The Problem

Right now, if a post is edited 10 times by its author, it will be automatically converted to CW (Source). I think that this is flawed logic, and should be removed.

The Argument

I'd argue that having the auto-cw feature is a deterrent to authors maintaining high quality posts. Without the edit limit, authors are have a dis-incentive to updating their posts. So you wind up in a situation where posts go out of date (and can be -1ed) because the original author didn't want to lose ownership (and rep) associated with the post.


This answer was auto-converted to CW because the poster expanded the body a few (ok, 9) times with additional examples, references and more information. Does that make it a clear candidate for CW? I'd argue no.

This answer was not auto-converted yet. But I'm discouraged from editing more unless I really need to since I don't want to have it auto-convert...


We already have the mode where if a post is edited by 5 users it automatically becomes CW (which makes sense). Why not just leave it as that. Let the users say if it should be CW by actually contributing to the post, rather than just saying it should be because the author took the time to expand the post.

  • Now that I look a little closer, I think the author of that example made it CW on purpose. It's marked CW with his 8th revision. Also, I think the Community user marks posts as CW when it's triggered by an edit. Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 19:47
  • @Bill Aye. It won't be until the 10th author edit, which excludes the original posting. So, in the case of an uninterrupted set of revisions, that will be revision 11. I don't recall if Community steps in for that (as compared to when there are too many answers), though, but anything earlier than 11 will generally be self-induced.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 19:50
  • @Bill: wasn't the limit 8 edits before? (According to @Gordon, he did not make it CW, that the limit was 8 edits back then)
    – ircmaxell
    Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 19:55
  • Hm... that was back in '09. I do believe the limit may have been 8 back then. But records of that time are spotty because no one was truly certain they knew the limits correctly. Now, though, the limit is 10.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 19:58
  • @ircmaxell: Yeah, that is a possibility. I think it used to be lower, but I'm not sure what it was or when it changed. Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 19:59
  • 1
    Couldn't you simply copy the contents from the old answer into a new answer and then delete the old answer? :) Commented Feb 13, 2011 at 20:14
  • Shouldn't this be a feature request?
    – Arjan
    Commented Jun 9, 2012 at 14:17

7 Answers 7


Most of the edits in the example you linked to weren't adding anything. They could have been combined into fewer edits.

The 10 edit CW feature is there to prevent people from abusing the "bumping" feature. Every time you edit a post it gets bumped back to the top of the active queue. People were gaming this by making useless edits just to get their questions bumped, gaining more views and more votes.

If a post goes out of date and starts getting downvotes, then the author is actively losing rep. This is incentive to edit the post whether it pushes the post into CW or not.

