The other day, I was making a substantial edit on one of my MSO posts. I had to leave for a while, so I closed Chrome, fully expecting the saved draft to be there when I came back (). It wasn't--so I had to rewrite all of it.

Couldn't we have this feature? Yes, I know, it makes viewing the source of the original post tedious(you have to go through the revision history), but it makes the site consistent.

It works for questions and answers. Why not edits?

  • How long was it? It save draft for 7 days as far as I know.. Apr 23, 2012 at 7:40
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    @ShaDowWizArd: Half an hour. I'm talking about edits. Apr 23, 2012 at 7:40
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    Sorry - didn't notice you mean edit, thought you mean answer. Apr 23, 2012 at 7:41
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    Drafts are clearly not supported for edits - guess it's just too complicated technically with too much overhead and not worth the effort. Edit should be immediate - if you got to bail out and come back later just save it in Notepad or something. :) Apr 23, 2012 at 7:49
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    @ShaDowWizArd: I know, but it's inconsistent. Which means that you expect edits to save drafts and end up having to rewrite. Apr 23, 2012 at 8:05
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    Never assume someone else is backing up your data for you.
    – Lix
    Apr 23, 2012 at 8:26
  • @Lix: I know.. Usually I'm a Ctrl-S freak (which hampers productivity on Wikipedia and SO since I Ctrl-S there as well--and make chrome angry). But in this case I was sort of used to it :/ . Apr 23, 2012 at 8:29
  • Well... At least it's a lesson we only have to learn once :) Your chrome gets angry when you try save a file? ;)
    – Lix
    Apr 23, 2012 at 8:33
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    @Lix out of habit, whenever writing a wikipedia article or an Se post, I hit ctrl-S. Chrome thinks for a while, then shows the "save page" button. I type while looking at the keyboard(i'm not used to a single key spacing so I end up hitting two keys at once if I don't), and i type pretty fast, So a whole bunch of content is eaten up in the time it takes to show the dialog. :/ Apr 23, 2012 at 8:40

2 Answers 2


I think the main difference between questions/answers and edits is, if you write an answer or a question, its yours. No one else but you can edit it at that point, so its no problem if you want to continue your writing after some hours.

If you have an edit, you work on an existing post (even if its yours), means other people than you can also edit. Especially when the post is worth editing, and you want to take a break for some hours, I think chances are good that the post has changed since you started your edit and in my opinion it would be not appropriate then just to finish your edit and post it, overwriting the previous edit.

So, what should happen if your edit is saved, but the post has been edited in the meantime? Maybe the post has been clarified and your "old edit" would have a different meaning now (maybe not if its your own post). Then there should be some kind of diff where you can compare the current status and your edit.

My idea would be bit different:

Give us an advanced editor!

I would like to have an editor (similar like now but opening on its own side/tab), with

  • a bigger edit field

  • a bigger preview, maybe on the side of the edit field (better overview on widescreen monitors)

  • The possibility to save drafts in my account (more than one!) ==> this would be the answer to your question.

  • With a button in the inline editor window to copy the current content to the advanced editor.

This would be big improvement for writing good, structured posts, that take a bit more time to think, because they are not FGITW answers.

  • maybe you want to work on this, then stackapps.com/questions/2209/se-editor-toolkit Apr 26, 2012 at 16:18
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    @JeffAtwood looks nice, but not exactly what I suggested, I tried to install it and till now I didn't get it to work.
    – stema
    Apr 27, 2012 at 7:14
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    It seems that this "se-editor-toolkit" is broken since the introduction of inline editing and it is not maintained anymore.
    – stema
    Apr 27, 2012 at 8:17
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    I don't think it would be that hard to detect that the original had changed when a page with a draft-edit was reloaded. In theory, it could offer a 3-way-merge between the original, the new version, and your draft version, to rebase your draft onto the new version. I sometimes leave draft-edits open for a long time on my desktop, and recently lost some work I was doing to improve one of my own answers. Several of my answers attempt to be thorough, and I sometimes go back and improve them when I learn new things or want to improve their layout. Feb 9, 2016 at 14:14
  • But what if the computer or the browser crashes while editing? I recently spent a lot of time improving substantially an answer and when I was almost done, my computer crashed so now I have to start my edit all over again. I think something should be done about it. Feb 11, 2017 at 11:53

This feature currently does exist when you're editing someone else's answer: it takes you to a special "edit" page like stackoverflow.com/posts/##post-number###/edit. This enables to browser-based crash recovery, since returning to the URL opens the edit-box. This isn't server-side saved drafts, but it's much better than nothing.

(Correction and/or update: you get the separate-page editor on sites where you have low rep, including for your own posts. At high rep you get the inline editor on all posts.)

When Edit doesn't take you to a new URL (which is the normal case for editing your own posts), coming back after a browser restart loses all your work.

This is totally backwards. Your own posts are most likely the ones where you'll come back and make big changes, like to re-order the way you present information if it was clumsy before. Or if you learned something new that means a guess in an old answer was wrong.

I don't think I want to always go to a separate page when editing my own posts, so maybe the lowest-effort thing here would be for that to be an option. I'm having a hard time coming up with the text that should be on this link. Just saying "go to editor page" wouldn't explain why, and calling it "go to draft-saving page" sounds weird.

You can use the separate-page editor any time you want

Middle-click the edit link under a post to edit in a new window, with the /edit URL. This bypasses the JavaScript that would use the in-line editor.

Perhaps a good idea to do this for big edits, but it's a big pain. I'd like some kind of server-side recovery. SO answers can be up to 30k characters and sometimes take significant time to edit.

Sometimes browser recovery doesn't work, e.g. on an upgrade of Chromium I've occasionally had it lose all my half-written answers / edits in textboxes.

Maybe I should just copy stuff to an emacs buffer if I don't post in one sitting and edit offline.

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    Huh, just tried and looks like it's browser caching, not server side draft. Not really relevant to the request here, but not wrong also. Feb 9, 2016 at 14:40

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