The famous book recommendation post is currently in a rollback war. I started it (unintentionally) by removing this text:

For me, the book would be Code Complete. After reading that book, I was able to get out of the immediate task mindset and begin to think about the bigger picture, quality and maintainability.

I thought this wasn't really appropriate because the question is CW. Was it a bad idea that I removed that text? Am I disrespecting the author?

  • If anything, then at least you left a good edit comment. Rollbacks without any comment whatsoever make little sense (unless the initial edit would clearly be vandalism).
    – Arjan
    Jan 19, 2011 at 12:55
  • You should be able to comment reply to editors too - just leaving a comment there will just get it buried under all the other comments
    – Yi Jiang
    Jan 19, 2011 at 13:21
  • @YiJiang, if you're referring to my (temporary) comment at that book recommendation question, then you're right: I was just too lazy. But just in case you don't know: one can use @reply comments to notify editors. Or are you saying that this does not work for rollbacks? (Just like rollbacks are not listed in the user's activity history?)
    – Arjan
    Jan 19, 2011 at 13:30
  • @Arjan No, I'm saying that the comment, as referred to in your comment, when and if it's left (apparently you did leave one), should use comment reply. I know it can be used to notify editors - I read that feature-req before
    – Yi Jiang
    Jan 19, 2011 at 13:34
  • Or maybe, @YiJiang: isn't it actually odd that a rollback does not allow for leaving an edit summary (which I erroneously called a comment too above), just like when editing? (Indeed, lacking such summary for rollbacks you're very right: when rolling back one should —in most cases— leave an @reply comment.)
    – Arjan
    Jan 19, 2011 at 13:44
  • @Arjan Oh, is that what you meant? Sorry about that. You can use the 'edit' link in the rev. history to both rollback and use the edit summary, though it will now count as a edit rather than a rollback
    – Yi Jiang
    Jan 19, 2011 at 13:49

3 Answers 3


Was it a bad idea that I removed that text? Am I disrespecting the author?

While the intent of trying to make the question impartial is generally good, it never would have occurred to me to remove those sentences because:

  1. The question is long-standing and, based on the number of answers, fine the way it was.

  2. I don't think the portion removed was biased the way it was phrased. For example, I don't believe the author put those sentences there in an attempt to lobby people to agree with them that Code Complete was the best book ever. I think the author originally put it there as an example of the kind of answer he was looking for.

  3. I don't think the edit made the question significantly more neutral (since IMHO it was close to neutral originally).

I think its the last point that is the crux of the rollback war - people don't agree whether the question was improved by the edit.


I originally rolled back the question because I thought the author's inclusion of the reference to Code Complete had stood the test of time without needing to be removed. At this point, the question is over two years old and nowhere in the history of edits prior to revision 14 did anyone attempt to remove the reference to Code Complete.

I would agree that the inclusion Code Complete in the question could make it "not neutral," but I'm not sure that is enough justification to remove it. The reference to this book also serves as an example of what kind of answer the author is looking for. Providing an example adds value to the question, even if it does appear to add "bias."

For me, the biggest justification for leaving it in is that I didn't feel that my judgment of whether or not the text should be removed was more valuable than the community's judgment that the text's removal was unnecessary, as evidenced by the fact that it has remained in place for two years. If the 1885 users who have favorited this question have not previously thought to change it in this way, perhaps I shouldn't either.

Granted, just because something stands the test of time doesn't mean it is right, but it should weigh in to one's decision-making.


Given that the very same "Code Complete" is mentioned in many answers at that question (including the accepted answer), I think the edit was fine.

But even without that, I think it is okay to remove the author's own view from such question, as per "Great subjective questions have a [...] impartial tone". (When that view would not have been posted on its own yet, for old questions it might then require to post that view as an answer. But that was not the case here.)

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