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I've been reminded several times that a question on a SE site should be able to help future visitors. Indeed, it's very common for a question to be closed for being too specific.

At the same time, we all know that duplicate questions are of the devil, and should be closed immediately.

Both of these lend themselves to the notion that an answerer should maintain their answers: They should be applicable to as many people as possible, and prevent the need for the question being asked again.

This works great for me, as I'm the type of person who returns to his old questions to tweak and improve them as I learn more. I enjoy having that control, and crafting my answers -- and it's not uncommon for me to tweak minor things like layout and wording.

Unfortunately, I've recently discovered that my passive tweaking bumps the entire question to the top of the active questions list. I've been told that this is done to help the community flag spam, but it also works against the site, because old questions are unnecessarily placed in the active questions list. And I've even found myself being scolded by certain community members for "deliberately bumping posts".

Isn't there a better system that would encourage the maintenance of answers, or at least not discourage it?

Proposal: Could there be a "minor edit" button like Wikipedia has? These minor edits could then be run by admin to ensure they're not spam, but they wouldn't get bumped to the top of the Active Posts list.

Second Proposal: So far the only solution offered here is, "don't edit that way then". That's not very helpful to the site or the community, as you can't expect every user to read this post. A better solution would be to not bump posts if only formatting has changed.

That way there's no danger of spam getting through, it won't annoy users who feel such changes aren't substantial, and most importantly of all; it will free up developer time from those who feel the need to report on such "bumps".

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Not sure why this is getting downvotes. I can only assume people aren't reading the entire question. I love editing posts and am not trying to discourage it at all! –  Django Reinhardt Apr 30 '13 at 14:29
    
You get downvotes because it appears that you are suggesting that edits won't bump the question and people disagree. If that's not your intention you better make it clear somehow. –  Shadow Wizard Apr 30 '13 at 14:31
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I only downvoted after reading all the way to the end where I saw that you don't have any suggestions for a better approach. –  Bill the Lizard Apr 30 '13 at 14:32
    
@ShaWizDowArd Cool. Well that's fine by me. I'm only responding to the complaints I got for making a single edit in three and a half months. –  Django Reinhardt Apr 30 '13 at 14:32
    
@BilltheLizard I wish I had an answer! Again, I'm only responding to the negative feedback I've gotten from other users. –  Django Reinhardt Apr 30 '13 at 14:32
    
You could phrase this whole thing better for example "What is the proper way to make minor edits to my posts?" and this would likely draw less negative attention here. –  Shadow Wizard Apr 30 '13 at 14:36
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I'm sure you mean "free up moderator time"? And is it really all that hard to just stop doing what you've been doing? Is that such an unreasonable request? Just give your post a good look and address all the issues you've missed. If that leads to more than a handful of edits over its lifetime, I would be surprised. –  Bart Apr 30 '13 at 15:24
    
Keep in mind, you keep bringing your question up, and as it currently exists, is extremely non-constructive by SO's standards and is one vote away from getting closed. –  LittleBobbyTables Apr 30 '13 at 15:27
    

2 Answers 2

If people don't want to look through recently edited posts, and only want to see newly posted content, they can use the "newest" tab rather than the "active" tab. If they're using the "active" tab then it means they specifically want to see questions recently bumped in this manner.

To your edit of not bumping format only edits, that is also not an option. It would leave room for people to make invalid or even malicious edits through formatting (i.e. making all of the text small,

really large

, making random sections of text bold, striking through statements that are actually valid, or otherwise being annoying).

