I made a minor edit to this answer on SO to fix the format of a broken link. Looking at the revision history now, it appears I fixed nothing and furthermore removed a useful example. At first I was quite worried that it was my screw-up, but I realized that the source of what I edited did not match what is now the first revision.

I'm now thinking that I've been burned by the '5-minute window' feature of SO. Is this a reasonable conclusion?

If so, consider me quite displeased. I guess from now on I'll refrain from editing answers within 5 minutes of their posting. I wish I had known that prior.

  • You can always roll back your changes with a comment. – Jon Seigel Dec 22 '10 at 17:33

Yes, you were probably bitten by the 5 minute grace period. This doesn't happen very often, and is indeed a good reason not to make changes in the first five minutes. It specifically occurs because you started your edit, then the previous writer started and completed an edit, and then you complete your edit. As pointed out by jjnguy's answer, though, this can also happen even without the grace period, as long as you are editing an older revision.

Of course, sometimes, users will do things like post a very basic answer just to get the timestamp early, then use the following 5 minutes to stuff the real content in.

There have been worse incidents caused by this.

  • The 5 minute grace period is horribly easy to abuse... and everyone does it, Jon Skeet included. – Powerlord Dec 22 '10 at 19:05

I wouldn't blame the 5 minute window for this. The real culprit is edit collision. Even if the original answerer's edit would have shown, it still would have looked like you removed the helpful example.

  • 1
    I would find this acceptable if the revision history made it clear what had transpired. – Daniel Pratt Dec 22 '10 at 17:00
  • @Daniel, there is no way to make it clear what happened. The edit window doesn't keep track of other edits happening while you edit. Since you started editing before the OP, and you ended after, your edit was gonna erase his edit no matter what. – jjnguy Dec 22 '10 at 17:13
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    I think I understand your point, but I have trouble with your assertion that '...there is no way to make it clear what happened...'. As often as this situation arises, I doubt it is a high priority, but it seems to me that fixing it is entirely straightforward: Stick the last revision # in a hidden field. On post, if the current last revision number is higher, error and discard the edit. Of course that would require that revisions made with 5 minutes of posting don't wipe out prior revisions. – Daniel Pratt Dec 22 '10 at 17:26
  • The edit window doesn't, but the history would... except in the 5-minute grace period window. – Powerlord Dec 22 '10 at 19:09

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