I recently improved and approved a suggested edit on a question submitted by a first-time user. The question was later closed as "Not a real question," which is all fine.

It appears that the user took offense with some part how the question was handled, and made three separate suggested edits in attempts to vandalize one of my own questions.

Two of the three were relatively minor edits, but they were all caught by the review system and rejected. While there was no actual harm done and the review system worked as expected, is there a way to stop this user from trying to make more of these edits on my or other users' posts?

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    They'll be stopped soon enough by the automatic ban but flag one of your posts to be sure. – ben is uǝq backwards Dec 27 '12 at 19:25
  • Oh, and for the record, you should avoid editing posts just to remove "thanks" etc. You should try to only remove it as a part of a larger edit to the post. – Servy Dec 27 '12 at 19:29
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    @Servy It was part of improvement of a larger suggested edit. No problem with that. – Bart Dec 27 '12 at 19:31
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    It's not obvious from the history, but I believe I made that change as part of "improving" the suggested edit that came before it. – derekerdmann Dec 27 '12 at 19:31
  • @Bart Yeah, just looked at the timestamps and realized that after you mentioned it. – Servy Dec 27 '12 at 19:33
  • related (an example of suggested edits suspension): I am unable to edit suggestion for any question and answer on Stack Overflow – gnat Dec 27 '12 at 19:41
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    By the way, robo reviewer can be seen in action here.. hilarious! – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Dec 27 '12 at 20:08

This is completely unacceptable behavior, and I've gone ahead and suspended this user for a few days as a result.

While we have some system-level safeguards in place for people who repeatedly make bad suggested edits, this goes far beyond that, so please do flag us and provide a link to the bad suggestion. I almost always regard these as helpful, because we might be able to spot larger problems as a result (like this creative bit of sock puppetry from earlier today).

Automated safeguards like the suggestion ban are more for people trying to submit minor edits or who just aren't understanding the edit process. Outright vandalism is malicious behavior, and moderators really should be made aware of it so that we can act. A link to the review in an "other" flag should be enough for us to work from.


Yes, there is. If a user has enough of their suggested edits rejected in a short period of time they will be banned from suggesting more edits.

If you notice such behavior from a user with 2k rep (and thus their edits don't get reviewed) then it would be appropriate to flag for moderator attention with an "other" flag and let them sort it out.

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    On the other hand: just being banned from suggesting for just a week, hardly seems right after defacing like this. I hope that the reviewer who rejected also flagged for a moderator. – Arjan Dec 27 '12 at 19:28
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    (But only 1 out of 3 reviewers selected the right reason for the rejection....) – Arjan Dec 27 '12 at 19:29
  • @Arjan Why? It's not like he actually edited the post. The edit suggestion was rejected; no harm beyond wasting a few seconds of reviewer time was caused. If it was a 2k user that actually edited the posted for a bit then I'd be much more concerned. – Servy Dec 27 '12 at 19:30
  • The suggested edit ban can handle this perfectly well enough. Blatant post vandalism is easy to catch and reject, and like Servy says, no harm is actually done. There's no reason to drag moderators into something that already has a feature in place to prevent. I'd say this is just like flagging for moderator attention on serial downvoting. Let the system handle it first, and if the problem persists, then get a moderator to take action. (Plus flagging over 2k users which don't need approval.) – animuson ModStaff Dec 27 '12 at 19:53
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    I disagree, @animuson and Servy. We now have 3 reviewers, as too many bad edits (including blatant spam) were accepted when there were only 2. We even need honey pots to teach folks how to review. And like I said: even the rejection reason for that defacing example was wrong for 2 out of 3 reviewers. I'd really urge folks to flag for moderator attention when a user is clearly behaving badly. – Arjan Dec 27 '12 at 19:58
  • @Arjan: No one will approve an edit that replaces the entire post with crap, and as long as it gets rejected, no one cares about the rejection reason. In fact, those reasons are correct. The edit is an incorrect edit. Just because they don't realize that there is a specific vandalism reason there for these exact cases doesn't mean they reviewed incorrectly. They still realized the edit was wrong and rejected it. The reasons are only there to give the person who suggested it an idea of why it got rejected. If they're vandalizing, they know damn well why it got rejected, so it doesn't matter. – animuson ModStaff Dec 27 '12 at 20:01
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    Well, @animuson, maybe not if it's ALL crap, but even adding spam gets accepted. – Arjan Dec 27 '12 at 20:05
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    @animuson - I've expanded on this in my answer, but I know that I really appreciate flags pointing out behavior like this. Suggesting bad edits is one thing, but targeted vandalism is something that moderators really should be made aware of. As has been pointed out, sometimes reviewers rubber-stamp even destructive edits like this, so we need to address the users responsible for them. This is like serial downvotes, where the system can catch many of these cases, but we still may want to warn the users responsible to get them to knock it off. – Brad Larson Dec 27 '12 at 21:30

