When someone "fixes" the Greek characters or changes the tense of a verb with no substantive change in the question or answer, that question shows up at the top of the list. That bumps good and unanswered questions down the list potentially reducing the chances of those questions getting the proper attention.

This is not an issue when it happens occasionally, but there are a couple of individuals who might change a dozen or more questions in a short span of time.

Is there an appropriate way to approach these folks to discuss the consequences of their over-enthusiasm? Or should I simply practice more patience?


Yes, an edit. I was not very clear my description of the issue. It is not about multiple edits to the same question, it is not about updating bug status (i.e., does the bug persist or not with version 11.x?), and it is not about minor edits.

It is about the simultaneous occurrence (i.e., &&) of several things: multiple (as in 6 to 10) old questions are edited with very minor changes (which are typically just displaying Greek characters) in a very short period of time. This results in a block of questions at the top of the list knocking down recent and unanswered questions.

Based on the comments below in the future I will make more use of "unanswered" and "newest" which filters out such blocks of what I am labeling as marginally improved questions. But many others simply won't be seeing the questions that are bumped down the list and won't get the exposure that those questions deserve.

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    I leave a comment like this, if I can catch up with them. – Michael E2 Nov 19 '16 at 18:58
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    Well, what can I say? I will do this to all my questions and answers because I cannot stand mistakes when I see them. Usually, I write up an answer and when I come back some hours later, I always recheck spelling. As for Greek characters, I believe it is more important that the code of a question is readable. – halirutan Nov 20 '16 at 3:25
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    @halirutan I'm not complaining about fixing errors or making things more readable especially one's own answers. This is about someone else "correcting" many, many others' answers and questions within a short span of time such that current questions are dropped way down in the listing. – JimB Nov 20 '16 at 5:06
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    My reasonable answer is that we always tried to keep the quality of the site up. Additionally, people tend to work in chunks when they have time. What you describe is an unfortunate side-effect of this. Nevertheless, I usually cherry pick questions (sorting for new, not active. Using tags) so that I'm not really annoyed by this. I'm happy someone is trying to contribute without reaching out for low-hanging rep points like I usually do. – halirutan Nov 20 '16 at 5:29
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    @halirutan "low-hanging rep points": +2 every time for select-all + alpha-beta-button + save-edit. It's also probably the shortest path to a gold badge. It's a bit annoying when there a more serious problem that needs editing and only the Greek characters have been changed. I find it more annoying when a perfectly worthless, closed question gets bumped to the top of the stack. I just stopped using the site for a while, until I got up the courage to let the user know. – Michael E2 Nov 20 '16 at 14:11
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    Many edits are "timely" in the sense that they clean up questions near the top of the stack. All they lead to are some minor reshuffling of the order of the questions on the front page. I see no problem with there being many of these, when they are needed. Better now than later. (But these aren't the sort of edits that this question is complaining about it.) – Michael E2 Nov 20 '16 at 19:13
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    The user hit 2K today. Perhaps the +2 stops, since they can edit without approval now. – Michael E2 Nov 21 '16 at 0:25
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    @MichaelE2 "select-all + alpha-beta-button"?? You mean I don't need to manually select every \[Pi] and hit the alpha-beta button repeatedly? TIL – Chris K Nov 26 '16 at 16:44
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    @ChrisK That's right, halirutan programmed it nicely. – Michael E2 Nov 26 '16 at 16:48

One might point out the official, if subjective, policy (https://mathematica.stackexchange.com/help/privileges/edit):

Tiny, trivial edits are discouraged - try to make the post significantly better when you edit, correcting all problems that you observe.

This has not always been followed: Changing a single instance of \[Omega] hardly makes a question more readable. It merely enforces a consistent style. Note also that all the edits up to now have been approved by community members through the review queue, which provides for feedback to the editor.

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    Re community approval - Perhaps this could also be a possibility for rejecting such edits in general. – user31159 Nov 21 '16 at 0:46

I am probably one the people whose frequent editing of questions are what you are complaining about. I will defend my practice.

  1. If the many edits are made over a truly short period they will not affect the position of questions shown in the "active" order much more than a single edit will.

  2. You can always look at the question list in one the other availabe orderings. I frequently use and recommend "newest" and "unanswered".

  3. I strongly feel that questions should be edited so as far as possible they meet the site's standards for consistency, clarity, and readability.

  • I've never found your edits intrusive in the way described by the OP. By contrast, yours tend to be timely and of sparse frequency (not to mention thoughtful). OTOH, I personally would not find your point 2 an acceptable workaround for me. I'm interested in substantial changes to old Q&A, and I like the convenience of the compressed stack on the main page. There are workarounds, but the less convenient the site, the less I will participate. – Michael E2 Nov 20 '16 at 19:08
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    You are certainly NOT one who I would consider even remotely associated with the issue that I'm clearly poorly communicating. For example, one user edited 6 fairly old questions yesterday and 10 the previous day with changes only of Greek letters (using, I assume, the extremely useful code written by @halirutan). It's not the editing that is the issue. It's the resulting traffic jam. – JimB Nov 20 '16 at 22:16
  • @JimBaldwin. You are correct in thinking that your real concern was not clear, at least not to me. It seemed you were complaining that making multiple edits in one question was your concern. When making a major edit to a question, I often find, only after I have commited an edit, that there are items I've missed. This can, unfortunately, happen several times on one question because I am not a good proofreader of my own writing. From your comment, I understand now that you are really concerned with tiny edits being made wholesale to many questions, which I agree is a different matter. – m_goldberg Nov 20 '16 at 22:50

I have been editing recently questions with the tag , either to add the bug header (as discussed in this meta), specify the bugfix version, or just update the version number to the last one.

I was not particularly careful about whether or not my edits would impact other users' experience. While I wondered a few times if it was OK to proceed this way, I did not pay attention most of the time and edited questions by large chunks. I think at some point it was around 15 or 20 questions per day.

MichaelE2 commented at me about this. This made it clear to me that edits of the sort should preferably be avoided, and also made me realize that other users may also be affected. Following this, I have reduced the edits to at most 5 bug-tagged questions per day.

So as having been on the other side, I would recommend, as suggested by MichaelE2 below OP's question, to comment at the user in order to bring to his attention the situation. (It was useful to me.) There is little chance I think that such comments will be taken personally.

In addition, for the user to see that this affects several users, a link to the present meta discussion could be given, with an invitation to read and participate if he has any further questions or comments.

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    Sorry, you, too, were not one of the folks for which I was writing about. Updating bug status is great service and is expected to come in batches. Thank you for that. – JimB Nov 21 '16 at 2:30
  • @JimBaldwin Thanks. I share your point of view about the updates of Greek letters that we have seen recently, those annoy me as well when there are too many at the same time. Also, I don't understand why your question got downvoted, the formulation is neutral and open to discussion. (You got my +1 before I answered.) This being said, I will proceed myself as I suggested above if a similar situation happens in the future, so by commenting at the user to make him aware that less minor edits at the same time would be preferable. – user31159 Nov 21 '16 at 12:10

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