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I think we should write some guidelines for approving edit suggestions. Of course that constantly editing posts is a good thing, but we need to be less hasty in approving edits.

It can be quite hard to review $\LaTeX$ changes, which I hope is going to be remedied someday in the foreseeable future. Regardless to that, I would like to sketch some guidelines to when we should reject an edit.

The idea behind guidelines is to allow us to formulate a rough idea of what is a bad edit, if someone makes an irrelevant edit to an old post (e.g. change the $\LaTeX$ source code without any visible outcome) or if someone defaces content while trying to make the $\LaTeX$ more readable.

Such things would likely to be harmful to the site rather than nourishing. If there is some basic set of guidelines it would help the reviewer better decide whether or not the edit is bad (and so not approving it), it would be wise to also encourage "underprivileged" users to elaborate more in their edit comment too.

Many times I'd click the Approve button, only to later find out that the edit was far from substantial and just bumped a thread which was old, and irrelevant (either because it had received good answers, or because the user left the site).

So I have decided to bring this to discussion here, so we can sketch some general guidelines before approving a post. Things such as when was the last time the thread was active, how relevant is the edit, etc etc.

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    $\begingroup$ Again with the downvotes. I don't get it. People downvoting a call for discussion... talk about antagonism. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 7 '11 at 10:07
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    $\begingroup$ Downvotes on meta show disagreement. Half of your question calls for discussion, but the other half shows very clearly what your opinion is. If someone were to disagree with the statement "this edit is unjustified in my opinion. It contributed nothing new, and the change itself was not too relevant either" you simply reply with "downvotes are unjustified because I put some stuff in my question about discussion." How does that make sense? Either make the question completely neutral, or don't complain when people disagree with the opinion you put in the middle. $\endgroup$ – Eric Naslund Dec 7 '11 at 12:00
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    $\begingroup$ Added: I actually agree with the point of the question overall and upvoted; it is hard to actually read through a suggested edit sometimes. $\endgroup$ – Eric Naslund Dec 7 '11 at 12:02
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    $\begingroup$ I have approved a number of quite minor edits, while feeling uncomfortable about doing so. The discomfort is usually entirely due to the "bump" factor. It would be good if there was the option to approve without bumping. $\endgroup$ – André Nicolas Dec 7 '11 at 15:05
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, it is definitely a good thing to exchange our views on what to accept, and what not. I am a new entrant to 10K club, so my policy has not converged yet, and I will benefit from reading about others points of view. OTOH I'm not sure that we really need a written guideline. For now discussions in threads like this and/or chatroom are quite sufficient IMHO. Talking it over with fellow forumites will also help us deal with an eventual new situation more smoothly than any frozen set of guidelines would. But if you something written up, please share it! $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Dec 7 '11 at 20:58
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf Why do you think edits are "irrelevant" if a question already received good answers, or if a user (questioner, answerer?) left the site? Also, why should the threads last activity time play any role whatsoever in judging the quality of an edit? $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Dec 7 '11 at 20:59
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill: Removing extra braces from TeX on a year+ old post, which was not a good question to begin with - or worse, a bad question - is not a healthy move for the website. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 7 '11 at 21:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Asaf Perhaps, then, it would help to clarify your question since it was not clear to me that said remarks were meant to be restricted in such a way. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Dec 7 '11 at 21:14
  • $\begingroup$ I removed the following example from the post, since adding a general example was better for the sake of discussion: For example, this edit is unjustified in my opinion. It contributed nothing new, and the change itself was not too relevant either. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 7 '11 at 22:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Bill: Is that better? $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 7 '11 at 22:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Eric: I see your point. I have removed my opinion from the post since I edit to reflect my general point better. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 7 '11 at 22:36
  • $\begingroup$ @AndréNicolas Please read Don't throw the baby out with the bath water when rejecting suggested edits and respond if you'd like. $\endgroup$ – user489 May 20 '12 at 20:50
  • $\begingroup$ @BilltheLizard: The proposed edits were very minor, and mostly to very old posts, mainly replacing "pi" by "$\pi$." In a couple of cases I thought that in fact "pi" was more appropriate, since it was consistent with the mathematical level of the question. $\endgroup$ – André Nicolas May 20 '12 at 21:03
  • $\begingroup$ @AndréNicolas There were improvements beyond just changing "pi" to "π." I didn't just change one thing. The mathematical level of the question is irrelevant. The symbol π is used far more than "pi" throughout the site. $\endgroup$ – user489 May 20 '12 at 21:06
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Is it possible to add an option for whether or not an edit bumps the question, and set the default to not bump the question? It seems that would resolve Asaf's concern, and also be useful in general. 90% of the time I edit one of my posts, it's to fix Latex formatting problems, sign errors, strict/non-strict inequalities, etc. that I missed at first. Edits where I add substantial new material, warranting a bump, are relatively rare.

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  • $\begingroup$ However we dislike it, there is a point to bumping up edits. It allows the community review the changes. If someone already reviews, I'd think it makes sense to review more carefully and have a partial guideline for the review. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Dec 7 '11 at 20:38
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    $\begingroup$ It also ensures that any vandalism attempts are easily caught. I've seen people replace the body of their questions with utter rubbish when they have received answers to their questions... $\endgroup$ – J. M. is a poor mathematician Dec 7 '11 at 22:41
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    $\begingroup$ All edits should always bump the question because you do not want to give someone the power to change questions without the community knowing. Personally I don't see what is so bad about a question getting bumped to the front page, I think what is worse are the less then useful edit suggestions which may be approved without a thorough reading. $\endgroup$ – Eric Naslund Dec 8 '11 at 13:09

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