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I just realise that people still can edit questions after it has been answered. I think it makes no sense.

Take a usual forum / board for example. Most of the large forums forbid to edit even your own post after few minutes.

Simply because people want to know in what context other replies were made exactly.

This site has information which is even more sensitive. The answers must be technically precise.

However it is easily possible to edit question to be something completely different (maliciously or by accident through several changes from different users).

In prospective of time this will lead to broken answers. Old game of chinese whispers basically.

Here the example (imaginery chain of edits made in different time by different people reading it differently):

"Did you hear that Isaac won 2 millions in lottery"
"Isaac won large amount of money in gambling"
"A person got lucky in horse betting"
"Dirty money for dirty people"
"Unidentified subject shot in dark alley. Mafia at suspect"

I do understand that if you lose articles or mistype words it looks bad. However this must be done during the question has been answered. If the answerer was OK with the text then we should keep it frozen once the OP marked it as Answered.

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I also think that anonymous downvote must take -10 points. If you have to say something then say it. –  Boppity Bop Jun 16 '12 at 19:53
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Downvotes on Meta don't (necessarily) mean you have a bad question - it means people disagree with you. –  minitech Jun 16 '12 at 20:01
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Questions are often edited to provide more information as requested in comments, or perhaps clarifications. I would be really loathe to remove that ability. –  Jon Skeet Jun 16 '12 at 20:06
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If you insist, I will explain my downvote. Questions should never be edited in a way that fundamentally changes the question. Ever. This is the case both before and after the question has an accepted answer. I, for one, am completely in support of community editing. It maintains the quality of this site at a level which I have never seen in a "usual forum / board". –  gobernador Jun 16 '12 at 20:08
    
@gobernador that what I thought exactly - you didnt get my point at all but yet press downvote and move on... you say "Questions should never be edited in a way that fundamentally changes the question". I say the SAME! –  Boppity Bop Jun 17 '12 at 11:07
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@Bobb: Yes, and you propose a terrible solution to it. That's the part people disagree with. –  minitech Jun 17 '12 at 13:25
    
@minitech I don't know if I even disagree with the solution so much as the fact that it's a "problem". The OP always has complete control over his post, and the community has a responsibility to maintain our high level of quality, whether the question has been answered or not, it makes no difference. –  gobernador Jun 17 '12 at 15:36
    
@Bobb By the way, your proposition invalidates the Archaeologist Badge –  gobernador Jun 17 '12 at 15:40

4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Right now we have two and a half ways to catch this problem:

  • The OP is notified of changes and could notice the cumulative effect
  • If the attacker does not have full edit privileges each and every edit is subjected to review
  • Edited posts bump a question to the front of the active queue where someone might wonder about the edit and check the revision history

A less intrusive way to address the risk identified here — if it needs addressing1 — would be to add an "edits to long dormant posts" list to either the 10k tools or the review page.

That would gives us a third channel for noticing the attack.


1 This means "Links or it didn't happen", BTW.

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I would love to see "edits to long dormant posts" feature. –  Boppity Bop Jun 17 '12 at 9:13

Questions and answers are and should always be edited, this gives the community the possibility to update their contents and improve the information provided.

A fail-safe exists to prevent misleading edits:

enter image description here

Every edit even years later generates a notification to the owner (at least I receive them).

The notification informs about the edit that was made and provides a link to the edited question. This should be more than enough to alert the owner, thus taking appropriate action if deemed necessary:

  • rollback the edit
  • flag the edit to moderator ♦ attention

Frozen answers / questions are not a good way to involve the community to work towards the greater good.

For completeness, editing 'bumps' the question to the front page, thus ensuring peer review for status and updates.

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Just a note: The notifications to the owner about an edit are new, just implemented about a month ago. You should also mention that editing a post bumps it to the front page so others will see that there is new activity on the question. –  animuson Jun 16 '12 at 20:49
    
@animuson, tks for the support! Just edited the answer. –  Zuul Jun 16 '12 at 22:39

I don't think this is a good idea. Although questions absolutely should not have their entire purpose changed after they have already been answered, keeping something frozen also means a question can't be improved - even for minor but still important things, like grammar.

If you see someone changing a question, flag it and it will be reverted. Of course, for stubborn people who keep doing this, moderators do have the ability to lock the question from being edited until they get the message.

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You all are looking at my question here in propspective of few days while it is hot. once it answered it goes down and lost from the mainstream attention. However Google search will still show it as a valid question.. Also the other point is "should not have their entire purpose changed" - cannot be detected if there were many changes other a long period of time - all are incremental –  Boppity Bop Jun 16 '12 at 19:58
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@Bobb: Yet they can be detected, and indeed they are. And if they're incremental, they're probably not invalid edits that change the meaning of the question. Can you point out one example of this? –  minitech Jun 16 '12 at 20:00
    
"And if they're incremental, they're probably not invalid" - exactly... if 10% error is acceptable margin on a value of 1. then 0.9 is valid right. then 0.81 is valid on second change. then it can be 0.729... I think you got the picture –  Boppity Bop Jun 16 '12 at 20:04
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@Bobb: You can't measure the intent of a question with numbers, I'm afraid. (And no, 10% is absolutely not an acceptable margin of error to have in an edit either.) Anyway, an actual example of an "incremental edit problem" would really help to make your point. –  minitech Jun 16 '12 at 20:06

Editing the question in a way that invalidates answers or changes the meaning of the question is strongly discouraged. It is allowed for questions that would otherwise be closed, but generally such disruptive edits will be quickly rolled back by other users.

SE is giving the users a lot of power here, but this is held in check by the community. Destructive edits will be rolled back and users that continue to edit in bad faith will be suspended.

I see no need for any further restriction of the editing power.

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No but my point is that it is very possible that the question be edited over a long period of time when nobody really monitor that because OP long forgot about it because it was answered... and in say a year time the question will be completely different and OP who really knew what it was about will not know..... The problem is however is that other people will trust the marked answer and think it answers the question (which was changed completely). –  Boppity Bop Jun 16 '12 at 19:56
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Do you have some hard evidence that something like this has happened? Edits bump a question to the front page to ensure peer review. –  Mad Scientist Jun 16 '12 at 19:57
    
Yes. for example I had question few days ago which refers to Func (name of class in C#). someone edited it to a sentence (something like "function I created"). I did look just by chance because I do not read my own question especially days after I marked it answered. Now imagine that someone else in a month will change function to subroutine and then to paradigm and then to fearless creature of Mars. god knows. –  Boppity Bop Jun 16 '12 at 20:01
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Edits also notifier the owner of the post, which means that it the original user is at all active on the site they will notice cumulative changes eventually. By itself that wouldn't be enough, but combined with the bump on the active queue we have two means to detect promlematic changes. –  dmckee Jun 16 '12 at 20:24

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