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Today I received an edit suggestion on this answer of mine.

The answer contains the following:

Probably the ultimate non-toxic solution [for a high density brine] would be a cesium polytungstate solution.

The suggested edit was as follows

Probably the ultimate non-toxic solution would be a cesium tungstate solution, which has a density of SG 2.80 and is available from Carl Downs at www.formatebrine.com.

There were a few issues with this:

A. Cesium tungstate solutions can have different densities

B. I mentioned cesium polytungstate. This was in reference to another answer that mentioned sodium polytungstate (and gave a source with a density greater than the editor's suggested cesium tungstate solution.)

C. It was from a 1 rep user called John Downs (the same surname as the supplier.)

I decided the best thing to do was to improve the edit, pointing out the technical differences between the editor's offering and the other answer. I left the link to www.formatebrines.com in, but put the recommendation in quotes.

Questions

  1. Assuming one does not have time to improve a suggested edit, should this type of thing be accepted or rejected?

  2. Was editing the post the best thing to have done? Are there any improvements that could be made?

  3. It's quite possible that the editor's main reason for the edit was to promote the business of a family member. Is this OK or unacceptable? Or should we assume the best intentions wherever possible?

  4. It's easy to respond to someone who has left comments on a post. But other than chat, is there any way to contact someone who suggests an edit? On another SE site I once rejected an edit, and the box to explain my reasons was way too small, so it ended getting accepted by another reviwer (Also is there any way to contact your fellow reviewers?)

  5. Is there any better way for someone encountering the site for the first time to communicate? It seems odd that they can't comment but they can suggest an edit and they can post an answer. (I often see new users abusing this odd situation in order to be heard.)

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    $\begingroup$ Definitely spam. Don't read too much into it. They tried to be "smart" with adding all that irrelevant stuff, and it's usually just material copy-pasted from somewhere else in the internet. $\endgroup$ – M.A.R. Jan 29 '16 at 9:04
  • $\begingroup$ This edit came up in my review queue. I was a bit nonplussed, wasn't sure how to deal with it. Thanks for asking, and thanks to jonsca and Martin for the thorough answers! $\endgroup$ – hBy2Py Jan 29 '16 at 17:28
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Assuming one does not have time to improve a suggested edit, should this type of thing be accepted or rejected?

This type of edit, regardless of the actual intention of the editor, is spam being introduced into the site. As such, it should be rejected.

Was editing the post the best thing to have done? Are there any improvements that could be made?

It was nice of you to edit the post with the information, and removing the hyperlink was a wise choice, but incorporating it into the body of your answer was not necessary. Had there been information from this user that directly answered the question, the best thing they could have done was to add an additional answer. This way, the information can be scrutinized by the community rather than admitted in the back door via an edit. I did go back and remove the link completely, but left in the relevant information.

It's quite possible that the editor's main reason for the edit was to promote the business of a family member. Is this OK or unacceptable? Or should we assume the best intentions wherever possible?

The intentions may have been non-malicious, and can be assumed as such, but it still violates the "avoid overt self-promotion" requirement of Stack Exchange sites. In general, unless someone is using the information at a link to substantiate a portion of their answer, it probably doesn't belong.

It's easy to respond to someone who has left comments on a post. But other than chat, is there any way to contact someone who suggests an edit? On another SE site I once rejected an edit, and the box to explain my reasons was way too small, so it ended getting accepted by another reviwer (Also is there any way to contact your fellow reviewers?)

Adding a link to the help page I cited above in your edit rejection text would let the user know the rationale behind why this is not acceptable. If you see an edit to something that was suspect like this was and ended up approved, please flag it for a moderator to take a look.

Is there any better way for someone encountering the site for the first time to communicate? It seems odd that they can't comment but they can suggest an edit and they can post an answer. (I often see new users abusing this odd situation in order to be heard.)

Comments are very difficult to police. If users were able to comment everywhere, they could very easily leave spam throughout the site undetected. With suggested edits, these are placed into a queue so that they can be scrutinized. As is the first answer of any new user. While it's possible (and has likely happened a handful of times) that someone would post a good answer just to then go on and post spam, it has a far lower probability of occurrence. In addition, when anyone of any reputation answers, the question is bumped on the front page to ensure that it gets additional views.

