Example edit here: https://stackoverflow.com/suggested-edits/18199

It is possible that this was the same guy actually making a correction, but we should require them to log in first.

  • 6
    I'm missing the part where you defend your request.
    – tshepang
    Mar 16, 2011 at 17:53
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    Your request: Prevent suggested edits coming from anonymous users. Why?
    – tshepang
    Mar 16, 2011 at 18:24
  • 1
    what problem is this solving? Mar 17, 2011 at 3:36
  • 1
    @Jeff: That edit was rejected because there was no way to identify who was making it. And there is little chance the person who suggested the edit would be notified or know what to do. This may be a fringe enough case, but I thought I would go ahead and suggest it. Mar 17, 2011 at 12:09
  • A Data-query for how many anonymous edit suggestions have been rejected vs. approved would be interesting here. I am not familiar enough with the system to make one, perhaps someone else can? Nov 5, 2013 at 23:44
  • @Shog9 Thank you! Perfect, exactly what I needed to make my decision. Nov 5, 2013 at 23:53
  • -1. I suggest edits on SE sites that I don't have an account on, especially if it looks like no one else is going to do it. Nov 6, 2013 at 0:04
  • @SimonAndréForsberg - Here's another query, comparing the acceptance rates of suggested edits made by registered users versus anonymous users Nov 6, 2013 at 0:29
  • @ChrisForrence Yes, Lance added that info (but not the query itself), in his answer. I still don't think that's a reason enough to deny all anonymous users from suggesting edits. Nov 6, 2013 at 0:31
  • @SimonAndréForsberg - Yeah, he had answered before I was done fiddling with the query. It's also interesting seeing how acceptance rates for both types of users have fallen (looking at the past three years worth of data, the percentages increase to 81/38) Nov 6, 2013 at 0:34
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    @ChrisForrence There is still a lot of information missing though: How many unique editors are there (ip-wise), do the ones that get rejected for vandalism do many suggestions or only one? Do they come back later? Do they get banned from making further suggested edits? (I hope -- and think -- the system has the ability to ban some anonymous editors from making further suggested edits). Nov 6, 2013 at 0:44

4 Answers 4


Considering that about 30% of the edits are approved, I think anonymous users seems to be very helpful in editing posts and therefore see no reason to ban them from suggesting edits. This is almost one out of three and is a bigger number than I expected.

Sure, one could argue that it should be at least 50% for it to be acceptable, but if you consider the effort required in making an approved edit (some edits might take half a minute, some edits might take several minutes) vs. the effort required to decline a bad one (normally you can spot a bad edit very quickly), I'd say that 30% is a very good number.

I also think that allowing anonymous users to edit posts is a sign of openness, a way to say "Welcome, please come and improve our site!". Disabling this possibility would be like saying "We surrender! You destroy us too much with your useless edit suggestions!", which is not something I am willing to say.

Edit: Another thing. I don't think that we should punish all anonymous users just because some of them can't behave. Have you ever been in a group where someone did something bad an the whole group (including you) were punished just because some people misbehaved? (Hint hint: Pre-school / Kindergarten perhaps?). In situations were the group is gathered together this method makes some sense (although I still don't like it even then), but our anonymous users aren't gathered; they can't communicate with another, the good ones can't influence the bad ones' behavior. It would only be unfair to the good ones to punish the whole group.

  • 4
    Actually, I think 30% is an incredibly low number. I think you made my case. If you run the query for non-anonymouse editors the success percentage is 78%. Nov 5, 2013 at 23:54
  • @LanceRoberts I added some more arguing to my answer. Consider the time required to make an approved edit vs. the time required to decline one. Nov 5, 2013 at 23:58
  • The stat we really need is to see what percentage are rejected from each group for vandalism. Nov 5, 2013 at 23:59
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    @LanceRoberts Actually, I don't think that will change my mind. I take the close/reject reasons with a lot of salt these days, since I've seen a lot of close votes for belonging on ServerFault when it's not a server-related question at all. Nov 6, 2013 at 0:07
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    You make a really good point that allowing anonymous editing does welcome new users to the site in a positive way. They're probably more likely to come back once they realize why and how the content here is such high quality as compared to similar sites. It shows them that it's easy to be involved and to make a difference. I initially sided with even suggesting edits should be an earned privilege but I think you've won me over. Nov 6, 2013 at 0:27

I see no merit in this suggestion -- why block potentially useful edits from anonymous users just because?

Note that anonymous users already have some severe restrictions on their suggested edits, beyond what registered users get.


Most suggested edits from anonymous users fall into one of three categories, which I believe I'm listing from most common to least common:

  • Attempts to reply, thinking that they are on a forum and wondering where the “reply” button is. These are very easy to detect and reject.
  • Corrections to answers, which tend to be good because people generally bother to contribute them only when they know what they're doing. These are very welcome.
  • Attempts at vandalism. These are very easy to detect and reject.

Preventing suggested edits from anonymous users would raise the barrier for drive-by experts to contribute corrections. We should encourage these drive-by experts. Don't hope that by forcing them to register, they would stick around — if you force them to register, most of them will pass by and never contribute.

Barring anonymous users from suggesting edits would not solve any vandalism problem: vandals don't hesitate to create hundreds of accounts to post spam, obscenities and other unwelcome content. The only problem that preventing anonymous suggested edits would solve (or rather, significantly alleviate) is attempts to reply. It is this which has to be balanced with the loss of helpful corrections. And that would be throwing out the baby away with the bathwater.

  • FWIW, we just rolled out some new tooling that could be used to crank up the heat on anonymous vandals if need-be - right now, its only advantage is that it operates network-wide instead of per-site (which was the case with the restrictions that Jeff mentioned) but this could be tweaked pretty easily to clamp down harder on bogus suggestions if they become a bigger problem.
    – Shog9
    Nov 6, 2013 at 3:07
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    "Don't hope that by forcing them to register, they would stick around" - I agree! When I asked my first question on StackOverflow, the fact that I didn't need to register was very appealing, and prevented me from stopping mid-way. Nov 8, 2013 at 0:30

I just rejected this vandalism edit and can't for the life of me figure our why we'd allow anonymous users to make suggested edits. Let's restrict that ability to those who are signed in.

The success rates (over all time recorded in SEDE) based on anonymous vs signed-in users is

Anonymous: 31%
Non-Anonymous: 78%

  • 4
    Just as a note, looking at suggested edits within the past three years, the success rates for both are 38/81. Nov 6, 2013 at 0:32
  • @ChrisForrence, thanks, wish I could get just the rejection rates of the 2 groups with the 'vandalism' reason. Nov 6, 2013 at 0:35
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    The majority of anonymous edits I’ve seen recently have been really good – better than what a lot of signed-in users do, probably having something to do with them finding older questions that are relevant, not being in as much of a hurry, and not being in it for the rep. The true success rates for non-anonymous edits are closer to just over 50% :P
    – Ry-
    Nov 6, 2013 at 3:15

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