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People frequently ask about the etiquette of making minor edits to many old articles, say to retag them, or to correct typography or spelling. There seems to be consensus that this is bad manners, because it bumps the old post to the front page, thereby driving newer questions off the front page. But all other things being equal, we should prefer users to improve posts whenever possible, even when the posts are old: Part of the purpose of SE is to provide an archive of useful questions and answers.

The bumping behavior is important to prevent several abuses. For example, a user adding spam links to many old posts is very likely to be noticed because all the posts so edited would be bumped to the front page.

What if there was a “minor edit” checkbox on the edit form, available only to users with sufficiently high reputation, say in the 1000–3000 range, which would mark the edit as “minor” and prevent the edited post from being bumped to the front page? Established users would be able to clean up old articles without inappropriately forcing old posts to the front page. Abuse by established users can be handled by moderators.

Wikipedia has a somewhat similar “minor edit” box, available only to registered users, although the case is not exactly similar, because there is nothing analogous to bumping.

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    $\begingroup$ I'd love that. I see and avoid a lot of very minor edits since I feel they are not worth bumping a thread. On the other hand, we already had one very high reputation user that decided they want out, and behaved a bit "antisocially" on their way out. Allowing people to do this without oversight is incredibly dangerous. (For what it's worth, I'd place the minor edit at 30k or higher.) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila May 4 '16 at 17:50
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    $\begingroup$ This has been discussed many times in the past. Probably you can find some of them here. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque May 4 '16 at 18:01
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    $\begingroup$ As another idea, perhaps there could be a box that edit reviewers could check to prevent a bump - that way, there is at least some oversight of the editing to prevent abuse. $\endgroup$ – user296602 May 4 '16 at 18:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Bill thanks. I looked., but did not find anything relevant. meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/22171/… is relevant, as is meta.stackexchange.com/questions/23241/… , but the answers there either agree me with or are nonresponsive. $\endgroup$ – MJD May 4 '16 at 18:11
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    $\begingroup$ Similarly meta.stackexchange.com/questions/26483/… is relevant, but the rejection is six years old and does not address the suggestion that the non-bumping feature be restricted to trustworthy users. $\endgroup$ – MJD May 4 '16 at 18:13
  • $\begingroup$ Another option for oversight could come from the 10k (or whatever other threshold) tools, to look over "silent" edits. $\endgroup$ – pjs36 May 4 '16 at 19:26
  • $\begingroup$ @MJD Iirc, that suggestion was made here a few times (by myself and others) but it may not be easy to find by searching. I doubt that SE will ever implement it since it is too much power to give even to trusted users. Someone with an agenda could do much damage under the radar, and it could be a difficult process to clean it all up by the time it has been discovered. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque May 4 '16 at 19:41
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think there's anything wrong with bumping one old post up to the front page by making a minor edit. I get annoyed when someone goes on a minor-edit spree and bumps lots of old posts up to the front page. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson May 4 '16 at 23:04
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    $\begingroup$ Re: There seems to be consensus that this is bad manners, because it bumps the old post to the front page. Personally, I disagree with this consensus. I think that bumping might be useful. If and old post gets to the frontpage, They might get new answers, some user who haven't seen them previously might learn a new thing, or the edit might remind the users of some issue which has to be discussed. Of course, bumps should be made in moderation. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak May 5 '16 at 5:21
  • $\begingroup$ Re: there is nothing analogous to bumping on Wikipedia. Well, there are somewhat similar features. Namely, there is a page with recent changes. And if you are registered, you can add Wikipedia articles to your watchlist. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak May 5 '16 at 7:42
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    $\begingroup$ So if I, a "trusted" user, decided to go on a rampage and add the word "fart" at the end of dozens of old posts (it's only four characters, if it's not enough for an automated system to pick as "minor" I don't know what is), it could take a long time to be noticed, at which point it would be painful to revert... There are 3,538 users with more than 1k rep and 1,394 with more than 3k rep, for the record. $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi May 5 '16 at 9:42
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I thought that the retagging part of what MJD asks for was already available to higher-rep users, in the sense that a tag-only edit (using the "hidden" edit tags button, next to tags) would not bump the post.

Am I wrong about this? There is a 2010 Meta SE Question whose answers at that time rationalize the bumping (for tag-only edits), but I thought it changed with the "edit tags" feature.

I see now that quid Commented on this 2015 post, "Would you like to have the option to edit a question without it being bumped to the front page?" that perhaps tag-only edits avoid bumping to the "hot" tab. [Also see Jeff Atwood's old advice to use the "newest" tab, if you want not to see bumping of any kind.]

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    $\begingroup$ Even 10k+ tag only edits do bump in "active." This is something where I might get behind making it silent (just with some list somewhere tracking them). $\endgroup$ – quid May 4 '16 at 23:38
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I think in terms of the cost of development vs. benefit. Here at least there would be a pre-existing "hook" in the StackExchange software to make this change. $\endgroup$ – hardmath May 4 '16 at 23:41
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I do not really see a problem with the bumps, especially not on this site. The volume is by now so high, it seems just like a drop in a bucket.

But, I see various ways how having such a feature could have unwanted consequences.

The proposed point threshold is really low, too. There is considerable risk of users, even in good faith, doing significant damage with misguided edits that are not noticed early enough.

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  • $\begingroup$ I too do not see a problem with the bumps, but I'm aware that I annoyed at least one Community member with my recent URL cleanup. This was really a rare case though, involving hundreds of posts bumping over a 24-hour period. If the feature were available, I would have used it out of consideration for the Community, but it would have slowed things down a bit. $\endgroup$ – hardmath May 4 '16 at 22:46
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    $\begingroup$ @hardmath What is one user's annoyance against hundreds of broken links being fixed? $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi May 5 '16 at 9:40

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