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I remember a discussion here on Meta.SO about Edit Summaries for multiple edits within the grace period, but I can't find it. At the time of that discussion, when one submitted another edit within 5 minutes and one submitted another Edit Summary, only the second summary was used. Now it seems that the summaries are concatenated. (If the 2nd summary is empty, this has the effect that something like ; added 32 characters in body ends up as the summary text. Before the change, nothing was added in this case.)

When did this change happen, and is it documented somewhere? I don't see it in the Recent feature changes to Stack Exchange.

UPDATE: It seems that I got it all wrong in my recollection of how those summaries work, see the answers.

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Been like this for a long time –  random Mar 22 '11 at 18:40
    
@random: What do you mean by "long time"? I've used stackexchange for half a year only. –  Hendrik Vogt Mar 22 '11 at 18:42
    
Been seeing this behaviour for about 11 months –  random Mar 22 '11 at 19:15
    

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Since 26 June 2011, the previous Edit Summary is retained (but can be edited) for subsequent edits within the grace period.

Original answer below the line


There are two behaviors to the edit summary system, neither of which has changed as far as I can tell since about... well, like random says, at least 11 months. Nothing has really changed in this regard.

If you do not provide an edit summary in secondary or tertiary revisions, the character changes and title/tag edits will simply be concatenated onto the end of the current summary. This is the behavior you're now seeing, but it's always operated like this. This will be the case whether the previous edit included a custom summary or not.

If you do provide a summary, it will replace all existing notes on that revision. This is the behavior you are most likely recalling. This still works, and you can even use it to override multiple sequential edits and the "messy" summaries that such may leave.

So if you find that successive edits are producing very unsightly results, just resummarize the changes yourself. They tend to explain better than the simple character difference, in the end.

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Thanks for reading my mind: "This is the behavior you are most likely recalling." Yes, I think this was indeed the reason for my confusion. And yes, I hate the "simple character difference" summaries. I found this answer of yours helpful in that context. –  Hendrik Vogt Mar 22 '11 at 20:53

The observed behavior (just tested on this question...) is that when you enter a summary for both edits within the grace period, the second summary will be displayed, replacing the first summary.

If you enter a summary for the first one, and leave it blank the second time, the automatically-generated summary for the second edit is appended to the user-entered summary for the first one.

This behavior has existed for some time. There was a brief period prior to that when all summaries - user-entered or auto-generated - would be appended. There was also a time when only the first summary would be used, with later summaries ignored.

I'm not aware that these changes have ever been documented.

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Thanks a lot for this concise description! –  Hendrik Vogt Mar 22 '11 at 20:54

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