Help Us Test Timed Editing
December 17, 2008 4:56 PM   Subscribe

We're considering a new feature and could use some help kicking the tires.

We're thinking about adding timed editing to the site. So once you post a comment you'd have three minutes to make changes before they're set in stone. We set up a special thread to test this feature here:

Editing Window Test

The thread has more info about how timed editing works. You need to have JavaScript enabled to see the new edit link next to your comment. Discussing bugs and the feature itself will probably be easier here than in the test thread. Thanks for taking a look!
posted by pb to Feature Requests at 4:56 PM (220 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Hmmm. Whie I completely agree with the three minute window (even if it does start at 2:50), I don't understand the 'editing under pressure' effect of the timer still counting down while you edit.

3 minutes to notice you need to edit is fine. 3 minutes from initial post to do the changes too? Too tight, for my vote.

/chronic speller of 'the' as 'teh' and can't stop it and hates it and usually only spots it after posting.
posted by Brockles at 5:00 PM on December 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


It would be nice if there was a live preview on the "edit your comment" page, or even a "preview" button.

You specifically disallow edits that leave an empty comment, but   is an acceptable edit.
posted by jepler at 5:00 PM on December 17, 2008


I got a bit carried away.
posted by Kattullus at 5:02 PM on December 17, 2008


That's some nice work pb. A great feature whose time had come. Thanks.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 5:07 PM on December 17, 2008


Yeah, I futzed some more, and if you are in the middle of an edit (or have a sneezing fit) and teh clock runs out, you lose the entire edit. I assume this is as designed.

However, I can (now I think about it) imagine a scenario with no 'within edit timer' where someone posts, hits edit and watches the thread in a separate tab with the edit window open to preempt (and make ridiculous) any responding posts. Hmmm. So I see the justification for keeping the timer going, but 3 minutes for posting, noticing and re-doing doesn't seem so bad for most comments, but if someone does post one of those multi-link, sidebar worthy ones, you'd be hard pressed to read, notice errors and edit/fix links for much of it in that ickle box in three minutes.

And the ticky timer was scaring me a bit. Made me feel rushed, even though three minutes really is quite along time. Purely psychological, I imagine.
posted by Brockles at 5:08 PM on December 17, 2008


Bug: I cannot edit other's users comments to correct their mistaken assumptions and lack of insight.
posted by maxwelton at 5:14 PM on December 17, 2008 [19 favorites]


im against it but becauz i spell rite first time
posted by klangklangston at 5:14 PM on December 17, 2008


now wait
posted by klangklangston at 5:14 PM on December 17, 2008


Any reason the comment edit box isn't edit in place?

Yes, this is the equivalent of getting a long awaited pony and complaining about the color.
posted by christonabike at 5:14 PM on December 17, 2008


I'm against it because I was screwing around for a couple of minutes and then it stopped on, like, the dumbest thing I'd written there.
posted by klangklangston at 5:15 PM on December 17, 2008


I like it. Three minutes seems to be plenty of time, and the timer is good because it maintains brevity. But I'm one of those people who needs a deadline in order to get shit done, so you know.
posted by mewithoutyou at 5:15 PM on December 17, 2008


But I predict ABUSE
posted by klangklangston at 5:15 PM on December 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


Awesome. Love it. I can always use a 3 minute cool down period to rethink my nasty comments.
posted by gman at 5:15 PM on December 17, 2008


The timer scares me a little bit too but once we decided we wanted people to be able to make edits we had to set some parameters. Basically this is mostly intended for the it's/its or the your/you're things. If you're making herculean monster posts for posterity we hope you'd be using preview most of the time and/or not making gargantuan mistakes. Again, this is really NOT supposed to be for editing content but for fixing little typos which is why we thought a few minutes should be adequate. We'll still fix broken HTML and other stuff if needed.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:16 PM on December 17, 2008


This is great, and worked fine (using IE7 on WinXP at the moment) when I posted a comment in the test thread, but will this work when you post new FPPs or AskMe, or Music Projects or will it only be limited to comments?
posted by Effigy2000 at 5:16 PM on December 17, 2008


So this will be interesting; wonder if people will flag before the poster gets to edit.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:18 PM on December 17, 2008


Also, I meant you're NOT all assholes. Sorry.

(I don't see typo correction as a necessary feature, but that's just me. I think people should either deal with looking like they're illiterate morons adherents of non-standard English, or type slower and reread more.)
posted by klangklangston at 5:19 PM on December 17, 2008


And seriously, anyone who fucks around with this for lulz effects after we've rolled it out gets an insta-week off. It's something potentially really valuable for the community [and time saving for us] and one of the reasons we've resisted putting it into play was worrying about how people would fuck with it. So we figured we'd just say "please don't fuck with this" and then roll it out.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:20 PM on December 17, 2008 [6 favorites]


Can the Javascript please not be through google or whatever that set-up with the favorites is. I've usually got no-script blocking all the google stuff that comes with metafilter and I would rather not have to continue to watch the features of the site erode.
posted by 517 at 5:22 PM on December 17, 2008


You can't delete the whole thing, eh?
posted by timeistight at 5:25 PM on December 17, 2008


So we figured we'd just say "please don't fuck with this" and then roll it out.

Much like the recent awesomely optimistic "Hey, terrorists! Don't test Obama, when he gets in,ALRIGHT?" passive aggressive government announcement/press release?

Awesome. I wonder whether both will be as successful as each other...
posted by Brockles at 5:26 PM on December 17, 2008


Three minutes is a damn long time.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 5:27 PM on December 17, 2008


ALRIGHT? ALL RIGHT?

/etfy
posted by An Infinity Of Monkeys at 5:28 PM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


this is awesome! I LOVE it. It'll cut down those "oops here's the right link:" or "oops i meant BLEH instead of BLAH" posts.
posted by majikstreet at 5:29 PM on December 17, 2008


holy shit jessamyn's new user image she will kill us all
posted by boo_radley at 5:30 PM on December 17, 2008


it would be nice to have a preview option in case you're trying to unfuck a problem with a link.

also, i was surprised that the 3 minutes is absolute rather than reset when i edit a post. i can see why -- you'd have people trying to keep a comment open and edited for hours or days and then there'd be a comment repost edit marathon to raise money for childsplay because desert bus was getting too interesting.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:30 PM on December 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Also, just for the record, I propose a 5 minute window. Yes, 3 is fine but 5 adds a bit more breathing room and also seems a bit less arbitrary.

I would also suggest, for the sake of the moderators sanity, that any edited comments actually be marked as such. This could perhaps take the form of a line next to the timestamp that reads "This comment was edited x times." I suggest this only because I can see a situation where a dispute arises over the content of an edited comment.

For example, Mefite A claims that MeFite B's comment once contained a self-link to MeFite B's porn site, but the comment no longer supports that. Is MeFite A a liar out to get MeFite B? Or did MeFite B actually spam as MeFite A claims?. With no evidence, a MeTa thread is created with demands that the mods use their modly powers to tell us who is telling the truth.

With a simple note that actually identifies an edited comment, people will KNOW that the comment in question has actually been edited and this save you mods a lot of headaches from a slew of new MeTa threads.
posted by Effigy2000 at 5:31 PM on December 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


My name is bowline and I approve this feature.
posted by bowline at 5:32 PM on December 17, 2008


Good idea, thanks!

A few thoughts:

It's disorienting when you come back to a thread after an edit, especially if your comment has scrolled off the window. On return, could the focus be on the comment you just edited?

Clicking edit isn't always instant in Safari 3.2.1, Mac OS X 10.4.11. Not a big deal, but sometimes that pause makes you wonder, "Is it doing anything?"

When you're in the middle of writing an edit and the clock runs out, you can still type, but the save comment button is greyed out. It's a little disorienting to still be able to type, maybe if there some way to freeze the typing? I dunno, minor point...
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:32 PM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, and you'd better figure out (POLICY-ANXIOUS PEOPLE WILL ASK) about retarded comments that get overwritten with "n/m" or such like. Will preemptively realizing one's dickishness be a ticket to insta-week-off?

And don't tell; just form an answer and abide by it. Make us sweat over the possibilities.
posted by boo_radley at 5:33 PM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


effigy: five is arbitrarily arbitrary as three.
posted by boo_radley at 5:33 PM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


This is fantastic.

