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The new review feature confuses me and I feel insecure using it.

For example, on atheism.SE there was a review pending that I rejected because in my opinion it completely changed the meaning of the question.

Now the editor is complaining about my rejection and while I think that my rejection was correct, I also undestand the editor’s position and I wish I didn’t have to be the only person to make the decision here. The score is 1 vs. 1 here and I get to decide, purely based on seniority.

The contentious point is, very briefly:

The original question isn’t strictly concerned with atheism at all, and arguably off-topic:

It seems to me that many pieces of advice from wise people are easy to dismiss rationally, using critical thinking, simply because the advice does not make sense to you at the time. Once you gain more experience, you begin to understand what previously seemed illogical.

Solus changed the bold part (my emphasis) to “religious leaders”. Now the question is on topic but I think it’s a completely different question:\

  • Before the edit a valid answer would be (strongly simplified) to reference the Dunning-Kruger effect.

  • After the edit this is arguably no longer the case: if we accept the tenet of atheism, i.e. that religion is fundamentally wrong, then the question doesn’t really make sense in the first place: religious leaders are wrong, this is implied in the definition of atheism.

To recap: I believe that my decision was correct but (1) am not perfect, and (2) I admit that a different argumentation may yield different results (in particular, since the original question is off-topic, it’s fair game for whatever edit).

So I would prefer that rejecting an edit in a review wouldn’t be an all-or-nothing decision that is made by the person who happens to be the fastest. I would prefer requiring e.g. two votes before it takes effect.

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(I think this was a good rejection. If someone >2k would have edited like this (or if someone approved this), then I would have flagged the user for moderator attention.) – Arjan Feb 3 '11 at 11:00
I think you did right to reject the edit. It modifies the question too much. In cases like this one, I think the proper course of action would be to revert the edit, then vote to close the question because it's off-topic, and finally leave a comment explaining your reasoning. – Borror0 Feb 3 '11 at 11:30
@Arjan: where did you get the permalink from? Did you just try out all numbers or is there a trick? – Konrad Rudolph Feb 3 '11 at 11:35
I tried all numbers from 1 to 6. ;-) I actually started at, like, 40 and given the Page Not Found went backwards to 20, and so on. But in the end there's only 6 edits so far. (As an aside: things might chance: really need some better auditing linked directly from the history). – Arjan Feb 3 '11 at 11:44
I do not like the edit because it does shift the question somewhere else. Granted, the new question does fit the Atheism site better, because is religion-specific. But that is exactly what I did not care about so much here, I am looking for an underlying principle that is not related to religion, religion being just one of the manifestations. – Roman Zenka Feb 18 '11 at 0:13
up vote 3 down vote accepted

There is a third way here.

I strongly believe that edits that change a posts meaning should be rejected. However if you link the edits permalink in a comment on the post (in those rare cases where you are forced to reject interesting content), the owner can review it and expand their post in a fitting way. This is totally an edge case, but it happens sometimes, and I found it to be the best way to solve this issue.

The trouble with multi-approve is the "potential" blocking problem. When we were first experimenting with the feature users were yelling at us that it is not fair... if they had 2k rep they could edit, so why have anonymous or low rep users block them. Now that we released the feature it seems stuff is not lasting for longer than a minute in the queue, so I think we may be open to re-enabling a multi approve.

share|improve this answer
Nice idea to use the permalinks when rejecting! – Arjan Feb 3 '11 at 11:03
The permalink is a nice idea, I’ll do that next time. – Konrad Rudolph Feb 3 '11 at 11:35

Suggested edits require at least two approvals (or moderator approval) on every site now.

share|improve this answer

There are two things to consider here:

The first is the meta-question; what to do about reviewing edits which are believed to be inappropriate. In truth I think your action was appropriate. Regardless of my disagreement, you strongly believed my edit was inappropriate.

I think the system is fine as it is. You rejected my edit (and if I'd had the rep to make the edit directly, it could have been reverted) and we have the opportunity to discuss it.

The second point, regarding the edit itself:

I do not accept the assertions that religious leaders are wrong, or that the tenet of atheism is that religion is fundamentally wrong. Atheism certainly encompasses the notion that religion is wrong, however it is not a necessary belief. It is quite possible for an atheist to find some of the tenets of religion acceptable and even laudable, while still rejecting others. More relevantly, it is undeniable that some religious leaders are capable of saying something that is true, and worth hearing.

Take the Golden Rule for example. Whatever its origins, and however its specifics may be debated, it is generally accepted as valid, by theists and atheists alike. If a religious leader proposes the Golden Rule, are they wrong? What about the Dalai Lama, who has frequently said that people can be good without being religious? We would be right to assert that we don't need religious leaders to tell us that, but wrong to assert that they are wrong.

So the notion that religious leaders are "wrong, period" as Konrad asserted, is fallacious. Religious leaders can be right, and wise, despite the absurdity of the belief system which fostered them. It is simply wrong to insert that religious leaders cannot be considered wise, and it is most definitely not a tenet of atheism. Certainly there are many individuals whose 'wisdom' is preposterous, but there are others whose words we would be fools to dismiss.

With that in mind, the substitution of "religious leaders" for "wise people" may change the meaning of the question, but only to restrict it to something relevant to this site. However, given that this is a site about atheism, and the question is about authorities, it is reasonable to assume that the questioner had religious authorities in mind. Considering the wording, he didn't seem to mean only religious authorities, but it's certainly not clear they he meant to exclude them.

Also, the questioner was asking about critical thinkers of admittedly limited ability. This would necessarily include people who are just beginning to develop their critical thinking skills. Perhaps those who are considering giving up their religion. We would do them a huge disservice to teach them that it's acceptable to uncritically dismiss the words of an entire group of people on the basis of their position as a religious leader. It is quite possible that doing so would leave them with the impression that atheists are closed-minded and prejudiced.

With that in mind, there is another option which could make the question on-topic without changing it's meaning at all...

Present an example of atheists thinking critically about the claims of religious leaders as an example, while also leaving the reference to wise people. In other words, alter the question so that it refers to critical thinking about the claims of authorities in general, with a specific example of atheists evaluating the claim of religious authorities.

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