What say ye of the edit window? January 26, 2011 5:41 PM   Subscribe

What, dear friends, of the edit window?

This is something we've discussed in MetaTalk a few times over the past couple of years. We've also tried it out at least once in a thread dedicated to the purpose. Has there been any evolution in the mod perspective on this pretty pony, or has he been put out to pasture permanently?
posted by killdevil to Feature Requests at 5:41 PM (185 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

[ND¢ removed this comment 1 minute ago]
posted by ND¢ at 5:43 PM on January 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


We're all imperfect. Editing is for those who can't tolerate this.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:45 PM on January 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's never going to hpapen.
posted by Faint of Butt at 5:51 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


We're all imperfect.

Especially the taters.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:52 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why not just remove the "Post Comment" button?
posted by doublehappy at 5:59 PM on January 26, 2011


Did you know that every member has their own editor custom built just for them? All you have to do is hit the "preview" button instead of the "post" button!
posted by klangklangston at 6:02 PM on January 26, 2011 [3 favorites]




Again I will note that I hate the idea; I like the fact that our only edit window is our own restraint.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:16 PM on January 26, 2011 [14 favorites]


How about a dialog box that appears when you hit the post button: "It looks like your post consists solely of a spelling or apostrophe correction. Mefites understand that people sometimes make typo and won't judge you for it. Are you sure you want to do this? Y/N"
posted by Maximian at 6:17 PM on January 26, 2011


In Soviet Russia windows edit you.
posted by special-k at 6:17 PM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I still hate this idea.
posted by aubilenon at 6:18 PM on January 26, 2011


Every time this topic comes up, yet again, it reminds me of Lud and Marie discussing the cake. My position is pretty much identical to the daughter's.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:18 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


jessamyn was just saying that maybe it is time to talk about it again.

Yeah, her offhand comment in that thread was what prompted me to make this post.
posted by killdevil at 6:19 PM on January 26, 2011


I think it's a great idea.

[edited by xbonesgt at 21:18]
[edited by xbonesgt at 21:18]
[edited by xbonesgt at 21:19]

posted by xbonesgt at 6:19 PM on January 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


We need a preview button.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:19 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Take pride in what you contribue to MetaFilter, and I'm sure you'll find your comments and posts have fewer errors.
posted by carsonb at 6:20 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


What carsonb said. Its ok. You winsome and other comment's just plain sound wired.
posted by special-k at 6:23 PM on January 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I can hash this out tomorrow with pb and show the implementation to team mod to discuss. I think it would be a good time to revisit it, but we need to try it in practice.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 6:24 PM on January 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


They're is absolutely know reason for an edit window.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:29 PM on January 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


I don't want an edit function, as long as we can all agree that making comments to specifically correct someone else's grammar is the height of assholery. It's seriously douchetastic.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:31 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


jessamyn was just saying that maybe it is time to talk about it again.

If there were an edit window, she would have deleted that comment shortly after posting it.
posted by The World Famous at 6:36 PM on January 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


So... is there any chance that we could display the "latest" edit by default, but add a button that shows the previous version? Or even just a delta in diff format?

I think one of the lovliest things about this site is that the public record is the record. I don't want to lose that. But, on the other hand, it might be nice to be able to fix typos and whatnot.

So, I vote for a "show diff" button.
posted by Netzapper at 6:37 PM on January 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


I like the fact that our only edit window is our own restraint.

If we had an edit window that comment could've read "I like the fact that our only edit window is our own oily taint" for TWO AND A HALF SWEET, SWEET MINUTES. Only the super-l33t livebloggers would get the joke.

Seriously, I don't understand why folks can't take thirty seconds and dump comments into Word or whatever to spellcheck them if it's a concern. The occasional typo reminds me that we're all made of people and not robot parts.
posted by mintcake! at 6:42 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm still waiting for my damn pony.
posted by oddman at 6:49 PM on January 26, 2011


Did you know that every member has their own editor custom built just for them? All you have to do is hit the "preview" button instead of the "post" buttontype emacs in a terminal window!
posted by DU at 6:53 PM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


aubilenon: "I still hate this idea."

