8

Please make the revision history of help center articles public to all users. When a non-moderator tries to access the revision history of a help center article (example), this is shown:

404 error for a help center revision history link

I really don't know why revision history of help center articles are hidden to non-moderators. Since non-moderators can see the revision histories of election nomination posts (example), the tour page (example) and policy locked posts (example), I don't think it makes sense to hide the revision history of help center articles for non-moderators.

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  • 3
    Can you please explain where you see a link to help center page revisions? Sep 18 at 10:18
  • @ShadowTheKidWizard Well, we don't see the link of tour page revisions, but it is public. Sep 18 at 10:19
  • 1
    The old privilege wiki revision histories are public. Sep 18 at 10:30
  • @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog I didn't get you. Can you please share any relevant links? Sep 18 at 10:34
  • 2
    Next question: how do you know this is help center page? Where you got the number "303613" from? Sep 18 at 10:36
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    My point is, we can't ask to change things we shouldn't even be able to see. Sep 18 at 10:37
  • 3
    @ShadowTheKidWizard They got it from a moderator. I looked it up, but that's indeed how such links are formatted. Moderators have 2 extra buttons under some help center articles.
    – Mast
    Sep 18 at 10:37
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    @ShadowTheKidWizard I got the number from a mod in Ask Ubuntu. chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/62014561#62014561 Sep 18 at 10:37
  • 3
    Prior to the help center rolling out in 2013, the information in the privilege pages for the site used to be stored in a special type of page known as privilege wikis. Those could be edited by 2k+ users here (was intended to be temporary and changed to 20k+ but it never got changed). They later got moved to the help center and became non-user-editable. If you query SEDE for posts with PostTypeId = 8, you'll find some of them. Sep 18 at 10:43
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    Help center pages do have revision histories, but they're only visible to mods. See this answer and its staff comment. (cc @ShadowTheKidWizard) Sep 18 at 10:46
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    That said, if anyone disagrees with this request, can you please point out a good reason why the histories should be hidden from public view? If you believe it's not useful since non-mods aren't linked to it, would you be opposed to having a link to it? Sep 18 at 10:49
  • 1
    Meanwhile you can use archive.org.
    – philipxy
    Sep 18 at 10:58
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    @philipxy I agree that we can use archive.org... but since mods can already access the revision history easily, it would be nice if normal users too can see the revision history easily. Sep 18 at 11:00
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    @philipxy Especially for smaller sites, help center pages may not be archived. Sep 18 at 11:00
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    @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog The Wayback machine has a nifty little option called Save Page Now (bottom right here) that will archive any page on the internet you want.
    – Mast
    Sep 18 at 16:17

2 Answers 2

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+50

This seems like a reasonable request purely in the interests of transparency.

I don't see any reason why the revision history should be private; it doesn't contain any private data or personal information and it's potentially useful as a log of changes in policy.

In most cases, changes to the help center will be publicly hashed out on Meta beforehand, so it's not like the history is exactly hidden anyway.

I'm generally in favor of being transparent when there's no good reason not to be, and that seems to be the case here.

-5

The fact that behind the scenes help center pages are "posts" and stored in the same database table as actual posts on the site, does not mean we should be able to see their revisions.

For ordinary posts, we do get link to revisions. Same for nomination posts, there is "history" link.

I see no reason for ordinary users to see the revisions of /about (tour) page, or help center pages, which can be edited only by moderators or staff.

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    Just because something can only be edited by moderators or staff doesn't mean that such edits shouldn't be auditable by other users. Sep 18 at 10:51
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    There's also the issue of a subset of these pages being copied from the old privilege wikis which could be edited by 2k+ users here, and whose histories prior to that time were (and still are, if one finds the link in SEDE) fully visible to the public. Why should later edits not be publicly visible? Sep 18 at 10:53
  • To readers: Ordinary users can access revisions of /about (tour) page. Sep 18 at 10:57
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    What past policy was & when it changed is certainly relevant. The Stack Overflow requirement for homework to show answering effort was silently removed from the help, as you can see via the internet archive.
    – philipxy
    Sep 18 at 10:57
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    Having these be non-public also provides an easy way for moderators to abuse their privileges, by taking actions not as per policy, editing the article to indicate that their actions were as per policy, and directing users to the help center when questioned about their actions. Sep 18 at 10:59
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    BTW, nomination posts can't be edited by users other than nominee (maybe mods and staff can), and we can see its revision history. Also, policy locked posts can only be edited by staff and we can see revision history of such posts. Sep 18 at 11:09
  • @RandomPerson about nomination posts, the users who post them are not mods, so allowing only the post author to see revisions would require very complex code changes, which are totally not worth the time. Sep 18 at 11:20
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    @Sonic abuse their power? Really? They can do it with so many other things we can't see, so really doubt they'll choose to abuse their power by injecting spam or bad language in the help center pages. Sep 18 at 11:21
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    @ShadowTheKidWizard Regarding meta.stackexchange.com/posts/comments/1274632, what about policy locked posts? The OPs of such posts are staff and normal users can see the revision history of it. Sep 18 at 11:25
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    Let me rephrase my comment on the question. If the help center revisions were already public, would you have any argument to support a feature request to hide them from the public, other than "I don't see why they should be visible since only mods/staff can edit them"? In other words, a philosophical reason they should not be visible, such as confidentiality/privacy related? Sep 18 at 11:25
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    @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog Having these be non-public also provides an easy way for moderators to abuse their privileges you and others really, seriously, need to stop to, by default, assume moderators abuse their privileges. That you, as a regular user, don't have access to stuff doesn't make it an abuse for anyone that can. Please stop that kind of rhetoric. It is counter productive.
    – rene
    Sep 18 at 11:34
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    "if we want to know when something in help center page has changed, we can ask moderators" is extremely unworkable.
    – philipxy
    Sep 18 at 12:00
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    If a mod went to the effort of editing a help page to justify something they said without mod and CM awareness, in order to cover up something they did, they ought to be removed. I think we'd have bigger problems if a mod did that @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog
    – Journeyman Geek Mod
    Sep 18 at 12:34
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    @philipxy Regarding the removal of the text about homework in SO's on-topic page: It was removed with just as much fanfare as was given when it was added (actually, the removal appears to have had a bit more fanfare). Requiring homework to have an attempt was never actually policy. An attempt was always just a recommendation to askers (and a statement of other's likely response), even though a lot of us, including myself, thought that it was policy, due to our interpretation of the on-topic page wording.
    – Makyen
    Sep 18 at 16:23
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    @philipxy I know that finding out that an attempt is not actually a requirement is jarring, as I was under the impression that homework questions required an attempt from when I first joined SE. The wording in the on-topic page just said that the asker "must include a summary of the work you've done so far to solve the problem". That doesn't actually mean that they must have made an attempt, only that they needed to tell us what, if any, work they had done. The fact that the on-topic page was so consistently misunderstood by a lot of people was the reason to remove that text.
    – Makyen
    Sep 18 at 16:24

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