This question and my recent experiences in the suggested edits review queue (e.g. this one or that one) made me realize a very typical pattern: Keywords are put into backticks and line-breaks not followed by two empty spaces or a paragraph are <br>ed. This is so trivial it could actually be an automated action by some folks massively gaming the suggested edit system to farm rep. I declined those edits as too minor, but they seem to appear so regularly that maybe a mechanism should be implemented to detect these "edits"?

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    what if a missing pair of backticks is the only thing that can be fixed, and it needs to be fixed ("lost in formatting" errors) – John Dvorak Jul 4 '13 at 12:10
  • @JanDvorak Ah, the eternal problem of the software deeming short edit = irrelevant edit - look at this suggested edit for an example of an attempt at dodging this... Anyway, I'm talking about detecting something really obvious like putting Firefox into backticks just to gain 2 rep for the edit. – Tobias Kienzler Jul 4 '13 at 12:15
  • How would you detect by software if a word needs backticking or not? Would the rule be "word being backticked doesn't contain non-alphanumeric characters, so it doesn't count towards the edit minimum"? – John Dvorak Jul 4 '13 at 12:19
  • @JanDvorak Check a suggested edit like this one. It should be pretty simple to detect that this chap simply put backticks around specific expressions like browser names. I admit the (invalid) unload-backticking could however have been valid in a different context, though it'd probably still be deemed too minor – Tobias Kienzler Jul 4 '13 at 12:23
  • how do you explain that to a computer? "backticking only alphanumerics is too minor"? "backticking anything that doesn't contain angle brackets is too minor"? "more than x:y code blocks:non-code blocks is bad"? "backticking anything that is not present in an existing code block is too minor"? – John Dvorak Jul 4 '13 at 12:28
  • @JanDvorak What about "backticking browser names is nonsense" and "edits only backticking keywords are suspicious (but not to be auto-refused)"? – Tobias Kienzler Jul 4 '13 at 12:31
  • so, "backticking these words or any combination thereof is too minor: ["mozilla", "firefox", "microsoft", "internet", "explorer", "opera", "google", "chrome", "ff", "ie", "msie"]"? What about windows, linux (and its flavors), mac, macos, macosx and others? What about c, c++, java and ton of others? – John Dvorak Jul 4 '13 at 12:37
  • This is a job for humans, not for computers. If the humans are faulty, fix them. Don't offload to computers what computers can't do correctly. – John Dvorak Jul 4 '13 at 12:39
  • I wouldn't say any arbitrary combination but rather specific expressions - if it is internet explorer surrounded by backticks and nothing else etc. But agreed, this shouldn't be too automated. Yet it might be used as a heuristic to identify potentially bad edits, and could trigger one of those nasty "Please make sure your edit significantly improves the post" messages that I actually don't like... – Tobias Kienzler Jul 4 '13 at 12:43
  • Let me put it this way: I don't think we need yet another site-specific word list to maintain and update that doesn't actually fix much but also causes harm. – John Dvorak Jul 4 '13 at 12:49
  • @JanDvorak Precisely, that's why I suggested generic backtick-only edits instead. Your first comment indicates where it may fail, but a single-backtick edit cannot be committed anyway. And as the question linked to suggests this is turning into a major problem of suggested edits – Tobias Kienzler Jul 4 '13 at 12:53
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    A good read for this situation meta.stackexchange.com/questions/137755/… – Cody Guldner Jul 4 '13 at 14:34
  • @CodyGuldner My god, it's full of backticks! - In all seriousness, it seems I underestimated the problem even more than I thought – Tobias Kienzler Jul 4 '13 at 14:41
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    @CodyGuldner What I meant is that if this issue has driven a unicorn into madness, it can't be harmless – Tobias Kienzler Jul 4 '13 at 14:44
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    @Tobias Kienzler: Exactly :) – BoltClock's a Unicorn Jul 4 '13 at 14:53

Deline these edits as invalid, not as too minor. They add code markup to things that are not code. They make the post worse. They should be rejected and the people suggesting them should be flogged, hung, quartered and firmly told to stop.

Unfortunately despite the widespread resentment against these edits they keep getting accepted. Roll back at will. If the edit hasn't been accepted yet, click “Improve”, untick the “helpful” checkbox and correct what needs correcting — but unfortunately if the edit is approved in the meantime you will not be able to submit your correction.

If an edit adds backticks and <br> in proper places, then it should be accepted. (Or improved, as <br> is rarely the right tool — use a proper balance of paragraph breaks instead.)

  • Ah, you're correct, I'll keep that in mind from now on. Hm, so basically we really and a "review reviews" queue m-/ Or at least a way to dispute incorrect reviews with nontrivial consequences – Tobias Kienzler Jul 4 '13 at 14:46
  • Actually if I smell such a bad edit that may yet be partly helpful, I open the post in a new tab (maybe copy-pasting an actually improved part), reject the edit and then do a real edit. That does of course only work if the edit becomes rejected within an acceptable time... But my main concern are edits that do nothing but such garbage and therefore can entirely be rejected – Tobias Kienzler Jul 4 '13 at 14:58
  • I've taken to rejecting the particularly egregious examples as vandalism because it is, and in the forlorn hope that it might make a difference someday... – ben is uǝq backwards Jul 17 '13 at 22:01
  • @benisuǝqbackwards, I think putting a custom reason (though it can be tedious if you encounter a lot of these) would be more constructive than just marking it as vandalism. – Old Checkmark Jul 19 '13 at 0:59
  • I do that to @double, though Boltclock complained about the amount of downvotes he was getting :-). – ben is uǝq backwards Jul 20 '13 at 17:06

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