The content of this post has been sanitized in response to anonymous feedback that the formatting was making it completely unreadable by assistive technology (AT). I strongly value making content accessible over proving a point against users who willfully contribute to making content inaccessible. Read this post as it was originally intended to be read, at your own peril.

I just had to roll back about a dozen incorrect suggested edits that were approved, because all they did was litter backticks all over random words and phrases and calling it improved formatting.

This is just one of the less exciting cleanup tasks I've taken it upon myself to do, as these edits are not only rampantly suggested, but also rampantly approved, obviously by the same people who think it is for whatever reason OK to mark keywords and other random things with backticks.

The fact that I'm rolling these edits back means that these edits shouldn't have been approved in the first place. Since rejecting a suggested edit denies the editor of the +2 rep bonus that would otherwise be awarded when the edit is approved, I propose that rolling such an edit back do two things:

  1. Mark the edit as rejected instead of approved, either by Community♦ or the user performing the rollback, preferably with the invalid edit reason if not one of the user's choosing.

  2. Revoke the +2 rep bonus that was awarded when the edit was approved, if applicable.

  • 153
    My eyes hate you now, well done.
    – Tim Stone
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 18:55
  • 28
    This is a great idea, and would make it much easier to get those users edit-banned
    – Zelda
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 18:56
  • 9
    I like this idea.
    – Naftali
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 18:57
  • 78
    Frankly, I think those approving such crap are the actual problem. We've all made pointless edits at first, at least I know I did, and I had absolutely no clue I was doing something wrong while my edits were getting approved.
    – yannis
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 19:08
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    @jadarnel27 Yes, give more guns to the criminally insane, good plan ;)
    – yannis
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 19:23
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    While I agree with the vast majority of the corrections you made to those posts, I do think that putting backticks around programming language keywords, class names, and function names is okay. I'd approve edits where those were the only changes made. (That's not the case here, I'm just trying to find where the line is.) Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 19:39
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    @YannisRizos Right, this is just a symptom. The real issue is that apparently some people mindlessly accept edits, so let's work on stopping that from happening. Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 19:47
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    And maybe: 3. Somehow notify the approvers too?
    – Arjan
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 20:36
  • 9
  • 5
    +1 and give the user who did the excess back ticks -2 rep for making me spend more money at the optometrist.
    – user7116
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 21:55
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    We needs this so badly. Still finding accounts that are farming rep by spamming the site with bad edits.
    – user229044
    Commented Aug 1, 2012 at 17:34
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    I'm glad I'm not the only one seeing this, but for God's sake, make it stop! Maybe we need to raise the rep bar for people to approve edits.
    – Brad Mace
    Commented Aug 6, 2012 at 5:59
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    @BradMace - I've seen people with 60K+ rep approve the most atrocious edits. It'd be a first for SO, but I think users should have to be able to pass a test to be able to approve edits. You can't identify bad edits? Then you don't get to approve them. Commented Nov 14, 2012 at 18:25
  • 4
    @LittleBobbyTables: That would be awesome. There's the question of how exactly we're going to implement such a test, of course... but with such a smart team of developers here I'm sure they'll figure something out. Commented Nov 14, 2012 at 18:27
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    As an aside almost all rep (except I think bounties). can be reversed via unaccepting, unvoting, post deletion, user deletion, or sock puppet detection. Why are suggested edits so unimpeachable. Commented Dec 14, 2012 at 18:34

6 Answers 6


You make a very good point about edits getting

not only rampantly suggested, but also rampantly approved

but I think that your idea of

  1. Mark[ing] the edit as rejected [...]

  2. Revok[ing] the +2 rep bonus [...]

doesn't address

the real problem

which is not the low reputation users suggesting bad edits, but the high reputation users approving them.

