George Stocker edited my question, What unspecified functionality do you put in your software? where I specifically said that our software sending back stacktrace to one of our servers was a user-known public feature.

He then modified the title of my post, along with the entire content, making it sound like I snuck in the feature and that our application was phoning home without our users knowing.

I specifically wrote in the original post that the feature was not sneaky. He completely changed the meaning of my post. I find this to be rather unacceptable.

A few questions:

  • Is it possible to prevent editing of my posts?
  • How can I retaliate?
  • Can I file a complaint?

Can people with reputation do anything they want on Stack Overflow?

  • 28
    Wow. George's edit was so much more concise and comprehensible than your original question, I would have just thanked him for the edit. Commented Oct 31, 2009 at 23:56
  • 2
    @random, thanks for editing this. @Alex, please see the differences in the revisions of this very question as well -- meta.stackoverflow.com/revisions/28005/list
    – Arjan
    Commented Nov 1, 2009 at 11:21
  • I think the question is about editing others question's, not about Georges edit's on Alex question. Maybe it is not the case here, but what if the editor do change the meaning ?
    – Ben
    Commented Nov 1, 2009 at 17:04
  • 6
    @Ben: then you change it back. The original author can always come back and edit his own question; if someone changes the meaning, whether maliciously or unintentionally, you can easily correct the problem.
    – Shog9
    Commented Nov 1, 2009 at 17:25
  • 12
    You did it again, George! ;) Commented Nov 1, 2009 at 22:30
  • Stocker did it here (stackoverflow.com/questions/1950577/…) too. But this time, he totally changed the meaning of the question. // I wonder if Stocker is bored or something. He seems to have a pedantic interest in editing other people's posts.
    – Jim G.
    Commented Dec 23, 2009 at 18:44

9 Answers 9


Wow. What you did was completely inappropriate.

  • Your text had numerous spelling and grammatical errors (repeatedly misspelling "functionality" as "functionnalities" to name one example) - that alone is reason enough for someone to edit it.

  • You asked a poll question / discussion. SO is a Q&A site, not a place to chew the fat with fellow developers. If that's what you're after, see: Where can I find interesting programming discussions?

  • You rambled on about a particular "easter egg" in your own software. SO isn't a blog, and if you're gonna answer your own question then use an actual answer to do so.

  • When George tried to correct a few of these issues, you re-edited to include a long, off-topic rant complete with inflammatory language. That's never appropriate.

You're new here, so you can be forgiven for not reading the FAQs and remaining unaware of some aspects of how the site is intended to be used and what the local customs are. But the correct response upon encountering resistance is to take a step back and attempt to learn what you did wrong, not immediately launch an attack against a well-respected member of the community.

Sit down, take a step back, and spend some time familiarizing yourself with Stack Overflow. And remember:

Like Wikipedia, this site is collaboratively edited. If you are not comfortable with the idea of your posts being edited by other trusted users, this may not be the site for you.

Regarding your response:

You claim that George misrepresented your intentions, implying that you were doing something unethical. I don't see it: you described what you were doing, and justified it claiming that

"Nothing sneaky nor hidden here: users fully know that stacktrace/crash report are being sent to us..."

George cleaned this up somewhat, but did not appear to significantly alter the meaning:

"We do let our users know that we collect crash data."

If that's not what you meant, then this was your wake-up call: your question was confusing and needed to be clarified.

Considering you prefixed this paragraph with the statement, "in a client-side GUI app that is distributed to a lot of clients I've put a few 'hidden' things" and then began the paragraph with "For example: " I'm not sure why you then claim that this functionality - which you describe as an example of something hidden - is not, in fact, hidden!

The edit gave you a rare opportunity: to see your words through someone else's eyes. If you didn't like what you saw, then quietly re-editing your question to correct the corrections would have saved everyone a lot of trouble...


I think you should link to the question which you're referring to. I assume you're talking about this one.

Let me quote from the FAQ:

Other people can edit my stuff?!

Like Wikipedia, this site is collaboratively edited. If you are not comfortable with the idea of your posts being edited by other trusted users, this may not be the site for you.

So there is no way for you to prevent other people with sufficient reputation from editing your posts. If you do not agree with a certain edit, don't just revert it. This can cause an edit war. Try to solve the situation in a civil manner. You can complain by flagging your post and/or by mailing to [email protected]. And then there is this forum for more general discussions about these matters.

But whatever you do, DO NOT "retaliate"! That's not how we treat each other around here.

About the specific post: your original question contained a lot of spelling errors. I think that is what caused George to edit you question in the first place. When he was at it, he decided that the point could be brought across in a much more concise manner.


is it possible to prevent editing from my post?


how can I retaliate?

You shouldn't. Do you know what the word "retaliate" means?

Can I fill a complain?