I'd actually go in the other direction from Effigy2000 and say that maybe the three minutes is a little too long?

Three minutes could be enough time for me to post something asshatty, wait for someone to tell me I'm being an asshat, and then edit my comment not to be asshatty anymore.
posted by roll truck roll at 5:34 PM on December 17, 2008


Also, it would be nice to preview the thread while editing, but I'm guessing ya'll dont' want that, since it's for small typos/corrections on your own posts, not complete rewriting.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:34 PM on December 17, 2008


I like it!

The countdown timer is a little nerve-wracking, but even have a small editing time frame is better than not having any edit option at all, especially for the little "arrgh that teensy little typo is driving me INSANE!" moments (which happen to me all the time).
posted by amyms at 5:36 PM on December 17, 2008


we're pretty concerned with preemptive asshat recognition
posted by boo_radley at 5:36 PM on December 17, 2008


Also, just for the record, I propose a 5 minute window. Yes, 3 is fine but 5 adds a bit more breathing room and also seems a bit less arbitrary.

Maybe it only seems less arbitrary cause you have 5 fingers on each hand. I think 3 is less arbitrary, but maybe that's revealing too much.
posted by inigo2 at 5:37 PM on December 17, 2008


^^^ have should be having*

See what I mean?
posted by amyms at 5:38 PM on December 17, 2008


And seriously, anyone who fucks around with this for lulz effects after we've rolled it out gets an insta-week off.

Can you add that disclaimer to the edit page? Maybe reword it a little? Add the word "HUGS" somewhere?
posted by eyeballkid at 5:39 PM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hey, see this comment in the test thread.

When I was in the edit window and clicked "Back to your comment" it just took me the thread, not comment, although the "Back to your comment" type showed the URL link with anchor. After clicking it, was taken to the URL with no anchor.

Mac 10.4.11, Safari 3.2.1
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:46 PM on December 17, 2008


Are copies kept of each edit?

People fucking with it for the lulz are likely to be obvious, but people fucking with it in anger may be more subtle or genuinely doing the red mist thing and not thinking through what they are doing. The basic problem is edits which go beyond simple typo correction into the realm of changing the substantive meat of a comment for whatever reason, such that subsequent comments referring to the original post, if there have been any, are retroactively fucked.

Keeping copies of older edits would make it easy to spot such (no doubt instabannable) behaviour should it arise. Also, maybe an autoflag (a big red one) for edits where the word count changes by more than one (or two, or whatever is the figure with the least false positives) would help keep the thing policed in a way that means overall the feature is timesaving for moderators. And it's quite possible you're already doing this, in which case, don't mind me.
posted by motty at 5:46 PM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Can you add that disclaimer to the edit page?

When we roll it out for good we'll be sure to mention it. I'm wondering if we need a way to track edits on the admin side. I sure hope not.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:47 PM on December 17, 2008


Fantastic feature. Thanks!
posted by EarBucket at 5:47 PM on December 17, 2008


Why not have the option to view the original comment somewhere? That would ensure least amount of tomfoolery. Unless it would be a huge strain on the database?
posted by Phire at 5:47 PM on December 17, 2008


Very cool, but it would be a teensy bit cooler if it didn't whisk you off to a separate editing page, then whisk you back to the latest comment, rather than your own edited comment.

Will it become polite to indicate that one has edited a comment, I wonder?

Edited to correct typo, bad link and assertion that fat people with declawed, circumcised cats are all twats.
posted by jack_mo at 5:48 PM on December 17, 2008


Just to reiterate for everyone asking -- the three minutes is short enough to prevent abuse, but long enough to let you catch and fix typos. It's focused on silly little typos for the most part, and three minutes should be plenty. If you want five minutes or a reseting timer, I'd say just wait until after it launches and you use it for a while before we change the window.

As mods, we all have edit control over our comments and I probably make a dozen comments a day and end up fixing one or two little typos or things I could have said more clearly, and in practice the three minute window is just about right for giving yourself a read-through after posting, then the "aha! I missed a comma", then a quick fix.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:49 PM on December 17, 2008


I await with baited breath the unending overuse of the new catchphrase "fixed that for me."
posted by koeselitz at 5:50 PM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I love the timer, but then again I am a fan of shit blowing up.

Also, if you can't edit your comment in under 3 minutes, you really shouldn't be posting.
posted by dhammond at 5:52 PM on December 17, 2008


I'll nth the request for a preview on the "edit" page.

A three minute window is a little, erm, optimistic though. Speaking strictly for myself, of course.
posted by lekvar at 5:54 PM on December 17, 2008


Also, I think this is a horrid idea, I'll say it again. It seems as though our mods have absolutely no sense of responsibility. Everybody knows that if you change the past, you can change the future. How cool will it be when every mefite suddenly screws up the time-space continuum and ends up being born as hamsters and pigeons instead of humans?

MARTY! YOU'RE NOT THINKING FOURTH-DIMENSIONALLY!
posted by koeselitz at 5:54 PM on December 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


Maybe the 'Your comment is older than the three-minute editing window' page could do with a link back to the thread? I guess most people who hit 'Save Changes' a millisecond too late will want to leave a correction comment in the thread, old-style, rather than pester a mod?

Why not have the option to view the original comment somewhere?

MetaTalk 2011: "We're thinking about adding a Talk page for every comment on the site, since Comment History has proved so popular".

(Actually, a diff might not be a bad idea, in case folk start dicking about.)
posted by jack_mo at 5:58 PM on December 17, 2008


(1) I like it.

(2) 3 minutes is plenty of time.

(3) I second Effigy's suggestion that edited posts should be indicated. Its a relatively unobstrusive disincentive to people maliciously using the editing function.
posted by googly at 6:06 PM on December 17, 2008


I'm not a fan in particular because it makes it more like a website and less like a real conversation where you say things and wish you hadn't or wish you'd tested what you were going to say a bit more. Sure its more cluttered and maybe requires a bit more sheparding. But I like the idea of people not being able to unsend what they sent. That alone allows people to self censor and frankly Mefi already has too much censorship.
posted by Rubbstone at 6:07 PM on December 17, 2008


I like it too, and three minutes seems just right. Heartily agree with the suggestion that an edited comment should be marked as such.
posted by gemmy at 6:11 PM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


^^ Key example note my terrible runons. Thats how I write. I'm not a better writer than that and its OK.
posted by Rubbstone at 6:11 PM on December 17, 2008


Fantastic feature. It will be mostly used for spelling and grammatical errors, very occasionally for a quick rethink or cool down.
posted by fire&wings at 6:14 PM on December 17, 2008


I am really, really excited about this feature and the three minute edit window felt like much longer than I thought it would. More than enough time to say oh shit and go back and fix a little typo or something.
posted by kate blank at 6:18 PM on December 17, 2008


I'm really not an old hat at this 'MetaFilter' but from the comments I've seen from Jessamyn and Mathowie I think this will be a great feature and very much contribute to the awesomeness of MetaFilter.

Also, has anyone pointed out that Firefox recognizes "Jessamyn" as a real word an not "Mathowie"?
posted by Science! at 6:18 PM on December 17, 2008


I haven't tried it yet, but it seems cool.
posted by schyler523 at 6:20 PM on December 17, 2008


I've flagged pb's post. That's probably the most blatant self-link I've seen since, well, that Chinese lad earlier.
posted by Abiezer at 6:20 PM on December 17, 2008


That's because Jessamyn is a real name.
posted by dersins at 6:23 PM on December 17, 2008


It's cool, but I'll rarely use it I suspect. Maybe I'll use it to edit borked links...

Pretty awesome pb, thanks!
posted by schyler523 at 6:27 PM on December 17, 2008


That's because I'm a real lady! And yeah we've all been editing the typos out of our own comments for years, it seemed like it would be cool to let everyone do it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:27 PM on December 17, 2008


Is it possible to get a live preview window in the edit screen?
posted by baphomet at 6:29 PM on December 17, 2008


BUG REPORT:
While you can enter the entire Treaty of Westphalia in the original comment box, there appears to be a character limit in the edit window.
posted by dersins at 6:30 PM on December 17, 2008


Or is that a feature?
posted by dersins at 6:30 PM on December 17, 2008


yeah we've all been editing the typos out of our own comments for years

oh no! My bubble of perceiving you as perfect has just popped!
posted by Brockles at 6:31 PM on December 17, 2008


dersins: that sucks, because cutting it off at XLIX was a real cliffhanger.
posted by baphomet at 6:33 PM on December 17, 2008


jessamyn said: And yeah we've all been editing the typos out of our own comments for years, it seemed like it would be cool to let everyone do it.