I still love it. So that's two member who cancel each other out.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:53 PM on January 26, 2011


I'm really not understanding the huge objection to this. Sure, we have spell-Czech, I no. But errors tend to disappear after looking things over in the same format 3 or 4 times. Your brain invents word that should be in intended text, so being able to fix little mistakes or a broken link for a few minutes seems like much ado about nothing. # minutes sounds about right to me.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 6:54 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't particularly like the idea of an edit window, even though I just wrote something on the blue that, after looking back through the thread (in defense, it's a long thread) that made what I wrote just wrong, stupid and wrong. I'll probably get savaged by people for it. I can already see the two or three responses quoting the point that makes me an idiot for posting what I did.

And I still don't want an edit function. We all make mistakes, and hey, it's not that big a deal if you still haven't mastered it's/its*, but I like the public record thing. I like that, by what I write, no matter how well intentioned I thought it was, I'm going to be held accountable for it. It makes me think seriously before hitting post, and I think my comments are better for it, not just here, but also in my daily life.

Aside from all of that, thinking about the void created by deleted comments, especially contentious ones that spawn a whole minithread of responses, where people are asking who dropped what stinkbomb, those would only multiply, I think, with the edit window, unless there was, as mentioned, a way to view previous edits. Without any means to see the real comment, how would we deal with someone who threadshits, gets tons of responses, then edits? Not everyone will do it, but lord, enough will to make it unpleasant. I'm more than willing to bet a meet-up beer that it will happen.

* This is not entirely true. It really is a big deal, and you should really work on that.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:55 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


People do preview and still make mistakes they only notice after posting. You can complain about how people should be even more diligent than they are before clicking post, but guess what? They're not. Nothing is going to change that. However, we could reduce the number of errors on the site by having an edit feature.
posted by John Cohen at 6:55 PM on January 26, 2011


I sometimes wish real life interactions and conversations had an edit window.
posted by kilo hertz at 6:57 PM on January 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


I don't want an edit function, as long as we can all agree that making comments to specifically correct someone else's grammar is the height of assholery.

I was going to say the same thing, only about correcting one's own grammar/spelling. I haven't seen a lot of correcting of other people, but I really hate reading a comment with some minor typo1 that is then followed by a comment filled with loud lamentations and protestations of intelligence. If you are smart, we should be able to see that in the idea of your comment. Anyone trying to pick it out of the spelling are themselves kinda dumb.

1Human language has a lot of redundancy built in. We can tell "and" from "adn" in most contexts. Only correct things that will cause actual ambiguity or a false reading (like leaving out a "not").
posted by DU at 6:58 PM on January 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I have mild dislexia and I can't spell very well even with a computer. A 5 minute edit window isn't going to help, it is just going to make my posts more poorly written than they are now. The fact that I know I will never be able to correct a comment is probably a good thing.
posted by humanfont at 7:02 PM on January 26, 2011


We're all imperfect. Editing is for those who can't tolerate this.

You haven't met our vile, snarky typo trolls? Heading off those fuckers would be why I'd want it.
posted by Artw at 7:04 PM on January 26, 2011


I love the heart-pounding risk of knowing that if I make a mistake it will live on forever.

*proofread ten times*

Looks good.

*post*

Argh.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:05 PM on January 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


Yesterday I learned that in Skype if you type a message

Boodle is a dog

And then in your next message you type

/s/boodle/beasley/

The change will appear to the other user in the previous message, so that they now see one message from you,

beasley is a dog

This is also how it will appear in their log. It's a neat feature but it bugs me that it can be abused.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:09 PM on January 26, 2011 [16 favorites]


I'f you was smartlike me, you woudnt make tpyos.
posted by lollusc at 7:09 PM on January 26, 2011


Gah, you know what? Everything we're going to say here has already been said in one of the previous MeTas discussing this. I promise not to use it for dickery if it happens. Caveat emptor.
posted by mintcake! at 7:18 PM on January 26, 2011


Spell check. Reminds me of the time our General Manager sent an "edited" memo to our clients with the remark, "We are sorry for any incontinence this may have caused you". He spent long time living it down to size.

I picture a Mr. Potato Head figure pleading, tapping on the screen, begging for an audience as an online edit character.
posted by effluvia at 7:19 PM on January 26, 2011


If the edit window does get implemented, I hope people don't treat mistakes as proof as stupidity, 'cause hey, you could have edited it, AMIRITE.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:24 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


We put in an edit feature on SportsFilter several years ago, and it works fine without people abusing it. Sure, a couple of jokers messed around when the first launched the feature, but self-policing nipped that in the bud. You only had about 30 seconds to a minute to make edits, which was fine for fixing typos or broken links but discouraged wholesale revisions.

