# Editing gone wild

It seems that editing posts has recently gone out of control. There is certainly a need for editing and it has always been occurring. In the past it seems like one person at a time was responsible for making 10-15 edits everyday. Now, there are several people doing this throughout the day.

After reading some of the recent posts here on meta about format standardization (like this and this), and while there's absolutely nothing "wrong" with these suggestions, its made me realize that the site formatting will never be standardized. There is just to much turnover on the main site, too many people who don't care and too many people (myself included) who don't know all of the fine points of formatting.

IMO formatting edits have become disruptive to the flow of information. Post a question or answer and it is possible that after a few minutes it is buried below 10 edits. Continuity has been lost. What is the primary mission here, exchanging chemistry information or making posts look nice?

Editing new posts as much as you want is fine, but do we really need to edit posts from 2013 that are on hold? Do we really need to edit old posts with -5 votes and move them to the top of the Active queue? Do we need to edit posts just to remove extraneous spaces? Whether it is pKa or $\mathrm{p}K_\text{a}$ or $pK_a$, I get it.

All that said, I appreciate what the editors are doing - I've done it myself. But somehow - I think because we have so many people editing at the moment - I think we've lost balance and lost sight of our mission. Just my opinion, thanks for listening.

• Could you, please, elaborate a bit more on what kind of "continuity" has been lost and in what sense edits are "disruptive to the flow of information". I didn't quite get what is meant by this. Don’t you just like the fact that posts move to the top of the queue after editing? – Wildcat May 20 '15 at 15:22
• Of the 30 most recent posts on the "Active" questions tab, 18 were edits. Of those edits 8 were on posts contributed prior to 2015. So roughly 25% of the posts were old ones brought back to the top of the queue by editing. Sometimes I'll see a post that I intend to come back to later. Sometimes when I come back, the post is nowhere in sight and I have to spend time looking for it. For me, that is a loss of continuity. I feel that in order to better attract and retain users it benefits the site to have fresh questions and answers at the top of the list, not low-rated posts from 2012. So – ron May 20 '15 at 16:09
• I find these old edits disruptive to the flow of new information to our users. Personally, I would be fine if only questions and answers brought something to the top of the queue. Then editing wouldn't have an adverse effect on getting new information out there. – ron May 20 '15 at 16:12
• Bumped posts due to minor edits reminds me of reposts on sites like Reddit. I don't really see a problem with old posts making it to the top of the queue in general (though we should probably judiciously implement protection on posts as recently pointed out by Nicolau Saker Neto), especially since many posts in beta were not heavily monitored or seen. A disconnect in continuity can be irritating for those of us who hang around more often than others but many users are newer than you and I. – LordStryker May 20 '15 at 17:38
• @ron Sometimes I'll see a post that I intend to come back to later. Sometimes when I come back, the post is nowhere in sight and I have to spend time looking for it, maybe for this, there is a solution. Favorite it! After you come back to it, you can unfavorite it. – user223679 May 20 '15 at 17:43
• @user223679 Good point, thanks for reminding me. – ron May 20 '15 at 17:45
• Oh crud! I just saw that I have 21 edits towards the Archaeologist badge (editing older posts), It appears I am indeed unwittingly guilty of this - I had been trying to do only 2-5 a day and only from the first page, but must have stuffed up somewhere (repeatedly it seems). Will do better in future :) (I deleted my reply here in light of what I found). – user15489 May 20 '15 at 20:25
• Have to ask, is there a concern in answering old questions? (Be assured that I am not going to go overboard, just that there are a couple I can answer) – user15489 May 20 '15 at 21:39
• @Santiago Please, go overboard! Answering questions, new or old, is the only reason this site exists. – ron May 20 '15 at 21:42

## 5 Answers

Now when OP clarified that the main and only issue is that editing bumps a question to the top of the queue I have to say two things.

First, I do see some logic in this bumping: once a question was edited it is bumped to draw community's attention to corrections made, so that we can determine the quality of introduced changes, check it for spam, etc.

Secondly, if someone does not like this behaviour, he/she has just switch to the newest questions page instead of the main page.

