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I'm not against it at all. I like it. I'm just curious what the rationale is/was. Of course I agree that good edits are good and that good things should be incentivized, but why with rep?

The help center page on reputation says:

Reputation is a rough measurement of how much the community trusts you; it is earned by convincing your peers that you know what you’re talking about.

The help center page on privileges says:

Privileges control what you can do on Meta Stack Exchange. Gain more privileges by increasing your reputation (points you receive from your fellow users for posting helpful questions and answers).

And the help center page on editing says:

  • To fix grammar and spelling mistakes
  • To clarify the meaning of the post (without changing that meaning)
  • To include additional information only found in comments, so all of the information relevant to the post is contained in one place
  • To correct minor mistakes or add updates as the post ages
  • To add related resources or hyperlinks

You don't really need to have subject-matter knowledge/expertise to fix spelling/grammar, make certain kinds of clarifications (non-technical wording), or to inline useful info from comments (such as comments that should have been edits by an asker (I'm not saying it's good to do the asker's work for them in editing instead of telling them to do it themselves, but I'm not against it either)).

So why rep?

And why not just badges? Why isn't it just a badge thing? I've been reading some posts and seeing a lot of "Badges are to encourage good behaviour". We have editing badges. Why not just leave it at editing badges? There are plenty of behaviours that we want and that we incentivize using badges. Why of all those behaviours is editing the only one that is also worth rep (other than asking and answering, which the help center pages I've quoted clearly say are the ways of getting rep)?

The following are not my actual question, but are written to get your gears spinning: why don't we also award up to some lifetime-capped amount of rep for dup-finding or for other helpful post-flags? (Again, this is just to get you thinking about edit rep. Do not try to actually thoroughly answer those specific questions about proposals of rep for other behaviours here unless you think it is necessary to answer the question on edit rep).


The post that confirms the change making suggested edits worth rep explains the mechanics, but not the rationale. The same goes for the MSE FAQ post on edit suggestions. Or maybe I just read too fast and missed it? The confirmation post had an answer linking to a chat message, so maybe the answer can be found there with some digging. I skimmed back through the transcript to Jan 27th and didn't see an explanation.

Why are approved edit suggestions worth reputation? Why not just badges?

I'm looking for an authoritative statement explaining the rationale. If there isn't one, I'd like to know what the community thinks.

Update: Based on @MetaAndrewT's answer, it seems there was no publicly given, authoritative rationale statement (or that more digging is required to find one).

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    As per the definition of reputation then downvoting a answer should not decrease the downvoter's rep by 1. Also reputation definition states how much community trusts you. Since community has approved the edit so they trust you so you got the rep. Dec 1, 2022 at 8:23
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    @JitendraSingh "to make sure downvotes are cast only when you feel strongly that something is incorrect / wrong / dangerous / of low quality." -Jeff. With some mental acrobatics, here's what I think: To say that an answer is not useful or wrong, or is deeply problematic or unoptimal, you need to have subject-matter-knowledge. The cost is like the "stamp of your assertion". (Easily knocked over by saying "we already making voting down a privilege" *shrugs). Anyway, the downvote cost is explained. I'm looking for an explanation for edit rep.
    – starball
    Dec 1, 2022 at 9:17
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    @JitendraSingh "how much the community trusts you; it is earned by convincing your peers that you know what you’re talking about". I explain in my question how certain good kinds of edits do not actually require "knowing what the edited post is talking about". I don't see how your comment addresses that point of my question.
    – starball
    Dec 1, 2022 at 9:20
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    I was just trying to explain how reputation doesn't exactly work how it is defined or written in Help Page. It mainly work how mentioned in Help Page but not exactly. Dec 1, 2022 at 9:30
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    The help page says "you lose reputation when: [...] you vote down an answer: -1".
    – starball
    Dec 1, 2022 at 9:33
  • That way help page also says "suggested edit is accepted: +2 (up to +1000 total per user)" Dec 1, 2022 at 9:34
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    @JitendraSingh Again, the rationale for the downvote cost is explained by Jeff here. The help center does not provide or explain a rationale statement.
    – starball
    Dec 1, 2022 at 9:45
  • For background, they most likely got the idea of suggested edits from Quora. That was only for answers. For questions, it was more like some pages on Wikipedia (after some level of trust ("autoconfirmed users"); I don't remember the exact criteria, but it couldn't be done by completely new Quora accounts). Dec 1, 2022 at 13:00

3 Answers 3

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I think that this depends on how you view the purpose of reputation.