I think links in the comments should be checked that URLs are present (and possibly checked to see if they work).
posted by kirkaracha at 7:24 PM on January 26, 2011


whaever people I will never need an edit winsow cause I always trytpe super good.
posted by The Whelk at 7:26 PM on January 26, 2011


All of the hilarious intentional typos are giving me hives. That being said, I like the idea, although I do wonder about how useful it would be. I can only think of one or two times in ten years that I would have used it.
posted by norm at 7:28 PM on January 26, 2011


Learn to overlook stuff like small typos and just make things.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 7:31 PM on January 26, 2011


One thing that might make the edit window work is if there was some subtle indicator of comments that aren't on the record yet. For example, suppose comments made within the last two minutes had a lighter background color. So it's not that the record is less official -- it's just that the record takes a minute or two to gel, and it's visually obvious that there's a comment or two that might change yet.

I actually think it might be a feature rather than a bug if you're encouraged to wait a minute or two before replying to an incendiary comment. If Joe Troublemaker said something that you think is outrageous, but it's still in the light blue rather than the true blue, then why not wait a minute? He might fix his poor phrasing -- or it might turn out after a minute's reflection that you're not as annoyed as you thought you were.

But I haven't read the previous threads on this, so maybe I'm missing something.
posted by jhc at 7:32 PM on January 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


There are many times where I wish I had an edit button. Using the phrase "vinyls" instead of vinyl, for example? Duh. But, alas, my mistake is now on the record.

If anything, Metafilter at least serves as an honest testament to our completely human mistakes. I can live with that.
posted by Askiba at 7:35 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


jhc: "If Joe Troublemaker said something that you think is outrageous, but it's still in the light blue rather than the true blue, then why not wait a minute? He might fix his poor phrasing -- or it might turn out after a minute's reflection that you're not as annoyed as you thought you were."

He actually showed quite a lot of restraint in that SOTU thread. I know I was impressed.
posted by gman at 7:36 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Typos and the occasional hasty word are what make Metafilter "weblog as conversation".

"Comment last edited" labels make for annoying reading... even if the actual flow of conversation isn't disturbed, it's hard to read past them without wondering what was changed. It adds a useless dimension to the conversation.

Vote no on Edit Window 2011.
posted by eddydamascene at 7:39 PM on January 26, 2011


Why not just write something, read it for 3 minutes...then press the "post" button?

Can I run the metafilter pony farm for rejected metatalk ponies? Somebody needs to "take care of them". Coincidentally, I am now making glue.
posted by hal_c_on at 7:41 PM on January 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


hal_c_on: "Can I run the metafilter pony farm for rejected metatalk ponies? Somebody needs to "take care of them". Coincidentally, I am now making glue."

Sure, I guess you can override mathowie on this.
posted by gman at 7:45 PM on January 26, 2011


mathowie writes "I can hash this out tomorrow with pb and show the implementation to team mod to discuss. I think it would be a good time to revisit it, but we need to try it in practice."

As long as the window is kept short I'm indifferent though I'd probably use it occasionally. I do however think the Trial should last all next month so we can call it the Febuary Experiment to be able to compare and contrast with previous experiments.
posted by Mitheral at 7:46 PM on January 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why not just write something, read it for 3 minutes...then press the "post" button?

People keep saying things like this every time the edit issue comes up. Who is this directed at? You can't seriously think that a significant percentage of Mefites are reading this and are going to take your advice to heart. However people currently use the site is how they use the site, unless/until there's a feature change.
posted by John Cohen at 7:46 PM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was just thinking it seemed a bit early in the year for an Experiment like this. Glad to hear it went well on SportsFilter, but I wonder how much the size of the website impacts how long the gnashing of teeth and joking around lasts.
posted by stoneweaver at 7:48 PM on January 26, 2011


Most of the comments that I would want to change would be because I said something egregiously dumb in a thread, not because of a typo. So unless I could quickly formulate a non-stupid replacement comment within the timeout period, I'd just have to replace the comment with [Octothorpe said something idiotic here and then removed it]. I'd really rather just keep it the way it is now, knowing that my blatherings will be carved in stone as soon as I hit Post.
posted by octothorpe at 7:55 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


"People do preview and still make mistakes they only notice after posting. You can complain about how people should be even more diligent than they are before clicking post, but guess what? They're not. Nothing is going to change that. However, we could reduce the number of errors on the site by having an edit feature."

