I was looking at the suggested edits list. There was this question where I couldn't make sense of the edits that were shown to me. So I click on "improve" to see the question properly, as the formatting in the queue is not particularly appealing. And then I get the "you failed an audit; you didn't pass" message.

What's the point of this? I was being careful in my decision, and the stupid program tells me that I made a mistake? I guess next time I'll just reject the edits without paying attention. Or maybe I shouldn't collaborate at all.

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    $\begingroup$ Not only that, but one would expect someone with 22K reputation would be considered reasonable enough to be exempt of the nonsense. $\endgroup$ Nov 14, 2013 at 2:41
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    $\begingroup$ This is the review audit in question. $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Nov 14, 2013 at 2:43
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with you on this. I have been victim to this numerous times where I feel that something needs improvement and I go ahead and click "edit" and tells me that I have failed some test. I am beginning to doubt the usefulness of these "audits". $\endgroup$
    – Jeel Shah
    Nov 14, 2013 at 4:26
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    $\begingroup$ I've seen the Stop! Look and Listen thing when reviewing a ridiculous edit. I wanted to improve the post anyway and got that. So the thing is decline bad edits, even if the post can be improved in some way. Stupid bots! $\endgroup$
    – leo
    Nov 18, 2013 at 19:19
  • $\begingroup$ possible duplicate of Preview of a proposed edit? $\endgroup$
    – WimC
    Nov 19, 2013 at 17:55
  • $\begingroup$ The proposed edits for an audit always seem fairly blatant to me (then again, maybe that is why I am so slow with the edits). $\endgroup$
    – copper.hat
    Nov 23, 2013 at 1:12
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    $\begingroup$ From 20k upwards you are a trusted user, I think this shows only very little trust if those audits appear to them too $\endgroup$ Nov 23, 2013 at 11:40

2 Answers 2


Note: Improve apparently means that you agree with the edit but think it could've been done better.

I've found that the "safest" way of handling review queues is that, whenever you are not exactly sure what is going on, click on the question to view/comment on it in its original form (and not through the review queue). I've been bitten already several times with the system automatically registering my actions as "approval" or "disapproval" when neither of them are meant.

Of course, this is only a workaround.