It is a number attached to a user. What purpose does it actually serve?

  • Is it meant as a reward and as a part of the gamification aspect of the site?
  • Is it meant as some measure of expertise of the given user?
  • Is it supposed to measure how experienced the user is with the site and the Stack Exchange software - so that higher privileges can be actually given to the users who already know how to use them.

Probably you can think of other things. And if we discuss various ways to view reputation, in the end, it will always be some kind of combination of them.1

Personally, I consider the third bullet point relatively important. And I have included below some other places, where this is mentioned.2

If we view reputation like this, then I think that reputation for suggested edits makes sense. At 2000 reputation points a user can edit posts without having those edits approved by other users in the review queue. Allowing such edits to all users could potentially lead to problems. So this privilege is gained when a user has shown some familiarity with how the site works - and one possibility to show that they know the site is by suggesting edits. (In particular, having enough suggested edits approved is a reasonable measure whether or not the user could be trusted with edits without the need to review them. However, it is worth explicitly mentioning that a user can earn at most 1000 reputation points from suggested edits. So it's not possible to get to this privilege solely through suggested edits.)

One could certainly use badges as an incentive to motivate people to do useful edits. (And certainly many users would edit without any such incentive - as can be seen from the fact, the many users continue to do useful edits even after they no longer get any reputation from them.) The distinction between using badges and using reputation is that in this way useful edits get you closer to full editing privileges.


1You can find several past discussions about the purpose of reputation - with a variety of views. For example:

2Some places which mention something akin to: "Reputation is a tool to decide whether the user has enough experience to get privileges."

  • "Reputation also determines a user’s privileges within the system. As you gain more reputation, the system learns to trust you and bestows new privileges upon you that low-reputation users cannot access." From the FAQ post: How does "Reputation" work? (current revision)
  • "Reputation is a rough measurement of how much the community trusts you; it is earned by convincing your peers that you know what you’re talking about. Basic use of the site, including asking questions, answering, and suggesting edits, does not require any reputation at all. But the more reputation you earn, the more privileges you gain on Stack Exchange." From the tag-info for reputation (current revision).
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    @starball Fair enough - so it seems that I have only said things that you already know. Let's hope somebody else might be able to respond to stuff you're interested in. I'll still leave the answer here rather that deleting it. (I think that it can be useful to some extent - although probably not for the links.)
    – Martin
    Dec 1, 2022 at 9:39
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    I understand that reputation is used to grant privileges. That's clear from the quotes you use. But the quotes you use at the bottom of your post do not convey that reputation is based on a user's proven ability to properly use the system. Is there an "authoratative" post (help-center, MSE FAQ) that says that? Otherwise, there's just the "you know what you’re talking about" statement, which seems to be about site-specific subject-matter-knowledge, which is not the same as knowing how to properly use the site features and privileges (unless it's on meta sites!).
    – starball
    Dec 1, 2022 at 9:40
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    And yes, please don't delete your answer. I've updated the question to say that I'm looking for an authoratative rationale statement, and if there isn't one, what the community thinks of whether edit-rep is a good idea and why. Your answer addresses that point.
    – starball
    Dec 1, 2022 at 10:04
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Because the developer proposed it, and the rest is history.

Here is a small snippet from the conversation on the comment thread of Diff is Hard, Let's Go Shopping!:

Could you elaborate on this edit approval process? Is there news about this proposed change somewhere else that I may have missed? – Greg Hewgill Jan 18, 2011 at 22:20

@Greg ... we have not posted any information about it yet, cause it is still in the oven, all the details have not been worked out. The gist is, anyone can propose changes, there are a bunch of caps in place (queue size, pending edits per user, total rejections and so on). 2 Users with N reputation will have to approve each edit. There may be a capped reputation incentive (at the moment we are thinking you can get up to 1000 points 2 at a time for good edits)waffles Jan 18, 2011 at 22:24

(Emphasis added)


Summary:

  • Back then, the trilogy sites only allowed privileged users (2k rep) to edit any posts.
  • A feature request asked to Allow low-rep users to suggest edits.
  • A developer opened a discussion on how to show the diff of proposed edits on Diff is Hard, Let's Go Shopping!.
  • Someone asked in the comment if this proposed change had been announced before.
  • The developer explained it in the comment.
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    Thanks for digging this up! To anyone else reading this, since my question is "I'm looking for an authoritative statement explaining the rationale. If there isn't one, I'd like to know whether the community thinks it's a good idea and why.", and since this is authoritative, but not a rationale, I think the second clause kicks in now: Ie. Does the community think this is a good idea (good for the community), and why or why not?
    – starball
    Dec 1, 2022 at 19:17
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    It gives new users an incentive to do edits, and higher reputation users can go through them. It's a fairly good system outside Stack Overflow where the editors fill the suggested edit queue faster than the folks checking the edits can clear them. Dec 3, 2022 at 2:17
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Whether the FAQ and help pages are completed with respect to suggested edits has been asked about previously: "+2 for edit suggestion not in FAQ". The FAQ is incomplete (despite the on that question), see also: "How do suggested edits work?", nothing.

A complete explanation was not offered. That's as close to an authoritative answer as it gets; 'we were busy, forgot' (paraphrased).

A reputation increase of +2 is offered to encourage more people to make improving edits, see: "Why can any user edit any other user's question or answer?".

Obtaining edit badges does have some value, for your moderator candidacy score, see: "What are the details on the "candidate score" which shows during an election?".

"Why are approved edit suggestions worth reputation? Why not just badges?"

Some people would like to earn enough reputation to comment or chat.

In rare instances bots will edit (their human owner does the edit) in order to obtain reputation to post in a chat room, see for example: "GenericBot", with only a few edits, and "SmokeDetector" with both edits and posts.

Activity is encouraged or discouraged by badges and reputation, such as the loss of 1 reputation point for downvoting. Perhaps the biggest gain is the 100 reputation awarded for simply joining a community, quickly rewarding a user for a little effort.

It's part of the philosophy of Stack Exchange network. This is a related quote from shog9: "The last thing we should be doing is discouraging folks from fixing mistakes.". The small reward is to encourage newer users to help out with the housekeeping.

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    The question(s) you linked asking about the +2 mechanic not being explained in the FAQ are resolved. The FAQ now does explain the mechanic. I'm asking about the rationale. But thank you for adding some related links that also further show that there many not have been a rationale in terms of the meaning of reputation. Yes, I get that it encourages good edits, but that doesn't explain why edits which do not demonstrate subject-matter-knowledge (which seems to be the official meaning of rep) are undiscriminatorily also worth rep.
    – starball
    Dec 3, 2022 at 3:24
  • @star, the last paragraph in the question is: "In short, the +2 reputation gain from an accepted edit suggestion is missing from the FAQ.", the why is not answered. All edits that improve the quality of the posts are encouraged. --- The question above is not so infrequent that a complete FAQ shouldn't devote at least one paragraph to the subject.
    – Rob
    Dec 3, 2022 at 3:59
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    Yes, I get that the why is not answered. In my understanding of "In short, the +2 reputation gain from an accepted edit suggestion is missing from the FAQ.", the why is not even asked. Nothing in the rest of that post indicates a curiosity about the why either.
    – starball
    Dec 3, 2022 at 4:02

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