This question has been hot lately, undoubtedly because of the subject matter. I created a comment that said something like

The comment immediately attracted 5 upvotes. A moderator then apparently felt it was necessary to bowdlerize it into

You can find the most popular sites on the net according to Alexa, and they all seem to have plenty of free content.

Upvotes on my comment immediately stopped. The moderator edit was surprising since at least one other answer to the same question also lists porn sites by name but has been left untouched.

I can understand a moderator may have been offended, or the comment violated some policy because actual hyperlinks were used, yet I'm still attributed as the sole author of what I (and apparently other readers, since upvoting stopped) consider to be a now much weaker, watered-down comment.

If a comment is edited by a moderator, shouldn't there be an indication that a moderator (and not the author) has edited the comment, so the original author is not incorrectly implied to be the editor and/or sole author?


3 Answers 3


First off, don't link to porn sites. That's just begging poorly-implemented web filters to start blocking pages or entire sites. You might not find it offensive, but I suspect your colleagues will be offended if they can't use a site they've come to rely on.

Second, don't post answers as comments. If you felt the information you were providing was valuable to the asker and worth revision tracking, you should post it as an answer to the question.

The moderator involved should have just deleted the comment and moved on; presumably, he thought he was being kind by just editing it.

  • 4
    I think you're missing the point. Imagine the comment wasn't about porn. Imagine the comment wasn't an answer, even though many are. The point is a moderator can make anyone's comment say anything without attribution. In effect, an untraceable man-in-the-middle attack. Re-read the title question and the last question in the post. Apr 9, 2014 at 6:25
  • 5
    I'm not defending the action - as I said, he should have just deleted the comment. Some folks are too reluctant to delete things. But it's not untraceable - we log every edit, and I can (and have) verified both the editor and the nature of the edit and brought this to the attention of the person responsible. I also removed the comment. If the mere fact that such an "attack" is possible bothers you, don't use comments - they're totally optional. Answers do not suffer from this problem...
    – Shog9
    Apr 9, 2014 at 6:27
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    I'm disappointed, because you're effectively saying: We'll allow edits of your comments by people other than u with no indication to others that u weren't the editor. It's your responsibility to review your comments & detect changes u don't like, & complain or appeal. When you create a comment, u won't be warned others can change your words without attribution. If u don't like that we hope you'll know 2 instead post your comment as an answer, although answers that r comments & not answers r frowned upon too. (Wouldn't it be better to just make it clear that person A changed person B's words?) Apr 9, 2014 at 7:10
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    Yes, that's what I'm saying. I don't think I was even subtle about it. Wouldn't it be better to just not post stuff that required moderator attention in the first place? Seriously, @Witness - what were you thinking?
    – Shog9
    Apr 9, 2014 at 7:32
  • I was thinking I was helping a clueless poster who's under the impression there is no free porn. I don't worry about what moderators may think or whether they disagree with anything I post. But I do think unflagged comment editing by moderators is a bad, misleading, potentially libelous thing. I find it odd you're arguing against accuracy and correct attribution. I think you should restore my "feature-request" tag, and I think SE sites would be improved if comments showed moderators made changes instead of the OP being listed as the author of the moderator's words. Apr 9, 2014 at 7:57

Edits are already indicated for comments, but this doesn't show that someone else than the original author edited. But even this indicator is almost useless, there is no way to find out what was edited. Without an edit history I don't really see such a feature as useful.

Editing comments as a moderator is problematic, I generally don't do that at all. And in the rare cases I do edit a comment, I don't rewrite anything. I might fix typos or remove a sentence entirely, but that is the upper limit of what I would do with a comment.

I think in this case the moderator either should have just removed the links without changing the text, or they should have nuked the entire comment.