Le eye roll.

A) An edit window will still not eliminate all typos. The edit window won't be universally used, typos may be caught after the window is closed, etc.

B) Two remedies already exist: Either previewing first (if a member is truly afraid of making a mistake), or commenting afterwards to clarify a mistake.

C) We could also reduce the number of errors by reinstating the mandatory preview.

As the edit window would not eliminate all typos, and because anyone concerned already has two methods of preventing typos or mitigating their harm, there is not a serious need for an edit window. It's a lovely whim to throw out, and certainly if Matt or pb feel like coding it, I'm sure it would be welcomed (and not cause that much of a problem).

But guess what? It's not a real problem!
posted by klangklangston at 7:59 PM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't like edit windows. Posting something to the tubes and then having to live with it is like having one of those little guys who used to ride around with Caesar, reminding him that he was mortal. And then Caesar would have the little guy's head cut off and mounted on a pike; but that would just remind him even more, so he would buy a fiddle and burn it, and then go to an orgy, and everything would be all right. Or something.
posted by steambadger at 8:01 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why is there no edit window? Why?
posted by steambadger at 8:02 PM on January 26, 2011


I see that some users are conflating editing with deleting. As it would never occur to me to delete something, I guess I hadn't thought about that part of it. I'd assumed people would use it fix typos and shit like that, not commit complete carnage what they said. Because that's just weak. OK, I stand corrected. Screw the edit window then, you frikken little delete-happy babies.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 8:03 PM on January 26, 2011


We need this feature instead.
posted by fatbird at 8:05 PM on January 26, 2011


If there were an edit window, she would have deleted that comment shortly after posting it.

I can already edit/delete my own comments. The fact that we tend to edit our own typos is what makes us keep feeling that it would be a nice tool for users to have. That said, the concern [my concern] is that people would make the same number of typos and beg us to fix them, except that it would be because they'd missed the edit window, not because they didn't have one. In other words, I think the problem is people who are excessively concerned about minor typos and I don't think having an edit window for them will make enough of a difference to lessen our typo-fixing workload. I'd be happy to be wrong.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:13 PM on January 26, 2011


It's actually to you guys' credit that you don't edit/delete your comments that often.

I can think of three or four times, tops, when I really, really, wished I could edit or delete a comment, and on at least one of those occasions I asked politely if I could have a very stupid thing deleted, and it was. Realistically, a lot of us may think we want or need the power to do this, but it just doesn't happen that often in reality to warrant such a big change in the way this place works.

Um, IMHO.
posted by Curious Artificer at 8:30 PM on January 26, 2011


Why shouldn't clicking the "Post Comment" button be a lifetime commitment?

Participating on MetaFilter is serious business.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:57 PM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


No edit window! However, if you click on any "its" or "it's" in any of your own posts or comments, it should be changed to the other.
posted by nicwolff at 8:58 PM on January 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


I dont really think an edit window is necessary. Wouldn't it just raise the typos bar higher than it already is? I can handle the unmerciful copyedit snark now because we can't fix things. If we could I might develop a complex.
posted by Glibpaxman at 9:10 PM on January 26, 2011


Can mine be a French window please?
posted by unliteral at 9:21 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Merci beaucoup
posted by unliteral at 9:22 PM on January 26, 2011


Edit window, not interested. Mandatory preview would help head off some of the confusion/snark when you've not refreshed for a while before you post and then find yourself off track.
posted by arcticseal at 9:23 PM on January 26, 2011


Another vote against . . . one great thing about this site that distinguishes it from similar sites with edit windows is that when I read down a thread I know that whatever is there is what the posters originally wrote. A charged, contentious discussion full of crosstalk and smaller sub-conversations is difficult enough to follow without having to take into account the possibility that user B is responding to a comment user A made that isn't there anymore, or has been rephrased, etc. As if it's not enough of a challenge now to keep threads from bogging down in meta-derails.

