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When I see users edit their questions they often do this:

Question as before

Edit
new information

In my opinion this obfuscates the question because it is now two things patched together instead of one unified question. When I read the question I cannot truly understand the question until I have read all of the edits as well.

The whole point of being able to edit is to modify the text, not only append to it

The word "hello" is removed automatically from the start of questions.

Can "Edit" be similarly "errorized"?

It could be highlighted when using "Edit" that new information can be merged with the existing text instead.

It might take longer to edit, but hopefully this would make the question easier to read and improve the quality of questions.

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marked as duplicate by Ben Brocka, Rory, Lucifer, psubsee2003, Doorknob 冰 Apr 19 '13 at 13:14

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

2  
Related. –  Dukeling Apr 18 '13 at 10:31
    
While you are talking about questions, "Edit" could be useful in answers sometimes –  Antony Apr 18 '13 at 10:35
    
thanks @Dukeling. At first I figured it was a duplicate, but it seems only to ask if it's Ok. I wonder if any action could be taken in order to discourage it –  Default Apr 18 '13 at 10:36
    
@Antony not really, because his old answer is obsolete. Thus it would have no meaning. If I read his answer I'll start reading the old information! If I read the two first paragraphs I'll be misguided. As I said, I have to read the complete post in order to find a solution. –  Default Apr 18 '13 at 10:38
    
I don't see anything wrong with it so long as it is not overused e.g. edit1, edit2, edit3... and so on. If someone that is trying to assist you comes back to the question, having the word edit or update stands out helps them notice the change. –  Ren Apr 18 '13 at 10:50
    
Just make a habit of checking whether there's an edit at the bottom first? –  Dukeling Apr 18 '13 at 11:02
    
@Dukeling not everyone makes edits to the bottom. Some people add it to the top and others add it in the middle of the post. –  Ren Apr 18 '13 at 11:28
    
I'll add my comment to Dukeling here as well: @Ren When I code I don't do Method and then if I want to change it MethodWithEdit and later CallThisInsteadSinceItsMethodWithEditAndSecondEdit. I modify the Method. Why not use that analogy when editing posts? As a future reader I'm not interested in what was in the "first" Method. I am however interested in the updated and patched version. –  Default Apr 18 '13 at 11:36
    
@Ren Also, according to me, questions aren't so much for returning users, as it is a library for future users. Another coding analogy - When I code I strive for maintainability so that future readers of my code can understand it. Same goes for comments and what not. It's not so much for the ones who are currently editing it. –  Default Apr 18 '13 at 11:41
    
@Default If there are already answers on a question based on the earlier method, these would just look plain wrong like the user ignored the question if the fact that an edit to the method was not highlighted. –  Ren Apr 18 '13 at 12:12
    
@Ren then that should probably be another question.. If I add Edit with a new question, the answers will still be wrong. –  Default Apr 18 '13 at 12:13
    
@Ren Edits at the top are no problem, edits in the middle are rare at best. Though sometimes edits (at the bottom) are so long (and/or have formatting) that they're no longer easy to spot or the posts are so long that scrolling to the bottom takes a while. Anyway, it wasn't a cure-all, just a suggestion to reduce the need for all this. –  Dukeling Apr 18 '13 at 12:20
    
@Dukeling agreed on the edits at the bottom of long posts. Default - it probably should but a lot of users simply edit their existing post when it hasn't received a lot of attention. In these cases, the users that were working on an answer, or already viewed the question to come back to and answer later etc. would benefit from having the edit highlighted. That's my 2 cents at least anyway. –  Ren Apr 18 '13 at 12:24
    
@Ren And I thank you for your feedback, even though I don't agree with it :) However, this is the reason I asked the question in the first place, to get input on it. –  Default Apr 18 '13 at 12:32
    
Not sure why this was closed as a duplicate, I am asking if we can take action the "duplicate" asks if it is correct or not. The "duplicate" does not answer the question if the word edit could be prohibited when editing. –  Default Apr 22 '13 at 11:11

2 Answers 2

With respect to the edit suffix.

Advantages:

  • It doesn't completely nullify (parts of) comments / answers that may still be useful, or cause undeserved down-votes because of answering a question that's no longer asked, but still being a good answer to the original question (though this kind of change is only acceptable to a minor extent in any way) (which could happen if you rewrite the post).

    It more than rarely happens for (mostly new) users to modify their questions to address completely a different issue, which resulted from applying the fixes specified in the answers. While this practice should probably be forbidden, while it isn't, it probably makes sense to add an edit suffix rather than getting rid of the original question and thus invalidating applicable answers.

  • It shows a sequential flow of what happened (to some extent). Sometimes this is significant, sometimes this is rather pointless information. There may be comments / answers and then edits made in response to these.

    For this, it might be a good idea for a moderator who sees this, under certain circumstances, to change the post and delete the comments which were replied to via edit (or the poster can flag the comments as obsolete, but these flags may get declined).

  • People who have already read your post are able to instantly tell what you changed.

    You can look at the revision history, but there are often cases where you make changes that aren't particularly easy to diff, and the edit summary is not exactly sufficient to explain all changes sometimes.

