Why does a formatting edit on an answer that has no upvotes and not an accepted answer push the question to the front page? Is it simply to provide the opportunity for others to upvote an old answer?

How often does someone really read passed the first few answers, especially when the upvote distribution is so lop-sided?

My understanding of the front page is that new questions, questions with a lot of activity, and questions with no answers or accepted answers receive attention.

I felt a need to edit this question to clarify subject matter and properly ask a question. Naturally, it should be bumped to the front page; there are no answers and this is a major edit to improve content.

Based on comments: I could not agree more with the importance of being able to edit questions and answers. And, under most circumstances, I agree with the process of bumping those questions to the front page. The case I am presenting is probably rare and I just so happened to notice. Maybe there should be some additional guidelines to determine whether a question get bumped:

  • Does the question have an accepted answer?
  • Does the accepted answer have greater than X upvotes?
  • Is the question greater than X days old?

The discussion is not just about the importance and effect of editing questions and answers. It seems like a lot of comments are only focusing on that aspect. So I'm trying to clarify the exact subject of this post.

Should there be some additional rules governing the bumping of questions to the front page?

  • How would you propose that the system actually distinguish between "formatting edits" and other types of edits? Can you explain what a formatting edit is in general terms?
    – Aarobot
    Commented Jan 8, 2011 at 23:35
  • @Aarobot: in this case, no actual characters were added. Peter Mortensen selected a bunch of text and then Ctrl-K. The question is nearly 2 1/2 years old; the accepted answer was posted 26 minutes after the question. The edited answer with no upvotes was posted 1 1/2 years after an accepted answer. Those are some fairly easy characteristics to mitigate, in my opinion. I stop short of requesting a feature such as a 'Recently Edited' tab. Don't get me wrong, I am all for editing content to improve readability, userfulness, etc. I'm just not sure that I agree with the effect of this edit.
    – IAbstract
    Commented Jan 8, 2011 at 23:44
  • 4
    Being the slowest gun in the mid-west, this has earned me plenty of upvotes on late answers. Never intentionally, never saw anything wrong with it though. What exactly is wrong with it? Does the 5 minute attention span have to be enshrined as SOP at SO? Yuck, back to 2008. Commented Jan 8, 2011 at 23:46
  • 1
    @Hans Doesn't posting an answer push a question to the front page already? Commented Jan 8, 2011 at 23:52
  • 8
    Yeah, I have to admit I'm not really seeing the point. I mean, even without any edits, the Community user bumps old questions periodically anyway. Bumping isn't a bad thing. And OK, so Ctrl-K is one type of "formatting edit" but what about all the others? What if the author bolds or italicizes some text? What about adding paragraphs? And how important are spelling corrections, even though they're not just formatting? Special-casing any but the most trivial of edits sounds insanely complex, and if the criteria is so narrow then it's almost pointless.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Jan 8, 2011 at 23:53
  • 4
    @Aarobot Wikipedia has a checkbox that allows the editor to explicitly say "this is a minor edit." It wouldn't stop people from "gaming" the system by making minor changes to get their question bumped, but it would allow others to make good-faith formatting changes without causing the bump.
    – user149432
    Commented Jan 8, 2011 at 23:58
  • Community User responsibilities: * Randomly poke old unanswered questions every hour so they get some attention * Own community questions and answers so nobody gets unnecessary reputation from them * Own downvotes on spam/evil posts that get permanently deleted
    – IAbstract
    Commented Jan 9, 2011 at 0:01
  • @Mark: I think a specific 'minor edit' check box would be a good addition, although I agree with your assessment.
    – IAbstract
    Commented Jan 9, 2011 at 0:05
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    @Mark: That's precisely the problem. These requests have been made before, i.e. for bulk retagging, and been rejected for good reason. You simply can't trust every single person to use that feature in good faith. Most people would, but it only takes a few to cause serious problems.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Jan 9, 2011 at 1:07
  • Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/26483/…
    – jzd
    Commented Jan 9, 2011 at 5:16
  • 5
    I edited an answer the other day that, prior to the edit, displayed nothing but "Try this:". The formatting-only edit manifested the bulk of the answer - it was a trivial edit, but would have completely changed how an interested reader could have interpreted it.
    – Shog9
    Commented Jan 9, 2011 at 5:36
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    @Aarobot right now, without any such feature, people are using edits in good and bad faith. A checkbox to explicitly say "this is minor" would at least mitigate the good faith edits from bumping a question. Checkbox or no, bad faith edits are going to occur: adding a checkbox does not exacerbate that issue.
    – user149432
    Commented Jan 9, 2011 at 5:58
  • @Mark: I still don't understand where you're going with this. Of course people edit in bad faith. Right now, those edits will get caught because the question gets bumped. Adding this "minor edit" feature would allow them to make those bad faith edits without anyone noticing. I don't see how that's an acceptable trade-off for being able to make the occasional minor edit without a bump. Believe me, I'm annoyed myself that I have to throttle my edits/retags because of the bumping behaviour, but this isn't a solution, it's more of a politician's syllogism.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Jan 9, 2011 at 15:33


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