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Hey all-

I discovered recently that any questions I edit get put back up at the top of the questions queue. This means that if I answered a question and didn't feel like I got enough upvotes, I could just go an edit the question to bump it back up to the top of the question queue to increase its visibility and improve my odds of getting more upvotes.

Given this, is it ethical/fair for me to go back to my older answers and make (reasonable) edits to the question in order to bump it back up into the queue? I've never deliberately made a trivial change to a question in order to bump it - I always make a good honest effort to make the question more readable or more grammatically correct - but I'm starting to think that I'm just unfairly gaming the system by artificially earning more upvotes than I normally should be getting.

Any thoughts? Should I stop making edits like these?

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brb, suspending your account for abusing the system. – Won't Mar 25 '11 at 15:20
I have edited my question, even adding tags, and it did not bump to the 'active' page. :/ – IAbstract Jul 12 '11 at 14:32
Reputation points are just a way for users to say "thanks" for your work and remind you that it's appreciated, so it's kind of stupid to game the system purely for rep. You don't win a pony or anything. – endolith May 15 '12 at 0:41
@endolith: Rep gives status. Ponies give status. It's more similar than you're trying to make it appear. – Junuxx Jun 4 '12 at 5:13

Keep in mind that after 10 edits your answer will become Wiki and you won't get any further reputation from it.

Anyway as long as the edit is adding relevant information and is reasonable like you said then yes, I think it's proper to do this.

On the other hand, edit like "Hey please give me reputation" is of course not good idea and will likely get flagged.

Edit: I just now noticed (with some help) that you mean edit the question you were answering, not your own answer... this changes things - in my opinion it's not ethical thing to do, while it might not be against any rules it just doesn't feel right to me.

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I thought for becoming CW the number of different users editing something counts. And not how often the original author edits it. – CodesInChaos Mar 25 '11 at 9:13
@CodeInChaos - enough edits by the OP also send a question CW to prevent gaming the system by continual editing – ChrisF Mar 25 '11 at 9:18
@Shadow: This is about editing questions the OP has answered. – Hendrik Vogt Mar 25 '11 at 9:20
@Hendrik oh, didn't notice that. Good catch! – Shadow Wizard Mar 25 '11 at 9:26
Posting an answer, or editing that answer, will also bump the question to the "active" view (the homepage). So indeed it's surely not done to edit someone else's question to get attention to an answer. But editing one's own answer to get the question back, just because one "didn't feel like I got enough upvotes" would feel like gaming to me as well. I'd downvote if I noticed that. (Hmmm, almost downvoted the above answer given the first paragraphs. Wondering why people use that "edit" pattern...) – Arjan Mar 25 '11 at 10:03
@Arjan - I initially thought he means that he improve his answers, adding some information... regarding my edit pattern I very rarely delete what I originally wrote - worst case I strike it. :-) – Shadow Wizard Mar 25 '11 at 11:08
(Hmmm, as for edits: you don't think your post have a value for future visitors of a Q&A site?) – Arjan Mar 25 '11 at 11:14
@Shadow, concerning the edit pattern (which I also wondered about): One possibility is to put the edit up front to avoid confusion. – Hendrik Vogt Mar 25 '11 at 12:34
@Arjan I agree with your answer on the other question, but still.. prefer to let others know the sequence of events the led to the final conclusion. – Shadow Wizard Mar 25 '11 at 15:44
@Hendrik - true in some cases, but here I think it'll be too confusing - it's either leave the edit in the bottom or remove/strike the original answer. :) – Shadow Wizard Mar 25 '11 at 15:45
Okay then! – Arjan Mar 25 '11 at 17:56

I would say that as long as this sentiment holds:

in order to bump it back up into the queue

then it's probably not the best idea. If, on the other hand, you change the sentiment to something more like:

in order to add relevant information and improve the content for the benefit of the community

then edit all you like :)

The main goal here is to build useful content. Acquiring reputation points is, and very much should be, an afterthought. It's a means to the goal. I know it's easy to get caught up in the game of scoring points, but just try to keep the focus on what we're doing here. When considering such an edit, maybe ask yourself a few questions about it first:

  • Does this edit clarify the question and make it easier to understand?
  • Does this edit help the OP in some way, perhaps providing them with a better understanding of what they were asking in the first place? (Keep in mind that asking better questions is just as much a learning experience as getting better answers.)
  • If somebody stumbles across this question months from now on a Google search, will this edit provide them with more useful information than was present in the original question?

If you find yourself answering "yes" to one or more of the above questions, then it's a perfectly good edit and is encouraged by the community.

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I've never deliberately made a trivial change to a question in order to bump it - I always make a good honest effort to make the question more readable or more grammatically correct - but I'm starting to think that I'm just unfairly gaming the system by artificially earning more upvotes than I normally should be getting.

Bumping doesn't necessarily get you up-votes. It'll probably get you a few more views though, so if you have a decent answer the votes will follow... But of course, if that was your only goal, you could make trivial edits to your own answer and accomplish the same thing. There are other, even more devious ways of doing this as well - but if you make a nuisance of yourself, it'll probably end badly for you.

The key to your question is that you're editing to make a real improvement - IMHO, this is perfectly acceptable regardless of your motivation. Just don't fall into the trap of making pointless edits, and you'll be fine.

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There's a limited number of slots on the homepage. So, how would you feel if your unanswered question was removed from the homepage a bit earlier, because someone else bumped a question to get more reputation?

(So: yes, I'd say please stop making edits like that if you "didn't feel like I got enough upvotes", even if they are in your own answer which will also bump the question.)

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Some users do seem to take liberties on this even after wikification.

This answer got so many insubstantial edits in a highly transparent attempt to bump the question that it was wikified and the answerer raised it on meta. The answer got locked.

Just today I noticed it got bumped again with another trivial edit this time on the question itself (only 4 days after a similar edit). The tactic has worked as it has been upvoted a couple more times since!

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And the user was given the Guru badge for gaming... – Arjan Mar 25 '11 at 17:45

We've always relied on the wisdom of the crowd to sort the wheat from the chaff on this matter.

If you make people suspicious they'll flag the question and the moderators will use their judgment. Presumably the resulting action will be gentle at first, but there are few tool available for the correction of errant users.

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