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    It's not a question of edit histories or usefulness, it's about accuracy + attribution. Someone edited my comment which is still attributed to me. To leave only my ID on something I didn't write is wrong. Adding the moderator's ID to edited comments, just like it's done for edited questions, would be much better (even if there isn't a history, though there should be in that case). If including the moderator's ID is too difficult, then at least there should be a new "edited" icon (maybe the usual pencil for OP's, and an eraser for moderators) or a simple "edited by moderator" phrase added. Apr 9, 2014 at 6:03
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    @WitnessProtectionID44583292 This simply should not happen, moderators should not edit posts in this way. I almost never use my power to edit comments, and if I do it is usually to fix links or similar stuff. If I have to moderate a comment with problematic content I just nuke it, there is no attribution problem then. Apr 9, 2014 at 6:06
  • It shouldn't happen? And yet it did. Indeed, every comment edited by a moderator looks like the OP wrote it. And what exactly are "the ways" moderators shouldn't edit? Seems to me that any edit of a comment by a moderator is bad because the original author is the only one fingered. If the site can't bring itself to distinguish comments edited by moderators, then moderators should only have the power to delete the comment, instead of also being able to create words attributed to someone else. Apr 9, 2014 at 6:34

I am the moderator who edited your comment. My point was to try to leave the essence of your message (which I basically understood as "most popular sites have a lot of free contents"). I removed the links and names of the sites you mentioned, because I found naming and linking to porn sites on a academic site was not neither particularly useful nor appropriate.

However, I take the point that I should simply deleted the comment, instead of editing it. Since reputation on comments does not count, and since I believed I kept the original message, I didn't see any attribution problem, but I understand that it can be one. In general, I only remove inappropriate content, because sometimes, part of the comment is valuable.

One thing I'm wondering is whether you have been notified that your comment has been edited? If so, that should be enough, since you then have the possibility yourself to either delete the comment if you disagree with the edit, or to bring it to meta (as you just did).

  • 1
    U found naming sites inappropriate in my post, yet 1 of the answers also named sites & still does. 2 answer your question, I noticed your edit as I posted a 2nd comment. (I get so many notifications I often ignore them.) I felt your version was very weak, & upvoting sure stopped. I was very surprised there was no ID of the editor, immediately felt that's a design flaw, & posted a "feature request" here (although that tag too has now been nuked by Shog9!). I'm OK with mods editing anything they want, as long as they're fingered. I don't want to be ID'd as sole owner of your version of my words. Apr 9, 2014 at 7:32
  • The answer you're referring to has now been edited. If you indeed received a notification, then I think the website is working perfectly as such. And do not worry, if a similar situation were happen again, I would not hesitate to delete your comment (which, incidentally, will also definitely stop the upvoting ...).
    – Charles
    Apr 9, 2014 at 7:40
  • The "website is working perfectly" for moderators, because they can edit any comment yet leave their words attributed to someone else. The website is not working perfectly for users, for the same reason. Apr 9, 2014 at 8:04
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    @WitnessProtectionID44583292: You received the notification that your comment has been edited. You chose to ignore it, that's your problem, not the responsibility of the site. Comments are transient in nature, if you care about attribution, then use answers, not comments.
    – Charles
    Apr 9, 2014 at 8:16
  • I didn't say I ignored the notice of your edit. Also, I'm disappointed you don't see the flaw: the time between your edit & the original poster getting notification is arbitrary. Not everyone constantly lives on SE like moderators. If someone posts a comment today, logs off, you edit it, & they don't logon for a month, they're listed as the author of your words that whole time. Why you mods aren't stepping up and demanding to be ID'd for your edits is beyond me. Why hide and mislead? As for making comments be answers (you know you don't want that!), Shog9 already ineffectually argued that. Apr 9, 2014 at 8:38
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    @WitnessProtectionID44583292, attribution may be important, but only in proportion to the associated entity. In this case the entity is a comment, which in SE-land is not considered important at all. That's why you are not getting the traction you apparently expect. And using a question/answer on porn as your example was not a particularly deft opening gambit, if I may say so.
    – Benjol
    Apr 9, 2014 at 8:49
  • It's odd that a comment naming pornographic sites needs to be removed/redacted but a question asking how do I get pornographic movies is good to stay. Really, really odd.
    – devnull
    Apr 9, 2014 at 13:36
  • @devnull: I think the question makes sense on Ac.SE, and there wasn't a single vote to close it. A comment saying "you can find a lot of free porn on the Internet, just take the most popular ones" also makes sense, which is why I didn't remove them. I don't see the point to link towards commercial websites.
    – Charles
    Apr 9, 2014 at 14:05

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