Currently, the FAQ says:
When should I edit posts?
Any time you feel you can make the post better, and are inclined to do so. Editing is encouraged!
Some common reasons to edit are:
- to fix grammatical or spelling mistakes
- to clarify the meaning of a post without changing it
- to correct minor mistakes or add addendums / updates as the post ages
- to add related resources or hyperlinks
However, it seems that in practice, these common reasons are the only accepted reasons. For instance, edits such as code addition/modification seems systematically disapproved by the community, even if we "feel it makes the post better" (sometimes rightfully, but sometimes not of course).
The reason is that it is considered as changing the meaning of a post too much, or that it does not respect the author. Hence, the encouraged and respectful way to deal with this situation is to leave a comment, that may or may not be taken into account by the author.
While I agree with this recommended behaviour, I think it has the following drawbacks:
- It creates noise in the comments (post improvements + explanation best lie in revision history)
- The person suggesting the edit is not credited in the revision history
- A comment may not leave enough space for the suggested contribution, and the reduced MarkDown may not make it convenient.
- The original author still has to make the edit himself (either by copy-pasting, or creating the final content following the general idea of the suggestion) while the external contributor may have been enclined to do it himself.
Adding a checkbox "require author approval" to the normal editing process, like this:
This would allow more substantial edits such as:
- writing a full new paragraph (when it does not make sense to post it as a separate answer)
- code improvement
- code creation (accurate implementation of author suggestion)
And this would still be respectful to the author, by voluntarily choosing that this edit is only a "suggestion" made to the original author, hence that is not imposed to the author. Checking the checkbox may display the following message:
When the edit is saved, the author receives a notification of suggested edit, with for instance the following text:
UserABC has performed an edit to your post to improve it, but has voluntarily required your approval. This means he or she believes there is a possibility you may disapprove, and wants to give you the opportunity to perform one of the following action before it becomes public:
- accept the edit
- decline the edit, with an optional explanation to UserABC
- modify the edit, with an optional explanation to UserABC
From which he can perform the desired action.
If the contributor has less than 2k reputation, this would override the traditional review queue, since in this case it does not make sense that external reviewers can refuse (resp. accept) the suggested edit that the original author would have accepted (resp. refused). This doesn't break the possibility to improve "bad question" from new users (that the new user may have refused), since in this case we would not check the checkbox, and the modification would be applied either instantly for >2k user, or go through the normal review process for <2k users.
This solution solves all the points discussed in the problem statement:
- Remove noise from comments
- Credit contributor in revision history
- Make contribution easier by using full editing features
- Leverage original author work