Conversations among semi-strangers about complex subjects can involve some back and forth about phrasing, definition of terms, word choices, just so you can understand exactly where the other participants are coming from. Adding an extra layer of ambiguity to this sounds like a really bad idea, and the benefit is what, avoiding typos? That's not enough benefit to outweigh the headaches.
posted by chaff at 9:24 PM on January 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


I want to see what happens if this IS implemented. My guess is that the people who make typos will take longer than 3 minutes to figure it out. I do see people editing their comments with less than honorable intentions.

But I'm curious to see what actually happens.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:01 PM on January 26, 2011


Why not just write something, read it for 3 minutes...then press the "post" button?

There is nothing to take issue with in this statement ... except perhaps the three dots [...]. Correct presentation would leave a space both before the first dot, and after the third ... but then, as an old Creative Writing Prof once pointed out to me (more than once), "It's damned sloppy to use the three dots anywhere in you're writing. It reeks of TYPING as opposed to writing, AND WE ARE WRITERS HERE."

By the way, that "you're" in there where I meant to say "your" -- that's my most common fuck-up. Happens with they're and their/there, too. I know the correct application. I just get it wrong roughly half the time. So my pony, to be attached to the PREVIEW function, would be some kind of indicator along the lines of ... "You have used they're in your comment. Please double-check that you don't mean there or their." I'd pay an extra five bucks for that one.
posted by philip-random at 10:10 PM on January 26, 2011


What if only the commenter could see the comment for three minutes and could edit it at will during that time, but nobody else would see it? A self-reversing hellban? Oh wait, that's what preview does.

Maybe make it a game of chance - you can edit your comment but only until the next person posts their comment. Of course, that would lead to a lot of jokey "[next commenter], you son of a..." comments that wouldn't make any sense later.

I like the idea of hidden diffs that could be revealed by clicking. Or non-destructive editing, where you can add your "oh shit, I meant its, not it's" right there, instead of in a later comment. That might be a decent compromise.
posted by ctmf at 10:25 PM on January 26, 2011


I was for it before I was against it.
posted by cashman at 10:29 PM on January 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thousands of people read what you write here.
posted by vapidave at 10:30 PM on January 26, 2011


I want the edit window.

Seriously, if you don't want it you don't have to use it. It's not going to lead to the sky falling. 24 hours after it's put in,and you won't even notice the button if you're not using it.

Really wish the neanderthal reactionaries would just put down the stone clubs and go headbutt a mammoth instead of beating the ground and bellowing "OOG NO LIKE CHANGE."
posted by TheophileEscargot at 10:59 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Counterpoint: Thag believe fire mixed blessing.
posted by klangklangston at 11:13 PM on January 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yesterday I learned that in Skype if you type a message
Boodle is a dog
And then in your next message you type
/s/boodle/beasley/
The change will appear to the other user in the previous message, so that they now see one message from you,
beasley is a dog


I wouldn't worry about it. There aren't all that many dogs named Boodle. Or Beasley, for that matter.
posted by pracowity at 11:39 PM on January 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oog allowed rebuttal?

It's not that I'm averse to change, it's that the change is unneccesary, and can (and almost certainly will be) exploited by people who will threadshit, stir things up, then change their comment to something else, if for nothing else than the lulz of it. Typo? Not the end of the world. Did you make a mistake, or leave out a word that changes the meaning? If it's all that important, make a quick comment to that effect. Why enable someone to throw out shitty comments and then just erase them? Sure, it's the internet, but why take away having to be responsible for what you write?

As a wiser Mefite said, it would be nice if we could treat this place as if it was a conversation in Matt's living room. Taking a dump on the coffee table isn't something you get to take back, at least not in polite company.
posted by Ghidorah at 12:25 AM on January 27, 2011


I have been here a long time and the lack of an edit button hasn't stood out to me as a glaring omission. I don't know why perople want it so badly.
posted by Mikey-San at 12:39 AM on January 27, 2011


I pity the fool who thinks he can make a threadshitting comment and use the edit feature to cover it up. The hammer of justice will be swift, strong, and unyielding.
posted by 0xFCAF at 12:46 AM on January 27, 2011


Why enable someone to throw out shitty comments and then just erase them?

