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I'm all for cleaning up questions, making them more readable, and even providing citations to rules references - but I think we need to have a better policy for how to handle editing many, and generally older, questions subsequently.

How many old questions should be edited in a short time frame?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is this regarding mass editting in general or regarding mass editting old posts? \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu May 13 at 13:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ Related to mass editting in general limits of editing for formatting \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu May 13 at 13:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu I'm not sure there's a difference? Both can be addressed in an answer. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 13 at 14:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ the main difference is what do you want to see on the activity page - does it have to overlap with the newest answer/question page? \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu May 13 at 14:12
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu Note that there is no "newest answer page"; that information is found only on the Recently Active page. Personally I find that surfacing new answers is one of the most important roles of the Recently Active page. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose May 13 at 15:24
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We have previous advice on how to handle editing on RPG.SE in

How should I approach editing?

and

What are the polite limits of editing others' posts for formatting?

Those still apply. Editing posts, even old posts, is OK. However, the more trivial those edits - and that includes grammar and adding links - the more one should take it easy. Don't flood the newest questions and put a bunch of edits in the queue and otherwise take up space and time on the site that would be better spent with newer content.

Specifically, huge sweeps to link every 5e term are not helpful or appropriate. We don't need everything linked - that adds questionable value and will just require re-editing the next time WotC changes their systems - and should not go do big disruptive mass edits for these non-substantive edits. They're fine changes to make while making substantive edits. They're fine changes to make when something's live and churning anyway. They are fine changes - in moderation - on the long tail of old content.

I get that some editors may not get "why" this bothers folks. However, from the flags and responses here and elsewhere, obviously it does, so that should be enough for someone looking to be courteous.

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I think current processes — including questions on meta like this! — handle it already.

This is more a matter of site culture than policy, and adding a policy into that mix would add substantial friction for little gain.

Community norms should handle most flooding

We don’t strictly need a new policy because we already have a community principle of editing etiquette to not flood the front page, and usually that community principle is enough for people to listen and not flood the front page. It’s not formalised anywhere: Most members who are interested in editing know it, and it gets taught to newcomers as needed, or they learn it by seeing it come up in conversation. Maybe it comes to meta because a comment isn’t enough to have them grasp the principle.

So it’s just part of community norms, and for most people will be learned without trouble. “Don’t break the front page.” Most people are responsive to that.

When norms don’t handle it, it’s often a bigger problem that needs intervention

If the existence and practice of this principle by others isn’t enough — if someone is asked not to flood the front page but rejects the request or gets belligerent — then the other normal processes we have are already sufficient. What happens when someone disrupts the site naïvely and won’t stop, or gets belligerent when asked to cooperate with others? It becomes a problem behaviour issue: They get asked to be less obdurate or argumentative.

And when that doesn’t work, problem behaviour process kicks in. Mods can remind to behave and not flood the front page with the weight of a diamond. And, if a polite request from a mod doesn’t work, mods can hand out suspensions. In the case of a newcomer who can only suggest edits, banning them from the edit suggestion feature is also a mod power that can be used until they learn how to edit responsibly.

Since existing process handles it, a policy would just be additional burden

A new policy would only hinder the majority of cooperative users needlessly, all to help the few uncooperative users avoid learning to just be cooperative. We already have soft and hard answers for persistently uncooperative users. For those who can become cooperative, teaching our community norms and standard as we always have is enough.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ My hope was to preempt the latter with this, but I definitely agree with what you're saying as well. Just to help, can you link to that general editing etiquette principle? \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 13 at 14:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I’ve edited. It’s a norm, not formalised anywhere. Formalising it — and opening it to argument and gaming — is what I’m saying isn’t needed and would be counter-productive. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 13 at 14:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Gotcha - it's more of a "do what you think is best, and if mods think you're doing something that's hurtful, they'll say something." \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 13 at 14:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch And other users will too. Generally, community norms get taught to those who aren’t aware of them. Normally that works fine—and when it doesn’t, it’s usually suddenly a diamond-level problem. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 13 at 15:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ And this why I posted here - I wasn't sure what the right response was, but debating it over comments to a random Q or A didn't seem right. But I guess that's what I should have done and then let other users/mods step in if they felt they needed to. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 13 at 15:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ For what it is worth, I often see members of the community express less than a dozen or so edits on the front page as a reasonable rule of thumb. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose May 13 at 15:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Oh no, meta is definitely the place for this! Let me say, thank you for handling it this way rather than in site comments. :) My answer is in no way a rebuke — actually, meta is part of that onboarding process for new editors. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 13 at 15:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ I can +1 this answer from experience: the first Winterbash I was aware of I thought "oh, let's see about getting this hat for making four thousand edits!" (Or whatever the criterion was.) Soon enough someone pinged me and said "hey, be reasonable about flooding the frontpage, a lot of people use it as an easy check-in and you're making that harder." Gentle instruction at its finest. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 May 13 at 16:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ adding a policy into that mix would add substantial friction for little gain Big +1 to that. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast May 14 at 13:31
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We shouldn't flood the front page with minor edits

The Recently Active page is the default view of the site's questions and has a very important function: to highlight recent activity that is of importance to site users and moderators. It highlights new answers, edits, and deletions of posts, all of which the community actively keeps track of to keep things in order around the site.

