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Spending some time today reviewing suggested edits, I noticed a single user who made a significant number of tag wiki edits. A simple Google search revealed that each tag wiki edit introduced copy-pasted content for that wiki (often taken from the website associated to the technology), and (in my eyes) no proper attribution.

I rejected the few edits put before me accordingly. On inspection of the suggested edits however, I noticed that most of them were finally accepted. This happened a fair number of times, with me assuming that I saw a problem others missed. Ultimately Robert Harvey judged that I misjudged this particular case. Fair enough. Mea culpa.

But say I would have been right. Should I notice a string of (in my eyes) problematic edits getting through review, is there anything that I can do about this? I flagged for moderator attention at the time, but that might take a while to be noticed and in all fairness will probably not achieve a whole lot.

Is that however all I can do? Should I merely hope for the best? Is there any way in which we could pull an emergency brake of sorts, to sort out whether or not we have a problem on our hands that needs to be addressed before the potential clean-up needed becomes too big? Not to blame the editor (after all, I might be wrong in my judgement) but just to clarify/arbitrate the situation.

I'm not arguing here that the new review system is hopelessly broken. Nor do I see all hell breaking loose. I merely attempt to assess what can/should be done in the (possibly unlikely, but not impossible) scenario that I notice a real problem which might not be perceived by the other (otherwise fair) reviewers.

I voted to close this as "too localized" myself. Ultimately my premise appears to have been flawed. I don't see a way to edit this in a more general shape. Any of the sub-issues under discussion in the comments might be better off with question/request of their own.

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closed as too localized by Bart, Robert Harvey Oct 28 '12 at 21:26

This question is unlikely to help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet. For help making this question more broadly applicable, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

We had this problem on SU once. We (as the community back then) never figured out how to handle this other than trying to leave them a comment on one of the edited posts, drag the user to chat and make them stop. – slhck Oct 28 '12 at 20:05
Probably should create a posse chatroom to kill bad edits before some morons approve it. I know I'd hang out there when I have some time... – Lorem Ipsum Oct 28 '12 at 20:06
@slhck Was this discussed on the SU Meta? Perhaps you have a link to that? Don't know if that discussion could be useful input here. – Bart Oct 28 '12 at 20:06
At the moment I can't find anything where we discussed with the users themselves or a meta topic. However, I once invited a user who approved such Wikipedia edits to a chatroom, turns out they weren't aware of being able to check the editor stats. Or, those stats weren't as revealing as they should be. Plus, the short discussion we had here. That was well before the review system and the required number of reviewers though. – slhck Oct 28 '12 at 20:14
The irony of reviewing those edits, is that if you take time to investigate, the edit is often approved by trigger happy badge hunters... I'm not entirely cynical yet, but it is not that far away. – Toon Krijthe Oct 28 '12 at 20:24
I would be in favor of putting something into the system that gave badge hunters a timeout on their approval button... I would imagine such a thing would be easy enough to figure out; a badge hunter should get a higher than average number of dissenting votes from other reviewers. – Robert Harvey Oct 28 '12 at 20:55
The "attribution required" rule is specific to SE sites due to the cc-wiki license. It does not retroactively apply to content on all other web sites. They have their own rules and there's long standing policy that we don't police that. They can complain if they want to. Or just simply edit. – Uphill Luge Oct 28 '12 at 20:55
@UphillLuge: We do require attribution for material from Wikipedia (more or less), but the community seems to frown on Wikipedia copypasta anyway. – Robert Harvey Oct 28 '12 at 20:57
@UphillLuge So you're saying that the general assumption is that copy-pasting ad verbatim content from other sources, and essentially re-licensing it under a CC-wiki license is fair game unless a complaint is received? Just trying to get that situation clear here. – Bart Oct 28 '12 at 21:00
Erm, wait, you stated that you rejected the edit due to missing attribution. That's not a requirement unless the site's license requires it. Does it? – Uphill Luge Oct 28 '12 at 21:08
@UphillLuge: See the examples in my answer. I didn't look at any of these websites' terms of service, but seriously, do you think any of them are going to care that we lifted a bit of text from their site to plug their product in our tag wiki? – Robert Harvey Oct 28 '12 at 21:10
I certainly do not. I expect this to fall under the "fair use" clause of the copyright act. Where's a lawyer when you need one? – Uphill Luge Oct 28 '12 at 21:11
up vote -1 down vote accepted

OK, well, this suggested edit on the fftpack tag wiki (which you rejected, but others approved) does in fact, already have attribution. Perhaps you missed it because it's hidden in a link over the first word in the text.

The Thinkup Tag Wiki also had attribution, another edit which you also rejected, but others approved. I rolled it back to the correct version after someone suggested an edit removing the content.

Same with this one, and this one.

