Navigating on SO I ran to this post :


If you look at the first answer, Michael Pryor (a co-founder of Fog Creek) edited the answer by marking some of the informations "not true anymore".

I don't know if these informations are "not true any more", but here he changed the content of an answer to change critics of one of his product.

So I'd like to know if this is a normal behaviour ?

(I'm not a concurrent, and I'm a customer of fog creek, so I have no commercial interest in asking this, in fact fogbugz is a nice product)

Isn't an "abuse of power" (even if he let the original text) ?

EDIT , from the SO site :

Some common reasons to edit are:

to fix grammatical or spelling mistakes
to clarify the meaning of a post without changing it
correct minor mistakes or add addendums / updates as the post ages
add related resources or hyperlinks

It's not "correct minor mistakes or add addendums / updates as the post ages", he clearly edited the post, he didn't add something.

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    I think it fits "correct minor mistakes or add addendums / updates as the post ages" pretty well... Aug 11, 2011 at 13:34

3 Answers 3


I don't think this is appropriate.

He should have used the comments system to rebut, and allowed the user who answered to agree to altering their answer.

I also don't think it quite reaches the level of an abuse that requires moderator attention. He did leave the original text (just struck it through).

He (as far as I can see) has left no indication why the four struck reasons are "no longer true." How can he justify the edit without that information?

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    There was never any indication that the four struck reasons were true to begin with either. (Although I do agree that it would have been better for Michael to link to a fixed bug report or something.) Aug 11, 2011 at 13:59
  • I agree, if he is an employee for the company that develops the software, this was a very, very subjective edit.
    – Marcelo
    Aug 11, 2011 at 14:00
  • @Bill Well he did say, "no longer true".
    – Marcelo
    Aug 11, 2011 at 14:01
  • @BilltheLizard: Absolutely true. But in situations like this we (in general) rebut and debate a point. It is entirely another thing to simply change another's points without response.
    – user1228
    Aug 11, 2011 at 14:02
  • @Marcelo: Right, but what I'm saying is that Michael's "no longer true" offers exactly as much backing evidence as the original assertions. (But I get your point that he's tacitly verifying that they once were true.) Aug 11, 2011 at 14:08
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    @Won't: People tried to get him to update it, but that was futile since the user who posted it hasn't been seen in years. Luckily we can edit posts at SO. Other forums (and usenet) opinions live on for years with no chance to update. Aug 11, 2011 at 14:08
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    @0A0D: Okay, that's fine. Unless he was done in by the Fog Creek ninjas. Still, there is no rebuttal, which is my biggest gripe. A link to a blog post addressing the concerns/issues with details about how they were fixed. Something. But there is nothing.
    – user1228
    Aug 11, 2011 at 14:11
  • @Won't: Yes, it would be nice if someone posted a rebuttal or supporting evidence. Aug 11, 2011 at 14:11

Yes, one of the good things about Stack Overflow is that it's maintained by the community, so anyone can edit anything. That helps keep the content up to date and accurate.

In this particular case, I'd say that this is not an abuse of power. If Michael had simply deleted the content (leaving no trace of the criticisms) instead of striking them out and explaining why, it would have been. Since his name goes in the revision history and anyone can check his claims, this seems like a valid use of editing.

  • So, if I a comment with see something false, I can strike the line and write "it's false". So if I don't have moderator privilege, I can just comment the post. So in fact when you have the moderator privilege you have more power to express your opinion than someone who doesn't. And when you have this privilege, comment are useless (I'm being extremist here, but it's the feeling I had when I saw the edit). Aug 11, 2011 at 13:09
  • @remi: Earning a privilege and using it doesn't mean you're abusing it. However, any user can suggest an edit, so you're not restricted to only commenting. Aug 11, 2011 at 13:13
  • earning a privilege and using it for personal purpose is abusing it. Aug 11, 2011 at 13:16
  • @remi: So should he have just left inaccurate information posted on the site? Aug 11, 2011 at 13:18
  • @Remi, you don't have to be a moderator to edit a post. Anyone can edit a post, even anonymous users, and beyond 2000+ rep, you can edit a post without requiring approval.
    – Benjol
    Aug 11, 2011 at 13:19
  • @Bill the lizard : no he could have commented on the post and asked the author to edit his own post. Aug 11, 2011 at 13:21
  • @remi: He's earned the edit privilege. He can use it. If the author (or anyone) doesn't like the changes they can be rolled back. He's not trying anything sneaky here, so this is not an abuse. Aug 11, 2011 at 13:22
  • @Bill , the post is 2 years old, maybe the guy is not even back in SO, so we can make him telling whatever we want about a product. But let see the future : we have a whole bunch of member , only here to edit post about their product to establish their truth. Every opinion is purely subjective,and this is true for every response to an opinion. The guy wrote "it's verry slow to display" and Michael write "not true anymore". Aug 11, 2011 at 13:31
  • @remi: I'm not that interested in crystal ball gazing and slippery slope arguments. If it becomes a problem, we'll deal with it. I don't think this post is a problem. (Other than the borderline subjective nature of the question, that is. I assume it only stayed open due to the "tools commonly used by programmers" clause in the FAQ.) Aug 11, 2011 at 13:35
  • @Bill, the SE network is about community and until now it's doing good, but we (the community) all have to be careful about its evolutions to keep it that way no ? Aug 11, 2011 at 13:39
  • @remi: Yes, we have to deal with real problems when they happen. That includes editing inaccurate or out of date information. Aug 11, 2011 at 13:41
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    @remi: That's not true. It's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. See here: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/26237/… . The OP can always roll it back but I doubt they will since they've been away from SO for over 2 years. Aug 11, 2011 at 13:48
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    @remi: People did leave comments on that post asking for changes and no edits were made by the OP. Aug 11, 2011 at 13:51
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    @remi: I think at least part of the problem is due to the fact that the question is asking for a product review. I closed this question, and most similar questions should be closed/flagged by the community. Hopefully that addresses any concerns about people only posting to correct information about their products. Aug 11, 2011 at 13:56
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    @remi: True, but even that interpretation is asking for a "List of X" which is not very well suited to Stack Overflow. If all answers are equally correct, which ones to do upvote and accept? There's no "best" answer. We're far better at answering questions that have one objectively best answer. Aug 11, 2011 at 14:05

It's all about how and why the edits are done. The editor having a personal stake in the product, makes it just a bit iffy...but since the content is still there, and the edits are obvious just from looking at the post (as opposed to being hidden away in the edit history), i'd put it on the legit side of the line.

What's not legit is "putting words in someone's mouth"; that is, editing a post to substantially change its apparent content / POV. I personally wouldn't even edit a post to correct code, unless it's obviously just a typo, and i'll generally reject any low-level edits that appear to change more than a few words. In cases like that, i'd comment on what i believe is wrong (and possibly downvote), giving the original authors the chance to correct the post themselves. If they agree and change the post, then the author's learned something today too. :)

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