I suppose that's possible, but I'm sure that sort of sneaky shit-stirring would be noted and punished.

It's probably more likely that people would want to retract things they said in the heat of an argument. If some guy posts "Fuck you, you idiot!" and then retracts that shitty comment, perhaps with a brief apology for losing his head, because he honestly realizes he shouldn't have posted such a shitty comment in the first place, that's not bad, is it?

In any case, though, I don't much care one way or the other on this issue. I'm used to having no edits and I would get used to having them.
posted by pracowity at 12:48 AM on January 27, 2011


The hammer of justice will be swift, strong, and unyielding.

And unisex.
posted by maqsarian at 12:54 AM on January 27, 2011


You people that are upset by people being able to fix their typos do not make any sense to me.

Can you type out, in a lot of words, why exactly it would be bad?

As it is, I think it's a selfish thing where you don't want lazy fuckers like me having as beautiful a commenting history as you do, because gosh darn it, you work hard on your comments and that just isn't fair!
posted by floam at 12:58 AM on January 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


And the people will edit things to cause trouble concern: editing is possible on the rest of the Internet and it's hardly ever a problem.

Metafilter is one of the best behaved communities I've ever come upon, I think we can handle it. For Pete's sake, the site lets random people post content to its front page, and it's hardly ever used for causing griefy trouble.
posted by floam at 1:05 AM on January 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Another vote for "no edit window, no way."

I like the idea that our comment histories are an accurate preservation of the thoughts we've had while in conversation with other members of the site. And if you fuck up and make a mistake despite a long period of thought and multiple self-edits - eh, let it go. Stumbles like that are part of having a conversation. Enjoy it. The proposed edit window is so short that you won't catch any spelling mistakes you made anyway if you didn't catch it before posting. Not enough time will have elapsed for your mind to be able to look at it with a fresh eye.
posted by Phire at 1:35 AM on January 27, 2011


It's not that I'm averse to change, it's that the change is unneccesary, and can (and almost certainly will be) exploited by people who will threadshit, stir things up, then change their comment to something else, if for nothing else than the lulz of it

There are approximately eight hundred and fifty-seven trillion easier ways for a troll to get lulz than this. I've seen edit features, even without time limits, introduced on other websites. Just like here, there was paranoia about trolls using it somehow, but in real life that didn't happen. If it did happen here, the mods have a record and the banhammer would descend. If it happened a lot, the change could be rolled back. But it won't happen.

Sure it's not necessary to improve the experience of a significant fraction of the userbase while reducing the manual-editing workload of the mods. But it's a good idea.

There doesn't seem to be any real argument against it apart from unfocussed paranoia and a malevolent, reactionary, sadistic glee in denying other people something they want by stirring up an utterly disproportionate shitstorm of protest every time the issue is raised.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 2:18 AM on January 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Personally, I'm taking longer writing, reviewing and pre-editing my contributions here than ever before, with about the same number of "D'oh!s" occurring after I hit the POST button as ever. This either means that errors are unavoidable or I am developing early onset Alzheimer's. But since ALL of us are getting older, but not necessarily wiser, I'd say it's more valuable now than it was when MeFi began. Just include a 'filter' preventing anyone from using it to add the words "Now get off my lawn".

All seriousness aside, I like the feature and am getting closer every year to NEEDING it. Do it, please.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:03 AM on January 27, 2011


unfocussed paranoia and a malevolent, reactionary, sadistic glee

Maybe a little unfocused paranoia -- there's a lot of that going around here and elsewhere -- but do you really think "a malevolent, reactionary, sadistic glee in denying other people something they want" is behind objections to adding an edit window to a popular multiuser blog? It couldn't just be, for example, a strong interest in user interface design or in not fixing what ain't broke? Or am I missing the joke?

By the way, I have another suggestion: we make each post and comment a wiki entry that any member can edit. I post a comment and you actually fix it for me. Everyone has a certain window of time within which to fix it, or to fix the fix, or to fix the fix to the fix.