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Ah, damn. I missed that indeed. So I'm absolutely wrong in this case. Fair enough. But still, my question was more general (as I stated). Do you have any suggestions for the general case? – Bart Oct 28 '12 at 20:33
I don't agree with your assessment on the now deleted answer that this is dead as a doornail. If you think it's better, I can take out the mention of this particular case. I already did not link to any of it on purpose. But I think the general issue is worth discussing. – Bart Oct 28 '12 at 20:35
I'm not convinced that there is a general case, unless you can point to specific instances of people gaming badges. I'm a moderator, so I get to see each and ever flag that comes through the queue (when I'm moderating, anyway). The number of aberrant flags in the review queue relative to the total number of flags is quite small (on the order of a few percent), but if there are a few people consistently marking things wrong to get badges, I would like to know about that. – Robert Harvey Oct 28 '12 at 20:35
Okay, if you from your expertise feel that there is no general case (and I certainly don't have the data to back it up) then I guess I'll end it here. No point in discussing a non-issue I guess. – Bart Oct 28 '12 at 20:36
You can feel free to discuss it, and I'm not trying to be heavy-handed here, I'm simply saying that I see a lot of grumbling about how the suggested edits queue is broken, I do see people sometimes making bad choices in the queue, but I just don't see evidence that the sky is falling, like some people have claimed. What I do see is folks focusing on a few bad suggested edits as evidence the queue is broken. SE is actively trying to make the queues better; notice that you now need more votes to approve a suggested edit if there are dissenting votes. – Robert Harvey Oct 28 '12 at 20:39
Oh, don't get me wrong. This is not a "the sky is falling" scenario. This is not even a "happens all the time" issue. See it as a "in the unlikely event that", what can be done? I honestly thought that I saw something problematic happening time and time again, which went unnoticed, and I had no means to do anything about it. – Bart Oct 28 '12 at 20:41
None of your four examples have any attribution. A link does not an attribution make. An attribution requires wording like “text taken from …”. That said, copying the official description of a project is probably ok in terms of copyright and plagiarism, because that's what it's for. On the other hand, official descriptions are often more ad copy than helpful, which is a reason to reject them. Those you cite aren't too bad though. – Gilles Oct 28 '12 at 21:22

I think if someone rejects an edit as plagiarism, all future reviewers should see a big fat notice at the top saying "Another user flagged this edit as plagiarism." A lot of people just plain aren't aware, and with the new review system, you don't even know someone else has voted to reject the edit unless you push that Reject button. If they don't know someone found it to be plagiarism and don't take the time to look themselves, they'd have no reason to check there by clicking that button.

That was one of the main things I loved about the previous system. It told you how many pending votes there were for each of the two actions. Knowing that someone else voted to Reject an edit is a very important piece of information when reviewing them. Why did they hide that? It seems that others rejecting should be right there for everyone to see, similar to the close votes queue.

This is like sending a group of detectives out to investigate a murder, but only allowing them to collaborate if they happen to suspect the same person for said murder. You'd end up with a lot of guilty people walking free.

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I think the mod flags should remain anonymous. Normal users don't get to see how others have mod-flagged a post under normal conditions (unless they have 10K reputation), so I don't see why we should surface that information in the review queues. – Robert Harvey Oct 28 '12 at 20:51
@RobertHarvey Is there something to be said for a plagiarism queue perhaps? Where a post can end up, with evidence (for example the links I visited) and then be assessed by other (high-rep) users? You could still "conditionally accept" the edit based on the original votes. Or do you think this is such a non-issue that it's not worth the effort? – Bart Oct 28 '12 at 21:03
I don't think it's any larger an issue than any other issue we've had with the review queues. – Robert Harvey Oct 28 '12 at 21:08
@RobertHarvey: I'm not saying reveal actual flags. But someone rejecting it for plagiarism is already 100% public information. You can see it on their profile and on the edit itself once it's been approved or rejected. By clicking the Reject button, you can see the number of votes for each different type. I'm not even saying you have to display who cast the reject votes, just that those votes should be displayed for others to see, without having to push a button first. – animuson Oct 28 '12 at 21:10

I don't think that your worries about abuse are valid if it's shaped correctly. I had envisaged this as a stop, on all edit approvals for a specific user's edits while a problem gets investigated. Something akin to a moderator flag. They could then get mass declined if necessary. Unless there is a problem there would be no negative consequences for the editor; it would have to be reputation limited with stern warnings for anyone who uses it without a valid reason.

However, with the current system I would have thought that this was nigh on impossible to implement without throwing a massive spanner in the works of the edit system. I am also uncomfortable, as you state, with a single reviewer being able to override multiple approvers so I don't really see a viable way of implementing the idea.

What might be useful is a count of the number of unapproved edits for each user and maybe an indication of the velocity of their editing (along with a link to the relevant part of the user page). This might make it easier for a responsible user - yourself for instance :-) - to catch potential problems earlier and flag a post for moderator attention.

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the temporary "stop on all edit approvals" is indeed what I was thinking off. My apologies if my comment confused that notion. – Bart Oct 28 '12 at 20:38
You can insta-approve an edit by improving it. You can't insta-reject unless you make another edit. This is especially troublesome for new tag wikis, when the proposed text is terrible or illegal but you don't have the time or knowledge to propose something decent. – Gilles Oct 28 '12 at 21:24
One of the big problems with the tag wiki's, IMO, @Gilles, is the fact that you can't edit a suggestion... – ben is uǝq backwards Oct 28 '12 at 21:28
@Ben You can edit a suggestion if you could edit the post directly without supervision. For questions and answers, the threshold is the same as for reviewing, but for tag wikis, you can review as soon as you have 5k rep but you can only edit unsupervise (and therefore improve) at 20k rep. – Gilles Oct 28 '12 at 21:35

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