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I've seen a stream of bad suggested edits recently: they don't improve anything but screw up the formatting. (Examples: 1, 2, 3. Note: if you approved one of these, do feel called out. If you're the editor, stop making messes all over.) This isn't a very common occurrence, but the workflow for handling them is pretty bad.

First, there's a social problem: I see many of these edits have been approved. So I'm calling to reviewers:

Don't mindlessly approve stuff just because the change summary is “improve formatting”. Make sure that the edit does, in fact, improve the formatting.

Second, there's a technical problem: most of these suggested edits were performed on posts that required improvement. But the suggested edit caused more harm than good (there's one particular user at the moment who likes to take things that should be code blocks because line breaks are significant, and perform word wrap, which makes the paragraph irrecoverable). So to fix these edits, I've ended up browsing the source of the original version and copying and pasting that into the Improve box.

There was a call earlier for a “Reject and improve” button, which was partially implemented: now a reviewer can mark the suggested edit as “not helpful”. But the implementation is flawed: when improving, we're still going from the post-suggested-edit state of the post.

As Bill the Lizard points out, if the post had already been edited before, there is a menu at the top of the improvement dialog from which the reviewer can choose prior versions to edit from. Sadly this menu does not appear if the suggested edit was on the first revision of the post.

Please provide a simple way to edit a post with a suggested edit, starting from the pre-edit state of the post, even when the post has never been edited.

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Isn't this essentially a request for a "reject and improve" feature? Or, can you explain better how this is different from the reject and improve feature?… – Adam Davis Feb 11 '12 at 20:03
@AdamDavis Uh? What part of the last two sentences is unclear? I want to edit from the pre-edit state of the post. The reject-and-improve implementation starts from the post-edit state, which is kind of pointless. – Gilles Feb 11 '12 at 20:07
@AdamDavis I think the key to this request is the ability to start from the original post, rather than loading the suggested edit into the editor. – user142852 Feb 11 '12 at 20:08

When you click on the Improve button on the /review page you have the option of starting from an earlier revision. Just pull down the menu at the top of the page.

Revision select

That option appears if there are earlier revisions to choose from. If there are no earlier revsions (other than the original and the suggested edit) just reject the suggestion.

share|improve this answer
Thanks, I hadn't noticed that. So my feature request is to make this menu appear even when there are only two versions (revision 1 and the suggested edit). – Gilles Feb 11 '12 at 20:31
@Gilles: Yeah, I think that would be an improvement. Sometimes (as in the cases you linked to) it's easier to just roll back and start over. – Bill the Lizard Feb 11 '12 at 20:36
@Gilles If you want to restate your question I can delete this answer. – Bill the Lizard Feb 11 '12 at 20:37
I hadn't noticed this (I think the times when I've wanted to both reject the suggested edit and fix the post are on freshly-posted badly-formatted post), so your answer was helpful. Please don't delete it. I've amended my question to request the missing bit. – Gilles Feb 11 '12 at 20:44

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