Contradicting Instructions

While going through the suggested edits review queue, one sometimes stumbles upon partially useful edits like this one.

Trying to follow the instructions listed in the descriptions doesn't lead to a conclusive answer. Considering our example:

  • Approve edits that clearly improve the post
    ↳ No, not *clearly*
  • Improve Edit when you can make additional improvements to the post
    ↳ I most definitively can
  • Reject and Edit to replace an ineffective edit with your own substantive changes
    ↳ It is ineffective in the sense that it made the post worse overall (imho)
  • Reject edits that fail to improve the post or that make it worse
    ↳ Like the last option: yes
  • Skip if you are not sure and want to go to the next suggested edit
    ↳ Well, yes. But that is really why I am here, asking this question

Reasoning about the remaining Choices

This leaves us with three choices: Improve Edit, Reject and Edit and Reject (the last one slightly modified):

  • Improve Edit

    • + Acknowledges that some things in the edit where correct
    • - Learning effect for author might vanish, as the improvement might get overlooked
    • - Can't leave a custom message for edit author (except in comments, which pollutes the thread)
    • - Doesn't trigger the system which "punishes" users who repeatedly have their edits rejected
    • - Rewards the edit author with reputation for a poor edit
  • Reject and Edit

    • + Clearly shows the author that there were problems with the edit
    • - Still can't leave a custom message explaining the problems of the original post.
    • - One has to partially redo parts of the edit that have just been rejected, which might feel unjust to the original editor
  • Reject with a custom note and come back immediately to make a good Edit

    • + Clearly shows the author that there were problems with the edit
    • + Possibility to leave an explanation as to what was wrong with the edit
    • - One still has to redo parts of the edit that has just been rejected
    • - Seems to be a weird workaround for Reject and Edit
  • Something else?

Each of the three options come with their distinct advantages/disadvantages making it non trivial to decide which one to pick.


Or does the answer simply depend on the quality of the edit? Like:

  • Improve Edit for subjectively slightly positive edits
  • Reject and Edit (Or Reject and Edit) for subjectively slightly negative edits
  • This seems to be a question someone else must have had before me, but I simply couldn't find it. Feel free to mark it as a duplicate if you find one – Lonely Neuron Jun 3 at 13:39
  • Related: What are the guidelines for reviewing? Points 3-4 under Basic Workflow – Jake Symons Jun 3 at 13:52
  • @JakeSymons thanks for the quite informative link. As both 3 and 4 apply, I feel like this still doesn't definitively say what the right thing to do would be – Lonely Neuron Jun 3 at 14:02
  • Aren't some things simply a judgment call? I understand the need for clarity, but it seems this may be paying too much attention to detail. In pondering a decision-making model, I don't really see an issue with the options in general. If something is actually in a completely grey area, I can't see how a particular choice could necessarily be wrong. – Jason Bassford Jun 3 at 18:09
  • @JasonBassford maybe. If the conclusion is that all of the three options are valid, I am perfectly happy – Lonely Neuron Jun 3 at 21:27
up vote 1 down vote accepted

In the past, the "Improve Edit" and "Reject and Edit" options were just a single option called "Improve". This was the same as "Improve Edit" is today, except there would be an additional checkbox called "suggested edit was helpful". That box was used to indicate whether the Community user should mark the edit as "Approve" or "Reject". Today, the "Improve Edit" button does the same thing, except there is no checkbox and the Community user always marks the edit as "Approve".

In my opinion, useful functionality was lost with the split of the "Improve" button. One could encounter an edit that makes useful changes but overlooks other, more significant changes. The easiest way to fix these today would be to use the "Improve Edit" button, but as you said in your post, often the suggester will just concentrate on the approval and continue to make such edits.

However, there is a workaround. Simply click the "Improve Edit" button, copy and paste the Markdown there (which contains the suggested edit), go back, click "Reject and Edit", replace the original post Markdown with the suggested Markdown you copied earlier, perform whatever other significant edits the suggester missed, and then save the edit. (If the suggested edit also made title or tag edits, be sure to copy those over as well.)

The above workaround pretty much removes the disadvantages you pointed out for the "Improve Edit" button. (While you can't leave a custom message, the default message "This edit did not correct critical issues with the post - view the edit history for what should have been changed" pretty much summarizes it in most cases. There is a feature request asking for the ability to supply custom rejection reasons for the "Reject and Edit" button.)

While this is not the best action to take in all cases, it does work for the specific case you asked for in your question.

If you're going to make additional changes anyway, especially if some of the changes are already proposed, the pure Reject button is not appropriate.

Obviously you don't think the edit is a net benefit, so you shouldn't take a button that approves it, so Improve Edit is not appropriate.

If you would normally reject the edit but for the changes you want to include, choose Reject and Edit. This demonstrates that the edit was inappropriate to the user. This is the option you should take in the case described.

As Sonic has already described, the easiest way to do this is copy the markdown (keeping the good parts of the proposed edit) and making your additional substantive changes to that, rather than the original.

  • Could you elaborate on why the reject button is not appropriate? It ovbiously has its own upside (because I can leave a comment) and the Reject description on the page fits too. – Lonely Neuron Jun 4 at 7:01
  • @LonelyNeuron Unless someone else has already reviewed the edit as Reject, you'll have to wait until the edit gets reviewed before applying your edit. – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Jun 4 at 7:32

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