So, in sum, rejecting would have been the best thing to do in this type of case, but, in reality, there was no harm done. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

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  • $\begingroup$ they could very easily leave spam throughout the site undetected Well, if you (the community, not literally you) can't detect the spam, I doubt other users will. Then the spam is pretty useless if no one sees it :P . However I totally agree that we shouldn't have useless comments lying around. $\endgroup$ – Pritt says Reinstate Monica Jul 11 '17 at 10:26
  • $\begingroup$ @PrittBalagopal Well, yes and no. SE questions get indexed fairly quickly on Google, so there is at least some "exposure" for the spam posts, no matter how short-lived. $\endgroup$ – jonsca Jul 11 '17 at 11:37
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We are aware of some of the problems we mentioned. The following meta post addresses a general procedure: What shall I do when I see spam (in one of the review queues)?

In regards to your questions, I will answer them, but the main gist is: reject the edit as spam/ vandalism and if you want to make the mod team aware of it leave a custom flag explaining it. Name drop the offending user then.

  1. Assuming one does not have time to improve a suggested edit, should this type of thing be accepted or rejected?

Reject. Do not improve it, just reject it, because if you approve, then you automatically accept it. It is spam after all and has no place on the network. Self-promotion is okay as long as the affiliation is clear and it is moderate. In the particular case it is not acceptable at all. Hijacking other users post is a no go, too.

  1. Was editing the post the best thing to have done? Are there any improvements that could be made?

Your post as it was, was quite okay. I would have contracted the links, but nothing more. You can use this syntax [keyword](http://$URL) to make you post more readable. If you just paste the webpage, it breaks the format of the post a bit. But I would not have edited such a minor point in the first place.

  1. It's quite possible that the editor's main reason for the edit was to promote the business of a family member. Is this OK or unacceptable? Or should we assume the best intentions wherever possible?

We have these cases occasionally. This is spam. It is not acceptable.

  1. It's easy to respond to someone who has left comments on a post. But other than chat, is there any way to contact someone who suggests an edit? On another SE site I once rejected an edit, and the box to explain my reasons was way too small, so it ended getting accepted by another reviwer (Also is there any way to contact your fellow reviewers?)

Well, not everything in this system is perfect. You can comment on that post with @username of the editor and she or he will get a notification. I am not sure weather this works, if the edit is rejected.
If you think that an edit was wrongly accepted, custom flag the post and the mod team will look into it. I am not aware, that there is a possibility to reach out to fellow reviewers other than trying to contact them in chat. If wrong accepts happen occasionally again the mod team is there to look into it. They have a few more possibilities to contact users.

  1. Is there any better way for someone encountering the site for the first time to communicate? It seems odd that they can't comment but they can suggest an edit and they can post an answer. (I often see new users abusing this odd situation in order to be heard.)

Edits and new answers are reviewed and the user can be introduced into the features of this site. The community will clean up these things. Not being able to comment on post right away, is a measure to keep out trolls and I think that works quite well. Even if we have a slight abuse of this, it will be cleaned up within a day or even less. New users who actively engage in the site and care to find out about the inner workings will figure out soon what is common practise.
You only need 20 rep to participate in chat and only 50 to leave comments. A day or two, if you really want if will get you there.
Comments are a feature that is not watched very well, it's a community effort to remove offending and obsolete ones (flag them). If we would review comments by new users, we would have a lot more to do, which would keep us from answering the questions by doing site maintenance. After all comments should be expandable and only be used to improve the post. I am happy that our site does not have too long discussions in this section and that all relevant information get included into to post eventually. I have seen different on other SE sites.

I hope that clears your doubts about what needs to be done. If I left anything open, you can always comment and I will improve my post. The take home message is: Fight spam. Always. Everywhere.

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    $\begingroup$ So dramatic. Cleans tears using a handkerchief $\endgroup$ – M.A.R. Jan 29 '16 at 9:05
  • $\begingroup$ I guess we were in a race to the finish on these answers! $\endgroup$ – jonsca Jan 30 '16 at 3:37
  • $\begingroup$ @jonsca Mere seconds I guess - probably not even enough to make that 'new answer' pop up. $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Jan 31 '16 at 11:36
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This is the edit review, for completeness. The user also proposed a second edit of almost identical content.

Neither of these edits is in any way close to being ‘borderline’. They are both clearly spam and should have been rejected immediately as spam. In your defense, not even the other high-rep users who reviewed the other edit knew how to deal with it properly …

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    $\begingroup$ Well, +1 for being short and concise. $\endgroup$ – M.A.R. Jan 30 '16 at 20:15
  • $\begingroup$ Apologies, I don't think I was properly concentrating when I reviewed that. If I had been I would definitely have rejected it. $\endgroup$ – bon Jan 30 '16 at 22:25

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