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Scenario 1: A case of confidentiality

An OP edited his question to replace specific project names with generic ones for confidentiality reasons. After that, he suggested an edit to apply the same name changes to an answer posted by another user. Said suggested edit was subsequently rejected.

What is the right thing to do here regarding this suggested edit?

Just reject the suggested edit

  • Reason(s) For:
    1. Suggested edit is minor if judged by itself
  • Reason(s) Against:
    1. Names used in the answer would be inconsistent with the recently modified names in the question.
    2. Doesn't honor OP's wish to preserve confidentiality

Reject the suggested edit + rollback the name changes done by the OP in the question

  • Reason(s) For:
    1. Suggested edit is minor if judged by itself
    2. It preserves the consistency of names in both question and answer(s).
  • Reason(s) Against:
    1. Doesn't honor OP's wish to preserve confidentiality

Approve the suggested edit

  • Reason(s) For:
    1. It honors the OP's wishes
    2. It preserves the consistency of names in both question and answer(s).
  • Reason(s) Against:
    1. Judged by itself, the edit seems rather minor.

Scenario 2: A case of “bad” variable names

If your answer in Scenario 1 is to approve the edit, would you act differently if the reason for the name change is more trivial, e.g. the OP thought the original variable names used in the question were bad and changed them? See this other question and this edit suggested by the OP.

As seen in the edit comment of his suggested edit.

  • 2
    Streisand effect much? OP doesn't want people to see the original project names, but here I am starting a discussion about his situation. – Old Checkmark Jul 17 '13 at 9:06
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    I'd say roll the question back to the original... I see no need for that particular edit. If you don't want something to be seen, don't post it on the internet. And he can always choose to disassociate himself from the post. – Bart Jul 17 '13 at 9:06
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    If it is really a confidentiality problem, OP should flag for moderator's attention - only moderator can make history disappear (well, at least he can escalate). – Mołot Jul 17 '13 at 10:25
  • Darn it @KateGregory, I was trying to aim for longest question title ever. – Old Checkmark Jul 17 '13 at 13:10
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Approve the edits. It's better to have answers that are consistent with the question.

The edit isn't minor: it makes the answer consistent with the question. That's important.

The OP may have flagged or emailed Stack Exchange to have the project names excised from the revision history, or he may be waiting until the answers have been edited to do so.

Stack Exchange staff can purge revisions from the history of a post, and they will do so if a post contains confidential information that was posted accidentally. Of course you should not abuse this possibility — it's a burden on everyone — and Google indexes Stack Exchange posts in minutes, so you should think before posting. But if you've made a mistake, you'll be given a chance to try and patch it up.

Note that your post will not be permanently deleted, only some older revisions will be, so it's up to you to edit your post first to remove the confidential information without losing the meaning (e.g. replace your password by mypassword).

Moderators do not have this power. If you flag asking to delete confidential information, the moderators will relay the request to Stack Exchange staff with this power. The moderator may temporarily delete the post if no staff is around, and restore it once the revisions are purged.

If you've posted some confidential information by mistake and want it purged, then the proper sequence of events is:

  1. Edit your post so that the latest revision is good. Always do this first. If you posted confidential information in a question and others have repeated this information in an answer, also edit the answers.
  2. Flag your post and explain the problem (e.g. “Please purge revision 1 which contains confidential information”). Alternatively, use the contact form and explain the problem (be sure to link to the post).
  • How about when the reason is more trivial, e.g. instead of confidentiality issue, OP just thought that the variable name was badly chosen? – Old Checkmark Jul 17 '13 at 13:07
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    @doubleDown It's still better to keep the answers consistent with the question. If there's no abuse (e.g. asker keeps changing his names again and again, or adds profanity), I'd go along with the flow. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jul 17 '13 at 13:09

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