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Why does the Community user sometimes approve or reject edits?
How does a machine know if my edit is valid?
What does it mean if my edit was rejected by Community?

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When a user suggests an edit, their edit is put in the Suggested Edits review queue. The edit will leave the queue under three conditions:

  • If two users vote to approve or reject the edit (used to be three on Stack Overflow)
  • If the original poster or a ♦ moderator approves or rejects the edit (their vote is binding)
  • If the Community user steps in and approves or rejects the edit

The first two should be self-explanatory, but the last one can be a bit confusing. Community is an automated script designed to take care of maintenance for the site, and it may approve or reject edits under the following conditions.

A reviewer either improves an edit, or rejects and replaces it with a different edit

When one is reviewing suggested edits, there are five available buttons, two of which allow the reviewer to edit the post themselves:

Approve, Improve Edit, Reject and Edit, Reject, Skip

If the reviewer chooses "Improve Edit" and submits their improved form of it, the suggested edit is approved by Community (and immediately replaced by the improved one). If the reviewer chooses Reject and Edit, Community rejects the suggestion and provides a detailed message:

This edit did not correct critical issues with the post - view the revision history to see what should have been changed.

This type of rejection will count towards a potential editing ban. In the past, no edit rejected by Community would count towards it, since it wasn't possible to distinguish between this case and the below case.

A user with full edit privileges saves an edit over yours

If a user with full editing privileges for a post (including the original poster) begins editing the post at the same time as you, and they save their edit after you have already suggested it, then your suggested edit will be overridden in favor of their fully-privileged edit.

This is known in software as an optimistic lock. This is an edge case, and does not happen often because users with full privileges who try to edit a post after you submit your edit will be directed to your suggested edit instead. Thus, when one person starts editing a post, we do not need to lock everyone else out. While the UI attempts to avoid these situations (by prompting you with "an edit has been made to this post; click to load"), they do sometimes occur.

This sometimes appears strange to a viewer—as if Community has immediately rejected their edit, without warning, with no hesitation.

Conflicted with a subsequent edit

Do not be alarmed! This is just concurrent modification working its evil magic once again. This type of rejection will not be counted towards automated edit bans. Simply submit your edit again and it may actually be reviewed.

Another way this can occur is if a fully-privileged user makes an edit, then you suggest another edit right afterwards, and then the first user makes another edit during their 5-minute grace period. In that case, a new revision is not created, but your suggestion is still automatically rejected due to the edit conflict.

A user who reviewed your edit gets their account deleted

If a user who reviewed your edit gets their account deleted, the display of their review of your edit (and any other edit reviews they performed) will retroactively change to show that the Community user performed the review in question. The Community user didn't actually review the edit, but as the user who did review the edit had their account deleted, the Community user takes credit for their action.

This may lead to situations where the Community user appeared to approve an edit without a corresponding "Edit" review, or appeared to reject an edit without a corresponding "Reject and Edit" review or a message explaining that it was an automatic rejection due to edit conflict. The review in question was performed by a now-deleted user; Community is just taking retroactive credit for their action.

  • 3
    Thanks, very helpful information. I can now explain some odd behavior observed when editing and reviewing myself. – Ivaylo Slavov Dec 12 '13 at 12:49
  • 5
    hehe and community user just took hold of this post too! :D How dare you say something about him! :D – Afzaal Ahmad Zeeshan Jan 14 '14 at 17:03
  • Once, an edit suggested by me was approved by the community user and nobody improved my edit. How did this happen? – John Militer Jul 10 '17 at 23:03
  • 1
    @JohnMiliter I finally figured this out; see edit. – Sonic the Anonymous WizHog May 30 '18 at 19:55
  • @Sonic Also, if a privileged user submits an edit which makes exactly the same changes as a suggested edit submitted earlier, will the suggested edit be shown as approved instead of as rejected? – John Militer Jun 2 '18 at 12:40
  • @JohnMiliter No, it's also rejected, because a different user performed the edit. – Sonic the Anonymous WizHog Jun 2 '18 at 18:05

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