  • It's easier to know something (significant) has been changed. Quite often, edits are just tiny fixes that doesn't really add much for someone who's already read the post. Looking at the revision history for each of these seems like overkill.

  • It's less effort for the editor.

Disadvantages:

  • The post is a probably bit longer.

  • The post might be a bit less logically organized.

  • You may read the entire post before coming to an edit which invalidates a lot of it (in this case an edit suffix should probably not be used).

In my opinion:

Pointless:

EDIT: Fixed syntax error

or (arguably?)

EDIT: Changed various things

Acceptable:

An edit long after the post (except for updating broken links, fixing syntax errors, etc). Not sure how long "long" is.

Something that may actually just be additional information.

Fundamental question changes (as above) (whether or not they should be allowed is a different story).

EDIT: It may be faster to use merge-sort rather than insertion-sort as I did above.

("EDIT:" is probably not required above, but under certain circumstances...)

or

UPDATE: As of MyOracleServerSQLFirebirdAccessLite version 487954.22, this has been fixed.

Under certain circumstances, a (temporary) "Edited" comment may be a better idea (specifically in response to someone's comment noting an error or similar).

Sometimes it's applicable to put the "EDIT" or "UPDATE" at the top of the post, which instantly shows the change as you start reading.

All-in-all:

There are good points and bad points. The edit suffix should definitely not be blindly applied to all edits one does, but it does appear to have its place.

Except for fundamental question changes and updates like the one shown above, it's probably better to incorporate the edit into the post rather than using "EDIT", but I'll probably keep doing it occasionally until functionality is implemented to prevent it.

EDIT: I changed some stuff, can you find them, or do you need to look at the revision history?

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When I code I don't do Method and then if I want to change it MethodWithEdit and later CallThisInsteadSinceItsMethodWithEditAndSecondEdit. I modify the Method. Why not use that analogy when editing posts? As a future reader I'm not interested in what was in the "first" Method. I am however interested in the updated and patched version. –  Default Apr 18 '13 at 11:30
    
@Default I would not say a coding analogy is too applicable here, but, in practice, the following reasonably often happens: 1) Code gets added to replace old code and the old code simply gets commented out (may happen for various reasons, some good, some bad, but it still hapens) 2) A new method gets added to do things a different way. The old method, even if unused, may remain. These sound similar to the edit suffix to me. –  Dukeling Apr 18 '13 at 11:41

I strongly dislike edits that introduce the word "edit" or "update" in questions or answers.

For changelogs there's a perfectly good comment and history to go with every edit. The goal is to have one question and its answers. It doesn't really matter if the wording was clarified or the answer expanded at some point, what matters is that the current state is coherent and as you would write it naturally if there never was an edit.

If people are going around making large changes to questions that's a bigger problem than randomly writing edit can ever solve (no matter how bold you make the text). At worst if something was ambiguous and subsequently clarified comments give an ephemeral notification and explain what's going on and what needs fixing.

There are cases where you might well end up including text that hints at the fact an edit has occurred, e.g.:

Since version x.y (released dd/mm/yy) there's a much cleaner, all signing all dancing method for frobination:

bar(frobinator);

For older versions (proir to x.y) frobination can be achieved by stringing together a bunch of foos:

foo(foo(foo()));

Given all the drawbacks of this it's well worth upgrading if you have the choice.

It's highly likely that the second method was added via an edit, but the the text that conveys that is pure information - there's no fluff, it all tells you more than the "this post was edited" box. It doesn't really matter if that edit was added by the person who answered when they discovered the neater way or at the request of the OP who added a comment/edit about the specific version they're using.

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In your opinion, what would have been the best way to introduce this edit? –  Ren Apr 18 '13 at 15:14
1  
@Ren That should probably be posted as an answer, not as an edit to the question. –  Servy Apr 18 '13 at 15:16
    
@Servy but it doesn't make an attempt at answering the question. Just mentions that the update was submitted the third time. The question is why did the first two times fail with no error information displayed and with the process flow being the same as that for a successful edit submission. –  Ren Apr 18 '13 at 15:17
    
@Ren Then make that the question, as if it were the question right from the start, "Why did this fail the first two times I tried it, and then work on the third attempt?" There's no reason to make the question be, "Why does this always fail?" with an edit saying you successfully edited it eventually. –  Servy Apr 18 '13 at 15:18
    
@Servy I see your point, thanks. –  Ren Apr 18 '13 at 15:20
3  
@ren I would have worded that in organically so that your bug report is written as though you wrote it after the third attempt and not after the second. The current state is what matters, not the state as it was when you posted and not the fact that you've continued infestigating since posting . If there had been more activity a comment might have been useful to poke anyone who'd said "no repro " –  Flexo Apr 18 '13 at 15:23
    
I've updated it now. Will keep this in mind for future edits although I still think that these can be useful for highlighting changes in questions where answers are coming thick and fast although I don't see why they couldn't be removed and have the edit incorporated organically at a later stage when things have calmed down. –  Ren Apr 18 '13 at 15:27

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