Aww, I wish you hadn't told us that. We were better off thinking you were all erudite, articulate, good-spelling, good-grammar-using SuperMods!

Reminds me of the Walter Bagehot quote: "We must not let daylight in upon the magic."
posted by amyms at 6:34 PM on December 17, 2008


So cool. Thank you!
posted by rtha at 6:40 PM on December 17, 2008


If you time out you are sent to a page where you can contact the admins. Will that page have a link back to your comment or the thread too?
posted by tellurian at 6:41 PM on December 17, 2008


If the edits were to show through as inverse strike-through, this would accomplish about 99% of what people want it for int he in the first place: fixing typos or using correcting an inaccurate word. Not for performing a solid three minutes — let alone five! — of rewrite.

Make it optionable to show the strikethroughs only when hovering over the comment's body text. Best of both worlds.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:42 PM on December 17, 2008 [7 favorites]


I'd settle for a indication that the comment was edited at such and such a time.
posted by Artw at 6:45 PM on December 17, 2008


It doesn't let you flat out delete a comment, which you might want to do sometimes. How about allowing the comment to be blank when it is submitted and showing a simple message like [text removed by author] in the thread?
posted by Artw at 6:49 PM on December 17, 2008


ME RIKEE VERY MUCH! [/krusty]
posted by Joe Beese at 6:50 PM on December 17, 2008


Hmmm. Whie I completely agree with the three minute window (even if it does start at 2:50), I don't understand the 'editing under pressure' effect of the timer still counting down while you edit.

I'd worry about this too.
posted by Artw at 6:51 PM on December 17, 2008


Artw, deleting a comment isn't the same as fixing a typo, and I think being able to completely remove your comment is probably an argument against the edit feature.

I'd support any of the suggestions for marking the comment as edited, particularly fff's strikethrough idea. I'm less crazy about the editing option without some kind of indicator; I'd love to believe that people will only use it for typos, but, in all honesty, I don't think that will be the case, tempa-ban or no, and that's only going to spark sort of endless back and forth stupidness.
posted by donnagirl at 6:58 PM on December 17, 2008


II'd like to nth that it should be noted that a comment has been edited.
posted by nooneyouknow at 6:59 PM on December 17, 2008


I think being able to completely remove your comment is probably an argument against the edit feature.

People are absolutely going to do it though.
posted by Artw at 7:03 PM on December 17, 2008


When this was being kicked around once before, I suggested either an "only allow x% variation between original & edited post" or "add correction footnotes only" approach. But I like fff's idea even more.
posted by Pinback at 7:12 PM on December 17, 2008


anyone who fucks around with this for lulz effects after we've rolled it out gets an insta-week off.

lol good luck with that, you're gonna have to define "fucks with it" pretty quickly or basically ban everyone.

Is getting mad and posting FUCK YOU UGLY to someone you're arguing with , then regretting it and going back and editing: "fucking with it"? Is doing something like writing I SEX BABIES and then changing it to I <3>
I mod a forum a lot more fked up than this relatively polite place, but I think it universally implies that universal rules very quickly become huge pains in the ass because whatever someone CAN do with a feature, they will. Better get your definitions lawyerly clear or else just skip the new rules and leave it to your discretion to ban anyone for being a dick the same as you always do.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:20 PM on December 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


I am am horrible typest, (2 or 3 fingers and the occasinal thumb)and fine that I'me even moreso underthe gun, with that coundown timer screaming at me. See -- I've still got the jitters fron testing the thing out.

Breathe, man breathe....
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:21 PM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Basically it's like "use this to fix typos, not to mess with other people or unsay things" In fact, we should put that under the box on the edit page. pb? I'm okay with banning everyone if it comes to that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:23 PM on December 17, 2008


How perfect that I somehow screwed that already overly long windbag post up in this thread.

second paragraph was supposed to end:

What about posting a long wikipedia entry in response to something and then deleting it and leaving a regular comment? What about etc etc etc.

Etc tec cte
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:24 PM on December 17, 2008


Removing the edit button from a comment after a comment has been added after it might be a way of reducing bait-and-switch dickery.
posted by Artw at 7:27 PM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well that is consistent, but I think you'll find that making rules that equally punish good posters for either changing their minds or being funny along with dummies who are spamming or being offensive then you're just doing more policing than is really necessary.

Won't effect me anyway because I am perfoct.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:28 PM on December 17, 2008


Well, even if you put that under the box you're going to be making a call on tempa-banning someone who didn't read it and changes their comment to "Whoops, wrong thread" every so often. That's just users.
posted by Artw at 7:32 PM on December 17, 2008


I like the strikethough idea a lot. There will be disengenuous and wide-eyed defensible fuckery; we all know it.
posted by reflecked at 7:34 PM on December 17, 2008


boo_radley: holy shit jessamyn's new user image she will kill us all

If you check my profile you'll see she's started already. Or possibly some other gun-totin' primate. I don't kiss getshotinthehead and tell.
posted by Kattullus at 7:35 PM on December 17, 2008


Yeah PA, I totally agree with you and don't want to be cavalier about this at all, but we did realize at some point that we were hemming and hawing about adding this totally-good-idea feature because all we could do is think "oh man people are going to screw with it!" and we didn't want to do that. Maybe getting one edit and one edit only would keep lulzing to a minimum?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:36 PM on December 17, 2008


Along with the timelimit I think that would increase the posibility of errors.
posted by Artw at 7:39 PM on December 17, 2008


"...possibly some other gun-totin' primate."

We resemble that remark.
posted by An Infinity Of Monkeys at 7:40 PM on December 17, 2008


It'll probably also matter what section of the site a lulzing comment is made in. Sure, no lulz on AskMe but what about MetaTalk where pretty much anything goes?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:42 PM on December 17, 2008


I think I will die if you let me fix the typos in my posts. For some reason I am congenitally unable to notice blatantly obvious errors until after I hit Post Comment, even if I have re-read my comment multiple times.
posted by Justinian at 7:43 PM on December 17, 2008


hemming and hawing about adding this totally-good-idea feature

I guess I'm not convinced that it's such a needed feature that it's worth the trouble that moderating it is likely to be. Of course, I have no clue, maybe you spend 14 hours a day fixing typos, and this can't be worse than that, plus you get the fun of insta-bans.

Are the suggestions for some sort of indicator not do-able? I don't program, so I can't really judge. I think an indicator would really lessen the chance of people screwing with it, without an huge downside. If it's really and truly just for typos, a strikethru is no big deal.
posted by donnagirl at 7:48 PM on December 17, 2008


Howabout just instabanning typo trolls?
posted by Artw at 7:50 PM on December 17, 2008


Okay... for future reference... is quoting a comment made after yours frowned upon? If it is, how about not updating the thread while the editbox is open?
posted by Kattullus at 7:54 PM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


No, it needs to be a timeout, not a ban. The mods will be reluctant to pull the trigger on a ban.
posted by ryanrs at 8:00 PM on December 17, 2008


posted by wendell at 8:00 PM edited at 8:02 PM on December 17

...would be useful if someone else comments while you're editing and there's any chance the context gets confused (which, actually, I think will happen a few times a day).

Just sayin'.

Otherwise, this will wendell.
posted by wendell at 8:01 PM on December 17, 2008


I don't even have any good ideas, but I find it so so so appealing to screw around with this for lulz. I can't imagine I'm alone with this.
posted by aubilenon at 8:02 PM on December 17, 2008


And by "this will wendell", I don't mean "this will bot wendell", I mean I really this with wendell. Or wogell. Or godood. Or wrok.
posted by wendell at 8:03 PM on December 17, 2008


and if this thread were already equipped with the post-editor, that previous comment would say "not" instead of "bot". ROLL IT OUT NOW, PLEEEEZE.
posted by wendell at 8:04 PM on December 17, 2008


boo_radley: holy shit jessamyn's new user image she will kill us all

If you check my profile you'll see she's started already.

