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It is possible for users to edit an existing post.

  • How do edits work?
  • Who may edit a question or answer?
  • How can you tell what has been changed between edits?

For more information, see "Why can people edit my posts? How does editing work?" in the Help Center.

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1 Answer 1

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How do edits work?

Users can edit the questions and answers submitted to the site. This gives the site a wiki feel, and allows the information to constantly evolve and remain up to date. Those users who are allowed to edit a post can do so by clicking the edit link associated with that post.

Multiple edits made by the same person may be combined into a single revision, if they occur within a short period of time (currently 5 minutes). Edits made by the original author are considered part of the base revision if submitted within 5 minutes of posting (unless someone else submits an edit first).

It is possible to “roll back” changes made in a revision. This can be done during editing by selecting a previous revision to edit from the dropdown, but can also be accomplished via the "rollback" link displayed on non-current revisions within the revision history list - the latter is a little more convenient, and will earn you a bronze “Cleanup” badge when first used.

When multiple editors submit changes, the last one in “wins”, regardless of who began editing first. Both revisions are preserved however, and changes lost can be restored either by rolling back to the previous revision or by manually copying text into a new revision.

To promote good edits, a user who suggests an edit to someone else’s post will get +2 reputation points when that edit suggestion is approved. You do not get the reputation bonus if the edit is automatically approved, whether this is because you are editing your own post, you are editing a community wiki post, or you have at least 2000 reputation and all of your edits are auto-approved. Also, you are limited to a maximum of 1000 reputation points earned from edits.

Who may edit a question or answer?

The original author of a question or answer may edit their own post. Additionally, users with a certain level of reputation may edit any question or answer. The one exception is locked questions, which may not be edited by anyone, including the original author, until they are unlocked. Additionally, the amount of reputation needed to edit community wiki editable posts is much lower than that needed to edit ordinary questions and answers. If a user does not have enough reputation to edit directly, they can still suggest an edit (see a related FAQ question, How do suggested edits work?).

How can you tell what has been changed between edits?

Edit indicator

Once your question has been edited, there will be a note of it, with the time since the last edit hyperlinked to a revision history for the post.

Example:

Edit note screenshot

Revision history

Each revision is displayed in a separate, collapsible section. Older revisions start out already collapsed. If a comment was specified by the person editing, that will be displayed in yellow next to the revision number; otherwise, the total number of characters added or removed in that revision will be listed. Once expanded, the revision will be displayed, with changes highlighted.

The edit link on older revisions let you copy that edition to a new revision, essentially letting you roll back that revision and edit it at the same time.

Example:

Revision History screenshot

Revision diff color key:
  • Green background: characters added
  • Red text + strikeout: characters removed

Grace period

In order to prevent a series of tiny edits from showing up in the revision history, a single user who edits a post is given a 5-minute grace period. During this period, any additional edits they make are collapsed into the same edit in the revision history, displaying only the final outcome of all their edits within that 5 minute period. The grace period ends after exactly 5 minutes, but also ends if another user edits the post, at which time their grace period begins.

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wow, what the heck, I had no idea –  Swati Sep 24 '08 at 18:05
    
"Multiple edits .. same person .. short period of time .. combined into a single revision" -- define "short period of time". –  Chris Noe Oct 10 '08 at 14:27
    
Right now, it's 5 minutes from the first edit. That is subject to change however, and should not be relied on - still beta... –  Shog9 Oct 10 '08 at 16:45
    
"Additionally, users with a certain level of reputation may edit any question or answer." -- define "certain level of reputation"? –  clahey Sep 1 '09 at 19:27
    
@clahey: that definition is best left to The Main FAQ (stackoverflow.com/faq), where presumably it will always be up-to-date. –  Shog9 Sep 1 '09 at 23:34
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I really don't like the fact that someone else can edit my posts, wiki is one thing, but questions and answers should be open for comments. It just seems a bit off to allow people to edit other users' answers! Someone edited one of my answers yesterday, pretty much for a joke, leaving the answer less meaningful (he edited a sentence down to a single word!). –  TabbyCool Jan 21 '10 at 9:50
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@unknown: read the site FAQ - editing of other user's posts is very much a core part of SO. If abuse happens, you can 1) rollback the change with a single click, and 2) flag for moderator attention to let someone know what's going on. –  Shog9 Jan 21 '10 at 14:42
    
Is this the currently live wiki? If so, it does not mention that things can get awkward of there is an edit by a lower rep use in progress, indicated by edit(n). –  Remou Jun 28 '12 at 8:50
    
Assume if someone has done a useless edit on my answer which is edit number 5. So this last edit doesn't have a rollback but my own last edit which is number 4. So does it mean that if I click on the rollback on edit 4, that answer will set back into edit 4? –  bonCodigo Dec 30 '12 at 14:50
    
Yes, @boncodigo –  Shog9 Dec 30 '12 at 15:19
    
Where goes the line between being better to suggest the original author to edit, or doing the edit yourself? Especially if I am a low rep user? –  varesa Feb 18 '13 at 14:22

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