You just did. You can also flag your post for moderator attention, or email the site devs (see the "contact us" link at the bottom of your page).

He completely changed the meaning of my post

No, he didn't. He simplified it. He did change a good bit of the content, more than I would have, but he left in the key point that "We do let our users know that we collect crash data."


Yes, you can. It involves writing the question so well nobody needs to edit anything.

The original edit to your post cleaned it up considerably, and still assured people the phoning home wasn't secret, just not quite as much.


Just to clarify, on:

Is it possible to prevent editing of my posts?

The (very few) ♦ moderators can lock individual posts from edits if there are good reasons (usually to call a cease-fire in edit wars). On this occasion, and looking at the current version of the question, I don't see that any such stance is necessary. Editing is a core part of Stack Overflow (and related sites), and the edits don't seem particularly inappropriate.


My $0.02 .. hopefully I will clear things up a bit.

Is it possible to prevent editing of my posts?

No. Understand that on Stack Overflow (as on Wikipedia), collaboration is DESIRED. If you are not OK with this model, don't submit questions or answers.

A better approach is to write questions with sufficient care that others don't feel the need to edit. It won't take long for you to figure that out!

How can I retaliate?

You can respond by undoing the edits or making further edits to clarify your meaning. You can also use the comment feature to ask an editor to explain or to indicate why you don't agree.

If you retaliate in some negative manner you will probably be quietly removed from the site by a moderator.

Can I file a complaint?

Yes .. you can flag the post/comment for moderator attention and indicate why you are bothered by the edit. If it happens repeatedly, the moderators have tools and protocols for dealing with nonsense.

Can people with reputation do anything they want on Stack Overflow?

Yes. As you get reputation you are given more privileges on the site. The rep thresholds and privileges are listed in the faq; they are different on Meta, Stack Overflow and Server Fault.

  • No. You can always roll back edits though.
  • Please don't.
  • There's a 'contact us' link on the bottom of all the sites. [email protected]

You can now ROLLBACK

to your original answer.

Thank God ! I love my answers and so do a lot of people because they've been upvoting me. Some folks out of nowhere have been allowed to butcher around many good answers from many people, so a new feature of Rollback allows you to unedit their mistakes back to your own writing.

Authors, have a nice day !

Editors, go back home, take some rest and don't bother editing again.


Shog9... Why the insult?

You're telling me to 'shut up' and you're getting 4 votes?

The fact is that George changed my question, making it say exactly the contrary of what I said.

Sadly it appears that people like George and you are making stackoverflow.com a very sad place.

I was an honest poster, asking an honest question.

First I get someone completely changing my question, making it sound unethical even tough I specifically wrote it was not the case.

Then I get someone telling me to 'shut up'?

So once again, and this is an honest question, is this the way stackoverflow.com is supposed to work?

Because I'm sure joining the "stackoverflow.com sucks" crowd soon if you keep dodging the facts and using insults...

  • 1
    "So once again, and this is an honest question, is this the way stackoverflow.com is supposed to work?" - Yes, it is. Questions may be edited my anyone with enough rep points. Commented Nov 1, 2009 at 0:08
  • 28
    George made a good edit. Note that there's not a single person here who agrees with you that his edit "completely changed" your question. Reflect on that. Commented Nov 1, 2009 at 0:09
  • 8
    This is more an edit to your question than an answer to yourself.
    – random
    Commented Nov 1, 2009 at 0:13
  • 5
    Associate yourself: meta.stackoverflow.com/users/138175?tab=accounts#sort-top
    – random
    Commented Nov 1, 2009 at 0:13
  • 27
    @unknown: Yes. Shut up. Stop typing and start reading. You think that's insulting? You think being told that makes this a sad place? No, my brother - what's sad is that it has to be said at all. Don't raise a ruckus without good cause; showing up here and throwing a tantrum isn't going to win you one ounce of respect. As for your question... Read the FAQ: other people will edit anything you post. If they get it wrong, then re-edit and correct the problem; if you can't handle that, then go somewhere else.
    – Shog9
    Commented Nov 1, 2009 at 1:26
  • 10
    Did you even read the edited version?
    – random
    Commented Nov 1, 2009 at 5:09
  • 3
    To extend on @random's This is more an edit to your question than an answer to yourself a bit: please read the FAQs and respect any "Are you sure you want to answer your own question? If you're responding to answers left on your question, use the comments link under each answer." You did not get that warning as you did not associate your accounts yet, but earlier you ignored "Are you sure you want to add another answer? You could use the edit link to refine and improve your existing answer, instead." at stackoverflow.com/questions/1509346/…
    – Arjan
    Commented Nov 1, 2009 at 11:34
  • 7
    Read George's edit - If English is not your native language, read it again and again.... He didn't change its meaning at all - he just made it concise.
    – Amarghosh
    Commented Nov 3, 2009 at 8:23

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