Flag one of the posts that were tried to edit for moderator attention and explain your situation. A moderator will take appropriate actions.

  • You can't flag a suggested edit, and flagging the actual post is useless if it was a suggested edit, since no trace of the suggestion shows up in that post's history if it got rejected. The only real way to flag this is to go out of the way to one of the user's posts and flag for them to check their suggestion history, which is by far way out of the way when there is already a ban feature in place for multiple rejections. – animuson ModStaff Dec 27 '12 at 19:56
  • That's a temporary 7 day ban, @animuson, which the editor might not even notice if their next urge for "retaliation" is not within those 7 days. – Arjan Dec 27 '12 at 20:06
  • @Arjan You're assuming a mod is going to take some sort of action in a case like this. They're not. They know the automatic ban is there to handle this, so there's nothing more for them to do. (At least in the common case.) – Servy Dec 27 '12 at 20:07
  • @Arjan: From above: "Let the system handle it first, and if the problem persists, then get a moderator to take action." – animuson ModStaff Dec 27 '12 at 20:08
  • Very well, @Servy, let's see if a moderator agrees to that. (I hope not.) – Arjan Dec 27 '12 at 20:08
  • @animuson, how would we know if the user changed their behaviour when the system threw in the 7 day ban? But okay, then maybe that should read "Check the user's suggested edits history and see if it happened before" (and maybe even... "and if you're the first to reject come back soon to ensure others rejected it too") Still then, I see absolutely no reason not to flag for moderator attention when a user is behaving like that. – Arjan Dec 27 '12 at 20:12
  • @Arjan: Do you also advocate users flagging for moderator attention when they get a mass of downvotes on all their posts? Repeated abuse of the suggested edit system should be grounds for site suspension, but blindly flagging for moderators to take action on something that may not need action taken is just as annoying. – animuson ModStaff Dec 27 '12 at 20:16
  • Nope, I don't care about reputation at all, @animuson :-) But I get your point: moderators are busy, I know that. But if I were a moderator, I'd suspend users for a looooong time for any defacing attempt. I'm just saying that 7 days is not enough a penalty. And that I feel chances are too heigh defacing might not even be rejected for the right reason, or might even be accepted. – Arjan Dec 27 '12 at 20:21
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    Also, people need to know this kind of behavior won't be tolerated. If they do this sort of thing and see they can get away with it, what will this person try to do next? And to a user that wasn't even involved in closing or deleting the post? This user is acting on pure ignorance, attacking the wrong person, isn't helping improve the Q&A experience, and needs to be dealt with, IMHO. – jmort253 Dec 27 '12 at 20:26

Firstly, posting here is the correct move. It brings it to the community's (And moderators) awareness.

Second, as was already stated, if enough reviews get rejected, the offensive user will be banned for a set period of time.

Third, if the phenomenon repeats itself, you can either post here again, or flag one of your own posts which were vandalism-attempted, and a moderator would take proper action.

  • I see no need for a meta post on the issue in the general case. We're not going to do anything except tell him that the system is already equipped to handle it through rejections and the auto ban. It's only if the ban isn't enough (either from him having >2k rep, or by doing the same thing week after week) that there's a need for anyone else to get involved, either through a meta post or flagging. – Servy Dec 27 '12 at 20:23

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