A few weeks ago I observed a probably off-topic but non-spam question quickly gathering delete votes as spam, and then someone actually maliciously edited the question, overwriting it with "spam spam spam..." to prevent the question from even being read. I don't see that there's a "history" tab where one can view previous revisions.

Then it struck me that someone could go back and edit his answers (or, with enough rep, any good answer) after a few days had passed and the questions were off the radar, turning them into obfuscated gibberish. While eventually those would gather downvotes, it takes five downvotes to erase an upvote; and in any case the shared knowledge is lost.

What's to prevent this if enough members turn to the dark side? Or am I just being overly paranoid about something that has little likelihood of occurring?

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    can you provide a link to this question – Jeff Atwood Jun 15 '11 at 5:54
  • sorry Jeff, it was something that I should have posted at the time, but didn't have the presence of mind. afraid it's lost now; it was something about a domain having been stolen as I remember. – jcomeau_ictx Jun 15 '11 at 6:06
  • +1 for "eternal vigilance" - as you're probably correct in referencing that. – Piskvor left the building Jun 15 '11 at 13:52

You can always revert to a previous version. So that's one safeguard to malicious edits.

If a question or answer is subject to malicious edits you can flag it for moderator support. They can protect/lock the entry so editing is prohibited.

But the biggest safeguard against trolls and spammers is the common sense of the community. As long as we keep that alive, trolls and spammers are likely to be killed in their tracks (or even better re educated to be respectful community members.)

By the way, it does not take 5 downvotes to counter an upvote. They counter each other. Only an upvotes gives +10 rep (+5 to questions) and a downvote gives -2 rep. So you need 5 downvotes if you want to counter the rep gain of a single upvote, but I don't think that is the way to use this site because it is content oriented, not user oriented.

Do you have a link to the question?

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  • yeah, I was referring to rep regarding the downvotes vs upvotes. and understood that it's content-oriented, but it seems some people have their own agendas. the question was so short-lived I doubt if I could find it (not by name anyway, since the name was also edit beyond recognition). as I remember, it was from some poor bloke whose domain had been stolen or something like that. – jcomeau_ictx Jun 15 '11 at 6:05

This actually happened a couple of times.

In response, SE will now automatically flag users who edit or delete too many posts at once.

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If something has been edited, you should see the user icon for the person that edited it to the left of the original author's. Above it will say "edited x minutes ago" which is a link you can click to see the revision history. (unless there's a rep requirement to see it, I'm not sure). From that page you can also roll back to previous versions. For example, this SO question has been edited.

Given the reputation requirement to be able to do the things you're worried about, it's not likely to happen. If it does you can post here on meta and the diamond moderators/staff can deal with the rabble.

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    Or hit the flag link that's on every question and answer, and invisibly next to every comment. Moderators do follow those flags, and have legions of 10k+ users to help filter reasonable flags from unreasonable flags. – sarnold Jun 15 '11 at 7:03

Two factual notes: there is a "history tab" and the system has some vigilance built-in.

Regarding history: I just edited your question. To see the original version, all you have to do is click the foo time-units ago text to the left of your user card. Or, you can always punch in a direct URL:


e.g. http://meta.stackoverflow.com/posts/95166/revisions

As for vigilance, edits to any post bump it to the main page, so people can see what was done.

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  • thanks, never thought to see if that was a link. – jcomeau_ictx Jun 15 '11 at 22:11

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