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    $\begingroup$ I might be wrong, but IIRC it correctly, if you leave the review window open and open the question in a new window, this does not count as failed audit. (This is what I usually do when in doubt - because I want to keep the review window, so that I can make some action in it; and I also want to see the entire post. So I right click and open the post in the new window.) In such case you would probably notice that it is an audit. (For example you are reviewing close votes, but the question has none.) But I certainly agree that constantly watching out whether something is an audit is quite a PITA. $\endgroup$ Nov 14, 2013 at 9:09
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    $\begingroup$ But if there's a genuine pending edit, and I think the post needs editing but the proposed edit is bad, I must choose between "improving" and waiting until the edit is rejected (see this). So that's conflicting interest. I want to improve the post, but if I do, I risk being called out for being a robot. This needs to be addressed (and I'm starting to lean towards quitting the audit experiment). Also, if "Improve" already means I'm agreeing, why can I choose if the "suggested edit is helpful"? $\endgroup$
    – Lord_Farin
    Nov 14, 2013 at 9:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Lord_Farin: I wrote apparently. In other words, the result of the audit experiment forces me to draw that conclusion. If it shouldn't be, then what we have here is a bug. $\endgroup$ Nov 14, 2013 at 10:38
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    $\begingroup$ So the solution to avoid silly audit failures is essentially not to use the review system. Tis a hallmark of a great system. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Nov 14, 2013 at 11:10
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila In addition to that, the developers of the audit system are full of themselves (it's written all over Meta.SO). The general response to critique is along the lines of "use this [stupid, time-consuming] workaround". To actually fix it so that we don't have to work around it is apparently beyond their thought horizon. $\endgroup$
    – Lord_Farin
    Nov 14, 2013 at 11:31
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    $\begingroup$ As far as I can tell, the review system is written for a workflow in which people don't carefully examine the full context and come to their own decision, but instead just look at surface features and rush through the review. Then, the audit system tries to enforce this by making sure that the user is indeed looking at the surface features while they rush through. If you try to look more deeply into an issue you are reviewing, the entire workflow is against you - necessary information isn't visible, for example, and you can't leave a comment to explain your decision. I mostly just avoid it. $\endgroup$ Nov 14, 2013 at 13:05
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf: the only winning move is not to play! $\endgroup$ Nov 14, 2013 at 19:14
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    $\begingroup$ @TheChaz: How about a nice game of tic tac toe? $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Nov 14, 2013 at 19:36
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    $\begingroup$ @CarlMummert The review system was written to stop the robo-reviewers on Stack Overflow who approved every suggested edit and upvoted every first spam post in pursuit of shiny badges. Having seen what havoc they wreaked there, I look with a more forgiving eye on it. For all its failures and shortcomings, it helped a ton in fighting that. Whether it does more good than harm on smaller sites like Mathematics, that is a different question. $\endgroup$ Nov 14, 2013 at 20:08
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    $\begingroup$ @TheChaz2.0: I don’t. I didn’t even before the audits. On rare occasions when I’m not otherwise occupied I do look at the review queue, but I use it mostly as a pointer, since I find it impossible to make decisions without seeing the actual question, comments, and answers. On the whole I find the review queue pretty pointless anyway. $\endgroup$ Nov 18, 2013 at 18:51
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    $\begingroup$ @TheChaz2.0 About the "not to play!" part, this is what I do too. I stopped reviewing everything after insult and insults from the audit system. $\endgroup$ Nov 22, 2013 at 6:07
  • $\begingroup$ @WillieWong : I, too, just failed an "Audit". The suggested formatting improvements looked OK to me. The math was terrible, but I didn't see anything wrong with the formatting, so I OK'd it. Then the bot told me I wasn't paying attention. I've gotten a lot of help from MSE, and I'd like to give back, but the instructions for how to approve or not to approve edits are really cryptic. Actually, I don't recall seeing any instructions at all. Is there a FAQ somewhere I can read so I know how to do this? $\endgroup$ Feb 10, 2014 at 0:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Stefan: there probably is, but I don't remember where at the moment. I suggest either searching on this meta or on meta.stackoverflow.com. Or you can ask it as a question on this meta and ask others to search for you. $\endgroup$ Feb 11, 2014 at 8:53
  • $\begingroup$ @WillieWong : Thanks. I didn't know if this was something I was expected to know, or too stupid a question to simply pose it as a question in Meta. If you yourself don't remember where to find such instructions, it would probably make a decent question. $\endgroup$ Feb 12, 2014 at 12:02

If you need to make sense of edits, the best way is using the markdown:

enter image description here

That way you see exactly what is being changed without taking any "action":

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ But if Martin wanted to improve the post, to make it say something meaningful, instead of just "Now Did not Understand How can I calculate it", there is no way to do this without failing the audit. $\endgroup$
    – Alex
    Apr 14, 2016 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Alex how can he improve over something that is polluted? $\endgroup$
    – Braiam
    Apr 14, 2016 at 22:11
  • $\begingroup$ He could improve the part that's not polluted. In this case, the unpolluted post read "Now Did not Understand How can I calculate it"; he could change it to, "Please help me calculate this." $\endgroup$
    – Alex
    Apr 15, 2016 at 4:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Alex why? The post wasn't that bad before the audit. The audit spoiled it pretty badly. You have to restore the "good" version before starting to improving it, which is just a waste of time. $\endgroup$
    – Braiam
    Apr 15, 2016 at 4:34
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe I'm reading the markup wrong, but didn't the original say "Now Did not Understand How can I calculate it"? Hmm, it deletes @Braiam if I place it at the beginning... (?) $\endgroup$
    – Alex
    Apr 15, 2016 at 4:41

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