I was tempted to make an historic novel of this question, but decided against it, since someone might not understand the subtle quality of the novel I was about to write.


I was checking the for some civic duty, more specifically Question without Answers section. I looked for question that needed some kind of action (comment asking for clarification, edits, tagging, voting, flagging, etc.), and stumbled upon this question. It was a good question (but with lack of formatting) and was edited previously, but what struck me more was the fact that it has an answer.

Decision making

I analyzed the question deeply, read the comments and I decided that I could take 3 actions:

  1. Comment again and hope OP takes action.
  2. Edit the question and add an answer as community wiki.
  3. Flag for moderation.

I rationalized that (1) will not achieve anything since comments already tried 3 times to make OP pay attention (in 2009, 2012 and 2013) and make a proper answer. (3) Was a bit too much, since the problem was actually simple and no something that could trigger alien invasion. So, I did (2), based in a previous question about "Is OK to flag comments as answers" in Meta U&L.

Taking action

So, created the answer as Community wiki (Simonatmso.net raised concerns about what I was trying to do but even so failed to review the edit), and edited the question to delete the answer embedded to the question and did some light grammar check. But 3 out 4 seemed that didn't noticed what was going on (lack of coffee? too many reviews at the same time?) and rejected the edit with "This edit changes too much in the original post; the original meaning or intent of the post would be lost". I couldn't catch how the OP change the meaning if the changes were introduced by other edit and I was just giving closure to the question.

As you all can notice (or I hope so), it was too odd that 3 different persons, in the same situation, did the same action even when they were in wrong (I attribute this to the lack of coffee). So, please offer more coffee to reviewers, or they are given enough so need something even more powerful (energy drinks?).

If I was in wrong, I do apologize for making you all waste your time reading my rant, but any answer (guidance) is always welcomed.

  • Tempted to vote to close this as a dupe of this, which I encountered and answered yesterday, as it's fundamentally the same problem. Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 16:05
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    Not just reviewers. I have no idea what I was thinking back in 2009 when I originally moved the solution from a comment to the question. You took the correct action by moving it to a CW answer and citing the OP. Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 16:06
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    @ErnestFriedman-Hill Not even close as a dupe. That question is a feature request to allow a post's comments to be shown when reviewing a suggested edit on the post. This question is asking for an explanation regarding reviewers' [mis]judgment. The 2 questions have some overlaps, i.e. they're both about reviewers making the wrong judgment but the intent is different. You can say that that feature request is a possible solution to this problem (though in this case, that feature might still not be a good enough solution). But to call this a dupe of that is IMHO kinda farfetched. Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 16:22
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    I feel that this is all @BilltheLizard's fault, so he should be supplying the coffee all around.
    – Ryan
    Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 18:17
  • 5
    I'm going to write a historic novel about why this is @BilltheLizard's fault. Commented Jul 20, 2013 at 0:45
  • @doubleDown That is reaching pretty far back into Stack Overflow history. :) Commented Jul 20, 2013 at 1:42

2 Answers 2


Chapter I: Speculations

For reference, here's Braiam's edit summary/comment:

Moving in-question answer to proper answer. Also, some styling

My speculations on why the suggested edit was rejected

  1. The reviewer might not be aware that the block of code is an answer, or he might simply disagree with your interpretation (stated in your edit summary) that the code is "in-question answer". He might have thought it is part of the question, sort of like what the OP has tried so far. To be fair, the OP's wording leaves some room for ambiguity.

  2. The reviewer might erroneously think that moving code from OP's question to an answer is not acceptable, even if he recognizes that code is in fact the/an answer to the question being asked, because:

    • he might think that no one else but the OP should take credit for that answer (if it is ever going to be posted as an answer) since it is the OP's answer.

    • "in Moderators we trust": the fact that a prior edit to include the answer in the question was made by a certain moderator-who-shall-not-be-named might mislead a reviewer into thinking that this suggested edit of yours is invalid. In other words, the reviewer trusts the moderator-who-shall-not-be-named's judgment more than he does yours.

  3. The reviewer reads the edit comment, doesn't really understand it, doesn't bother investigating further (e.g. by looking at the question/answer/their comments), and just looks at the diff.

