In different communities, I've noticed a not-insignificant number of proposed edits in the Suggested Edits queue. These are technically correct edits - they may fix spelling or grammar issues, make the post more readable or understandable, and they aren't anything bad (spam, vandalism, attempts to reply). However, they are on posts that are months or even years old.

Most of the posts are good without the changes, but it seems like encouraging people to make things better - even more readable, even more understandable, even more searchable - is something that we want to do.

These are also lower reputation users who are getting reputation by suggesting edits. This can unlock the ability for them to leave comments and vote on questions and answers. In short, this is a road to add valuable contributors to a community.

On one hand, it feels wrong to approve these edits since it will cause the question to be bumped. However, it also feels wrong to reject them because they do make the post better.

The ideal state may be a feature request to allow minor edits to not bump questions back to the homepage, but that can't be done today.

Are there any current recommendations on how to handle these? Should these edits be rejected? Accepted? How should the threshold be determined?

A similar discussion came up in the context of MetaSE, but the suggestions don't really work that well for a main Q&A site, I don't think. At least, I'm struggling to figure out how to apply any of the ideas.

There's a feature request that has been declined requesting the ability to mark edits as "minor". If this were to be revisited, it could greatly change the problem and solutions.


1 Answer 1


In general, unless someone's going on a campaign of making small edits, particularly ones that don't fix all of a post, I recommend accepting the edits - if they do in fact improve the post.

Here's my thinking -

A 2k user could make any of these edits and they would bump to the front page - and we want them to because these edits should be reviewed, however much we trust these users.

So, preventing low-rep users from having that impact means that you're blocking them from something that there's no prevention of for others. They're also much more severely limited in the amount of "harm" they can do to the front page because they can only have five suggested edits in queue at a time (or 20 on beta sites). Someone with edit privileges can do as many as they like. They also have a minimum character count to submit an edit suggestion; which high-rep users don't.

The other argument I hear is that they're making more work for high-rep users because they're suggesting edits that reviewers have to approve. That's true but if they really are making the content on the site better, then that should be OK. In many cases, these edits were suggested because the person found the post naturally and had some issues with the existing phrasing, so they submit a suggested edit to make it easier for the next person who comes along.

This is where the judgement call comes in. If it's just one or two suggested edits at any given time, then I don't see it as an issue. Someone who's filling the queue, particularly on beta sites, may want to slow down until they get the edit privileges but, even then, if they are truly improving the content, they're helping the site and those edits will filter down eventually.

By rejecting the edits, you're putting up a barrier that the system doesn't - we block suggested edits on meta sites, so we probably could do it based on post age on main sites... but we don't. Yes, they're adding to the queue but it takes the same amount of work to reject it as to accept it, so once it's in the queue, you're not saving anyone work, you're just telling someone their efforts are unwanted.

We are a community-maintained and edited platform and those efforts should be supported, not seen as troublesome or bothersome by default - they should be judged by their quality, as much as anything else on our sites should be.

So, in short:

Should these edits be rejected? Accepted?

If they only fix some of the issues in a post, either improve the edit or reject and edit depending on the amount of missed fixes.

  • If they fixed most of the problems but missed one or two - particularly title edits or tags, improve the edit.
  • If they fixed one word but there were several other typos or errors, reject and edit to fix as much as you can see that needs it.

If they fix all of the issues, just accept it and don't pay too much attention to the age of the post.

The caveat here is, if you see someone constantly suggesting 5+ edits every day, that might be a good time to check on the quality of the edits and, if they're sub-par, give some guidance for how they can improve. If you're a mod, you can create a chat room with them and even edit suggestion suspend them temporarily until you've had a chance to get them to see how to improve.

How should the threshold be determined?

Take everything on a case-by-case basis. If you're not recognizing the username in the queue, you can probably just judge based on the quality of the edit and ignore anything else.

I'm glad you point out the rep benefit to new users. Particularly on beta sites 1000 rep gets you a lot and that may be the only way some users have to participate in the site if they're new to the topic but are spending time learning and researching. Letting them help in curation and get a little reward for it is great - just help them do it well if they're failing.

  • 1
    The biggest problem is that I can review dozens of suggested edits in minutes. Flooding the homepage with answered questions can bump unanswered questions down (until Community rebumps them or unless someone gets them on a feed). Maybe part of the problem is the default homepage view being "active" rather than "newest", too? Multiple things in the system all come together to make the Suggested Edit queue somewhat problematic. Commented Jul 5, 2020 at 22:00
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    But the age of the post doesn't matter. If there's a dozen new posts in the queue, the problem is the same. And... honestly... it's not always bad to have old stuff resurfaced from time to time. Someone might have a new answer to add, or a huge change to an existing one. Sometimes the question is found to be off topic. I kinda like seeing old stuff dug up for review.
    – Catija
    Commented Jul 5, 2020 at 22:02
  • I'm not sure that's true. If those posts are all on the homepage, you're only shuffling the order of the homepage or maybe the first two pages. The queue can have posts from 1, 3, 5, even 8 years ago with edits. There are other factors besides age, though, like answered vs unanswered. Commented Jul 5, 2020 at 22:03
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    That's really going to depend on the site, so, while this is my general suggestion, y'all can always make others or make other choices on a per-site basis... but... be careful as that can be a bit of a learning curve. When you say active is for new content, you kinda miss the point... that's why the questions page defaults to newly-asked. The active page should be a way to primarily reveal recently active stuff, regardless of the reason.
    – Catija
    Commented Jul 5, 2020 at 22:08
  • Is there data on how frequently /questions is used over the homepage? I don't know the last time I used that page on any site. Maybe there's a more fundamental change here: change the homepage to be newest questions rather than active questions. But that would require usage data. I'm concerned with the impression that people are given (both askers and experts looking for stuff to answer) when they visit a site, particularly the homepage. Commented Jul 5, 2020 at 22:11
  • Yeah. I was kinda coming to the same place. Maybe a way for users to set a home view and make the default newly-asked questions. Then, curators can see active stuff and others can see new stuff... but that sets up a somewhat complicated barrier to curation. It's good for people to see curation happening on the site so having it be the default is good. Maybe... have it be rep-based or ... something. Dunno. Needs lots of investigation. And, yes, we can get click counts on the usage.
    – Catija
    Commented Jul 5, 2020 at 22:16
  • I think this may be worth looking into, depending on feedback on this question. As a curator, I'm OK with a few extra clicks to figure out what to curate. I think there are a few roles: "visitor", "expert", "curator", "curious". The curious ask questions. The expert has the answers. The curator maintains the site. The visitor is more interested in learning about the community - they may become experts, curators, or curious. I think the curator may be able to spend a few more clicks if it means visitors have a better first impression and experts and the curious have a lower barrier. Commented Jul 5, 2020 at 22:20
  • I think people that are really into writing answers hardly use the frontpage. They are most likely to use a custom search filter, or a tag listing. So in that sense the damage is less severe. Unless of course all edits are within one, or a few, tag(s). But as long as the edits are relevant I tend to accept them. Sometimes I opt to improve the edit just to relieve some work from other reviewers.
    – Luuklag
    Commented Jul 6, 2020 at 7:10
  • I don't want to have to check whether they're filling the queue. It's bad enough to have to constantly find worthless edits & flag bad reviews & edits. PS Yet another SO Inc education/specification/affordance/workflow failure.
    – philipxy
    Commented Jul 7, 2020 at 9:53

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