• Am I correct that , in the "newest question" view, there is no mechanism to alert the viewer if someone has posted an answer to a question ? – ron May 20 '15 at 16:58
• @ron, oh, you want both questions and answers. No, as far as I know, there is no such thing at any SE site. This "issue" is not Chemistry.SE specific and it is already discussed on few other meta sites on the SE network without any result. – Wildcat May 20 '15 at 17:23
• Yes @Wildcat, I'd like to be aware of new questions and answers. – ron May 20 '15 at 17:26
• And besides, I was thinking about your argument in which you favour "continuity" and I think it a weak one. Right now, when the site just graduated from beta stage, we have relatively small traffic (~2o new questions/day), but sooner or later we will reach the level of, say, Math.SE with a traffic of ~600 new questions/day. Once we will reach that point your "continuity" argument would not make any sense even in the lack of bumped edited questions. – Wildcat May 20 '15 at 17:31
• That may be what the future holds, but I'm talking about reality on the ground today. – ron May 20 '15 at 17:33
• @ron A crude and inefficient way of getting only questions and answers is by browsing from the main page than from the active questions page as the former mentions whether the question title one is veiwing is bumped up there due to getting asked, answered or modified. (though I am not sure whether it covers all of them or not) – user223679 May 20 '15 at 17:54
• @user223679, active questions page is actually what you see at the main page. – Wildcat May 20 '15 at 18:03
• @Wildcat Nope. Check this question on both the pages. The main page, as I said, says answered while the active page calls everything modified. – user223679 May 20 '15 at 18:19
• @user223679, ok. But what is the point? OP does not want modified questions to be bumped, but they are both on the main page and on the active question page. – Wildcat May 20 '15 at 18:44
• @Wildcat I guess I mentioned "crude" and "inefficient". Scanning through the main page atleast tells one which questions are asked/answered while the active page groups it under modified. – user223679 May 20 '15 at 18:55
• @user223679, now I got it. :D – Wildcat May 20 '15 at 20:08
• @ron maybe a feature-request over here or on the network meta for filtering edited posts will be a good idea. – Del Pate May 21 '15 at 13:46

One thing to add to this, is that we have an editing system that rewards points for the first 200 something edits. Generally these edits need to be approved by people with the higher editing privilege; so, if you are the one approving edits, please try to keep this meta question in mind, and whether you think it is worth bumping up the old question for the sake of an edit.

I definitely agree that edits have been swamping things lately and I'd hate to see questions disappear off the first page before people get a chance to see them. We're always going to have questions and answers with 'improper' formatting and there's nothing wrong with fixing it, but it shouldn't be at the expense of recent questions.

There are certainly times when I think substantial content edits should be bumped back up, though, so I wouldn't want to totally lose that behaviour. It would be really nice if there were a 'minor edit' checkbox or something that would keep the question from being bumped just for formatting.

• Yes, maybe by checking the box it would flow into the "suggested edits" review queue, everything else could flow back to the top of the page. – ron May 20 '15 at 17:25
• I believe the minor edit check box was proposed and declined on meta. The reason is quite simple: Don't do minor edits. – Martin - マーチン May 21 '15 at 3:26

This is an issue, and one that I have ashamedly not been paying close attention as the users have begun to take over a large part of the responsibility for moderation of the site. I'm used to being on smaller sites, where the cardinal rule is, as Ron has described, to leave a bit of room on the front page so newer questions don't get drowned. There's no hard and fast rule, but if you are doing more than 3 edits at a clip, it's probably going to start clogging things, depending on how most users have the pagination set.

Many, including myself, have pursued Strunk and White at one point or another, but the most important thing is that these edits are useful in clarifying content (while maintaining the original intent of the author), helping people find the content on search engines, and for general "neatness," among other reasons.

So, if you are editing, use your judgement. Old closed questions that are not remotely salvageable should be left alone. If you have deletion privileges, drop a delete vote on them. If you can downvote and the closed post shouldn't stay around, the downvote will awaken the Roomba that cleans up old content.

If you are approving edits, use your judgement as well. If it's a miniscule, nitpicky thing that doesn't improve readability one bit, don't hesitate to turn it down, with the appropriate reason. While we want to encourage people to edit, correcting one font or character does more harm than good.

That being said, if you are editing on the site, thank you. I realize that we have had a few meta posts on little "projects" for people to do, but you really need to think of these as something like a long-term weekend home improvement project, which is normally not something to be hustled out. Posts should be curated like fine pieces of art, but turning over the entire museum in a day is a bit disruptive.

• There are not a lot of people who can drop a delete vote, yet. – Martin - マーチン May 21 '15 at 3:24
• @Martin-マーチン Very true. Question deletion votes are at 10K, so we have some people in the neighborhood or close to it :) – jonsca May 21 '15 at 23:02

I think I am one of the guilty parties in this, I do not mean to be disruptive in any and offer my apology for any disruption my contribution to the editing has caused and will rein in my editing.

I feel after reading the responses and discussion here, I feel the need to explain that my motive is only to improve the readability and consistency of formatting in the questions and answers, I am not intending to do a 'mass-bumping' of the posts to the top, and definitely did not intend on disrupting anything.

I have been conscious of only editing posts from the latest page on the active posts list - but looking at my profile, I have 21 posts towards the Archaeologist silver badge (editing old posts, 6 months or older), so I have stuffed up at least 21 times - really not sure how.

Once again, I apologise for my part in this issue.

• No need to apologize @Santiago, all of the editors are doing the right thing, trying to make the site look better. As I said, I've done it too. My aim isn't to stop the editing, but rather to somehow find a way to stop formatting edits in particular from cluttering up the front page. – ron May 20 '15 at 19:06
• hmmm @ron as the majority of my edits have been formatting, my apology still applies. – user15489 May 21 '15 at 2:14
• Don't feel bad about that at all. I do have the archaeologist badge, so does @ron and loong. We are therefore just as guilty bumping old posts to the front. Sometimes, edits to old questions are just as important as new questions. – Martin - マーチン May 21 '15 at 3:34