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It seems like some users make minor edits to old (and mostly) answered questions, editing things like tags, grammar and similar other minor details. So far this isn't bad and exactly what the edit function is for, but the problem I have is that it brings lots of attention to old and probably already solved questions and pushes newer questions down the stack where.

This practice is, to me, most noticeable done by C4 - Travis, but I have seen others doing this to, and at least I find this kind of annoying because in the last few days I happened to view more older questions than newer ones (maybe I just had bad luck). What is the general policy for this, should old and answered questions be left alone or pushed up to do minor edits on them?

Edit: To clarify this, I don't want to stop people from editing old posts! Old posts are likely to be found via google and thus should be accurate and correct so they can still help other people, so if someone stumbles upon an old answer and sees that the question or one of the answers is horrible wrong, I'm the last to say that an edit isn't encouraged. What bugs me is that some people seem to edit posts to get either badges and/or reputation (it seems like you get +2 rep on approved edits), and those are by no means good or needed edits (at least in my opinion)

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Working on a gold star he is. – Jesse May 7 '12 at 22:21
Changing Phython (44 occurences) to Python should not bump a question imho, so I'll give you a temporary upvote for this question. Not really sure if 'bumping' the question always occurs, so I'm curious what the experts come up with. – ChristopheD May 7 '12 at 22:22
@ChristopheD - editing always bumps. – ChrisF May 7 '12 at 22:23
@ChrisF: thanks for the quick clarification. I'll keep my upvote on this question then. In my opinion really minor edits (like correcting spelling mistakes) shouldn't bump a question, although I realize it's probably hard to implement this effectively without unwanted side-effects. – ChristopheD May 7 '12 at 22:29
@ChristopheD - the idea of minor edits not bumping has come up and always stumbles on the definition of "minor". Simple character counting can't work as a one character change to code could mean a correct answer becomes an incorrect one (slight exaggeration there, but you get my meaning). – ChrisF May 7 '12 at 22:32
Closely related:… and sort of a follow-up:… – Josh Caswell May 7 '12 at 23:01
Not that this is an actual solution for the "active" tab, but you do know about the "latest" or "newest" tabs on the frontpage, right? Just making sure you know that you can skip to the newest questions if you really want to... – jmort253 May 8 '12 at 0:30
@jmort253 Yup, but I like the feature of seeing most questions related to my favorite tags, which doesn't really work for the newest question tab. I'm not really interested in questions I can't answer. – JustSid May 8 '12 at 1:03
Makes sense. Just thought I'd check. :) – jmort253 May 8 '12 at 1:06
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Truly minor edits that do nothing important should be discouraged; that's why suggested edits can be rejected with "too minor" as the reason. (What edits qualify here is a separate issue, and I haven't looked at the edits in question. See this for a reasonable guideline.)

If you find someone doing edits that shouldn't be done, I would flag one of their posts for moderator attention and explain the issue. The mods can look at their activity and decide whether they need to be warned about their edits or whatever else.

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Are you hoping to let a moderator decide how that sentence should end? :-p – Cody Gray May 8 '12 at 3:20
@TheEstablishment Lol, thanks. Apparently I got distracted :P – Matthew Read May 8 '12 at 15:56
Hey I enjoyed the choose your own adventure! – user7116 May 8 '12 at 16:00
"too minor" is massively underused as a reject reason. Often I reject a very minor suggested edit (changing one keyword to code formatting or something, missing a load of terrible spelling and grammar and poor titling) and by the time the page reloads, it's been approved. – jrturton May 8 '12 at 16:30

There are badges for making edits to old posts:

So if someone's determined to get the silver version sooner rather than later you'll see this behaviour.

It's not really an issue on Stack Overflow because of the high turnover in new questions. It might be an issue on some of the lower traffic sites.

There are also badges for making edits to any post:

share|improve this answer
And a gold for 500 post edits – Jesse May 7 '12 at 22:23
@Jesse - I added that, though I was addressing the "old post" aspect of the question in particular. – ChrisF May 7 '12 at 22:24
@ChrisF Imho it is an issue because I ran into these edits quite a lot recently. Its not like I'm totally against editing old posts if you stumble by accident/google over them and want to clarify/improve it, what bugs me is that there are users who seem to be actively digging out old posts just to edit them – JustSid May 7 '12 at 22:28
@JustSid - There is a problem with old posts having errors in them -either errors of fact or errors of grammar & spelling. The powers that be decided there needed to be an incentive for people to edit this posts - hence the badges. The presence of badges means that some people will engage in the behaviour specifically to get the badge. What would you do? – ChrisF May 7 '12 at 22:30
@ChrisF Like ChristopheD said, there is no reason why such edits should bump the question. We already have bounties as a way to bump old questions who need attention, a minor edit of grammar or tags shouldn't bring new attention to these questions. – JustSid May 7 '12 at 22:33
@ChristopheD - the presence of badges leads to the increased editing of old posts and, as already mentioned, editing always bumps. – ChrisF May 7 '12 at 22:34
@JustSid - any edit has to bump the question so there's a chance someone else will spot it and correct it if the edit was erroneous. – ChrisF May 7 '12 at 22:35
@ChrisF Good point... Well, than this behavior in general should be discouraged and such edits should be flagable for moderator attention with consequences for excessive abuse. – JustSid May 7 '12 at 22:40
@JustSid - you can always flag a post if you think someone is abusing the system and explain you reasons. – ChrisF May 7 '12 at 22:41
@ChrisF Yes, but wouldn't it make more sense to flag the edits? I mean, you asked me for a solution ;) – JustSid May 7 '12 at 22:42
@JustSid - you can't flag an edit. If it's done by a 2K+ user it just happens. If it's a suggested edit, it can (and probably) should be rejected as "too minor" - but that assumes you have access to the pending edit queue. – ChrisF May 7 '12 at 22:44
@ChrisF My bad example user only suggested edits and they all got approved, so it doesn't seem to be a good solution. – JustSid May 7 '12 at 22:49
@JustSid I've been slowly digging through UX's posts with non-imgur links to fix hotlinks (which could break and permanently reduce the quality of the post) so there are some valid reasons to be doing this. – Ben Brocka May 8 '12 at 13:21
@BenBrocka While this might be considered a minor edit, it brings value to the post. What annoys me are the minor edits without, or, very small value. If he would try to get his gold badge by fixing broken links or saving pictures from extinction, I would have nothing against it. – JustSid May 8 '12 at 17:59

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