One of the special things that makes Stack Exchange different from sites like Reddit or countless discussion forums is the ability of anyone (with a minimum of rep) to suggest improvements to any post. And many do. But occasionally, whether simply due to ignorance or to deliberately game the system, some users suggest edits that don't really improve the post being edited.
Fortunately, we do have a review system that usually — though, alas, not always — catches such mistakes. But when it does... nothing happens. The edit just disappears, vanishing into the dusty bowels of the system.
This has two harmful consequences:
Users who make poor edits by mistake or from ignorance get no feedback, and so never learn to make better edits.
At best, those users may notice that the post they tried to edit hasn't changed, or that they didn't receive the expected +2 rep (if they know about that). But since there's no message of any kind telling them that their edit was rejected, they may assume that it was simply a random software glitch and keep trying to make the edit again until a) they give up in frustration, b) the edit gets approved by mistake, or c) a frustrated reviewer contacts them personally to tell them to stop it. I've been that reviewer several times.
For users who try to game the system, there's no disincentive to making a huge number of crap edits (like, say,
backticksto posts) in the hope that some of them will stick. This wastes reviewer time, and may degrade the quality of the site if some of the edits get incorrectly approved.
To fix both of these problems, I'd like to propose the following feature:
Make rejected edits give -1 rep to the user who suggested them.
In particular, this rep loss should be reported in the same way as rep loss from downvotes is currently reported, and the report entry should link to the rejected edit suggestion (
/review/suggested-edits/number), or (better yet) to a new page that would list the reasons given for the rejection, and would also provide additional advice on how to make better edits and what to do if one disagrees with the rejection.
A -1 rep penalty on rejected edits would not actually have much direct effect on anyone's rep score; a "robo-editor" could still break even, as long as at least 34% of their edits were good enough to be accepted. But to editors who are not completely cynical, it would create a powerful psychological feedback effect, encouraging them to find out why their edit was rejected and to adjust their editing habits to minimize rejections.
Perhaps more importantly, however, for many new editors, the mere fact that the rejection was reported at all in the achievements drop-down would be a great help. By tying the notification to a rep change, it would fit neatly into the existing Stack Exchange notification system, while linking it to the review page would, for the first time, actually let editors see the feedback provided by reviewers.
Ps. In case you think this suggestions would be too harsh and likely to discourage even useful edits, I wouldn't object to simultaneously increasing the rep rewards for accepted edits to, say, +3 or even +5 rep. The latter option would make the rep changes from suggested edits equivalent to those from question up/downvotes, and ought to encourage more good edits.
Also, obviously, I'm not suggesting that a change like this be made simply by jumping into the deep end and hoping for the best. Rather, it should be e.g. first rolled out on a subset of the SE sites for, say, a one-month trial period to see what the effect would be. If, as I hope, this change would decrease the number of poor edits and increase the number of good ones, it could then be more widely deployed; if not, it could always be rolled back.
Pps. Yes, I'm aware that both parts of this feature request (rep penalty and notification) have been suggested before. I don't think the combination has been, though, even if, in hindsight at least, it's kind of obvious.