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Given that there are times when the poster's intent may not be entirely clear, and that there seems to be a flat out prohibition on touching any code, I'd like to suggest that one additional element be added to the suggested edit workflow.

I would like the original poster to be notified of suggested edits have the power to approve or roll back any suggested edit to their post. For the purposes of one's own posts, one should be the ultimate moderator after all nobody knows better what you meant than you do.

Additionally a (default unchecked) checkbox might be added next to the save button, that says:

"Suggest this edit only to the original poster" Checking this would keep the suggested edit out of the review queue, and only the original poster could approve it. The use case for this is an edit where one is attempting to help the user clarify their question but there is a risk that you are changing the meaning of their question, and the person suggesting the edit wants to check with the original poster rather than relying on the review queue.

I've seen posts that seem to ask a basically good question with some poor quality code samples (bad syntax, way too long etc), or what appears to be a bit of flipped around logic in the Engilsh that might or might not be a typo or mis-edit. These posts seem to garner down votes, often without explanatory comments. I think it would be best if there were some avenue beyond downvotes and more detailed/explicit than comments with which to collaborate with the OP.

This will also help make SE sites a bit more friendly and inviting. After all it's much more friendly to say "did you mean this?" with a suggested edit than "-1 fix your syntax please"

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    It’s also possible to comment with not “-1 fix your syntax please” but “did you mean such-and-such”, which saves effort if it’s wrong, although I suppose it saves going back to the question later. – Ry- Jun 28 '13 at 4:59
  • @minitech For small/simple things, I'm sure that will remain the norm, but if your changes are more complicated or code related, comments can be inefficient or too short, or lack formatting. I just got done with a discussion around a suggested edit that the author liked and ultimately applied by hand but was rejected (by you in fact) because touching code is apparently forbidden by the community. – Gus Jun 28 '13 at 5:17
  • How about commenting with a link to pastebin which contains the suggested edit? – Old Checkmark Jun 28 '13 at 5:37
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    @doubleDown that more or less works, but looses the nice diff and the one-touch apply. Better user experience if we grant access to the existing UI, add a checkbox and add a notification. Should be a relatively easy change for SE. – Gus Jun 28 '13 at 5:44
  • IIRC we already give the post author veto power over a suggested edit, and they are notified. The only thing missing (if I'm not wrong) is the "suggest to author only" feature. – user200500 Jun 29 '13 at 1:56
  • @Asad that applies to edits already accepted. The OP can't accept a suggested edit (unless I missed something, I haven't had people make edits to my questions recently so it could be there and I didn't notice/remember) – Gus Jun 29 '13 at 2:51
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There are a couple of reasons that make this feature unnecessary. In the case of code in questions, bad code often is the problem. If we get in the habit of editing the code, we can easily nullify the question. Such input should be in the form of answers, not edits.

Next, we already have ways of notifying the OP that an answer is not quite right: comments and downvotes. There are instances, as you mentioned, where the necessary changes are too involved to be contained in comments; in those cases you should post a new answer.

Since these features serve the purpose, an additional system of edits and notifications seems to be unnecessary.

Finally, I agree that detailed, explanatory comments are more helpful than "-1 fix your syntax." That is something that many of us (myself included) need to work on. However, I think it can be accomplished without the addition of a new feature.

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  • I rather suspect that if I posted an "answer" that said "you might want to ask the question this way: <example>" I would get lots of downvotes because it's not an answer. – Gus Jun 29 '13 at 2:11
  • @Gus Can you give an example of a question which you feel would benefit from a code edit of the nature you described, but where an answer would not be appropriate? – George Cummins Jun 29 '13 at 2:12
  • As to the code bit I agree that if the solution to the problem is a change to the code that should be an answer of course. But edits that don't solve the problem or answer the question but do enhance the site could be suggested. For this one I have a recent example: stackoverflow.com/questions/17354891/java-bytebuffer-to-string - basically answers should be solutions. Things that are not answers but clarify/enhance the question and thus the site, should be edits. – Gus Jun 29 '13 at 2:19
  • To put it another way, answers are supposed to be answers, not forum posts. – Gus Jun 29 '13 at 2:20
  • @Gus Nothing on StackOverflow should be a forum post. :) One of your comments on the linked question is "I suspected you were getting down votes for your syntax errors and tried to help you out." That is generally not the case. We expect people to post bad code; that's why we are here. Since the question asked "Is this a correct approach..." it would be wholly appropriate to post an answer identifying the syntax errors. Better answers will address the core issue as well, but every little bit helps. – George Cummins Jun 29 '13 at 2:26
  • And should I cut and paste the existing correct answer and add my syntax suggestions that are not relevant to the question actually asked? – Gus Jun 29 '13 at 2:29
  • @Gus If the syntax suggestions are irrelevant, they shouldn't be posted at all. If they are relevant and helpful, they will stand alone as an answer. As for copying/pasting existing answers, see Is it okay to copy-paste answers from other questions? – George Cummins Jun 29 '13 at 2:33
  • The question was rhetorical. I would never C&P. – Gus Jun 29 '13 at 2:43

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