The following just occurred to me: there was a suggested edit, I saw a couple of other things that could be improved so clicked "Improve". While I was busy improving, I got a notification that "This post has been edited while you were editing" (or whatever the wording is). Looking at the post, it appears that what happened is that someone else approved the original suggested edit.

I would consider that notification to be the wrong way around. I would have thought it more suitable for the second person to have received a notification that someone else was already considering the suggestion and that they should wait a few minutes to let them finish. I only got the notification when I was almost finished, but clearly couldn't then submit my edit. And once I'd gone back to the question and seen that all that had happened was the original suggestion being approved, I didn't really feel like going back and re-editing with my improvements.

I wouldn't make this a hard lock. Just a message, "Someone started improving this edit X minutes ago. Do you really want to continue?" would suffice, I deem.

Added in edit: Hendrik Vogt has pointed out that the current notification should still be given if the edit is approved while I'm improving it since, under my proposal, that could still happen (or the original author might edit it themselves, for example). So my statement above "the wrong way round" isn't quite right. I don't want to replace that notification, but add another one.

  • 1
    This sort of simple notification would be very nice to have. Limiting the wasted effort and such.
    – M. Tibbits
    Jul 10, 2011 at 8:01

1 Answer 1


What you are alluding to here is actually a bigger design decision we made.

When you are editing a post, any post, we do not tell you that 10 other people are already editing it.

already editing

The reason we do not do this is not a technical reason. We know how to implement such a feature effectively and efficiently. The reason we do not notify is philosophical. We believe that presenting you with this information can easily result in posts left unedited because both users may easily conclude that the other person is "taking care of it".

Instead, we let the the bigger edit win. The idea, is to allow you to spend the time carefully editing the post, unhindered by trivial edits you are likely to include anyway.

Another point, which should not be ignored, is that edit conflicts are a rare case. The vast majority of time, when you are editing a post, you are editing it alone.

Technically, the improve functionality you are describing is identical to the "notify while editing" functionality we have rejected in the past.

  • 4
    Sounds like that Bystander Effect
    – random
    Oct 19, 2011 at 23:42
  • I'm tempted to flag this as "Not an answer". I'm talking specifically about the Approve/Improve situation. I would guess that edit conflicts of the kind that I describe are much more likely to occur in that specific circumstance since there is a global notification saying "Something needs looking at" and one potential action is very quick and easy (approving the edit). The worry about leaving things unedited also doesn't apply since someone is taking action to approve/improve an existing edit and if not done, the edit is still in the queue with the global notification. Oct 20, 2011 at 8:17
  • @Andrew but ... in the approve/improve case your "improved" edit is almost certain to be more substantive, so your save will not be blocked. I am not sure, but I think removing it from the queue temporarily seems like a complex solution to a rather rare situation.
    – waffles
    Oct 20, 2011 at 10:04
  • 1
    I'm not suggesting removing it from the queue, merely a notification to the second person to look. Also, I wouldn't say that my edit would be more substantial - maybe the other person was faster or more concise. Maybe I had to look something up. Maybe we edited different parts. So if I see "this post has been edited" I am going to check the edit before submitting mine, that behaviour will not change. It is not polite to behave otherwise. Oct 20, 2011 at 11:25
  • "result in posts left unedited" or editor rushing to finish first leaving errors behind
    – ajax333221
    Oct 12, 2012 at 18:41

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