Filling the page with minor edits hampers this use of this important tool. It pushes potentially more pressing current items to the bottom of a pile of minor edits that don't really need further note.

Which is not to say that those edits have no inherent value. Every edit that significantly improves a post is a good edit, but, as they say, there is such thing as too much of a good thing.

The simple solution to this is to be polite and respectful of the way other users use the site. If you have massive amounts of updates to do to a bunch of questions, dose them out in smaller batches so that it doesn't interrupt other users. This happens frequently when things need retagging (eg in the case of burning a tag) or when users are making small updates to many older questions at a time.

In the end, balance is key. Minor edits to older questions are often much lower priority than edits and activity on new questions or answers that need attention and we don't want one use of the site to inhibit the other.

This is especially true of the aforementioned cases of common minor edits: tags and links. Tweaking tags and adding links adds some amount of value, but not as much as, say, editing a new answer from incomprehensible into a valuable contribution, or helping a new user who posted an incorrect edit learn to use the site better. Not all activity on the site generates the same value and we have to be aware of this as we go about doing our best to make this site the best it can be.

Personally, when I do such things I try to keep my impact to less than 8 minor recent edits on the Recently Active page at a time. This is slightly more than half of the number of default items shown per page on the desktop site (15). And I tend to trickle the edits out in batches as the other ones drop off and when traffic/activity is low.

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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Front page is always the Active tab. The Questions list gets sorted by whatever tab you picked last, though. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener May 13 at 16:33
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My stance towards the topic: Humans have time when they have time. If they want to use that to further the goal of improving questions/answers, then that is desirable. If users only want to see the newest questions/answers, they can click on the filters or perform the searches that enable this.

They may edit as many answers as they want to edit in the time that is available to them. If you are worried about visibility, you can use the features of filtering that the site provides by design.

To further expand on this, they may not have time at a later date when you the person in the review queue has time. Now you aren't doing anything with your time to improve answers/questions and they didn't do anything with their time to improve answers/questions. The opportunity is lost, the cost is spent.

As a community we a striving to provide the best questions/answers that we can provide in order to build a library of detailed answers to every question about role-playing games, including those that are 5 years old.

An edit to an old answer is not less valuable than an edit to a new answer, and less workload for people with moderator privileges and moderators and visibility for new post should not stand in the way of building a library of detailed answers to every question about role-playing games.

As a more personal perspective: When I was reasonably approached to stop flooding the page I did so,

Please slow down on the edits. Currently more than half the front page is being bumped by them, which is overshadowing newer content and other actions in need of review. Pace yourself. Aim to limit yourself to, say, a dozen edits on the front page at any one time at most.

and deleted all edits that I had prepared, and closed the tabs that were relevant to those edits. I saved the information as" the moderation team is not interested in users editing lots of different entries/post in a row. There is no value generated in doing so." So I will not do so in the future. I also learned that you should approach someone in the comments of whatever they are editing currently to notify them if they happen to be on an editing spree.

In the comments I was approached to keep it to about 12 edits on the activity page, so I will do that in the future, any edits that surpass about 12 edits on the activity page don't create value, they are a hassle - unwanted.

So assuming that I was approached in the correct place by a moderator, I asked them for guidance on where to find policies, and asked which problems my behaviour had caused - regarding site interactions that I was unaware of, so I could avoid them in the future.

After my inquiry that included me saying that this was the only relevant meta post that I could find, another moderator told me, in the comments, that the comments aren't the correct place for such things - adding that

Ask on meta if you have questions; for this comment thread it’s probably enough that a mod done told ya, don’t you think?

I'm uncertain as to why a moderator thinks it is reasonable to dig up a resolved issue in condescending language. As someone used to getting condescending answers I almost could read the little Missy after the "done told ya, don’t you think?" Why would you escalate a deescalated situation? Generally, that policy of approach and informing users who mass edit seems to work as intended and stops the unwanted mass-editing of entries that are not already on the activity page.

Now there is this thread, and there is an interesting feedback loop that happens when users are told to keep their bumping to an amount that doesn't flood the activity page. Posts with activity - that is mostly new posts - are endorsed to be edited more than old posts as they don't create additional bumping - because of their situation they already create bumps by answers, clarification, and active engagement - so 20 interactions don't create 20 new entries on the activity page - there is only one being bumped frequently.

So if you have time on your hand and want to improve answers, you better limit yourself to a few old posts and primarily engage with the new material, or you are doing something unwanted.

