Everyone knows about the grace period, and everyone knows the confusion that grace period can cause when it comes to "hidden edits" that seemingly came out of nowhere.

My simple solution: add another database field to each revision which is just a simple Integer, and keep track of the number of times each revision gets edited within the grace period (not sure if this could be applied retroactively - probably not).

If the number of grace period edits is greater than zero, display a nice little message below the revision bar in the history:

This revision was modified 2 times during the grace period.

Perhaps even link the "grace period" part to a page which explains what that is and why the edits get merged during those 5 minutes. This would ultimately be similar to the "edit count" that we already have for comments, which can be seen by hovering over the pencil icon next to the comment.

  • 1
    Quick question for the devs: Does this information already exist? Otherwise we can't backfill this retroactively.
    – Mysticial
    Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 18:43
  • I think it's available, saw a dev mentioning they can see if post was edited during grace period, but no full history... anyway I'll make it a mod-only thing. Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 18:52
  • @Shadow We don't have access to that information. I assumed they just had logs of "this user submitted an edit request to this post at this time" that might be useful in determining that information.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 18:56
  • Can you perhaps explain further how knowing that a post has been edited N times is useful? When you don't how it was edited? Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 19:22

4 Answers 4


Following discussion in comments, I think my counter-proposal is this:

  • Make the very first edit to a post cause an entry in the revision history, always, even if it falls within grace.

Then you will catch the Fastest Gun In The Westers, but multiple edits within a window won't cause history spam.

  • The only difference then to the current behaviour is that edits will not be silently merged into the original content, only with other edits.

  • The grace period therefore would begin after the first edit, not after initial submission.

The benefit over your proposal is that it uses the existing revision history interface (therefore consistent and unsurprising to use), and shows you as full an audit history of edits as you need for the stated use case. I think just knowing that an edit happened, without being able to see what it was or what the content was previously, is good enough for comments but not for content the size of questions/answers.

Turns out it's been requested before, though.


Edit: Slightly obsolete now as I changed/refined my opinion a little, in a new answer.

If you're no longer going to allow such edits to be silent/hidden, then remove this functionality altogether.

A second way of indicating that changes have occurred is just confusing, inconsistent and downright noisy.

If you're worried about spam in the revision history, the collapsing of temporally-adjacent edits will already take care of that, so simply remove the grace period entirely and rely on revision collapse to absorb any significant noise in the revision history.

In fact, I'd support that change. I never really saw why SO was so afraid of listed edits anyway. The servers can handle it and, as this proposal suggests, an audit trail is a good thing.

  • 1
    There was never any contract or understanding that those edits would be made "silently" - that's just how the system has worked previously. This feature would effectively make it work more like comments, which already have the edit count displayed next to them via the pencil icon. Or would you rather comments edited within the grace period not have any indication of its modification?
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 18:54
  • @animuson: If that's how the system worked, then that's what the understanding was. As for your final statement, I believe that runs counter to the viewpoint I've stated in a couple of places on this question now that I advocate more audit trail, not less. Just not like this. Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 18:54
  • So you would rather the revision history be filled with a bunch of one-letter changes that fix spelling errors rather than just having a simple count of the number of spelling errors they fixed?
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 18:59
  • @animuson: Why one-letter changes? Multiple consecutive typo fixes would be collapsed into single revisions just as they are now. Where one-letter changes occur more than 5 minutes apart they already appear as separate revs and I certainly don't think they cause overwhelming history spam. I think you overestimate the damage caused by allowing typos fixed immediately post-submission to be logged. It's outweighed, surely, by the benefit of seeing fully what these FGIW authors are doing to their posts. Just knowing that there has been an edit is not really enough for answer-sized content. Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 19:01
  • You're advocating that a better alternative to a count is not having a grace period at all. If there is no grace period, edits will never be combined together, no matter how minor they are. That's exactly what the grace period dictates.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 19:02
  • @animuson: We're talking at cross-purposes. I'm referring to the "grace period" as the five minute time after submission in which no edits are recorded. It sounds like you're including the collapse of multiple consecutive edits at any time in that terminology (which is confusing, because presumably you only mean to show a message above the post, in the immediately-post-submission case?). Perhaps my terminology is wrong but, regardless, I would keep the collapsing but lose the five minute post-submission grace. Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 19:03
  • @animuson I think he's advocating that the revision history be shown as it is now. But with a button to expand revisions with grace edits so that you can see what each of the grace edits are.
    – Mysticial
    Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 19:04
  • I think I'm suggesting the formation of a revision #2 on the very first edit, always, even if it falls in grace. And no further change. Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 19:04
  • So kind of like this then?
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 19:08
  • @animuson: Hah, yes. Spot on. :) Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 19:12

This would defy the point of the grace period.

  • +1: Agreed. A recommendation to abolish the grace period would be one thing (which I'd probably agree with, tbh — I don't see why people can't take care before posting and a record of their typos will aid that) but to make it a sort of non-grace period that makes edits looks different from normal edits anyway doesn't appear to accomplish anything. Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 18:47
  • 8
    How would it? The point of the grace period is to combine quick, successive edits so as not to flood the revision history with minor updates and fixes. Providing a count for how many times it was updated does absolutely no harm to anyone, and can be quite useful to investigations.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 18:47
  • 1
    What do you think the point of the grace period is? Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 18:47
  • @animuson: Successive edits are combined regardless of the grace period. I thought the grace period was to allow an author to immediately fix a post-submission typo without having to spam to the entire world that this occurred. Adding this message is just noise and you might as well make it show up as a real revision if you do that. Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 18:48
  • @LightnessRacesinOrbit Successive edits aren't combined if they're 5 min. apart. (larger than the grace period window)
    – Mysticial
    Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 18:48
  • @Mysticial: Okay, but it's still a different feature (effectively) Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 18:49

This would not defy the point of the grace period. It would allow for us to see when a user posts something like:

You should do something like <x> making a demo, one second....

No Comments allowed. Thank you.

  • Yes, it was already explained what the benefit would be, in the proposal. This answer does not explain why it is worth the noise. The point of the grace period is that authors can make silent changes immediately after submission. Agree or disagree with the grace period's existence, making such edits no longer silent is clearly a violation of that intent. That said, again, I would support reducing or even abolishing the grace period entirely to get rid of the FGIW problem. I just don't think that this is the solution. Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 18:49
  • 6
    What's with the "no comments allowed" part???
    – Doorknob
    Commented Jan 6, 2014 at 19:01

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