Well that's fuckin' creepy.
posted by gman at 8:11 PM on December 17, 2008


Will this also be rolled out for posts? I don't really care about typos in comments but it's bothersome to botch a link in an FPP.
posted by Kattullus at 8:14 PM on December 17, 2008


Editing for content could be really useful. Consider the recent trainwreck where a poster didn't realize the cop-pushing-bicyclist video had sound, so he said he needed to hear the sound and didn't know if it was police brutality. 3 Minutes later he realized his mistake. 225 Comments on his original statement and the tone of the thread is essentially in the turlet with people arguing past each other.

I'm just saying, why not introduce the feature and see who and how it gets fucked with ('cuz it will) and then figure out punishments?

Good pony. Nice pony. Pony has sharp teeth.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:17 PM on December 17, 2008


Like it
posted by Dumsnill at 8:18 PM on December 17, 2008


See title of this post.
posted by not_on_display at 8:38 PM on December 17, 2008


I like reloading and seeing the comments change. I bet that thrill will wear off rather quickly.
posted by Kattullus at 8:44 PM on December 17, 2008


No No No. Instead of this, force people to view a preview before they post. If you can't be bothered to proofread your posts, then you deserve to look like a moron.
posted by chrisamiller at 8:44 PM on December 17, 2008


Bump the real timer. It should be that LED Predator timer, where you see something counting down, and you know your ass is on the line and you're SERIOUSLY running out of time - how much? - you don't know but you damn well better get freaking moving, pal.
posted by cashman at 8:50 PM on December 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


This just seems like it has so many huge downsides to fix an almost entirely non-existent problem.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:55 PM on December 17, 2008


I'll try to answer some of the technical questions. We have a timer on the edit-your-comment page so you know how much time you have left to edit. If you had an indefinite amount of time once you opened the edit form, you could simply open it in a new tab and keep rewriting indefinitely as the thread progressed. Without the timer, you'd be playing beat the mystery clock.

The strikeout idea is interesting, but technically it's a nightmare. We already have problems with our regex-based HTML cleaner, and trying to insert more HTML into someone's comment based on their input into another textarea is a tall order.

We haven't planned on adding this feature to posts because they happen much less frequently, and the hope is that people take more time to preview when assembling posts. Previews are required for comments (either live or full page preview) but they tend to be much more rapid-fire than a post.
posted by pb (staff) at 9:05 PM on December 17, 2008


I'm okay with banning everyone if it comes to that.

Gonna be a plethora of library posts in the near future, I see.
posted by yhbc at 9:18 PM on December 17, 2008


Kattullus: "Okay... for future reference... is quoting a comment made after yours frowned upon?"

If it's not, we should make it so. I used to read a forum that started having server-side difficulties with the timestamps on posts. As a result, comments would sometimes get scrambled, with replies pre-empting the OP and quotes appearing before the quoted material. It was an annoying headache that led to lots of tired jokes and made following the conversation much more difficult.

I vote that we limit acceptable use of the edit function to fixing typos, grammar errors, and broken links/formatting, and maybe the occasional moderation of hotheaded language. Anything that plays tricks with the flow of the conversation should be as taboo as the @USERNAME convention.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:18 PM on December 17, 2008


@Rhaomi - I agree :-)

yhbc
posted by yhbc at 9:29 PM on December 17, 2008


Tested successfully on Firefox 3, Ubuntu 8.10.

Nthing that it's a great feature, and that it works well, particularly for when you notice the person right above you just said the same thing. I thought the countdown timer was either going to be a huge distraction on the page or bog down my CPU cycles, and it didn't do either.

Thanks for the pony!
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:32 PM on December 17, 2008


[this is good], as is anything that assumes people are adults and will behave as such. I personally reckon 3 minutes is a bit long for the edit window, but I'm not stressed either way.

And yeah, righteous vengeance against those who use it to commit lulz-based fuckery needs to be swift and public. Good policy.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:38 PM on December 17, 2008


this will kindall
posted by Eideteker at 9:42 PM on December 17, 2008


@yhbc I agree too. Todd Lokken.
posted by Kattullus at 9:43 PM on December 17, 2008


Three minutes ought to be enough time for anybody.

--Blil Gtaes
posted by orthogonality at 9:46 PM on December 17, 2008


this will kindall

Now there's something you don't see every day.
posted by kindall at 10:11 PM on December 17, 2008


What about the 'on preview, what X said" posts? Will people just make the whole comment vanish?
posted by ALongDecember at 10:13 PM on December 17, 2008


we did realize at some point that we were hemming and hawing about adding this totally-good-idea feature because all we could do is think "oh man people are going to screw with it!" and we didn't want to do that. Maybe getting one edit and one edit only would keep lulzing to a minimum?

You know, the exact same argument applies equally to images in AskMe.
posted by Chuckles at 10:16 PM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'll also chime in for a request for a way to delete a comment during the 3 min. edit time.
posted by jaimev at 10:20 PM on December 17, 2008


Because UI patents piss me off, I'd like to donate my UI idea to the community. Namely, that:
Comments edits be shown in their original state; or shown with type decoration that indicates the difference between the original and edited states; and that this display state is varied by some user action, including profile toggle, mouse-over effect, or hotkey.
It should be also noted that I am donating this idea so that I may use it at work. The time and date of the original post are proof that the idea was conceived on my own personal, free time. I resent feeling I need to do this.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:34 PM on December 17, 2008


The strikeout idea is interesting, but technically it's a nightmare. We already have problems with our regex-based HTML cleaner, and trying to insert more HTML into someone's comment based on their input into another textarea is a tall order.

Technically, the operation is performed just before your existing toolset processes the user's input. It is simply merging what you sent to the user to edit, and what the edit returned. Any number of diff/merge tools can do the trick of indicating which text is shared and which text differs. If they don't let you specify the diff markup, well, the markup pattern is Regexable.

The merge will be exactly what the user would get if the user did it by handfixed that for you. If your existing toolset already handles that markup okay, then it will continue to handle is okay after the diff toolset is done.

One would then be able to toggle between
  • shared+deleted original-only (view the original version)
  • shared+deleted original+inserted new (compare the original and final versions)
  • shared+inserted-only views (view the final version)
  • no-shared+no-deleted original+no-inserted new (hide comment body)

    I assume one can edit one's post only once (although I suppose if the author edits a second time, hoping to delete the strike-marked text, that change is also going to be strike-marked and recorded. Now you can easily identify which users think they're covering their tracks. That could be a handy admin tool. double-struck coverup

    (Admins could then keep track of which posts are most-hidden, and use that as a means of filtering to identify interesting threads/themes of conversation; a "best-of" of the thread or the "experts-only" version, or somesuch.)

    Again, I release these ideas. Fly, be free, ideas!

  • posted by five fresh fish at 11:14 PM on December 17, 2008


    Neat, thanks pb & co. I think some indication that there was editing would be cool, but at the same time, could cause a spike in noise (Hey why'd you edit that/Oh, that's not what said originally/Stop abusing the Edit feature, dingaling, etc.).
    posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:20 PM on December 17, 2008


    fff - Eh? Maybe I'm just lazy as devs go, but that sounds like a fucking nightmare I'd be desperate to avoid touching.
    posted by Artw at 11:22 PM on December 17, 2008


    I tried it. I liked it. I abused it a little.

    Then I decided I really don't mind a quick follow-up comment that corrects my bad spelling or accidental negating of my own point.

    In short: I personally find this to be a very nicely implemented feature that might end up more trouble than it's worth -- but it'd be a shame to waste the implementation, so give it a go and let's see what happens.

    Of course, if someone asked me (and technically, in creating this thread, you have done so) I'd say that the edit function should allow someone to append, with a little edit timestamp.

    EDIT @hh:mm: Something like this, actually, so that we can correct inside the comment itself, without actually editing the comment itself.

    EDIT @hh:mm: Of course, this doesn't solve the problem of a comment being edited when the thread has moved on, such that people aren't checked 5+ comments up (in an active thread) to see if a comment has been edited. In fact, that's why I like people just following up on their own comments with additional correction/clarification comments, so that we're all reading the same comments.
    posted by davejay at 11:42 PM on December 17, 2008


    You know, like this.
    posted by davejay at 11:43 PM on December 17, 2008


    And, er, I meant to say "...people aren't checking."

