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I am ashamed. My Meta rep has recently surpassed my SO rep. Even putting a (relevant!) Shakespeare quote into an answer on SO couldn't do anything about it.

That's why I looked for one of my old Meta questions to put a bounty on; I chose this one.

I will give the bounty to the best idea/solution (my choice) offered to solve the problem raised in this question. Humor is encouraged, but I'm still looking for a real suggestion. Mock-up screenshots would be nice; freehand circles will be well-received.

The second best will receive a 1024x1024 hi-res version of their unicorn avatar.

PS: I'm not making this CW so all answerers can still get rep. I don't expect 50 upvotes on this question anyway.

Original question:

I just edited this question to clarify, or basically, make it readable. Shortly after I was done editing, the original question was there again.

The asker had made a change to their question, and this edit was based on the first revision (probably because they hit "edit" before I had saved my update). Because the question was very much unreadable, it was hard to see what the change was exactly. The automatically generated edit log message stated "deleted 3 characters in body", but it was hard to see what exactly those three characters were.

So I viewed both sources, saved them to text files, and did a diff locally. Turns out they had just removed a newline and turned "???" into "??" in one case. So I new I could roll back to my clarified edit without losing anything important that the asker might have changed.

I can't imagine this to be an uncommon problem.

It would be nice if it were possible to

  • either see the difference between two user-chosen revisions in the edit history,
  • or at least see the diff between a revision R and the revision that R was based on.
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I'm very close to my SO rep also... –  jmfsg Feb 19 '10 at 18:09
You don't know anything about having your Meta rep outweighing other rep. –  random Feb 20 '10 at 0:41
+1 for using reverse psychology to get me to upvote you. –  Alconja Feb 22 '10 at 23:03
+1 for using reverse psychology to get me to upvote you. x2 –  Matt Feb 26 '10 at 12:48
Related: Preventing conflicting simultaneous edits –  Gnome May 30 '10 at 7:26
+1, I've seen this, too, several times. BTW, where can I find the Shakespeare citation? ;) –  Marcel Korpel Aug 6 '10 at 10:00
@Marcel stackoverflow.com/questions/2239516/… -- it's deleted, though (the question was a dupe), so you'd need 10k rep to see it. –  balpha Nov 28 '10 at 11:00
(Something just crossed my mind: how to find and upvote all great ideas balpha had before June 2010? ;-)) –  Arjan Oct 2 '11 at 16:19
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3 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

I agree with Jon in that it might not be the most frequently used feature but the usefulness when it is needed could be big.

Was just thinking about this again and I thought a UI where you could check a couple of boxes and send those two revisions to the diff engine could do it, similar to a commerce site's "compare these products" UI.

Diff Revisions Selector

Then there could be a new view that would show just those 2 revs side by side, with the changes to the most recent rev highlighted like in the existing rev view.

Diff Revisions View

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Nice! The "check two revisions to compare" is pretty much how Wikipedia does it. But I hadn't even thought about how to present the revision diff -- I like the idea. So here's the lineup: +1 for mockups, -1 for Comic Sans, +1 for FH circles, -1 for stealing from Wikipedia, +1 for the presentation idea, -1 for bounty whoring, +1 for stealing from wikipedia, -1 for Comic Sans, +1 for bounty whoring. Total: +1 –  balpha Feb 22 '10 at 19:33
@balpha This is the ultimate bounty whoring question :) I actually just felt bad for putting that lame (now deleted) jQuery joke in... Now off to reset Balsamiq away from the evil Comic Sans. –  squillman Feb 22 '10 at 19:44
+1 for imagining a world where you have 568k rep, -1 more for Comic Sans, +1 for imagining a world where Skeet's rep no longer fits in whatever container rep is stored in (which is probably consistent with the first imagined world). –  quack quixote Feb 25 '10 at 12:31
+1 Hand-drawn... rectangles? <head asplode> –  Jon Seigel Feb 25 '10 at 13:53
@Jon Seigel - Balsamiq Mockups. I'm not that OCD. –  squillman Feb 25 '10 at 14:41
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Nice idea. I suspect it's more of a pain in terms of designing a UI that doesn't get in the way when you don't need it (i.e. most of the time) than in terms of the diff... clearly all the information is already available in the database, and the diff engine is there.

I can only think of a handful of times I'd have wanted this, but in those cases it would have been very useful. Of course, the next step is to do a guided "merge changes" operation...

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Agree on the difficulty of the UI implementation. Maybe two different sort orders (by revision number, and a tree-like structure using revision parent/child relationships)? BTW, I don't even know if the parent revision of an edit is actually stored in the DB. –  balpha Aug 20 '09 at 9:48
I'd just allow arbitrary diffing - usually it'll be obvious (to a human) what you want to diff against. –  Jon Skeet Aug 20 '09 at 10:34
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If you receive 55 upvotes, would you do the same on another question and so on and so forth, generating a rep inflation no man has ever seen before, in some kind of perpetual motion machine (understanding by motion an 'exponential growing of reputation') crashing the system?

That would be so cool.

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I doubt I'll come up with enough questions to do that with for creating a singularity. –  balpha Feb 19 '10 at 18:01
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