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Edits. These are generally A Good Thing. Keeping the quality of the posts on the site(s) up is important. We all know this. In support of this it is made even clearer by the sheer volume of badges that are available for people to claim by improving the overall quality of posts on the site:

  • Cleanup First rollback
  • Copy Editor Edited 500 posts
  • Editor First edit
  • Organizer First retag
  • Proofreader Approved or rejected 100 suggested edits
  • Research Assistant Edited 50 tag wikis
  • Strunk & White Edited 80 posts
  • Tag Editor First Tag Wiki Edit

All these badges are awarded for providing useful services to the StackExchange websites, keeping the quality of the questions up and also helping these questions get the attention they deserve by improving the tagging and general discoverability of them.

Phew, that's a lot of badges to award! But wait, there are two more:

Excavator: Edited first post that was inactive for 6 months

Archaeologist: Edited 100 posts that were inactive for 6 months

Now these badges have a different outcome. Yes, they probably improve the overall quality of the site as they are general-maintenance-and-tidy-up (the scope of the sites changes over time and what was suitable way back then may not be so suitable now), but there is an unintended consequence of these badges, in particular the Archaeologist badge:- flooding the front-page with ancient questions that have already been answered and accepted because people are badge-hunting. People asking new, relevant and unanswered questions are being punished by having their questions dissappear just so that these bulk-edited posts can float to the top. This is A Bad Thing. (This is probably more of an issue on smaller sites than StackOverflow, granted)

If badges exist, then there will be people who make it their aim to collect them. (That's also kind of the point of badges). And if they can do that in the shortest time possible - by bulk editing old posts - then that is periodically what is going to happen.

OK, after the edits they may now have a better tag, or may have been liberated of the 'hope this helps' signature lines that adorn posts from decades months back, but is the site actually the better for this? If these posts were edit-worthy then surely many of them would have been edited at the time by people hunting the other badges, or by people just improving the posts in general?

So, what to do about this?

  1. Well, either scrap these 2 badges altogether and just assume their function will just be taken care of by the myriad of other editing badges out there.
  2. Add some restrictions in there so that no one person can edit more than, say, 5 six-month-old questions in any 24 hour period, thus stopping the front-page from being flooded.
  3. {Insert some other option that I've not thought of yet}

Assuming that if things are left as they are all StackExchange sites will (and do) suffer from the problem of a flood of old posts periodically arriving on the front page and flushing the newer posts out of view, what (if anything) should be done to prevent this?

Note: This is slightly related to the post Changing the requirements of either the "Strunk & White" badge or the "Archaeologist" badge, but that post is more about rebalancing those two badges rather than changing / removing the archaeology badge altogether

share|improve this question
Not entirely sure but, editing a question which has an accepted answer does not bump it to the top of the Newest list as far as I remember. – Fabrício Matté Jun 11 '13 at 9:22
@FabrícioMatté I don't think that's right though. As far as I'm aware all edits, even tag edits bump posts. Otherwise there is scope for vandalism and other abuse because edits could happen without them being noticed. – JonW Jun 11 '13 at 9:28
-1 because I don't see any evidence of the problem you've identified: can you link to some front pages where this happens often? – EnergyNumbers Jun 11 '13 at 9:31
@JonW For the matter of testing, I've went through my list of questions looking for one that can be improved and just edited this question which has an accepted answer. It does not appear in any of its tags' Newest lists. – Fabrício Matté Jun 11 '13 at 9:39
@FabrícioMatté StackOverflow works at a different pace than other SE sites. It's more of an issue for sites that have a default unfiltered front-page. Basically every site except StackOverflow. – JonW Jun 11 '13 at 9:41
@FabrícioMatté - it won't appear in the tags newest lists, but should appear in the tags active lists. It's the active questions that appear on the home page. – ChrisF Jun 11 '13 at 10:35
@EnergyNumbers UX frontpage, couple of days ago. 15+ (stopped counting after 15) of the questions on the front page where old questions bumped by trivial edits. – Yannis Jun 11 '13 at 10:36
@JonW At #3 I'd insert a warning. Something like a popup saying: "Hey, we've noticed you've been doing a lot of minor edits, please take a break, you've completely screwed up the frontpage". Ok, the phrasing may need a bit of work. – Yannis Jun 11 '13 at 10:38
Oh it makes sense now, thanks @ChrisF. – Fabrício Matté Jun 11 '13 at 10:38
People still use the active tab on the front page to find questions? – Emrakul Jun 11 '13 at 14:18
@KnightswhosayNi: That is the default view for all sites. You have to actively go out of your way not to view the active tab. Especially on non-SO sites where you only get a few questions an hour. – JonW Jun 11 '13 at 14:21
The same thing happens with tag cleanups and those aren't motivated by badges. (Editing tags doesn't count as an edit for badges.) So the solution isn't to remove those badges but to somehow rate-limit the effects on the front page. (And yes, SO might not care, but on many other sites the defult front page is useful -- except when somebody goes through with a systematic cleanup of some sort.) – Monica Cellio Jun 11 '13 at 15:05

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