When you look at a post's edit history you can see each version of the question going back to the original version. Each version has a number next to it, starting with 1 for the original version. On the mobile app, the original version has an additional identifier next to the "1". It says "Initial Revision". As far as I can tell this label does not appear on the actual Stack Exchange sites.

Why would the original version be called "initial revision" if the original version was not a revision?

Here is an example from a recent question.

This is how the edit history appears on the site:

enter image description here

And this is how it appears on the mobile app:

enter image description here

The app screenshot is from version if that makes a difference.

There are, apparently, circumstances in which the original post is referred to as a revision even on the website itself. For instance, if someone rolls back an edit to restore the original version, the edit history displays it as "Rollback to Revision 1" as in the below screenshot (taken from this question):

Screenshot of edit history

  • 2
    The only interpretation I can give is that it's a revision of a "blank page." But consistency in terminology would be useful . . . Aug 16, 2018 at 3:43
  • Can you look in the app what it says for these revisions: meta.stackexchange.com/posts/196509/revisions? I suspect the app will always try to put a text there, maybe for layout consistency.
    – rene
    Aug 16, 2018 at 7:16
  • @rene In that example, the site version has additional text for revisions 2 and 4 (where the editor explained the edits) but does not have additional text for 1 and 3. The app has the additional text for 2 and 4 and also has an additional text for 1 ("initial revision") but does not have any additional text for 3. I.e. for revision 3 the space next to the number is blank.
    – Alex
    Aug 16, 2018 at 7:21
  • Inconsistent it is then. I would have expected for that third revision in the app something like (no comment given) or so.
    – rene
    Aug 16, 2018 at 7:26
  • I'm pretty sure it's a "whim" of the iOS developer, not something decided by the management. Aug 16, 2018 at 22:50
  • @ShadowWizard I added a screenshot of a particular circumstance where even the website itself refers to the original post as a revision, so it doesn't seem like it was a whim of the iOS developer.
    – Alex
    Oct 16, 2018 at 16:23
  • The "rollback to revision X" is dynamic, so not really relevant. The site does not directly name the first version as "revision", just not checking the dynamic revision value. So not really the same thing. Oct 16, 2018 at 19:06

1 Answer 1


It comes from revision-control systems (also known as source control). The established vocabulary in these systems is that "revision" is a noun meaning one complete version of the thing in question. Usually that's files, but here on SE it's posts. "Revision 1" is the first version, "revision 2" is the second, and so on. There is no special term for the first version, and having one could actually be confusing. For example, these systems have commands that operate on "a revision" -- does that include #1 that's not called a "revision" or not? If all versions are treated the same way then having a common term for them makes revision-control systems easier to use, even if that term isn't intuitive for the initial version.

Why do these systems call it a "revision" rather than a "version", which would probably be more clear? Beats me, but it's common usage, so it would be more confusing if SE used "revision" differently. Remember that SE started with Stack Overflow, a site targeting expert programmers, who are people who use revision-control systems all the time. They could have instead called them all "versions" and people would have known what they meant, but they didn't, maybe because a post history is just a veneer on top of whatever revision-control system they're using under the hood.

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