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It is possible for users to edit an existing post.

  • How do edits work?
  • Who may edit a question or answer?
  • How can you tell what has been changed between edits?

For more information, see "Why can people edit my posts? How does editing work?" in the Help Center.

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Related: How do I format my code blocks?

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"edit button"

How do edits work?

Users can edit the questions and answers submitted to the site. This gives the site a wiki feel, and allows the information to constantly evolve and remain up to date. Those users who are allowed to edit a post can do so by clicking the edit link associated with that post.

Multiple edits made by the same person may be combined into a single revision, if they occur within a short period of time (currently 5 minutes), unless the post is later edited by someone else or one of the events listed at the bottom occurs. Edits made by the original author are considered part of the base revision if submitted within 5 minutes of posting (again, unless someone else edits the post or one of those events occurs) or migrating.

It is possible to “rollback” changes made in a revision. This can be done during editing by selecting a previous revision to edit from the dropdown, but can also be accomplished via the "rollback" link displayed on previous revisions within the revision history list. This action will earn you a bronze "Cleanup" badge when first used.

When multiple editors submit binding changes, the last one in “wins”, regardless of who began editing first. Both revisions are preserved however, and changes lost can be restored either by rolling back to the previous revision or by manually copying text into a new revision.

To promote good edits, a user who suggests an edit to someone else’s post will get +2 reputation points when that edit suggestion is approved. You do not get the reputation bonus if the edit is automatically approved, whether this is because you are editing your own post, you are editing a community wiki post, or you have at least 2000 reputation and all of your edits are auto-approved. Also, you are limited to a maximum of 1000 reputation points earned from edits.

Who may edit a question or answer?

The original author of a question or answer may edit their own post. Additionally, users with a certain level of reputation may edit any question or answer. The one exception is locked questions, which may not be edited by anyone, including the original author, until they are unlocked. Additionally, the amount of reputation needed to edit community wiki posts is much lower than that needed to edit ordinary questions and answers. If a user does not have enough reputation to edit directly, they can still suggest an edit (see a related FAQ question, How do suggested edits work?).

How can you tell what has been changed between edits?

Edit indicator

Once your question has been edited, there will be a note of it, with the time since the last edit hyperlinked to a revision history for the post.

Example:

Edit indicatior

Revision history

Each revision is displayed in a separate, collapsible section. Older revisions start out already collapsed. If a comment was specified by the person editing, that will be displayed in yellow next to the revision number; otherwise, the total number of characters added or removed in that revision will be listed, as well as whether the title and tags have been changed (questions only). Once expanded, the revision will be displayed, with changes highlighted.

The edit link on older revisions lets you copy that edition to a new revision, essentially letting you roll back to that revision and edit it at the same time.

Example:

revision history item

Revision diff color key:

  • Green background: characters added
  • Red text + strikeout: characters removed

Grace period

In order to prevent a series of tiny edits from showing up in the revision history, a single user with at least 10 reputation who edits a post is given a 5-minute grace period, except under one of the following conditions:

  • The previous revision was a rollback.
  • The new revision is a rollback.

During this period, any additional edits they make are collapsed into the same edit in the revision history, displaying only the final outcome of all their edits within that 5 minute period. The grace period ends after exactly 5 minutes, or if:

  • Another user edits the post, at which time their grace period begins.
  • A comment has been added to the post since the previous revision by anyone other than the editor (ignores deleted comments).
  • If the post being edited is a question and an answer has been added since the previous revision (ignores deleted answers).
  • The post is a question and it has been closed since the previous revision.
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  • 1
    Right now, it's 5 minutes from the first edit. That is subject to change however, and should not be relied on - still beta...
    – Shog9
    Oct 10, 2008 at 16:45
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    @clahey: that definition is best left to The Main FAQ (stackoverflow.com/faq), where presumably it will always be up-to-date.
    – Shog9
    Sep 1, 2009 at 23:34
  • 10
    @unknown: read the site FAQ - editing of other user's posts is very much a core part of SO. If abuse happens, you can 1) rollback the change with a single click, and 2) flag for moderator attention to let someone know what's going on.
    – Shog9
    Jan 21, 2010 at 14:42
  • 1
    Yes, @boncodigo
    – Shog9
    Dec 30, 2012 at 15:19
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    Looks fine, @JasonC. If you're not aware of any changes, that's probably because there haven't been any.
    – Shog9
    Mar 26, 2015 at 5:58
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    @Shog9 By that logic, 12 hours ago, the grace period changes probably didn't exist.
    – Jason C
    Mar 26, 2015 at 14:30
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    Find 5 of that author's own 1 character typos, @steve. Or a 3 character typo and a two-character typo. Or a 5 character typo. ...you get the idea.
    – Shog9
    Aug 16, 2021 at 1:35
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    @gnat I'm not sure. It's a site setting, so we're able to pretty quickly disable it if it becomes an issue. For right now, the bigger issue is the real spam wave on SO that we're trying to quash.
    – Catija StaffMod
    May 14 at 13:16
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    Is it also possible to add the number of edits to own post per day/hour/minute for users without the "restrictions lifted" privilege to rate-limits, @Catija? Would you like a feature request if this sounds like a good idea? I don't see any valid use cases for allowing unlimited edits on own posts when pretty much everything else is rate-limited (I can be wrong - will make a SEDE query when I have time). May 14 at 13:25
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    @Catija disabling this would mean opening site for spammers tricks. I would suggest instead to just add some throttling to consequtive edits of the same post by <10 users, this will take care of any undesirable side effects. Something like 10 edits per minute, 20 edits per hour, 30 edits a day would probably suffice to keep system safe no matter what else you would want to change in the editing features
    – gnat
    May 14 at 13:25
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    If one of y'all want to create a request for that, go for it - it seems like a reasonable solution. I can talk to someone next week about how big of a risk it is to see if we need to prioritize it.
    – Catija StaffMod
    May 14 at 13:28
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    Will do, @Catija, unless ninja'd. Some prior research needs to be done first, but my gut tells me it's unlikely that it will turn out that there are legit low rep users making more than 1-5 edits per hour to their own posts. May 14 at 13:33
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    @OlegValteriswithUkraine But, the data you got from SEDE can't tell you how many grace period edits were made on those posts, so there's no way to know how many edits there actually were. What's recorded there is only edits by the same person which are more than 5 minutes apart, or edits by someone other than the prior editor (and rollbacks). So, while it is interesting data, it's not actually how many edits were made to the post.
    – Makyen
    May 15 at 19:13
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    @OlegValteriswithUkraine Ahhh... it looks like Shog9 already covered that in an answer over here.
    – Makyen
    May 15 at 19:16
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    @OlegValteriswithUkraine Yeah, I'm interested to see what it says on Monday, but it will be even better in another week (and, obviously, continuing to improve as time goes on). The change has really only been active for the lowest SE Network use days, so the information will be limited, but the data from the next SEDE DB copy should at least give some hints.
    – Makyen
    May 15 at 19:29

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