    Okay, maybe that edit function WOULD be nice.
    posted by davejay at 11:43 PM on December 17, 2008


    or not
    posted by davejay at 11:44 PM on December 17, 2008


    Here is me, showing up as per usual to say why the latest site "improvement" is a bad idea. Ready? The current (old?) system rewards paying attention, and paying attention is a good thing. If I know that, irrevocably, whatever I type into the comment box goes into my personal site history, forever, I pay attention. I reread my comment many times to make sure that it is clear. I catch typos. I keep myself from being a horrendous asshole. I realize that my joke isn't funny and detracts from the thread. If I miss these things (as I sometimes do), everyone thinks less of me, as well they should. The knowledge that your comment becomes part of your permanent record once you hit post forces you to pay attention, or to be known as one who does not or did not pay attention. This is not a bug.

    Even stavros likes this one, and I thought he was a status quo curmudgeon that I could count on forever. *Le sigh*
    posted by Kwine at 12:11 AM on December 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


    I don't get it. I've always liked that people can't revise their content once committing it to a thread. Metafilter encourages you to think before hitting post; everything is permanent, just like in real conversation. This will change the site. Its not abuse of this that worries me, but the way in which conversations will be had.

    Basically this is mostly intended for the it's/its or the your/you're things.

    If this is its main function, I'd say it's almost entirely unnecessary.

    Typos happen. Who caress?
    posted by painquale at 12:19 AM on December 18, 2008


    I really like the forced preview idea, rather than the editing idea. Accountability, permanence, etc. With the editing function in place, I kind of feel like I don't know who I can and cannot trust, and that's not a feeling I particularly relish.

    And three minutes is an awfully large window for making small spelling corrections, even for a wall-of-text comment.
    posted by Phire at 12:49 AM on December 18, 2008


    The knowledge that your comment becomes part of your permanent record once you hit post forces you to pay attention, or to be known as one who does not or did not pay attention. This is not a bug.

    True. Making MeFi more dummy-compatible does not improve MeFi.
    posted by five fresh fish at 1:17 AM on December 18, 2008


    The ability to edit encourages "Post First, Think Later" messaging.
    posted by five fresh fish at 1:18 AM on December 18, 2008


    five fresh fish: "The ability to edit encourages "Post First, Think Later" messaging."

    I don't know about that. I proofread all but the simplest replies, and yet I still manage to miss a typo or forget a word after rewriting a phrase every other comment. So even live preview + Firefox's spellchecker can't save me sometimes.

    But after posting, it's like something opens my eyes. Maybe it's because I'm looking at it not considering how I might revise it further, but rather as it is, you know? It's only then that the little flaws jump out at me. It's like in that Spot the Difference game posted the other day, where you scrutinize every pixel and fail to find any more differences, but then *bam* you go for the hint and OH MY GOD IT WAS RIGHT THERE THE WHOLE DAMN TIME.

    Anyway, having the edit feature will be invaluable at moments like that. And hey, it hasn't even been implemented yet beyond a single test thread, so maybe we should give it a try before mourning the death of language on Mefi?
    posted by Rhaomi at 2:23 AM on December 18, 2008


    ...and there we go again. That last sentence should have ended with a period, not a question mark. *facepalm*
    posted by Rhaomi at 2:25 AM on December 18, 2008


    I appreciate the effort going into improving the site, but I can't support the introduction of this feature. For me it's nothing to do with whether or not you treat people like adults, it's just that life is confusing enough already and it's nice to have certain guarantees about how things will behave.

    If it must go ahead, please at least reject any edits submitted after following comments are posted.
    posted by tomcooke at 2:32 AM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    There are plenty of people on MeFi who do not have English as their first language, do not know how to use the link box correctly, or who struggle with dyslexia.

    On top of that, Preview is broken. It regularly eats anything inside brackets (and often anything after that), and will show images when the site does not.

    Three minutes to fix things that go wrong is not going to ruin MetaFilter.
    posted by DarlingBri at 3:51 AM on December 18, 2008


    I'll nth the request for a preview on the "edit" page.

    Are you shitting me? Not only can you read your own comment:
    1) in the comment box as you write it,
    2) in the live preview,
    3) in the Preview Button preview,
    4) posted in the thread,
    5) and again in the edit box,
    you want a SIXTH way of reading the same fucking thing you should have written right in the first place? Christ. If you're that bad at actually typing what you want to write maybe MetaFilter is a little too advanced for you.
    posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:59 AM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    yeah, that clock ticking down is freaking me out but yay for editing anyway.
    posted by krautland at 4:24 AM on December 18, 2008


    Two things:

    The "Back to your comment" link is opening in a new tab, where I expected it to open in the same tab. This seems counter intuitive (its not really back to) and is not consistent with the rest of the site where internal links open in the same tab, external ones in a new tab. (linux/firefox3.0)

    Timing. I'm not sure when the initial countdown starts. But there appears to be quite a gap between this (3:00) and when edit button appears (presumably page load + script load), and again between the time when the edit link is clicked, and when you can actually edit your comment. On my admittedly cranky, and perennially over loaded, old machine that delay is 40 seconds in the first instance, and 20 on the second.

    Isn't the actual time available to edit going to tend towards zero on long threads?
    posted by tallus at 4:32 AM on December 18, 2008


    Yeah, reminds me of this.
    posted by gman at 6:10 AM on December 18, 2008


    How about some accountability built into the system? Keep the original text and provide a small link that says "edited at 12:01am (original). Think wikipedia here.
    posted by chrisamiller at 6:18 AM on December 18, 2008


    Yeah, my timer started at 2:46. Definitely some weirdness with the time numbers.
    posted by marginaliana at 6:24 AM on December 18, 2008


    This is great. Thanks for putting what I am sure was a non-trivial amount of time into a feature that seemed to be in great demand. That said, I think the spirit of transparency and accountability that MetaFilter aspires to practically requires that there is some indication of an edit visible to all users, and that the original text is available somehow. I know this must increase the difficulty of rolling the feature out, but I do think it would be a shame if it were ignored.
    posted by Rock Steady at 7:11 AM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Nifty!

    The three-minute window should permit only a single edit, not multiple edits.

    The (posted by) line should change for edited comments. (posted by user at 10:21 AM, edited twice, on December 18)

    "Behave or go away," as an administrative policy, has a lot of merit.
    posted by fantabulous timewaster at 7:25 AM on December 18, 2008


    Holy crap that countdown timer got by blood pressure going. I kept trying to decide whether I should cut the red wire or the black one, just knowing that if I got it wrong Metafilter would disappear into some sort of mushroom shaped word-cloud.

    As we are all still here, I can only assume I got it right.

    Instead of numbers, how about a graphic representation, like a status bar counting down?

    +++ (3 minutes)
    ++- (2 minutes 30 seconds)
    ++ (2 minutes)

    or something.

    posted by quin at 7:28 AM on December 18, 2008


    The Levenshtein distance of the edit can be helpful in figuring out how "different" the new text is from the old, if the time window isn't strict enough.
    posted by kcm at 7:34 AM on December 18, 2008


    I initially said that I like this feature, but upon reading some of the other comments, I am changing my mind to agree with Kwine. The benefits just don't outweigh the drawbacks.

    Benefit:

    The main problem that this fixes is the proliferation of "there not their" comments cluttering up threads. I find these mildly annoying, but not much of a problem. So it seems a major change to correct a small problem.

    Drawbacks:

    (1) The possibility of misuse, which may or may not diminish the site as a whole, but will almost certainly lead to additional time - possibly a lot of additional time - spent policing silly crap by the mods.

    (2) Possible confusion in fast-moving threads in which comments appear more often than every three minutes.

    (3) Finally, this is basically a nudge in the wrong direction - e.g., it is a disincentive to carefully crafting one's post. Contrast this with a nudge in the opposite direction - for example, a mandatory preview of the post and/or a message saying "Have you proofread your comment?" or "All comments are final - please proofread!"

