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In every system which rewards points and badges people are bound to game it from time to time.

I see it like this:

  • There are games which have little to no negative effect (e.g. voting a lot of questions and answers; flagging posts; reviewing posts; editing a tag wiki);

  • There are games which can have some negative effect, but still have a positive side (e.g. editing a lot of recent posts - especially in a spree of five-six edits at once);

  • And there are games which have little to no positive effect (e.g. editing year old posts for minimal changes in order to get an Archaeologist badge).

Lately I've noticed many old posts that were bumped with very minor changes. I rejected a few edits before when the post was too old and the edit was not substantial.

I wanted to bring this to the attention of those who read this meta:

If the edit is minor please approve it only if the post is not very old. Changing a book's name from normal letters to italics on a post from 2010 is hardly something worth approving.

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    $\begingroup$ Same goes for removing thank yous... $\endgroup$ – t.b. Mar 13 '12 at 19:55
  • $\begingroup$ Agreed - and I sure hope I'm not guilty of this! Better check my history...guilty! $\endgroup$ – The Chaz 2.0 Mar 13 '12 at 20:02
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    $\begingroup$ Agreed. While we are at it, what do the folks think about minor TeXifying? I mean something like adding dollar signs around a very simple formula, or adding a dfrac to an in-line fraction? The point being is that the formula was easily legible even without TeX. Or what about adding/changing a single tag? I suppose retagging is ok, if the intent is to get rid of an obsolete tag? $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Mar 13 '12 at 21:33
  • $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen: It depends on the activity of the thread (if something was bumped, sure) and the complexity of the formula. Odds are, however, that it's less needed. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Mar 13 '12 at 21:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Jyrki: A certain user continues to make terribly minor edits (e.g. putting dollar signs around the numbers in a sentence like "My son has 30 apples") sometimes to posts that have been otherwise dormant for 12+ months (or should I say $12+$ months???). After a lengthy discussion in chat about this, I think he just changed his username, waited for the smoke to clear, then started back up! $\endgroup$ – The Chaz 2.0 Mar 13 '12 at 23:00
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    $\begingroup$ I have never been bothered by those who make minor edits (except occasionally when someone edits something I've written within a few minutes after my posting it: I'm very likely to want to edit it myself anyway). As long as the old questions stick around, improving the formatting on them -- in however minor ways -- seems like, well, an improvement. $\endgroup$ – Pete L. Clark Mar 14 '12 at 3:02
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    $\begingroup$ I think that at least for our site, a nice feature would be the ability to make "minor edits" which do not bump the post. I think that with a certain reasonable minimum rep for this "privilege" and a place in the tools menu where minor edits can be overseen, this would work very well for us. (Unfortunately the SE Team has made clear that they are not interested in site-specific platform changes...) $\endgroup$ – Pete L. Clark Mar 14 '12 at 3:05
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    $\begingroup$ @t.b.: Without wanting to wade into controversy, in my opinion excising pleasantries from others' posts is a negative -- in fact, somewhat obnoxious -- thing to do whether it bumps the question or not. $\endgroup$ – Pete L. Clark Mar 14 '12 at 3:07
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    $\begingroup$ BTW, not all edits to old questions/answers are for badge hunting. An "unanswered" question can be bumped to the front page normally; in this case, is there really much harm to the edit? $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Mar 14 '12 at 9:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Willie: The case that caught my eye is related to editing questions with many rather upvoted answers (and usually an accepted answer as well). $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Mar 14 '12 at 9:10
  • $\begingroup$ @WillieWong I agree with you. Just yesterday, I slightly edited a few of my old questions that were unanswered to see if I could get some answer. I got an answer on one of them at least. $\endgroup$ – Graphth Mar 14 '12 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Graphth: As I told Willie, this is not the relevant case here. I'm talking about cases when people edit questions which have answers, an accepted answer, and the changes are very minor to begin with. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Mar 14 '12 at 14:30
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila how do you propose to tell the difference between these cases? $\endgroup$ – Ronald Apr 9 '12 at 16:33
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with the comments of Pete Clark and Willie Wong. I fail to see how this can be something to be concerned about. Is there really a concern that somebody might get a badge that they don't really deserve? I must be missing the main concern, because that one seems too petty to contemplate. I can see that it would be annoying to have questions that are already well answered get bumped back to the front page. This simply shouldn't happen if there is an accepted answer. People shouldn't be lynched for fixing a typo. $\endgroup$ – yasmar May 22 '12 at 8:27
  • $\begingroup$ @yasmar: I have no qualms when there is something real to fix or when the question is already bumped, but when you see a correction which is very very very minor, and when you see someone doing that repeatedly... It's pretty annoying. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila May 22 '12 at 9:04
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This creates a contradictory set of motivations on the part of moderators "game":

  • I want to improve the quality of archive questions, for other users' reference
  • I do not want to 'bump' old questions that are not relevant

I would say that the community benefits from the former way more than we are harmed by the latter (a few extra eyes on occasional old questions harms nobody).

In the absence of any way to differentiate these points, I would say it's better to bump-and-improve than ignore-and-leave-ugly. Especially, if we are expecting to close duplicate questions because these older questions are expected to be used as a reference point.

Is it possible, instead, to have some system so that 'minor' edits (automatically or manually decided) do not result in the question being bumped?

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    $\begingroup$ I would say no. We are largely talking about minor edits (which, admittedly, can be hard to define). And even if there is a typo, dangling participle, or slightly unattractive LaTex markup... why not leave it as a reminder that not everyone speaks English (or LaTex!) fluently?! I won't downvote, because of the suggestion of edits without bumps. $\endgroup$ – The Chaz 2.0 Apr 9 '12 at 13:51
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, please can we have minor edits without bumps? $\endgroup$ – lhf Apr 9 '12 at 14:22

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