  4. The reviewer doesn't even read the edit comment and just looks at the diff.

    A close variation of this is that the reviewer sees a radical addition/removal of code in the edit, and rejects the edit in a knee-jerk response. This might be a symptom/consequence of robo-reviewing.


Chapter II: Something you can do as an editor or as one-who-suggests-edits

There's not much you can do about #2 and #4. But you can prevent (or at least alleviate) #1 and #3 by being even more verbose in your edit summary/comment. For one you can explicitly mention the comments/discussions that were made on the question.

Moved this code into a community wiki answer (https://stackoverflow.com/a/17747098/1743811) because it really should be posted as an answer. Please see the comments by ChrisF, Bill the Lizard, or Ryan Gates on the question (e.g. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/1233466/how-to-print-tiff-files-automatically#comment24693230_1233466)

Admittedly despite such heroic efforts, your suggested edit might still get rejected. But at least you can proudly declare

Um, I already gave my best, and I have no regrets at all


Chapter III: How the reviewers could have done better

I think reviewers should adopt (or be educated about) a few good practices

  • Reviewers should read the fine (edit) comment (if they haven't been doing so)

  • In case of doubt about the correctness of a seemingly radical edit (removing/adding a block of code) even after reading the edit summary/comment, reviewers should open the post in a new tab and look for clues (especially the comments on that post) to help them decide.

    Chances are, if the reviewers have seen the comments (now deleted, but see Appendix C) on the question itself, they would have thought that the suggested edit is a correct one.

Admittedly, much of this (and more) is discussed in this excellent proposed FAQ titled "What are the guidelines for reviewing?", but I don't think a lot of reviewers (or users) look at it or know of its existence.

In response to possible reason #2, reviewers should also be made aware that it's perfectly fine to cut out self-answer within a question and post it as a separate answer. Here are some related Meta discussions for your viewing pleasure:


Chapter IV: How about a new button on the Suggested Edit's review interface?

I don't know if such a feature request already exists, but maybe we can add a See context button in addition to the existing Approve, Reject, Improve, Skip buttons in the review interface.

This new button would open the edited post in a new tab. Yes, you can already open the post in a new tab, but having an actual button would have a secondary effect of reminding reviewers to look at the post, its comments, and even surrounding posts if in doubt.


Appendix C: In anticipation of the "What comments are you talking about? I don't see the comments by ChrisF, Bill the Lizard, or Ryan Gates on that question. Are you hallucinating again?" response

The comments referred to in my proposed edit summary/comment above have actually been deleted at the time of writing.

But for reference, here is the content of those comments

Generally when posting code it's better to edit your question. Because there's no formatting in comments it's hard to read. In this case though post it as an answer and then accept it if it's what worked.
– ChrisF♦ Nov 12 '09 at 15:09

@Yaser: I moved the comment up to the body, but it really should be added as an answer.
– Bill the Lizard♦ Dec 13 '09 at 18:35

Note that Yaser is the OP of that question.

Please post your update as an answer and accept it. This will help future users and help you earn more upvotes/reputation.
– Ryan Gates Jun 12 at 19:52


I think the issue may be found here:

Moving in-question answer to proper answer. Also, some styling.

It may have gone over better if it had been reworded to something like:

Improved styling / Removed answer from question and added it as a community wiki answer.

Out of context your edit does look like a radical change. Had you added more information in the edit description I think reviewers would have taken a closer look at the post.

I think I skipped this edit in the review queue because I'm still working on my morning coffee.

Feel free to send coffee, more coffee is always appreciated.

  • Yeah, I reckon that, when I was about to write a description I had to look for another cup of coffee, and found none. But, the "This can we done with this piece of code, I tested it is working" that I deleted, should give some hint about what's going on, no?
    – Braiam
    Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 17:27
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    You also could've rolled it back, with a reason "Rolled back improper edit (which added an answer to the question)". You then separately make the formatting edit.
    – Joe
    Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 17:46
  • @joe Yeah, that could be another solution that I didn't think of, but, even so, I don't have the link to rollback an 118k rep user edit (or I just don't have enough rep). Imgur
    – Braiam
    Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 17:56
  • True, but I would certainly use the rolled back terminology.
    – Joe
    Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 19:10

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