    In sum, if the main point of this is to encourage fewer errors (and discourage error corrections), there may be other means by which this can be accomplished that don't introduce additional headaches.
    posted by googly at 7:35 AM on December 18, 2008


    I was able to post an edit after the time was up (I think). I probably can't validate this as well as you guys can, but maybe flag that for further scrutiny.
    posted by mkb at 7:36 AM on December 18, 2008


    One would then be able to toggle between:
    • shared+deleted original-only (view the original version)
    • shared+deleted original+inserted new (compare the original and final versions)
    • shared+inserted-only views (view the final version)
    • no-shared+no-deleted original+no-inserted new (hide comment body)
    "Track changes" mode is bad enough at work, do we really want it on MetaFilter too? It's this kind of fuckery that I come to MF to get away from.
    posted by bonehead at 8:24 AM on December 18, 2008


    (and, true to form, less than three minutes later, please let me add that I think editable comments are a great idea).
    posted by bonehead at 8:26 AM on December 18, 2008


    Thanks guys, I've been needing this for ages. It worked just spiffy on Firefox 3.0.4 under Ubuntu 8.04.
    posted by cgg at 8:34 AM on December 18, 2008


    This is fucking stupid.
    posted by Wolfdog at 9:15 AM on December 18, 2008


    Dang, wish I could edit that out.
    posted by Wolfdog at 9:15 AM on December 18, 2008


    I don't mean to be negative, but there will be the three-minute equivalent of people screaming "fire" in a crowded theatre just for the shock effect before they change the comment. It could also mean three minutes of free spam to the wrong people. The misuse possibilities have many permutations.

    googly covered some of this in different words. It will add to the clutter policing on the site.

    Brilliant idea for mature users; difficult implementation for the masses.
    posted by buzzman at 9:37 AM on December 18, 2008


    Worked perfectly in Firefox 2/Mac. Three minutes is hella-long, though. A two-minute window would be more than sufficient for most edits. I like the countdown, too.

    Make it so!
    posted by Thorzdad at 9:42 AM on December 18, 2008


    So are edited comments going to be marked as such in any way? This has been mentioned upthread but I can't find a definitive answer.
    posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:54 AM on December 18, 2008


    Option of erasing comment entirely?
    posted by buzzman at 10:00 AM on December 18, 2008


    So are edited comments going to be marked as such in any way?

    They are not, in the test thread. I really think they should be, though.

    Option of erasing comment entirely?

    No, apparently.

    The misuse possibilities have many permutations.

    This is true, and I think the mods realize it. They have said that they will not tolerate that kind of behavior, and I hope this does not turn into a "This is why we can't have nice things" situation. Believe in the inherent goodness of your fellow MeFites!
    posted by Rock Steady at 10:07 AM on December 18, 2008


    Thanks for all the feedback so far. The feature isn't set in stone yet, and we're still open to ideas. We've been discussing the feature, and it sounds like we're going to go with a delete option, one edit per comment, and no wikipedia-style history of edits. The thinking is that we're all adults here, and the short editing time means there isn't enough time to completely change the substance of a comment. Posting in a test thread where editing is your sole purpose will be different from editing a comment on a completely separate topic where editing isn't your first priority. We're also open to adjusting the time, but leaning in the direction of less time rather than more, so the edits are focused on small changes.
    posted by pb (staff) at 10:28 AM on December 18, 2008


    Dreams do come true!

    I love it. I'm intrigued to see how it will change the flow of conversation, definitely.
    posted by batmonkey at 10:41 AM on December 18, 2008


    no wikipedia-style history of edits

    Unless there is some technical/programming barrier to this, can I ask why not? I guess it just seems like having it would eliminate nearly all of the potential for griefing and abuse. Would the originals be viewable by the mods?
    posted by Rock Steady at 10:53 AM on December 18, 2008


    I know the thinking is we are all adults, and I really respect that stance, but let me just add that your writing time for an edit technically does not need to be limited to three minutes. You can compose two versions of a comment in a text editor and just copy and paste within the editing window. Of course, that would clearly be gaming the system, but it is possible. I do really like the feature though -- I'm just trying to give some constructive criticism here.
    posted by Rock Steady at 10:57 AM on December 18, 2008


    My timer also started at 2:50, but, as others have said, that isn't much of a problem because 3 minutes is a long time.
    posted by owtytrof at 11:28 AM on December 18, 2008


    I love the feature and the implementation seems solid after five whole minutes of testing. I had three little timers ticking away and they all seemed to work independently and correctly, so pb gets a A+ for not using global variables.
    posted by GuyZero at 11:46 AM on December 18, 2008


    Unless there is some technical/programming barrier to this...

    At the risk of speaking for pb, there's definitely a cost to implementing this. It ain't free.
    posted by GuyZero at 11:48 AM on December 18, 2008


    Would the originals be viewable by the mods?

    That's something we're still hashing out, but we're heading that direction right now. It's not technically impossible to expose wikipedia-style diffs to everyone, but as GuyZero mentions there is a cost. The biggest cost is on the interface side where adding any complication can hurt usability. So we have to weigh whether or not the added complication is worth the trade off.
    posted by pb (staff) at 11:56 AM on December 18, 2008


    It seems like you'd have trouble moderating fuckery if there isn't any paper trail of the fuckery. I agree that mucking up the UI with revision history doesn't make much sense for what is meant to just be a typo corrector, but there should at the very least be an admin view of edits. Could you possibly just maintain the old comment along with new, but make the old unviewable? Like use an HTML <!-- -->, so that people could look at the source if they suspect fuckery? I don't know enough about spamming techniques to know if this is a bad idea, but it seems that you'll have the evidence of attempts right there for everyone to see (if they care enough to look), without any need for a separate history or any glaring change to the interface. So you can ban with abandon.
    posted by team lowkey at 12:18 PM on December 18, 2008


    The thinking is that we're all adults here

    Well, in theory, sure.
    posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:18 PM on December 18, 2008


    Oops. Heh. Yeah, that's supposed to be a HTML style comment with the left-angle-bang-dash-dash.
    posted by team lowkey at 12:20 PM on December 18, 2008


    This is great, mostly because of the counting down timer.
    posted by Damn That Television at 2:35 PM on December 18, 2008


    I feel like the editing page should have some sort of sound effect to emphasize the Serious Business that is going on.

    I propose the "beep beep" sound from 24 overlaid with the countdown voice from Spaceballs.
    posted by Kadin2048 at 2:41 PM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    Wait, so can I use this to link to my own comment?
    posted by Demogorgon at 2:41 PM on December 18, 2008


    When setting the time for edits, keep in mind that the most typo-prone clients (mobile devices) are also going to be the ones with slow internet connectivity and clunky text entry mechanisms.
    posted by contraption at 3:13 PM on December 18, 2008


    Spoken as someone who, compulsively as he might like to think he tries to edit himself, fails miserably at editing, i.e. see this run on sentence, err.. 3 minutes would be a life safer. Apparently I only ACTUALLY read my comment once I've posted it, and I'd say I run about a 1:1 ratio of posting and going ...uhuh..uhuh.. CRAP WHERE'D THAT P COME FROM!.... Dangit! Look stupid now....

    So anyway. This rambles, and could not be helped by a 3 minute timer, but I loves it. I loves it!
    posted by cavalier at 3:47 PM on December 18, 2008


    I agree with Kwine and Googly.

  • People will just type crap in, knowing they can get it back. Then they won't get round to fixing it or screw up. The quality of posts will diminish if you don't make people care the first time. (That's how people work. They aren't bad, just careless.)
  • The system will be gamed and used for malicious purposes.
  • It adds to confusion. "On preview" comments confuse me now. Seriously. Processing them is a cognitive task that detracts from processing and understanding the actual discussion. (And preview was introduced to reduce typos and errors, wasn't it? And did it?)

    MetaFilter discussions are single-threaded conversations. Everyone is forced into linearity and keeping the thread consistent, and that constraint is good as it keeps the discussion coherent and aligned with how we naturally perceive time.

    It's not broken. Don't fix it.

  • posted by alasdair at 4:34 PM on December 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


    "The thinking is that we're all adults here

    Except for that FeistyFerret kid.
    posted by klangklangston at 4:38 PM on December 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


    It adds to confusion.

    I think the answer to this concern is to see what the average inter-comment timing is. If it's more than 3 minutes on average, then presumably we will have at least 50% of followup comments coming after the editing window has closed.

    Someone want to crunch what the distribution of inter-comment time spacings are?
    posted by GuyZero at 5:30 PM on December 18, 2008


    The strikeout idea is interesting, but technically it's a nightmare. We already have problems with our regex-based HTML cleaner, and trying to insert more HTML into someone's comment based on their input into another textarea is a tall order.

