Highlight edits with a darker background or side marker (like a change tracking bar). Make this tasteful and undistracting of course.
  • Possibly do this while the user is editing so they won't need the reminder.
  • Progressively lighten older edits' backgrounds
  • Use reasonable periods of time for each edit indication to appear; ultimately it makes no sense to see any indication in the main body of the question or answer that it has been edited—that's what the edited block is for after all.
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3  
It seems like most of this is covered in the edit history that's currently available (other than discouraging edit markers, I think that's a good idea). –  jadarnel27 Jan 6 '12 at 17:34
    
Agreed, edit history is there. I think the key take-away is that the parts that are recently edited show up in the body to discourage the markers. –  Kit Jan 6 '12 at 17:40
3  
This is an interesting idea, but I fear it would add even more noise than "edit" markers. I can't think of an implementation that would look really good (but I'm open to being convinced otherwise) –  Pëkka Jan 6 '12 at 17:49
3  
What's wrong with it? As long as it is organic to the question, of course. –  Won't Jan 6 '12 at 17:51
    
I agree with Won't. Related. –  Matthew Read Jan 6 '12 at 18:20
2  
@TheP.G.RepMiningCo., perhaps change tracking bars on the side ala Word or Visual Studio? But I 100% agree it would have to be tasteful and not noisy. To me a big bold EDIT is :) –  Kit Jan 6 '12 at 20:02
1  
A big bold edit is good. If I've been working on a question, the big bold EDIT tells me where to look for the new information –  Adam Rackis Jan 6 '12 at 21:43

1 Answer 1

Hmm. It's an interesting suggestion, but the more I think about it, I'm starting to agree with Will when he asks, "what's wrong with it?"

In fact, a manual "Edit:" often helps understand the question flow in a way that an automatic edit indicator never could. For example:

Why won't my flobber gurgle? I have tried ten times already. I tried this.... and this....

Edit: OMG I'm so stupid! A comment just made me realize I can't flobber a gurgle because my Pnosis isn't quarked. So the question now is, how do I quark a Pnosis and preset it to flobber a gurgle?

In an ideal world, it would be much preferable for the OP to re-word the entire question under the new premises instead of appending chat-style snippets, but in the high-speed environment of Stack Overflow, that is often not an option. Also, this kind of live update helps people who are already engaging with the question, and researching it.

So - I don't think an automatic edit marker can really replace this communication tool. I'm open to be persuaded otherwise, but I can't see this working.

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+1 for flobbing gurgles, this should be practiced more widely. –  vascowhite Jan 6 '12 at 20:34
    
Particularly when you've already quarked your Pnosis. –  cdeszaq Jan 6 '12 at 21:37
    
@cdeszaq yeah. We really should have a FAQ pointing that out - every day I see newbies flobbering their gurgles without quarking their Pnoses and wondering why it doesn't work. –  Pëkka Jan 6 '12 at 21:40
    
I suppose it's opinion. To me an edit marker of any kind is meaningless after a certain period of time. A fading background seemed more elegant than a permanent EDIT. One of the design tenets of SE sites is the lack of noise. I think we might be debating whether any of these is noise. –  Kit Jan 9 '12 at 14:19
    
Funny example :) In your example, I'd still read "OMG..." without the Edit. –  Kit Jan 9 '12 at 14:21

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