  • 4
    +1, "bump abuse" didn't occur to me
    – Pops
    Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 19:37
  • 1
    That's fair. But what about this post as an example? Is that a candidate for I should have combined the edits? I know they were close together, but I'm not discouraged from editing further unless I have a good reason. I understand your point (and it's completely valid), but it's an interesting tradeoff...
    – ircmaxell
    Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 19:37
  • @ircmaxell: That's a much better example. All of those edits (with one borderline exception) look substantial. You did make them in a short time span though, so I think they might have been combined. You also still have 4 more edits (it's nice that you can see the number) before you push it into CW. It's definitely a tradeoff with bump abuse. Really old questions and answers don't net me much rep, so I don't feel any hesitation about editing them when I get a downvote or a comment. Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 19:43
  • @Bill: just throwing it out there, what about disabling the bump-on-edit system for that reason? Why not just let comments/votes/whatever cause the bump? (just looking for a solution to solve both problems here)...
    – ircmaxell
    Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 19:44
  • 2
    @ircmaxell Bumps are meant to bring attention to the fact that things have been changed. Bumping is necessary in order to make vetting edits easier. Plus, if you make substantial edits that improve your post, you deserve the new attention.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 19:46
  • 1
    @ircmaxell: That would be one solution, but it has its drawbacks. Things that have been freshly edited should get bumped so we get feedback on our edits. I'd be more in favor of only looking at the number of edits in the past X months to make a post CW. That way we could edit old out-of-date posts without worrying about it going CW if we haven't touched the post in a while. Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 19:51
  • @ircmaxell - The example you've provided is a PERFECT example of why this limit is in place. Why do you think you have 11 votes whereas the next answer has only 3 votes? It's because it showed up on the front page 6 times. The excessive bumping you are doing results in a disproportionate amount of reputation. If you posted that answer all at once you would not have received half as many votes. So what would happen if we allowed 20, 50, or infinite edits? A lot more people would be using this loophole to inflate their reputation.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 21:22
  • 2
    Whatever the limit is for, it has the not-so-fortunate side effect of effectively punishing users for improving their answers. Ever since I discovered that some of my popular answers (such as this have been auto-CW'ed, I've pretty much just stopped trying to improve my answers. I don't think that's a good thing for SO. It should be possible to solve the "bumping" problem without punishing people for trying to improve their answers. I don't care about my answers being bumped, but I do care about them being correct and of high quality.
    – jalf
    Commented Jul 6, 2012 at 23:41
  • 1
    Really, isn't the obvious solution just to not bump answers once they've been edited those 10'ish times? Bam, you solve the bumping problem without actually punishing users for behavior that benefits SO. That is, if SO actually cared about behavior at all related to high quality Q&A. I know it's been a while since that was the case, but still... Oh well, don't mind me. It's not like I ever try to write that kind of detailed answers any more anyway. SO's policy of enforcing mediocrity has beaten that habit out of me long ago. It's not worth fighting the system over.
    – jalf
    Commented Jul 6, 2012 at 23:45
  • 1
    @jalf The bumps need to happen to prevent users from defacing old posts. There's a balance that needs to be struck between quality and rep-whoring, but I agree that the current set of rules doesn't favor quality. Moderators can still remove CW from posts, and we will if it goes CW simply because you finally updated your 3-year old post for the 10th time. Just flag them with a message saying that your were maintaining old posts and they shouldn't be CW. Commented Jul 7, 2012 at 0:13
  • 1
    But then, why can't the OP, when he edits his own answer, opt out of the bump? The system is broken. It is one of many ways in which SO rewards mediocrity, and punishes quality. I might flag some of my auto-CW'ed answers one of these days, but I shouldn't have to. I don't want to have to jump through special hoops just to be allowed to improve an answer I wrote years ago. SO doesn't become a better site by trying to keep you from improving the quality of the content on the site. If you need special permission from a moderator just to improve your own answer, then the system is broken.
    – jalf
    Commented Jul 10, 2012 at 22:38
  • 1
    Bump abuse notion is helpful. Second-guessing how many edits somebody should have used, not so much in my opinion.
    – DWright
    Commented Jan 21, 2013 at 15:43

Number of self-edits shouldn't determine community wiki status.

Code is iterative, and when I improve code I've referenced here I usually update my answers. Then (presumably) everyone benefits...

The number of questions being finite, with enough time the usage of SO will transform from a Q/A system to a knowledge base. Eventual knowledge base status should be taken into consideration - and because of this eventuality I shouldn't be less likely to garner rep simply because I polish my answers!

  • 1
    My argument is basically that on a long enough timespan the self-edit community wiki status breaks the merit-based system that keeps SO alive.
    – HAL9000
    Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 21:24

I disagree. The current system encourages authors to write high-quality posts the first time around, instead of slapping anything down and editing 50 times to make one typo fix each time.

It is quite rare for a post to get ten really substantial edits. For the purposes of this post, I'm defining a "substantial edit" as the addition of information based on significant further research or testing of answers/comments; in other words, stuff that couldn't have been written earlier. In practice, many edits are made to fix things that wouldn't have needed fixing if the author had only put more time or thought into the post initially.

  • I feel like your answer here is premised on a certain standard of edit/post efficiency that others might not share (for example, me). Why should it matter to another for someone else to iteratively edit their way to a post in the kind of condition they want it in? i.e. it's fine to have a standard for oneself along the lines of "I'm going to nail this in as few edits as possible". But why can't someone else be iterative about it?
    – DWright
    Commented Jan 21, 2013 at 15:55
  • 1
    @DWright because every time you edit your post it goes to the front page. The deal on SO is "don't submit it until you think it is right", not "submit anything and edit it over and over". See FGITW for a (frowned on) extreme wrt answers Commented Jan 21, 2013 at 18:01
  • @KateGregory: agreed that too much iterative editing can amount to bump abuse (front paging). And while there is no other cure for bump abuse the community wiki conversion is one way to curb bump abuse. So I'm fine with that. What I'm getting at (also see my own answer below) is that I don't think we need to place our own preferences on how to build a post on others (absent the bump issue). It's fine if someone has their own "do it in minimal number of edits" standard. But that's merely a preference. And I don't feel like that preference needs to be put on others just for its own sake.
    – DWright
    Commented Jan 21, 2013 at 18:11
  • So, for example, the sentence above: "In practice, many edits are made to fix things that wouldn't have needed fixing if the author had only put more time or thought into the post initially." I don't see why we need to be concerned with how and in what sequence another author goes about building their posts. What if iteration is another author's way of putting time and thought in? Then let them (if other concerns don't intervene, which in the case of front page bumping, they admittedly do).
    – DWright
    Commented Jan 21, 2013 at 18:15

Duplicate of this request


  1. High quality posts require maintenance and revisions, often more than the 10 maximum before a post automatically goes into Community Wiki.
  2. Some users will bump their post by making many trivial edits to keep them on top of the activity lists.