    I think it would be better to make the existing features work correctly, rather than adding new features (of dubious value) and more complexity.
    posted by Crabby Appleton at 5:35 PM on December 18, 2008


    There are plenty of people on MeFi who do not have English as their first language, do not know how to use the link box correctly, or who struggle with dyslexia.

    And there are plenty of people who quite sensibly do their editing using a real text editor.

    The communication mode on MeFi is the textual equivalent of live, round-table speech. There's a twenty-five year history of this style of network community. Much of its success, in my opinion backed by participating in and developing these communities for over two decades, is due to its emulation of the friendly, face-to-face social scene.

    In speech, and in MeFi as it stands, you do not have the ability to make people unhear you. Everyone knows exactly what you said: it was loud and clear. When you speak out both here and in real life, you are committed to the words. They can't be unsaid.

    In real life, one is sometimes ungrammatical or mispronounces a word. Almost all the time it doesn't matter: everyone understood what you said. It's not a big problem.

    Nor is it a big problem on MeFi. It's okay to forget a punctuation mark or to misspell a word. No one is going to think the worse of you if your meaning is not habitually baffling.

    There is a powerful social effect when the Post button represents absolute commitment to what one is blurting out in public. Sacrificing that effect, for the sake of fixing simple typos, is a Bad Idea.

    The Bad Idea can be somewhat ameliorated by making edits obvious: a bright red flag and mouse-over effect, f'rinstance. It would be really bad if the feedback wasn't designed to encourage not making a mistake in the first place.

    Of course, none of this matters if this particular community social style isn't what's wanted.
    posted by five fresh fish at 5:36 PM on December 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


    Well, alasdair and fff pretty much took the words off of my keyboard. If a typo bothers a commenter so much that they feel Metafilter to be broken, they should go outside for a few minutes. Or just follow up with a fix-it post.
    posted by zoinks at 6:08 PM on December 18, 2008


    pb: and it sounds like we're going to go with a delete option, one edit per comment, and no wikipedia-style history of edits.

    That sounds a bit like you're making a rod for your own back - open for all sorts of asshattery, particularly in fast moving hot-topic threads, and the only ones who can see it to keep on top of it are you 4 mods.

    Imagine the trouble a well-timed "fuck you, dios!" could have caused in past threads. Imagine the fun when it disappeared 30 seconds after he responded. Ouch.

    fff: It's okay to forget a punctuation mark or to misspell a word.

    Agreed, whilst being right on top of - and, as one who tend's to run on and over-use punctuation, particularly when trying to explain something; god knows I've tried to stop (and I know other user's sometime's find it annoying) - the idea of mercilessly mocking people's overuse of punctuation!
    posted by Pinback at 8:15 PM on December 18, 2008


    I liked the limit. Long enough but not too long.

    I do think that an (edited) flag would be a good touch. You might want to beat me about the head and shoulders for this suggestion, but I even like borrowing a sort of forum-esque reason drop-down. (edited for...typo, grammar, spelling, tone, drunk/high/wevs, temper.)
    posted by desuetude at 8:43 PM on December 18, 2008


    Nifty! Thanks, folks!
    posted by deborah at 10:11 PM on December 18, 2008


    Been thinking about this; whatever you decide to do, please make sure there's some kind of (subtle) indication that the comment has been edited, to avoid nonsense around accusations of edits that may or may not have happened.
    posted by davejay at 11:26 PM on December 18, 2008


    Nice. Could we also get a revoke button? You can already blank your comment or replace it with something entirely different anyway, and that'd be good for "oops, wrong thread" moments, or "I really need to redo the math on this" stuff.
    posted by fvw at 1:20 AM on December 19, 2008


    Very nice. I agree with the edit flag, but let me point out that it may be difficult to get the edit done and select the proper flag in three minutes. Just an automated thingy to let people know that the comment was edited should do the trick IMHO.

    I tested to see what would happen if the clock ran out in the middle of an edit, and it turns out that no changes are accepted in such a case. I think this is the appropriate way for this to function, well done.
    posted by Mister_A at 8:37 AM on December 19, 2008


    Oh, one edit per comment, now? Why not let people edit as many times as they want in 3 mins? It's essentially the same thing when you get right down to it. Plus, you already have it working that way.
    posted by Mister_A at 8:38 AM on December 19, 2008


    Imagine the trouble a well-timed "fuck you, dios!" could have caused in past threads. Imagine the fun when it disappeared 30 seconds after he responded. Ouch.

    We've imagined it. We've decided that we'd prefer mostly to imagine an admin-only log of edits so we can see what went down without bothering turning the comment side of mefi into a constant-public-review subgame, and no-nonsense week-long timeouts or worse for anybody stupid enough to try and pull that sort of bullshit.

    People are pretty well-behaved around here 99% of the time. If this is worth doing, it's worth doing because generally speaking we can trust people to use it in good faith as intended, and for folks to be flexible as we work out any unexpected kinks that come with the new territory.

    The people who can't handle a clear "do not fuck around with this or else" directive won't get a lot of chances to ruin it for everyone else.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 9:40 AM on December 19, 2008


    I really believe in edit distance having a lot of relevance when it comes to allowing or disallow a "minor" edit - it's the exact definition of how minor it really was. There's plenty of pre-baked Levenshtein routines for PHP, Python, etc. too. :)
    posted by kcm at 10:32 AM on December 19, 2008


    The Levenshtein distance idea is very interesting to me too, kcm, but I worry about turning those kinds of decisions over to the computer. Fixing HTML or URLs could give you a high edit distance when in fact it's a minor change. I like the idea of having humans review any suspect edits, and maybe Levenshtein routines are something we use on the admin side to flag suspicious edits. But I'm hesitant to bake in limits with that algorithm.
    posted by pb (staff) at 10:35 AM on December 19, 2008


    I like the idea of having humans review any suspect edits, and maybe Levenshtein routines are something we use on the admin side to flag suspicious edits. But I'm hesitant to bake in limits with that algorithm.

    Yeah, very much ditto. Leave the computer out of the adjudication. I forgot to mention this in email the other day, pb, but I think some color-coding of the admin-side comment-edit log based on e.g. edit distance might be handy. Something analogous to what we do elsewhere with colored labels, but applied automatically based on the distance—orange is "more than a little editing", red is "comment wipe", etc.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 10:39 AM on December 19, 2008


    Timed editing can be a good feature. I've actually seen few problems with almost completely open-ended editing in well-administrated communities.

    However, even limited editing can get rather confusing in a site that's often "real-time" between participants, like MeFi is. That's why many opt to use in-post editing time-stamps or other indicators. For example,
    posted by zennie at 4:43 AM on May 5 (edited) [+][!]
    This has the additional function of encouraging people to clarify the reason for their edit, i.e. 'ETA: more info at zombo.com' or 'edited because: grammar'.

    As it stands, however, I can't understand the benefit of 3-minute editing when you've already developed some pretty slick preview options. Is it meant to cut down hope-me-mod emails regarding mistakes? Because I really think you're going to end up with a new pile of work and little reward for it.
    posted by zennie at 11:11 AM on December 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


    ETA: more info at zombo.com

    I'm going to add this to all my edits. In fact, hell, I'm adding it to everything!

    ETA: more info at zombo.com.
    posted by languagehat at 11:50 AM on December 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


    I think the edit time should be at least 8 minutes.
    posted by tellurian at 7:43 AM on December 25, 2008


    I just popped in to vote AGAINST the "remove" link. And to vote for five fresh fish's awesome idea. It's like it's what the <del> and <ins> tags were made for.
    posted by Deathalicious at 7:04 PM on December 29, 2008


    Oh, and can I just add something? If you accidentally misspell something, it doesn't matter. Not only that, but no one cares. Given that, what problem are we solving, exactly?

    How about this: if the thought of you having something misspelled or miswrit in your thread upsets you so much, hit "Preview". Then read aloud carefully. Finally, after making sure it says what you want, click "Post".

    Don't get me wrong; from a technological point of view I really appreciate the effort that went into it and how smoothly it works.

