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What is a 'rollback' on the Stack Exchange sites? I see this mentioned as being necessary to earn the cleanup badge, but I do not understand the term.

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5 Answers 5

up vote 132 down vote accepted

A rollback does a couple of things:

  1. Most importantly, a rollback reverts a question (or answer) back to a previous version in the edit history. The rollback action itself then appears as the most recent item in the edit history.
  2. A rollback clears any offensive flags that have been set on a question.

Here's an example of what an edit history with a number of rollbacks looks like:

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All offensive tags, or just ones set during the current revision? Either way, I see potential to circumvent the offensive mechanism. – Kyle Cronin Oct 29 '08 at 14:09
All offensive flags. But that doesn't happen if you rollback your own question. It happens on a rollback by a user with high enough rep to edit other people's posts. – Mark Biek Oct 29 '08 at 14:11
"Notice that each revision that's not a rollback has a rollback link next to it." How come rev 11 and 14 are rollbacks but do have a rollback link, while 13 is not a rollback and does not have a rollback link? Sorry but I'm confused. – Fabrício Matté Jul 18 '13 at 17:35
@MarkBiek what is the criterion to get access to this feature on others post? – cmbarbu Apr 15 at 18:21

I have edited your question. There is now a "rollback" option which you can press to revert the changes I made back to the original. That is the meaning of the term "rollback" as it is used on Stack Overflow and sister sites.

If you want to leave a comment with the rollback, then click the date next to "edited" to show the revision history, and next use the "edit" link of a specific old revision instead. Then, when not changing anything but simply only typing a comment in the "Edit Summary", you're also rolling back when saving.

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Once a post has been edited, it could be rolled back by anyone with edit permissions for that post to a previous revision. The rollback button appears on the edit page after an initial edit has been made. Note this excludes edits that do not cause a revision history (edits by the OP made within the 5-minute grace period).

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Note that it looks like it's not enough to edit the post and just select an earlier revision in the dropdown at the top. That will effectively set the content back to what it was earlier, but it doesn't actually count as a rollback - it doesn't count towards the Cleanup badge, and it (presumably) doesn't clear any flags.

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Assuming that you do want to get the badge and you always (very unlikely) ask questions that never need to be edited (and if they are, never need to be rolled back). You can get this badge by editing your post and then rolling back to the first revision and you will get your badge.

jcsanyi's answer isn't correct in saying it's not enough to do that, I've tested it and it is. Although StackExchange probably should implement it to prevent people from doing this just to get the badge.

It just takes a couple of minutes before the badge is given to you (like all the badges). So don't constantly rollback until you get it.

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