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I get so frustrated when I am working with suggested edits and I pour a lot of time into an edit only to have the "more substantive edit" thing popup when I try to submit. Ok, so I will naively accept that the system's algorithm is perfect in determining which edit is better, but there are times when I put in the few minutes to read the entire post and correct entire post only to have the effort wasted.

Is it possible to have like a 5 minute window or something that when I start editing the post no one else can edit it? If I take more than 5 minutes, then I timeout and the rest of the SO community can then have at the post.

The other alternative of course is to automagically blend multiple edits into a single edit, but that seems like the harder solution and prone to errors.

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Or at very least a warning that "X other users are editing this post" so I know not to bother writing an edit until I see what the other editor(s) change? –  Rachel Apr 3 '13 at 14:33
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Why don't you have this tagged feature-request? –  ɥʇǝS Apr 3 '13 at 14:43
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@Rachel - I love that idea. If X is too high, I could move on. –  demongolem Apr 3 '13 at 14:52
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@Seth Because sometimes feature-request posts get downvoted to -10, -20, and even farther :) –  demongolem Apr 3 '13 at 14:53
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@demongolem Trying to disguise what is essentially a feature request as a discussion isn't going to prevent that from happening if there's disagreement with the general point, though. –  Anthony Grist Apr 3 '13 at 14:59
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I see this post as a discussion about a blocking edit option, not a feature request. It's usually wise to discuss an idea with the community to see if others share your opinion before making it an official feature request for it. Discussion = Asking the community. Feature-Request = Asking Stack Exchange. –  Rachel Apr 3 '13 at 15:07
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I like both the idea to see how many others are editing a given post/comment/answer, AND the system's ability to merge edits. It gives people options to make an edit if they choose, step away or wait if they see that multiple others are currently editing something, but also doesn't lose any concurrent edits. –  Leigh Apr 3 '13 at 15:28
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Whenever I see the pop-up, I simply copy the whole answer before submitting. If the submit succeeds, good. If not, I edit again and paste it in. That's of course assuming it's needed. –  Second Rikudo Apr 3 '13 at 15:46
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3 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I am in favor of a counter which shows how many users are editing a post at a given time. If I saw 2 users are editing this post, I would probably move on, or wait until I saw what their edits were.

This is informative, and allows the users to change their own behavior. However, it doesn't change the inherent workflow of SO - it gives users enough information to see what they want to do.

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I am convinced that this works better than my original proposal. It solves my problem: saving me from editing posts needlessly. –  demongolem Apr 3 '13 at 20:45
    
I like this idea; I just asked a similar question on CrossValidated and it was pointed out to me that someone on GIS had the same issue. But I see this is a thread from April.... Has anything been done? –  Peter Flom Oct 19 '13 at 20:04
    
@Peter Not as of yet. –  Emrakul Oct 20 '13 at 4:37
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While it's frustrating to have an edit rejected because somebody else has made another edit that the site considers to be more substantial, I personally feel not being able to edit at all for five minutes while somebody else does so would be even worse. So it's an option to have locking edits, but I'd say that it's a bad one.

There's absolutely no guarantee that the person who has locked the edits will do a good job of editing the question (even if they have 2k+ rep), but they'd still be able to prevent actual worthwhile edits from being made entirely. Personally, unless I'm actively answering it, five minutes is longer than I'm willing to dedicate to any one question - if I can't go in and edit it because somebody else is I'm probably not going to come back to it to check they did a good job later on.

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Instead of blocking, it'd be better if the system automatically merged your changes with the result of the other edit and then showed you the result with your changes and the other changes highlighted. You could then fix conflicts, if any, and save the edit.

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This sounds good in theory, but I think it could create some really ugly messes. –  Andrew's a Unitato Apr 3 '13 at 15:35
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@AndrewBarber It works fine for source code, and prose isn't so much different. You'd always have to review the merged edits, and I think you'd get three choices: accept the merged edits, reject the merge and accept the first edit (throwing away your own), or edit the merged results. –  Caleb Apr 3 '13 at 15:44
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