1

I'm not referring to a post being edited between five and ten times by their owner. I'm referring to posts that have been edited over thirty times in the space of one day.

There used to be a time when a question which had been edited ten times by its original author, or generated more than 30 answers automatically became Community Wiki posts. This measure was removed in 2014, and rightly so in my opinion. But now... I'm seeing users who edit their posts thirty, forty and even fifty times.

OK, it's not a widespread phenomenon, and it appears to be limited to two or three users on EL&U but shouldn't there be some limit?

If after thirty edits your question or answer still has not been fixed, or you haven't finished answering, maybe knowing you don't earn reputation points on a CW will encourage greater attention and accuracy.

I don't know, what do you think?

  • Please don't ask me to name and shame anyone. If you haven't noticed then obviously you're not bothered by it. The users in question are not trolls or in any way abusive. They're just users who care about their posts. – Mari-Lou A Mar 3 '16 at 10:41
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    I've not noticed these endless edits , but I remember you already complained about it somewhere, some time ago. I don't know if there should be a limit, but I guess that, as far as questions are concerned, their real nature should not be changed drastically to avoid existing answers appear unrelated. – user66974 Mar 3 '16 at 11:37
  • @Josh61 did I moan about this already? Must be some time ago. Agreed that edits should not change the essence of a question, but that is a different matter. A person can make a single edit and change a question completely, I'm specifically referring to an excessive number of edits. Endless edits describes this perfectly, by the way. :) – Mari-Lou A Mar 3 '16 at 11:43
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    It sounds to me like the editor has a fear of the system not backing up, so they save constantly. Just comment on the OP that SE saves constantly so there's no need to keep pressing save, just press save when you're mostly finished. (that is, I don't think we should burden the SE developers with this as a change request). – Mitch Mar 3 '16 at 15:04
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    What problem are you trying to solve? I mean, what does it matter if they edit their questions incessantly? Do you object to these edits spamming the front page? Could you add the reasons you dislike these edits to your question? – terdon Mar 3 '16 at 15:39
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    I think I just found out what this is all about! And oh my word, the post in question (the answer with 58 edits and counting!) could be converted to an e-book! :O – BiscuitBoy Mar 3 '16 at 15:43
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    @terdon well it keeps bumping up the question for one thing. But... if the majority do not find it irksome, or even slightly annoying then that's fine by me. I'll just have to refrain myself from commenting on their post. – Mari-Lou A Mar 3 '16 at 17:56
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    I'm one of the offending users, I think. If it helps in any way, I can share my own motivations. In short, when I come across a question I find interesting, I post a short answer just to get it up, but then I kind of fall down a rabbit hole of research, and as link leads to link, I keep finding more and more interesting stuff which I think is pertinent and would make the answer more comprehensive. I'm not a laconic man. And then, of course, I'm also the worst proof-reader in the world, so on top of that there's copy-editing to rectify embarrassing gaffes, and wordsmithing to improve flow... – Dan Bron Mar 3 '16 at 18:43
  • But just to be clear, I answer because I find the subject matter interesting; I don't care about rep at all. I like to know that people have seen my work, but the number next to my name means nothing to me. – Dan Bron Mar 3 '16 at 18:44
  • @DanBron of course if there are typos, or you see after a day or after a week that something you wrote could be better rewritten then that's perfectly fine. I repeat, when a post is edited forty times in one day, and chunks of text is continually added, or deleted, or completely revised then maybe... maybe there should be a limit to the number of edits any post can be submitted to. – Mari-Lou A Mar 3 '16 at 18:48
  • @Mari-LouA Hmm. Take a look at the edit history of this old answer of mine, or this one, and let me know if my overzealous editing would have annoyed you, or if you remember being annoyed at the time. – Dan Bron Mar 3 '16 at 18:50
  • @DanBron if the first one had been a question I think I would have felt bemusement. As it is, I don't remember being annoyed at all by that post, it's well-presented and very readable. The second answer has a piffling 8 edits and I really liked it. But perhaps most importantly, they both answer the questions. They don't lose focus. – Mari-Lou A Mar 3 '16 at 19:01
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    @Mari-LouA Oh good, I'm glad. I was sweating a bit thinking about how I'd have to modify my editorial process! – Dan Bron Mar 3 '16 at 19:03
  • @BiscuitBoy 62 edits... – Mari-Lou A Mar 4 '16 at 22:43
  • And the user in question has deleted the post because....? It's a shame because there were some good valid points but they all got swamped by reels of reflections and exceptions. – Mari-Lou A Mar 5 '16 at 19:05
7

For answers, it's more straightforward - edit it as much as necessary, so long as it gets better each time.

For questions, it's technically the same. However, people who are composing answers would be inconvenienced if the sense of the question changed. I also second Josh61's comment that the OP should not invalidate existing answers. Otherwise, there's no difference between reading a post that's been edited once and a post that's been edited 100 times, so long as it's not edited while you are reading the post.

The preferred solution is probably for them to delete the post, edit it to their liking - multiple times if necessary, then undelete the post. So long as they don't close the page, taking the post offline temporarily in this way should be a trivial exercise.