This is why I came up with the following


which consists in

  • 3
    The general idea on Stack Exchange is not sending notifications for something negative users did; notifications should always be for something positive.
    – avpaderno
    Commented Jun 28, 2012 at 6:37
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    @kiamlaluno: That's true, but is that a good thing? This idea apart, if I'm doing something that will result in a suspension if repeated, I'd certainly prefer to be notified.
    – Dennis
    Commented Jun 29, 2012 at 1:44
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    Another recent of blind approval: stackoverflow.com/review-beta/suggested-edits/763823
    – random
    Commented Oct 6, 2012 at 13:40
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    @random: Markdown syntax errors and lack of proper capitalization aside, helle all? Seriously??? That does it. This thing needs a bounty.
    – Dennis
    Commented Oct 6, 2012 at 14:07
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    I see these at least once a week on the R tag. Just now I had to roll this one back: stackoverflow.com/review/suggested-edits/3896505 Everything it changes about the question is invalid: It reintroduces "R" in the title which is redundant, while also adding "Statistics" to the title of a question that has nothing to do with statistics. If that's not enough, it adds the "printing" tag, which doesn't seem to be helpful at all. How about revoking the +2 edit bonus if the question is rolled back within a certain period of time? Commented Jan 25, 2014 at 17:07
  • 1
    I just tried to reject an edit where someone removed alternative text to an image. Unfortunately it got approved out from under me in less than 30 seconds. Perhaps some folks aren't taking the time required to actually read what they're approving?
    – ebyrob
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 15:45

The content of this post has been sanitized in response to anonymous feedback that the formatting was making it completely unreadable by assistive technology (AT). I strongly value making content accessible over proving a point against users who willfully contribute to making content inaccessible. Read this post as it was originally intended to be read, at your own peril.

Some caveats and other concerns:

  • As people blindly approve these edits, people may just as blindly roll them back. In a more serious case, one could also use one's edit privileges to serially roll back a user's suggested edits, thereby making it basically a different flavor of revenge downvoting — and one much harder to reverse. I don't like the sound of that...

  • If we limit who can perform such rollbacks, who exactly do we limit it to? Users of a certain reputation level? Moderators? Someone else?

  • What about the users who are approving these edits? How do we address them?

In fact, now that I think about it, I should agree that the problem probably lies in these users who are blindly approving these edits in the first place, more so than the edits themselves which could have been rejected just as easily.

  • 8
    Made this an answer so the question doesn't look like it's contradicting itself. Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 21:41
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    I'm confused. What's bad about undoing vandalism?
    – Brad Mace
    Commented Aug 6, 2012 at 15:30
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    @bemace: If the +2 rep from approving an edit was docked, one could theoretically target someone's good edits by rolling them all back. In that case, the vandalism lies in rolling back the good edits. Not to mention lost rep that was actually gained fairly. Commented Aug 6, 2012 at 16:29
  • Ah, I see what you were saying. Hopefully the suspicious voting detector could be applied to this as well though.
    – Brad Mace
    Commented Aug 6, 2012 at 17:10
  • Isn't this what flagging is for? I mean if a couple other high-rep mods notice what's happening, I would think it'd be curtains for the perpetrator...
    – ebyrob
    Commented Mar 12, 2014 at 15:47
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    I still think it should be possible to undo the +2 rep gained if a user gained a lot of rep by proposing bad edits that are approved by bad reviewers. This happened recently. With sufficient control (e.g. only mods can do it) in place, this could work out fine, surely?
    – MarioDS
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 13:56
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    You could do so that if a normal 2K user rolls back, it has no more effect than it currently has, and if a moderator or a very high-reputation user rolls back, it can have the effects that you suggested. Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 17:30

I disagree. The fact that 2 reviewers have voted to approve the edit should (note, should) indicate that the edit is acceptable.

It would be wrong for one user (note, I accept it's different for you as a moderator) to be able to override the decision of those two users, and to undermine them by rolling back the edit.

What I propose instead is;

  1. Rather than simply needing two approval votes to be approved, an edit is only accepted if the number of approval votes is at-least 2 greater than the number of rejection votes.

    e.g, if one user rejects the edit, the edit then needs 3 approval votes.

    This gets more pairs of eyes on the controversial edits to make sure the right decision is made.

  2. Better information to the editors about what should be accepted. This problem is not restricted to backticks, nor is it restricted to approvals-that-shouldn't-have-been. I see rejected edits that should have been approved and vice-versa all the time.