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Wow, SO is a manor? :) –  MDeSchaepmeester Apr 30 '13 at 14:23
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@DjangoReinhardt Well, if you're making dozens of edits in a very short period of time it could be frustrating for people looking through recently edited posts for problematic edits. When someone starts doing this like finding some search criteria for some minor problem and ends up editing 100 posts in 5 minutes all to fix the same mis-spelling it can be annoying to look through, especially if there are one or two real problematic edits in that time span as well. When it's just a few posts here or there that you're finding and editing organically it's not a problem at all. –  Servy Apr 30 '13 at 14:26
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@DjangoReinhardt You've only edited it once recently, but looking at the revision history you're opening up the post every few months, and editing something entirely trivial. It looks like you're trying to bump the post to get attention, rather than to actually fix or improve anything, and that you just want more views so that you can get more votes. This is why it's also important to try to ensure that your edits are noticeable improvements, rather than just changing box to italics and then back. –  Servy Apr 30 '13 at 14:32
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@DjangoReinhardt Bump means back on the front page of most users. This means those users will take a look in the edited post and maybe give a vote. When doing just minor changes and on regular basis it indeed looks like you're hunting for those occasional upvotes which will rarely arrive if the post is kept buried. –  Shadow Wizard Apr 30 '13 at 14:34
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@DjangoReinhardt There really is no problem with automatic bumping as long as you keep your edits substantial. If anything, that is what you need to change. –  Bart Apr 30 '13 at 14:37
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@DjangoReinhardt Looking at revisions 14, 15 and 16 of the question you linked, those are unnecessary. (And I would hardly call that debatable, but that might be debatable) You're not editing, you're twiddling. Just don't do that. There is no need to spend developer time on something that is easily solved by some behavioural adjustment. –  Bart Apr 30 '13 at 14:43
    
@DjangoReinhardt Either the edit really is a substantial improvement and it should be bumped, as people should be seeing the changes and having an opportunity to evaluate them, or they're not substantial edits and they shouldn't be made in the first place. By trying to argue both cases you can't win either. –  Servy Apr 30 '13 at 14:44
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Adding italics to an already-bold piece of text is not substantial; it's irritating and looks like Dennis Rodman's autobiography. –  LittleBobbyTables Apr 30 '13 at 14:45
    
@DjangoReinhardt then accept the occasional scolding and your posts being turned into Community Wiki posts. As for readability, yeah, we'll have to agree to disagree. –  Bart Apr 30 '13 at 14:46
    
@DjangoReinhardt You're the one threatening to leave the site because someone politely asked you to change your behavior ever so slightly to be in line with the community's standards. You're threatening to leave because anyone even suggesting that you not be encouraged to do whatever you want (regardless of its affect on anyone else) is unspeakable. And we're the ones being unresonable. Yeah, now I see it. –  Servy Apr 30 '13 at 14:51
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@DjangoReinhardt I didn't say I've been insulted. I'm saying you're being unreasonable and acting like we're doing something wrong when I don't see that anyone here has. Getting all defensive, unconstructive, and combative is what won't be helpful. I've made attempts to constructively inform you of what the community's standards are and what minor changes you'll need to make to be in line with them to avoid any problems in the future. How is that not helpful? –  Servy Apr 30 '13 at 14:55
    
@Servy I've not targeted you or complained about anything you've said. You're responding to this personally and pretending you're representing everyone. Take a step back read what you've written. –  Django Reinhardt Apr 30 '13 at 14:56
    
@Servy Make the text big or small? Make it red? What site are you using? :) –  Django Reinhardt Apr 30 '13 at 15:27
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@Servy I assume that the OP is ticked off by you voting to close his question. –  Bart Apr 30 '13 at 16:13
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@Bart I agree that's a possibility, but I'd like to hear him say it if that's what he really has a problem with. –  Servy Apr 30 '13 at 16:16

Let me respond to your request:

Could there be a "minor edit" button like Wikipedia has? These minor edits could then be run by admin to ensure they're not spam, but they wouldn't get bumped to the top of the Active Posts list.

There really is no need. Minor edits (and having the community evaluate them by bumping) are just fine. That is, if they really change something significant. If you notice you've misspelled something minor and correct it, I don't mind having it bumped up. Heck, if I saw it, I wouldn't hesitate to do the editing and bumping myself.

Continuous minor edits which don't really correct or update something significant (i.e. I prefer this to be bold today, rather than cursive. Heck, what was I thinking, cursive and bold is where it's at), those are problematic and annoying. And the solution to those is simple. Don't make such edits. That is not editing a post. That's twiddling.

With that in mind, there really is no need for a "minor edit" feature. Just keep your edits relevant and you'll be just fine.

