1

I repeatedly edited a question. A highly upvoted comment on that question suggests to batch my edits.

Commenting on the number of edits is great hindsight. However, when I post an edit I can't predict if another edit will be required shortly thereafter. What harm is caused by a high rate of edits? How many edits can politics SE handle on a single question? Should I delete and reopen a question after a certain number of edits? Should I leave mistakes in the question if the edit rate is high? How do I lock out comments and close votes in the meantime?

3 Answers 3

4

There is not a hard number of edits a question can have the issue is the noise that each edit causes. Whenever you make an edit to a post it bumps it to the top of the home page (Sorted by activity) and puts up a notice that there is something with new activity which is the issue. Users don't need to be seeing your post bumped to the top of the page and a notice for new activity as you fine tune your question. There are even tools that show diamond moderators and other high rep users posts with a high number of edits.

One of the overall goals with reducing the number of edits is to ensure that questions get in a stable state quickly so that they don't change as someone is answering them.

If I look at the most edited posts for the last 30 days I see two of your questions there with one at 23 edits and the other at 14 edits. The next closest post only has 8 edits.

5
  • 1
    Users don't need to be seeing your post bumped to the top of the page and a notice for new activity as you fine tune your question. Wouldn't the solution be to batch the notices rather than the edits themselves? Batching the edits delays content publication, which is not desirable. Commented May 19, 2022 at 22:41
  • 1
    One of the overall goals with reducing the number of edits is to ensure that questions get in a stable state quickly. I don't see how batching edits has any effect on the time it takes to stabilize the question. Being a delay, batching can only slow down the stabilization of the question and increase the number of views of the confusing or outdated content. Commented May 19, 2022 at 22:51
  • 2
    @personal_cloud No the solution isn't to batch notices but to reduce the number of edits that are needed on a question in the first place. As for stabilizing a question people are not going to want to think about answering a question if it is constantly being updated as they answer it.
    – Joe W
    Commented May 19, 2022 at 23:26
  • 1
    @personal_cloud As for the new content notices the entire point of them is to notify users a new question/answer has been posted or an edit has been made.
    – Joe W
    Commented May 19, 2022 at 23:27
  • 3
    @personal_cloud Batching the edits delays content publication, which is not desirable. - if you're adding 90% extra content to the post over the course of the edits, you're not really publishing the post "early", you're posting it "prematurely" - work on getting the question complete - research, think it through, then, only when it's 90% or more there should you be actually posting the question. In the grand scheme of things, an hour or two isn't a big deal - take the time first, then post.
    – Catija
    Commented Jun 3, 2022 at 22:32
4

I hope it's mostly tolerated - I for one am often guilty of multi-edits. Yes, missed a comma there, gotta. Oh, no, their vs they're, gotta...

Which is btw a good reason not to be overly fixated on grammar.

But, yes, sometimes a question needs a lot of restructuring and/or taking into account comments before it is done.

This reads like an opinion, but a more direct answer is that I only once saw someone called out for edits, on StackOverflow. They were clearly gaming the bump-ups coming from edits - they were a brand new user and thought it was a nifty trick:

  • edit 1. "This is good."
  • edit 2. "This is very good."
  • edit 3. "This is good."
  • edit 4. "This is very good."

...

The mod called them out on it, they apologized and stopped doing it. No great harm done, hopefully they didn't get discouraged from posting there (their question was reasonable enough).

If you have good reasons to edit, do so. If you are repeat editing to bump up in question list, don't. If you can do a number of edits at the same time, i.e. look through all the grammar fixes at once, good idea too.

And, oh, yes, as per Uhoh, don't shift the goal posts on the question overmuch. If you ask question X, then get an answer and then edit the question to the point where the answer doesn't seem to match the question which now looks like question Y, that can be a bit of a problem. If so, and if you really, really, have to restructure that much, consider adding a small footnote acknowledging that you've changed the question around a bit on the answerers.

For example, let's assume you are asking about agricultural subsidies. You do so and then you narrow it down to the subsidies for only California (possibly by just adding California tag), after you get some answers for other places like Europe: not great. Or "I am only asking about subsidies at the federal level", after you've had state-level answers.

Not saying you did this on your question, just giving examples of what seem to be inherently problematic edits.

4
  • I do agree with having good edits to make one but when you are reaching double digit edits within two hours of posting maybe you should take a little more time to make sure you have a complete edit.
    – Joe W
    Commented May 25, 2022 at 19:45
  • @JoeW fair enough, added. Commented May 25, 2022 at 19:48
  • @Joe W Are you saying that a quick burst of 10 edits causes the question to be bumped up more than a single edit? But uhoh's answer seems to contradict that. In any case, it would clearly be a bug if the number of edits within a short period actually affected the ranking. Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 16:11
  • @personal_cloud I am saying that every edit causes a post to get bumped and the home page to be updated to indicate that there is new activity on a post. It doesn't matter if that post is already the first post on the page a new edit will notify all users who have the page open that there is new activity on that post. It can be annoying for some users to keep seeing new activity notices when it is the same post getting edited over and over again.
    – Joe W
    Commented Aug 28, 2022 at 16:29
2

tl;dr: don't worry about the comment, but if it works for you try continuing to edit before posting, then actually post the question only when you're happy with how it looks. If that seems okay for you (it's how I do it) then it may be all that's necessary. You can still refine further later. But don't make your question a moving target such that a half-written answer suddenly becomes useless. Once you post your question imagine that there is someone who reads it and immediately starts writing an answer - will your edits drive them crazy? :-)


Exhibit 1:

enter image description here

With an average interval of 6 hours between questions, edits within two hours will not likely have any bumping impact. Just ignore all the hand-wringing about bumping.

Exhibit 2:

You might want to consider writing your questions in another tool and review/revise it there for a bit to reduce the number of edits. Having to edit it at least 13 times in about 2 hours since posting it isn't a good sign.

This unqualified and unexplained "isn't a good sign" does not mean anything. Sign of what? We shouldn't allude to "signs" of other users' goodness or badness. When I leave comments I try hard to include a clear explanation why I feel something is a problem. If I can't explain the "why" clearly, I often change my mind and don't comment.

It looks like for at least the first hour or so the post wasn't actually ready yet, you were still thinking of things to add and change.

Editing and improving/refining questions before answers appear within reason is perfectly fine and others do it too. Of course you can always keep editing before you post - the SE interface saves your work regularly and after asking over 5,000 SE questions I don't recall ever loosing my work during hours-long editing before I click post. If that works for you it might be a good way to go, it's how I do it.

Every once in a while I might copy/paste a particularly long up-posted post I'm working on into an open notepad as a local backup, but I've never actually needed it.

However, regularly changing the question, making it a moving target for folks starting to compose answers however is definitely unthoughtful. I don't know if there's a rule but it's certainly common sense.

1
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – JJJ Mod
    Commented Jun 3, 2022 at 20:21

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .