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Currently, subsequent edits of posts (questions and answers) completely overwrite previous edits silently and without prompt. I'm not sure how large a problem others feel this is, but personally it has a been a slight annoyance on a number of occasions. For questions that are in dire need of editing (sigh, all too many nowadays), it is not uncommon for one edit to succeed another by a matter of seconds.

My suggested solution is: why not add optimistic concurrency to the editing system? This would be a non-obtrusive way of managing conflicting edits, in my view. Locking (i.e. pessimistic concurrency) would admittedly not be the right way to go, and could possibly become a larger nuisance than the current one; yet optimistic concurrency need only prompt the editor if there has been a conflicting edit during the period he has been making the changes. Displaying the conflicting edit (perhaps in an AJAX-updated box?) and offerring the following options should be sufficient:

  • Overwrite conflicting edit
  • Discard current edit
  • Add current edit to history, but let conflicting edit remain active

In my experience, most of these conflicting edits are quite inadvertant, but happen in such a way that neither the first not second editing user notices that their changes have overwritten others/been overwritten.

Anyway, I'd like to know what everyone thinks of this idea. It would seem to be an addition that requires minimal changes to the existing framework, and something that would be quite handy for anyone frequently editing posts.

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@balpha: Yeah, I noticed one of those posts. However, neither seem to mention optimistic concurrency, which I think is the right solution here. –  Noldorin Sep 16 '09 at 10:51
    
I would also love tag-edit to be separate from post-edit -- I've seen several times someone add or remove tags from a post in the five minutes I've spent to clean up some of the worst ones that I thought were still redeemable. The folks who just want to remove an unrelated tag often don't bother cleaning up the post (I can't blame them), and since they cannot conflict I wish they weren't tied together. –  sarnold Apr 11 '11 at 2:07

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Neil Fraser has developed an online collaborative editing tool called MobWrite. There's a few online demos including a text editor that show how you can collaboratively edit content.

Think of the fun/carnage to be had if the question edit page used this approach.

For those interested, there is a discussion of the theory I found quite fascinating.

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Sounds interesting... I'll have to check that out at some point. –  Noldorin Sep 16 '09 at 16:10

Notifications for concurrent changes when editing posts

This is partially implemented. You'll get async topbar notifications during editing, if someone else saves a revision during your editing.

Now, if you save before the notification, there will still be a conflict, but depending on the timing of the edits in most cases you should know about it.

And since March 2011, a warning is shown after you save as well, if a conflict occurs.

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I just noticed that this feature is implemented! The warning bar appears telling you that the post you're editing has already been edited elsewhere!

Thanks Jeff & Co!

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