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One question: Why is "twiddling" annoying? –  Django Reinhardt Apr 30 '13 at 15:00
    
@DjangoReinhardt because it bumps the post for no reason. –  Richard J. Ross III Apr 30 '13 at 15:02
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Because if you do so time and time again, you are bumping a post which has not significantly changed. There have been no corrections of relevance. Now, you've already indicated you disagree with that, but there is a large group of users who would be less than pleased seeing your use of bold, italics and other style elements (to give them a name). If that is all you want to change, just don't change it. Or at least give your post a good look to see if you can make a more substantial edit. –  Bart Apr 30 '13 at 15:03
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@Bart The question of what constitutes a "substantial" edit is entirely subjective, though. There's no hard rules. The problem here is that posts are being bumped unnecessarily -- and I completely agree with that. They shouldn't be bumped. –  Django Reinhardt Apr 30 '13 at 15:06
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@DjangoReinhardt If there is a general consensus for something that might be subjective, it still carries importance. And I don't think I'm far off when I say that revisions 14, 15 and 16 would not be regarded as substantial by the community. The easiest way to address this, without spending valuable developer time, is to change the way you edit. Which I would think is not all that much to ask. –  Bart Apr 30 '13 at 15:08
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@Bart Again I feel it comes back to one simple thing: It's my answer. I've spent a lot of time writing it. I should be able to do what I want to it. The only reason it's bumped at the moment is because the system is flawed. A simple check that the only change was made to formatting, and not to other content, would solve the problem for everyone. You can't expect everyone to read your suggestion here. Even if I take your advice, someone else won't, and it takes developer time to flag questions that people feel have been "bumped". –  Django Reinhardt Apr 30 '13 at 15:15
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Whether or not that would be simple to implement is not something we should judge, I'd say. That's up to the developers. But even then, and I've said this before, if you feel the need to keep making such edits, you'll have to deal with the occasional comment and the resulting Community Wiki status. As much as you think it's your own question, you are still part of a larger community. You don't have to agree with my answer, and you don't have to change your ways. But if anything, I sure hope you try to do the latter. It's the least effort solution to all problems. –  Bart Apr 30 '13 at 15:19
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@Bart It's the least effort for me, but it's not the best for the community. –  Django Reinhardt Apr 30 '13 at 15:23
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@Bart Your solution isn't the best for the site, no matter how I feel about it. There will always be people making these sorts of edits. You can't expect them all to read this post. –  Django Reinhardt Apr 30 '13 at 15:32
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That's why from the very beginning of a user's participation we require substantial edits. Suggested edits below 6 characters are not allowed. And users are shown the message "We welcome all constructive edits, but please make them substantial. Avoid trivial, tiny one-letter edits unless absolutely necessary.". That, in most cases, suffices. And if it doesn't, a friendly comment will usually do the trick as well. –  Bart Apr 30 '13 at 15:36
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@Bart sometimes even one-letter edit is crucial, and still there's absolutely no way for a newcomer to make such edit. The three revisions that you mention have merit IMHO, esp. the separator lines have great impact on visual appeal and readability of an answer. I'm sure the author would've preferred to make the three of them at once, but we are only human. Can we perhaps agree as a compromise that a user with a substantial rep, say 2500+, can be safely assumed to not make any spam edits, and give him/her an ability to check the "minor edit" tick, so there's no bump? –  Will Ness Apr 30 '13 at 16:38
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@Bart IOW I think to be a perfectionist is not a crime, and if someone is incapable of writing it down in the best way possible on the first attempt, they needn't be punished for that. –  Will Ness Apr 30 '13 at 16:44
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@WillNess No, we cannot assume that a user with 2,500+ rep wouldn't ever make an inappropriate edit, either making a substantial (but otherwise inappropriate) edit and checking the box to not bump it, or just generally checking it inappropriately. If the one letter edit really is crucial, then it's not a problem; they're free to make the edit. Even if a character looks small, if it really is important, then they aren't doing anything wrong. Adding italics to something already bold though...that's just simply not important... –  Servy Apr 30 '13 at 17:31
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@Bart there's a contradiction here. The guy says he doesn't want to bump his posts, asks for a facility to not bump his posts, and you accuse him of making artificial edits with the sole purpose of bumping his posts. if a typical SO user with 2500+ rep is to be reasonably expected to be a spammer with substantial probability, then of course nothing should be changed. (and of those 16 edits, he made 10 during first 3 days, and the 10th edit looks substantial. (just to keep the record straight)). –  Will Ness Apr 30 '13 at 18:09
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@WillNess If someone tells me that it hurts when he pokes in his eye, I will suggest he stops poking his eye. There is no need to implement a feature for something the user really shouldn't be doing in the first place. The comments he received regarding his bumping were due to trivial edits. Guess what the easy solution to that is? Don't make such edits. –  Bart Apr 30 '13 at 18:12

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