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Why are editor names displayed so prominently?

Currently, a question that has been edited appears as follows:

big notice that question has been edited

This is odd to me, because the fact that a question has been edited generally isn't that important. It's only relevant to those initially answering the questions, and even then it's only relevant when the editing changed the question for the worse, which is the minority situation. It does, however, needlessly highlight the fact that higher-rep SO users are constantly fixing questions, which only serves to give this place a wikipedia-like reputation, and not in a good way. In that light, having a prominent "edited" badge is not a good thing.

So, I wanted to ask, could we significantly reduce the visibility of the question "edited" indicator?

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    "It does, however, needlessly highlight the fact that higher-rep SO users are constantly fixing questions" ... You make it sound as if that's a bad thing. I think they deserve some credit there. – Bart Aug 13 '12 at 18:33
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    "because the fact that a question has been edited generally isn't that important". I must be reading all the other questions... the ones that severely need editing. – Oded Aug 13 '12 at 18:36
  • I agree they should get some credit, but to get what is essentially co-authorship just for what can essentially be just adding a tag seems somewhat excessive to me. – eykanal Aug 13 '12 at 18:39
  • So, you want to have degrees of editing (or rather, degrees of contribution displayed)? – Oded Aug 13 '12 at 18:40
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    In the example you cited I think it's less a question of who gets the credit and more a question of who gets the blame. If that's a real question somewhere, please link to it so we can smite it. – Bill the Lizard Aug 13 '12 at 18:40
  • Closely related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/83196/… – ale Aug 13 '12 at 18:40
  • @Oded - I would rather see degrees of visibility. It makes sense to me that the author of the question be given more credit than those that edit it. As it stands, they get what appears to be equal credit. – eykanal Aug 13 '12 at 18:41
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    What about a terrible question, terribly tagged, that an editor improved into a great question with good tagging? And of course, how is this to be judged? – Oded Aug 13 '12 at 18:41
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    I've seen quite a few questions in which the editor put significantly more work into the question than the actual asker did. You make it seem like all edits are minor. Many are not. – Servy Aug 13 '12 at 18:42
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    @eykanal It's actually not that rare. Perhaps you should spend some time lurking in the /review tool. Also note that there are people who can, and do, turn awful questions into rather good ones, which often takes quite a bit of effort (relative to the original question). – Servy Aug 13 '12 at 18:45
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    Is anybody but me dying to click the (non-existent) revisions link to read the (non-existent) original version of the chzberger post? – Ernest Friedman-Hill Aug 13 '12 at 18:45
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    And keep in mind that most of the higher-rep users don't get any reward for their edits. That is, other than the reward of seeing a question's quality increase, thereby contributing to the overall quality of the site as a whole. If that does not deserve some form of recognition then I don't know what does. – Bart Aug 13 '12 at 18:47
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    How can you possibly think that a "Wikipedia-like" reputation is a bad thing? Wikipedia is one of the most popular websites in the history of the Internet. Why would you consider this a problem? Also, your link doesn't make sense in this context. It's about moderators locking posts, it has nothing at all to do with Wiki-style editing. – meager Aug 13 '12 at 18:50
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    Nevermind that the top responses in the link you posted are all in support of Stack Overflow's moderator in locking that post. – meager Aug 13 '12 at 18:54
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    Anybody who is uncomfortable with having their content edited either needs to post better content or not post here. Trying to down-play the fact that your stuff can be edited would be more or less lying to our new users. People need to know they're contributing to a collaboratively-edited site before they post. If Stack Overflow gains a reputation for being collaboratively edited, this is a good thing. – meager Aug 13 '12 at 18:58

Editing is a very important aspect of the site, and an aspect that does need some community review. So I think it's important for both anonymous viewers and community members to see that stuff has been edited.

For anonymous viewers it drives home the point that content here can be edited; and corrected. This post isn't just what some jerk barfed out onto the internet (like so so many other sites), it's actually been reviewed, and hopefully improved, by other members.

For community members it gives an opportunity to see what changed; if the change was good, then cool. Maybe you'll learn how editing is supposed to work from seeing what others do. If the change was bad, it can be rolled back, or the post can be flagged for moderator attention if it appears someone is abusing edits.

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    It tells you that you're looking at what X thought Y was saying, rather than what Y said. That's an important distinction. – Servy Aug 13 '12 at 18:43
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    @Servy not always, I'd say more often than not edits don't interpret gibberish but rather fix up obvious mistakes. – Ben Brocka Aug 13 '12 at 18:48
  • Sometimes it's true and sometimes it's not. Yes, there are certainly cases where the editor never makes any judgement calls about what the OP meant. My point was that it happens often enough that when there is a question about what the OP meant, it's often worthwhile to review the edit history. – Servy Aug 13 '12 at 18:50

Actually the fact that it has been edited is often very important. Consider that the things you find useful in a site do not necessarily match the general consensus. It's hard to understand why the pros you outline must be pros for all of us... if you don't care about the fact that a question has been edited, then ignore it.

Are we talking about you wishing to hide the fact that YOUR question has been edited?

In any case do you really think this is fair to people who have already read the question and will assume they don't have to read it again? What if that leads them down the wrong path, wasted effort, misunderstanding, even bickering? I don't want to speak for everyone, but making edits visible is very valuable to a lot of us.


One possible solution would be to use the same indicator as used for edited comments:

smaller edit indicator

I see the "Pros" as follows:

  1. It's less visible
  2. It's subtle
  3. It's consistent
  4. It reduces the visibility of edits by pro users

The "Con" is that it's harder to click, but that's a small price to pay for a more streamlined UI.

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    That would indicate to me that the OP was the editor. There is value in showing users that edits are made by everyone. – Oded Aug 13 '12 at 18:37
  • Good point, not sure what a good way to do that would be. This was just a starting point. – eykanal Aug 13 '12 at 18:38

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