    Also, for those of you who are freaking out about the idea of never being able to correct a past wrong, there have been moments when I have kind of messed up in a comment, and I have been able to get the mods to remove it or fix it. If it's infrequent and important, they will fix it. If it is frequent and/or unimportant, they won't and you should deal. And if it's frequent and important, then that is a real problem that merits using preview more (You can always click "Preview" more than once, you know. I have.). The 3 minute edit window will give people ample time to plug that SSN into your bank's website.
    posted by Deathalicious at 7:50 PM on December 29, 2008


    Oh, and can I just add something? If you accidentally misspell something, it doesn't matter. Not only that, but no one cares. Given that, what problem are we solving, exactly?

    How about this: if the thought of you having something misspelled or miswrit in your thread upsets you so much, hit "Preview". Then read aloud carefully. Finally, after making sure it says what you want, click "Post".


    On the one hand, you're preaching to the choir. I was against doing this for a long time, and I still have a part of my brain that voices reservations every time we talk about it. I hear you.

    On the other hand:

    - some people care. It's not deeply, desperately important stuff, and even the people who care realize that, but some people care.
    - no system of rereading and proofing and previewing is perfect. I think people should take their time and preview carefully, and I gather that a lot of people do a lot of the time, but it's not perfect.
    - as mods, we get to edit our comments. I would bet you that on average a day does not go by without each of us doing so at least once. Usually a minute after hitting "Post Comment", to fix some stupid little error.
    - we get requests from users to do similar edits. Putting it in their hands to take care of on their own is a nice way to (a) extend the trust that is already fundamental to the user experience here and (b) lighten a little bit of the administrative load.

    We're going to give this a shot. We've got an edit history function set up on the back-end, and I'm gonna be watching it carefully. Folks who stick to the intended purpose of fixing minor edits or very occasionally handling their commenter's-regret occurrences themselves with the remove button will be just fine and will engender no net effect on the tone or culture here. Folks who wander from that and abuse or overuse the function in any way will get some personal mod attention.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 9:43 PM on December 29, 2008


    Okay, I'm kinda relieved that the history function is out there. Personally, I really like the idea of community-auditable changes but at the very least I suggest revoking the "remove" option. It's disconcerting enough when the mods take out comments.
    posted by Deathalicious at 11:22 PM on December 29, 2008


    I'm a little down on the "remove" idea, but the concept has its place. How much of a burden is removing comments on the moderators right now? I once had to ask Matt to remove a comment because I realized I'd betrayed the trust of someone who shared something on a private forum in a way that could have put his job at jeopardy. It was a really, really stupid move move on my part, and I was stressed that it stayed up as long as it did, but it was most likely no more than ten minutes. I think unless there's just an overwhelming demand for removals-- "Sorry it's been six weeks since the last podcast -- Jessamyn and I have been removing comments like banshees all week..." -- (other than trollish flagged removals, & NO YUO fests, I mean) that it should remain a moderated process.
    posted by Devils Rancher at 5:26 AM on December 30, 2008


    All we're handing people here is the ability to immediately deal with What Am I Doing? commenter's regret, and it remains a moderated process. We're trading reactive monitoring in for what has previously been reactive deletion, but I'm expecting again that it's going to be a relatively rare phenomenon anyway.

    One of the nice things about giving people the Oh Shit button is actually a reflection of what we had worried about from a griefing perspective before we took some metaphorical deep breaths: letting people have a chance to nix their own ill-considered fight-starter or derail comments themselves immediately after the fact if they realized they've just posted something stupid in a moment of anger or whatever. The derail prevented by the derailer ahead of time instead of cleaned up by us after the fact? Gold. Solid gold.

    Again, likely a pretty rare occasion after all, and not something we see as a huge panacea, but it's a little net gain in how mefi's users can take responsibility for their own contributions here, on top of the basic (and much- and long- and loudly-requested) functionality of being able to fix their own typos and formatting glitches.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 7:27 AM on December 30, 2008


    I had another thought about an [edited] tag on the "posted by" line. In addition to [+] and [!], a [?] link that updates the comment with any edits from the poster. The [?] would only appear on comments still (probably) within the edit window when the page loads, and vanish after the "final version" is displayed.

    This would make more sense if edits were common, which might or might not be the case.
    posted by fantabulous timewaster at 9:44 AM on December 30, 2008


    letting people have a chance to nix their own ill-considered fight-starter or derail comments themselves immediately after the fact if they realized they've just posted something stupid in a moment of anger or whatever. The derail prevented by the derailer ahead of time instead of cleaned up by us after the fact? Gold. Solid gold.

    I can go with that. Well put.

    /bootlick
    posted by Devils Rancher at 9:51 AM on December 30, 2008


    All we're handing people here is the ability to immediately deal with What Am I Doing? commenter's regret, and it remains a moderated process. We're trading reactive monitoring in for what has previously been reactive deletion, but I'm expecting again that it's going to be a relatively rare phenomenon anyway.

    I haven't been following too closely but.. Well, it seems that edits are actually quite pointless. All you really need is a remove button that places the removed comment back in the new comment text entry field. If you feel you need to edit, remove, and keep working.

    Or is that the current state of the feature already? :P
    posted by Chuckles at 9:59 AM on December 30, 2008


    So can you edit comments outwith that thread?
    posted by matthewr at 3:28 PM on January 2, 2009


    (Seems not).
    posted by matthewr at 3:29 PM on January 2, 2009


    Not yet. I think it's pretty much ready to launch, but it's been a busy week and the holidays to boot.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 3:52 PM on January 2, 2009


    I could use this right now.
    posted by smackfu at 5:13 PM on January 6, 2009


    Chuckles: "I haven't been following too closely but.. Well, it seems that edits are actually quite pointless. All you really need is a remove button that places the removed comment back in the new comment text entry field. If you feel you need to edit, remove, and keep working.

    Or is that the current state of the feature already? :P
    "

    This is an interesting idea and should be considered -- I don't think I've ever seen a comment-editing system that works like this. Deleting and then posting a fresh comment seems much simpler than editing an existing one, and takes care of the question of how to mark edited comments (you don't). It'd also provide a small incentive to get it right the first time, as it effectively bumps the comment down in a fast-moving thread. It would also mess with the chronology, I guess, but that's a problem with any editing system.
    posted by Rhaomi at 11:41 PM on January 6, 2009


    It would also mess with the chronology, I guess, but that's a problem with any editing system.

    That's something we're specifically trying to avoid with this system. If the changes are going to be small corrections, and aren't acting on new information in the thread, I don't think it makes sense to bump them down to the bottom. The chronology of posts is very important here, and editing in place leaves the timeline intact. If people could free-edit forever, then deleting/re-commenting makes more sense. But we're acting on the premise that a three minute window isn't enough time in most cases to act on new information.
    posted by pb (staff) at 11:09 AM on January 7, 2009


    If people could free-edit forever, then deleting/re-commenting makes more sense.

    I don't think that particular point is true at all. If the window is 3 minutes, a delete and re-comment isn't likely to move more than one or two places, even in a busy thread. And, when comments are coming in faster than one per minute, we are talking about an entirely different kind of thread from the norm, and I'm not sure editing is particularly relevant in those cases.

    It is exactly when the time window gets long that delete and re-comment stops working, because it completely rearranges the thread order.
    posted by Chuckles at 11:25 AM on January 7, 2009


    A comment moving within the chronology is a bigger and more counter-intuitive notion than an in-place edit compared to the current mefi model. Edit-in-place (with the possibility that some one might elect personally to remove, rework, and repost later on if the situation fits that workflow for some reason) seems to me like a less jarring way to go, and it's pretty much what we're set on at least for now.
    posted by cortex (staff) at 11:31 AM on January 7, 2009


    It is exactly when the time window gets long that delete and re-comment stops working, because it completely rearranges the thread order.

    But if your edit is incorporating fresh information from the thread, it should go to the bottom in my mind because it's now "new" in the timeline. If you read a post that says, "...and in reply to John five minutes from when I posted this..." you're in messed-up chronological territory.
    posted by pb (staff) at 11:31 AM on January 7, 2009


    Well, you could just add threaded discussion.
    posted by Artw at 11:38 AM on January 7, 2009


    *kills Artw, hides the body*
    posted by cortex (staff) at 11:59 AM on January 7, 2009 [2 favorites]


    Adding threads is easy!

    i'd tap that ... but i might die
    posted by fantabulous timewaster at 9:09 PM on January 7, 2009


    Well, you could just add threaded discussion.
    *kills Artw, hides the body*


    Don't knock it, look where it got LiveJournal.
    posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:55 PM on January 7, 2009


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