I ask this because I've taken a liking to checking new questions for poor formatting, broken English, and questionable phrasing. My goal in this is to edit otherwise decent questions that get typically downvoted or flagged as being low-effort by other users. I've been running into trouble recently with edit conflicts that causes Community to reject my suggested edits.

Take my most recent suggested edit, for example. These are both reasonable edits -- I corrected grammatical and formatting errors, and the OP elaborated on their initial post. Due to the timing of both of our edits, there is no method of conflict resolution available, and OP is left with those same problems in their post.

I've searched Meta about this matter and it seems like a good way to go about resolving this hasn't been found yet. That is somewhat discouraging to me, because I feel that helping these newer posts along is beneficial to the site as a whole, no matter their eventual fate. So that leaves me here, asking for advice or feedback -- does anyone have any suggestions for avoiding/improving this conflict, or should I just wait a while before working with these posts?

  • 2
    Is suggesting an edit soon after initial posting a discouraged behavior? No, but there really should be some way to address this problem.
    – nhahtdh
    Jan 24, 2013 at 2:02
  • 3
    I am like you - in that I prefer to clean up while post is new. However, a somewhat painful experience brought me a habit to wait until grace-period expires
    – gnat
    Jan 24, 2013 at 8:02

2 Answers 2


So several days have passed and I have adjusted my editing routine with the feedback from this post in mind. That is to say, that I won't bother with posts until OP's 5 minute grace-period expires. I dedicated about an hour to this process last night, and here are some findings:

1. The sort of questions that I am interested in editing (potentially good questions, but poorly presented) seem to be largely ignored through the grace-period.

I was concerned that these types of questions may be targeted by downvotes and close flags, but I have not found that to be the case in practice. This seems to have worked in favor of the questions I have edited, because many of them have gotten favorable responses following the edit.

2. The sort of questions that I am not interested in editing usually do not survive the grace-period unscathed.

By the time I get to them, there will usually be a comment or two questioning the quality of the post. This is helpful to me as an editor, because comments from other users help me to determine if the issue is something that can be fixed through editing, if the question should be flagged for closure, or if it is something that I should move on from because it is outside of my ability to determine.

3. The quality of these edits have improved, because I am not pressed for time.

Since the questions that I want to edit are largely being ignored, I can take as much time as I need to fix major issues in the presentation of the question. If there is something that is a problem but I am uncomfortable changing, I now leave a note in the Edit Summary for other reviewers to see.

4. Last, but not least: that rude "Community" guy does not reject my edits anymore!

(Who does he think he is, anyway!?) This may seem trivial, but every suggested edit I've made with these changes has been approved without complaint -- by man, or machine.

This change has been very beneficial to my editing, and hopefully to the Stack Overflow community as well. I came to meta really troubled by the problems that the grace-period causes, but I see wisdom in having something like that now. Besides giving OP some breathing room to fix their own mistakes, allowing some time to pass before editors comes in allows the community to assess whether the question is worthwhile in the first place.

That said, the answer to the question I have posed is still somewhat ambiguous. Is suggesting an edit soon after initial posting a discouraged behavior? There isn't really any direction for that outside of this discussion, and even here we seem to be split. The intuition seems to be "no, worthwhile edits are worthwhile no matter when they are made," but in practice the system of community-based evaluation seems to work better if the answer is "yes, wait a few moments for the OP and the community to assess it."

I would like to see continued discussion on the topic, since it seems there isn't quite a consensus on it. Thanks everyone for your feedback!

  • 1
    Not just for your research but for your editing; those I looked through look great! Thanks for taking the time to do it properly and keep at it! Jan 28, 2013 at 23:03

It looks like the edit suggestion conflicted with an edit of the OP.

It happens often that a user posts a question (or answer) and directly edits it. Sometimes because the rendering of the mark down was not as expected, and sometimes because of a typo.

So in order to give the OP some time to fix the post (which is often the best solution), you could wait a couple of minutes.

By the way, the edit suggestion you linked to completely removed the code sample. Was that intentionally?

  • That was actually somewhat curious because when I was working through the edit prompt, I didn't see anything below the OP's link. I suppose that was edited in some time after I started editing and before I finished, but I'm not certain. Jan 24, 2013 at 13:42

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