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Lately I noticed quite a number of questions being bumped to the front page that are ancient. Say 8-10 years old.

These (often closed) questions are bumped back to the front page by the acceptance of suggested edits by a single user. It appears they went searching for a common misspelling of a word, and corrected that.

I personally see no value in such edits, as these posts are long forgotten and are very unlikely to be of great value. In the case one would use such a post to close another question as duplicate against, it would make sense to me to fix the post before doing so, but other then that I don't see any need to dig up these old posts.

Is there a general consensus on this type of behaviour?

If the consensus is this behaviour is unwanted, what would be the best course of action?

  • @Mention the user making the edits to tell them
  • Escalate straight to the moderator team with a custom flag
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    What are the view counts of these older posts? Any chance they're getting organic views aside from this editor? Also, are their other issues in these posts that are getting left behind or is the person fixing most/everything and this misspelling just happens to be the common factor? (Also, are they doing bulk edits all at once or is this a few a day over a period of time?) – BSMP Oct 13 '20 at 7:48
  • Usually they fix most, if not all, problems with a post. This user did about 6 edits at one time. @BSMP As for getting organic views. I find that unlikely, one is for example a closed question about an old april-fools. – Luuklag Oct 13 '20 at 8:06
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    Related (possible duplicate, but don't want to use the dupehammer): Should we add any friction to edits on posts that are old or probably obsolete? – Glorfindel Oct 13 '20 at 8:13
  • @Glorfindel definetly related. But also no real conclusion there, besides that it would probably be best if we change the mechanics of the site. – Luuklag Oct 13 '20 at 8:20
  • Cross-site duplicate, already discussed here and also here. I think the question is off-topic because it mixes several different issues about editing. – bad_coder Oct 13 '20 at 22:46
  • @bad_coder the first doesn't alply, because usually all problems with a post are fixed. The second definetly applies, and I'll @ ping the user on a edited question and ask them to stop. – Luuklag Oct 14 '20 at 5:45
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If old posts are not useful then they should be attracting downvotes to push them towards the Roomba for deletion. Hopefully, this will happen whenever they are brought to the community’s attention via an edit.

Even though I think any edit that legitimately improves a post can have that community benefit, I also think that at least two or three (or more) improvements should be made to a post at the same time to justify it being edited.

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    These posts will most likely not get roombad. They usually have answers and are upvoted, as they were good posts when they were posted. They however serve no real purpose anymore at this point in time. For example a question about 2014 april-fools. – Luuklag Oct 13 '20 at 8:07
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    @Luuklag They may have been useful then (and should have been upvoted), but if they are not useful now then they should be downvoted. If an upvoted answer to a no longer useful question is no longer useful then it too should be downvoted and that should push both question and answer(s) into the path of the Roomba. – PolyGeo Oct 13 '20 at 8:26
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Usually they fix most, if not all, problems with a post...As for getting organic views. I find that unlikely, one is for example a closed question about an old april-fools. - Luuklag

I would guess they're trying to be helpful, since they are making an effort to fix as much as possible. In this case, a comment suggesting they redirect their efforts to more recent questions that are still open would be OK. Point out that it's more helpful to fix flaws in otherwise good questions. You might also point out that they're flooding the Active tab with old questions if this is happening on a site with low activity.

I'm not actually sure if this is something moderators would want to be pinged about; I'll leave that for them to answer.

If the user was only making the one change and leaving a bunch of other problems in the posts, I'd say ping a moderator. That's more clearly behavior we want to discourage and more likely to turn into an argument about the rules.

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They should be in an archived state where it can't be bumped, however allowing it to be searched based on what the individual is looking for. Some of these old questions hold a significant value to the community still. So the best method would be to disable notifications, and archive it for viewing only perhaps.

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    An archived state would be called a historic lock. I doubt it will be useful to apply that to all historic questions. It would also be counterproductive if you want to edit an old question to fix some typo's or add an example before using that question as a duplicate target. – Luuklag Oct 13 '20 at 11:55
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Change the rules of bumping to the front page. Insignificant changes such as those that only fix a common misspelling should not be bumped to the front page.

Other insignificant changes that should not bump the question to the front page should be:

  • Change tags on questions older than X.
  • Change plain text to code formatting.
  • Add a link to SO or to another URL from a small community-approved white list.
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    How is the system to identify that something is a common misspelling? – Robert Longson Oct 13 '20 at 21:13
  • @RobertLongson Not sure, but similar functionalities used in Google search and autocorrect software could be reused here. – Timur Shtatland Oct 13 '20 at 21:38
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    The trouble is something on ELL such as a question about a word that is misspelled could end up being "corrected" into meaninglessness without review. – Robert Longson Oct 13 '20 at 21:43
  • @RobertLongson Yes, that’s an issue. I cannot find a way to use my solution without this side effect. Perhaps it can be mitigated in part by excluding ELL and a few other similar sites from this proposed change? – Timur Shtatland Oct 13 '20 at 21:48
  • And changing tags should also not be something that is excluded. I would definetly want a ancient question that gets tagged status-completed to be bumped. – Luuklag Oct 13 '20 at 22:05
  • @Luuklag Good point. Maybe exclude certain tags white listed by the community from the proposed rule change. For example, status-completed, rejected, deferred, etc. – Timur Shtatland Oct 13 '20 at 22:25

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