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    Note that 2 reviewers is only true for Stack Overflow.
    – yannis
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 19:06
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    @YannisRizos: Indeed, but I'd be more than annoyed if someone started adding code-tags to random words on Bicycles.
    – Matt
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 19:07
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    People who do it thinking it's a good way to emphasize, will do it regardless if they are on Bicycles, or, don't know, Biblical Hermeneutics, Gaming, etc. But I'm more thinking of Programmers, were edits are approved by one user and we have valid uses for code blocks.
    – yannis
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 19:10
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    @YannisRizos: I guess the easiest thing to do there would be to increase the number of votes needed for it to be approved?
    – Matt
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 19:11
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    I agree that the approvers are a problem, but getting more eyes isn't realistic when we're struggling to keep up with the queue. Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 19:12
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    You all realize backticks were just an example of one kind of bad edit, right? Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 19:13
  • @Gilles: If it's any consolation, controversial edits are only a small percentage (6.4%, based on last months #) of the total.
    – Matt
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 19:15
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    @BoltClock'saUnicorn You realize that focusing on the tree and completely ignoring the forest is what MSO is about, right? ;P
    – yannis
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 19:16
  • @BoltClocksaUnicorn: Indeed. I was just re-enforcing the point.
    – Matt
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 19:16
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    @Matt I wonder how many edits were unanimously wrongly rejected/approved. I should go through a statistical sample. When I have the time, in six to eight eons. Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 19:17
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    @Yannis Rizos: I knew that. I was just performing a counter-productive sanity check on the insane people of Meta. Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 19:19
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    "The fact that 2 reviewers have voted to approve the edit should (note, should) indicate that the edit is acceptable." Or it could indicate 2 reviewers have no clue what they're doing and/or are gaming for badges and should be banned from accepting edits. Commented Nov 16, 2012 at 18:07
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    What what might be the impact if after an approval, there were a limited amount of time during which reject votes could still affect the result?
    – WGroleau
    Commented May 24, 2014 at 16:44
  • 1
    I agree, it may lead to abuse. My suggestion is to implement this feature request only for rollbacks made my the OP or a moderator (who still have a binding vote when reviewing suggested edits), and leave rollbacks as they are for normal 2K users. Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 21:43

Instead of concentrating on rollbacks reversing the rep gains from edits that have already been made (which I agree pretty much needs to be done by diamond moderators; it would be silly to require 3 reject votes in the suggested edits queue by ordinary users to block an edit, but then allow a single non-mod to overrule the approve votes), the system should concentrate on weeding out the reviewers who approve these in the first place.

How? Audits. We've all seen audits designed to catch people who aren't paying attention at all and who won't notice blatant vandalism. We also need audits that are clearly under the "too minor" category. Throw purported edits where some backticks are placed around a couple of words into the audits. Include some fixes to a single misspelled word. These problems will disappear quite quickly.

  • 1
    Are you suggesting an incentive for me to NOT fix my own typos?
    – WGroleau
    Commented May 24, 2014 at 16:46
  • No, I'm suggesting that if you're editing a post and you make typos, it shouldn't be accepted in the first place, and once we can all the roboreviewers it wouldn't be.
    – Wooble
    Commented May 24, 2014 at 16:48
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    Bear with me while I clarify to the extreme: it's okay for me to correct typos in my own posts, but not in someone else's posts?
    – WGroleau
    Commented May 24, 2014 at 17:04

Instead of introducing a new feature, I think it is better to educate both the editor and the reviewer - for the first time they gain privilege to edit/review. I doubt people check meta frequently, and I doubt people know what to check for when they edit/review for the first time.

We can give specific example of how to transform a badly formatted post to a clean post. There are enough suggested edits on SO to pick out one example. Or we can just create an example on our own.

The guide for editor/reviewer should mention:

  • Salutation
  • Tagging
  • Various stuffs about formatting code (indentation, syntax highlighting, <pre>/4-space/back-tick)
  • Quoting
  • Do not overuse formatting
  • Substantial edit
  • (Esp. tag wiki) Do not copy content.
  • Visit meta site for changes in policy.

The guide should be paginated - something look like cartoon, so that reader will not be overwhelmed. Each of the page can contain a link to the relevant part in the FAQs or relevant meta question.


Despite the fact that this is a reviewer problem, as all the other answers seem to point out against this feature, I would love to see your request implemented, given the sheer number of bad suggested edit reviewers, the inefficacy of audits (compared to the other review queues), and the effect rejection rates have on suggested edit bans (though being able to add those manually would be fantastic too). Abuse isn’t much of a problem, either; rolling back the rollback can be taken into account, for example.

To sum up: a rollback is usually well-thought-out; it being prioritized over queue reviews is fine.

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