  • I think that even if you delete a post, every time you save an edit it still bumps the question. Hey, the user's answer isn't even poor, it has strong merits but I'm surprised that there isn't a limit on the number of characters. I would have sworn there was one. A different user has a tendency to edit their answers or questions up to twenty times, and when it is a question I thik it is unfair to users who have posted answers. Hey-ho, I thought it was worth asking anyway, it seems I am in the minority. – Mari-Lou A Mar 3 '16 at 19:13
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    @Mari-LouA Hmm, bumping's a different matter; I hadn't considered it. It's legitimate (and most likely an intentional feature of the site) when the edit corrects conceptual mistakes, fills in missing pieces or otherwise brings in new ideas. As medica says though, it can be gamed. Maybe we can consider mild gaming to be an unintentional (by the site) incentive to improve posts and simply flag excessive gaming of the system for the mods to consider. Also, the bumping of posts that are off-topic for the site / aren't useful just draws attention for votes to close - that might be a good thing :) . – Lawrence Mar 4 '16 at 1:02
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@Lawrence has already stated what I would have answered, but I'll add this:

Does it hurt the site in any way?

Yes, it puts it at the top again. I think if the user does this, say, to draw more attention to the question (gaming the system, so to speak), it can be something to look into.

If the OP is self-conscious about their English and notices errors, it seems unnecessary to force them to live with unnoticed errors after the tenth (twentieth, thirtieth, fortieth) edit. If the essence of the question is unchanged, it should not matter except in that it kicks it to the top. And I'm not sure that's really a problem.

If it's an answer, as has already been stated, if it improves the answer, it is (imo) not unwelcome. If it makes the answer worse, and the behavior is across multiple answers, then I think a flag to attract the mods should be sufficient, but that's just my opinion.

If it's a new user, it might just reflect enthusiasm for the format.

There used to be a user who edited their questions so often (like routinely at least two-three dozen times), I wondered if there was a reason for such behavior. I realized at some point that it was possible that maybe the OP had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Whatever helps them feel better about their post is fine with me. I feel differently when someone edits a post repeatedly to counter a comment or get a different answer, breaking the answers already given. But that is a different matter.

4

I'll plead guilty to this as well. I dunno about 50 edits, though.

Why?

Sometimes, I get bored, and even after I answer a question, I spend a lot of time perfecting the answer - there's just something about making it look as encyclopedic / informative / entertaining / perfect as possible that brings me enjoyment. It's like painting or working on a jigsaw puzzle. I'm a writer and editor by profession, so I don't really care if it's a disorder - if it is, it works for me and not against me.

I'm not frothing at the mouth over it, and I don't do it just to bump my posts / answers for attention. That being said, I can't speak for others who may or may not do it for that reason - but then again, there are also users who downvote strategically to put their answer on top instead of upvoting a good previous answer or just leaving it alone, and as I understand it, they get to do that without repercussion.

So unless this really bothers a significant number of users or unless people start seriously abusing it, I would just leave it alone and browse normally.

This particular site gets a LOT of questions / answers, so no matter how many edits there are, there will always be plenty of new / good questions at the top.

-3

I know which question you are referring to. It was edited once again 7 minutes ago and it is the Original Poster's 56th edit in roughly 40 hours after the answer was posted. One edit every 43 minutes for 40 hours seems extremely excessive.

The way I see the problem is this. The question itself is too broad without any research or context and it is not answerable in a simple way. Even a doctoral dissertation on the subject wouldn't be enough to cover the answer fully.

I ask myself, "If I asked this question now, would it survive?" I believe it would never survive.

I think this question should be closed by this community or a moderator who has a single close-vote as too broad and lack of context.

In terms of limiting the number of edits, I don't think it is necessary as long as the edit is made to improve the existing post and the number of edits shows the OP's enthusiasm and efforts to own the post.

The OP doesn't seem to have a bad intention and the answer keeps improving after each edit. The final edit was just to fix a simple typo in a verb. When you look at other answers posted by the OP, it seems that it is just a one-off occurrence.

This question should have been closed a long time ago. The answer itself proves that we should not allow too broad a question here. (I will close-vote it tomorrow as I've run out of votes.)

  • 4
    I don't know the post to which you're referring, and it doesn't matter. A lot of people are not native speakers and will correct a typo whenever they see it in their question; this improves their English incrementally and decreases their potential embarrassment; it's all good. If this happens ten or 50 times, it's not a problem (so what if it's "extremely excessive"?). If your post is about closing the question for lack of merit, it doesn't address the OP's question and itself can be removed as not an answer. – anongoodnurse Mar 3 '16 at 18:36
  • Can someone point me to this mysterious and mysteriously-contentious post? I must have missed it. I want to compare it to my own behavior, to think about how my editing process is perceived. – Dan Bron Mar 3 '16 at 19:00
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    I'd appreciate it if you deleted the link to the post, I have nothing against this user. I was just wondering if there should be a limit to the number of edits seeing as there used to be in the past, although a bit too severe, and whether other users agreed. It seems I am in the minority, and I'm fine with that. It was just an occasion to air some stuff out in the open. – Mari-Lou A Mar 3 '16 at 19:20

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