So this is what I gather, the enforced guidelines are (simplified): You should engage with the new material and limit yourself when you want to edit old answers/questions, frequently editing new answers/questions is more valuable to this site than frequently editing old answers/questions.

This is interesting because our existing meta establishes what is considered a trivial edit. As you can read my stance on the topic is very different from how this topic is handled here, value is placed on editing new answers instead of editing every answer, primarily, to not clutter the user tool of the activity page on which users place great value as an observing tool.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note that it’s not mainly moderators affected: “less workload for moderators” would be more correct as “less workload for fellow editors”. Moderators aren’t the main content moderation group: that’s mostly done by edit-privilege users, to check each other’s work. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 13 at 15:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ For a more personal argument: Every morning I usually take a look at all the Recently active questions (generally 1-2 pages worth) to see what interesting new edits, answers, or other activity has happened (interacting with anything I see there of interest). This morning, it was extremely difficult to do that because of all the (well-intentioned) minorish edits that had been done on many questions. I'm certainly not saying that everyone should cater to my morning routine, but I think that many people use the page like that and find it disruptive when that utility is taken away. Just my 0.02. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose May 13 at 15:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also note that there is no "newest answer page" or any way to filter for newest answer (sadly); that information is found only on the Recently Active page. Personally I find that surfacing new answers is one of the most important roles of the Recently Active page. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose May 13 at 15:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose you can type "is:answer" and sort by newest. \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu May 13 at 15:33
  • \$\begingroup\$ So if you want the newest answers on a specific topic like "beard" you can typ Is:answer beard -> sort by newest. \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu May 13 at 15:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu That's a search, not a filter (searches don't update automatically IIRC) and requires several steps and in-depth knowledge of our search system to use. I was talking about default system options which that is not equivalent to. Yes, it is a fine distinction, but I think it is an important one for this context. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose May 13 at 15:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ It is a basic feature of the site that taskes 9 characters to type if you want to do that for your morning routine, the only problem I see is it not auto-updating like the activity feed or showcasing edits to those answers - which shouldn't be more valuable than any other edits. \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu May 13 at 15:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Akixkisu Searching is:a is one way to get only a slice of what the front page is for. Editors are also responsible for checking the work of other editors. There is no way to “search for all new activity” that excludes trivial edits: that’s what the front page is for. Flooding the front page — simply for your own convenience — actively hinders the oversight process that your fellow editors are responsible for. Does that make sense yet? All this arguing you’re doing gives the impression that you aren’t interested in what anyone has to say. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 13 at 16:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ If you have a question or concern about direction given to you by a mod, you come ask about it on meta, you don't argue in comments. Maybe you didn't intend to argue, but it (and this) certainly come across as argumentative. You got pinged in a comment because there's no DM functionality and, while we could have sent a mod-message, that is usually reserved for a more severe problem and not just a quick "ease up" message. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk May 13 at 16:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ “any edits that surpass about 12 edits on the activity page don't create value, they are a hassle - unwanted.” — all good edits create value, but too many edits can be disruptive to other important site functions. At that point the edits haven't stopped creating value, but the disruptiveness is not worth the value created because of the cost to other functions. That side effect is undesirable. Pacing yourself gives us the best of both worlds. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener May 13 at 16:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk I'm arguing here, where I was directed. I did not argue in the comment: I even asked which meta I should read - in the place where I was approached by a moderator. \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu May 13 at 16:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie sure. \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu May 13 at 17:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ “frequently editing new answers/questions” isn’t more valuable to the site. A question constantly bumping can mean there’s a lot of important work being done, but it can also mean a lot of trivial edits are happening. A more nuanced takeaway is this: old questions aren’t going anywhere, so there’s no need to rush editing them and their answers: go slow instead, and take the time to make more than trivial edits. New questions and their answers need more attention sooner, but edits should still be non-trivial. Takeaway: fast trivial edits are less wanted than careful substantial edits. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie May 13 at 17:51
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    \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie I'm uncertain as to what you expect me to do. I have upvoted your comment. It is a good comment on its own and also offers a contribution to the narrative that my answer establishes by diversifying the range of perspectives and reasoning behind perspectives. My Takeaway section does not get invalidated by going into the argument that all edits have to be substance-full, that is a baseline of editing that is thoroughly established in other meta threads as referenced in mxyzplk's answer and a baseline of the assumptions I make. \$\endgroup\$ – Akixkisu May 14 at 4:22
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    \$\begingroup\$ From what I see, SSD is attempting to clarify our guidelines since your understanding in the “so this is what I gather” paragraph is not really representative of them. SSD is worth listening to: their explanation is fairly good, and safe to say they're a very experienced editor. Engage with new and old material, and limit yourself whether you're editing new or old. If you'd been exclusively editing dozens of new posts you may have received the same ping from me, though catching questions as they arrive for e.g. tag fixes is helpful. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener May 14 at 8:30

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