Proposed Solution:

Keep the Community Wiki limit, but have a This is a minor edit tickbox that stops the edit counting towards the limit when editing your own posts, but also stops the post being bumped.

This solves both problems, and helps to keep high quality edits noticed, while trivial ones are ignored.

Note that this would only work for your own posts, so that the anti-vandalism effect of having edits bumped would still stop spammers editing other's posts without overview.

  • Would the donwvoter care to comment?
    – brice
    Commented Apr 24, 2012 at 12:12
  • 2
    -1. Been there, done that Minor edits would lead to ninja-edits that could be malicious. I guess minor edits can be allowed on your own question (dunno--there's still scope for abuse). But a ninja edit feature for mods would be useful--it would make such cleanups easier. (Note: I was commenting, took me some time to compose it--left the laptop in between) Commented Apr 24, 2012 at 12:13
  • Hadn't thought of that. It could definitely be used maliciously. I still think that on your own posts, it makes a lot of sense to be able to mark edits as minor.
    – brice
    Commented Apr 24, 2012 at 12:21
  • Notify the author(s) of previous edits? Add to review queue? Disregard follow-up edits by the original author?
    – tripleee
    Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 19:27
  • FWIW, I do wish there was a way to make a minor edit without bumping. I spent a day correcting annoying misspellings ("Andoird") before someone pointed out to me that I was bumping old questions in the process. Commented May 22, 2013 at 0:02

It seems to me that there's room for having different standards for questions than we have for answers. It's far more common to have an answer edited multiple times as a result of clarification from the OP (whether that clarification comes by comment or editing of the original question), and I don't see a need to punish answerers for keeping an answer relevant; I also don't see a lot of opportunity for gaming the system, as it's fairly rare for a question to have so many answers that it's possible to get lost in the sea.

Yes, it would still be possible to get a "me first!" answer posted in hopes of grabbing some initial rep and maintaining the momentum (it seems that the higher an answer is voted, the more likely others will vote it up, regardless of actual content, but this is just personal observation), but I don't think having a 10-edit trigger is going to prevent that.


Conversion into a community wiki is merely the realization that a post which requires so much editing is probably a candidate for more people to edit as a traditional wiki. Why make the author do all the work of maintaining a post over time if converting it to community wiki will enable many others to help with the effort?

By continually editing the post, the author essentially agrees that the post has rapidly changing information. This is exactly the type of situation that community wiki was created for.

  • 2
    I think that's being a little presumptuous. Given that the option to convert to CW is available to the author, I don't you can legitimately claim that we're making "the author do all the work," since he has the option of opening it up at any time. Furthermore, I don't think that the presence of multiple edits means that it's an ever-evolving topic, which is what Wiki's really useful for. It might be, but it isn't, IMO, a really strong indicator that it is. Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 21:06
  • @Adam - 10 edits is excessive. Popular Demand and Bill the Lizard got the most important reasons to have a limit, this is a distant third, and doesn't apply to every situation, just as the other reasons don't apply to every situation.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 21:23
  • "By continually editing the post, the author essentially agrees that the post has rapidly changing information. This is exactly the type of situation that community wiki was created for." Personally, I would not always be agreeing to that by editing a post iteratively.
    – DWright
    Commented Jan 21, 2013 at 18:17

The only strong rationale I can see for caring about multiple edits on one's own post is that it could be bump abuse.

Answers that talk about how many edits are or are not excessive are statements of opinion that really should not be brought to bear on how another person chooses to edit their posts. If I want to edit my post 20 times because I feel like it's making my post better, I should be able to do that without someone else second-guessing it. Unless they're second-guessing that I might be trying to get bumps out it.

In my opinion, the 10 edit on own post => automatic conversion to CW is a very broken and needlessly meddlesome idea, but one which may have to stay in place if there is no better way to prevent "bump abuse."

  • And now I'm going to edit my answer a few times and see if can turn this thing into a Community Wiki, because I just wasn't good enough or smart enough or good looking enough to get all my edits in in under 10 edits ;-}
    – DWright
    Commented Jan 21, 2013 at 15:42

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