But also: each fix makes a branch that leaves the original untouched, so that we can choose to follow the branch we like best.
posted by pracowity at 3:27 AM on January 27, 2011


An edit window would introduce this interesting new bit of social dynamic, whereby only the people who make typos and don't bother to correct them will be known/transparent to others. It's one of those markers we take in about our understandings of how people behavior around here without even realising. The same way we know who favorites/comments a lot or in certain topics, or who often posts from mobile devices (lowercase comment starts and other tells) or who uses what quote style and what it says about them and their investment in the discussion or site. This all goes back to the different ways we all orientate to and cooperate with others online. I do wonder what comments left typo-ridden will come to mean, however seemingly insignificant, imperceptable and/or pedantic.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:29 AM on January 27, 2011


That said, the concern [my concern] is that people would make the same number of typos and beg us to fix them, except that it would be because they'd missed the edit window, not because they didn't have one. In other words, I think the problem is people who are excessively concerned about minor typos and I don't think having an edit window for them will make enough of a difference to lessen our typo-fixing workload.

There's some length of time that would eliminate most of those; why not just choose that as the window?
posted by John Cohen at 4:56 AM on January 27, 2011


Do not want. The permanence of comments here is one of the things that sets MeFi apart from messageboards. And come to think of it, on most blogs (Wordpress, Blogger, etc.), comments are not editable by the commenters after the fact, right? And just how pervasive is this supposed "typo trolling" mentioned by ArtW?
posted by Gator at 5:04 AM on January 27, 2011


I don't want an edit function, as long as we can all agree that making comments to specifically correct someone else's grammar is the height of assholery.

"So long as" would work better here.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:07 AM on January 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am opposed to this pony. If it were my pony, I would sell it to a glue factory.
posted by Aizkolari at 5:32 AM on January 27, 2011


Netzapper: "So... is there any chance that we could display the "latest" edit by default, but add a button that shows the previous version? Or even just a delta in diff format?"

I like this idea, and no one else has brought it up so I'm pulling it out again.
posted by theichibun at 5:46 AM on January 27, 2011


As a person who makes typos and only seems to catch them after posting, I'd be fine with NOT having an edit window. To me, Metafilter is a casual place, not classroom where we're being graded. Anything that tilts the balance to that classroom like setting is something to be discouraged in my opinion.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:52 AM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Amazing that we trust people to post stuff to the front page without prior review but people can't be trusted with an edit feature.
posted by smackfu at 6:07 AM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's easy to say that during peacetime, but you have to wonder how the edit feature would add to the moderation headache of dealing with the next fast-moving monstrous fighty Palin/Assange/miscellaneous outragefilter post that hits the Blue.
posted by Gator at 6:12 AM on January 27, 2011


Amazing that we trust people to post stuff to the front page without prior review but people can't be trusted with an edit feature.

You're equating two separate things. The site is moderated, however lightly and there are far more comments that posts, so adding an edit feature for comments is understandably giving the moderators pause

Of course, if comments do get an X minute edit window, it won't be long before people will be wanting the same for posts.

I'm just gonna go ahead and give the mods a hug, 'cause it sounds like they're going to need it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:15 AM on January 27, 2011


I equate them because I think trust is trust. Either you trust the users or you don't.
posted by smackfu at 6:23 AM on January 27, 2011


Interesting thought, but they're fundamentally different modes of communication. For instance, though rare, and definitely discouraged, it's not unknown for people to say "fuck you" in comments. That's never, to my knowledge, happened with a post.

A post is sort of open letter to a bunch of people. Comments are often aimed at specific people.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:36 AM on January 27, 2011



We're all imperfect.

Especially the taters.



Add some seasoning.
posted by jgirl at 6:47 AM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


is there any chance that we could display the "latest" edit by default, but add a button that shows the previous version? Or even just a delta in diff format?

I'm pretty strongly opposed to do anything like that, personally. If we were to roll out the edit feature, I'd want it to be non-distracting as possible while still providing accountability, which means:

- folks trust each other to use the features responsibly (i.e. to fix typos, not to pull revisionist pranks)
- folks trust the mods to keep an eye out for abuse
- the edit feature itself does not become a subtopic of normal thread discussions

Which to my mind comes down to not having diffs publicly available for disruptive metadiscussion. If we roll it out, I guarantee you that we will watch for problems carefully and deal promptly with anything resembling abuse of the intended spirit of the feature. If folks need to discuss the edit feature's use/ethics/etc they can start a metatalk thread about it like any other policy issue. People chattering in-thread about what's in the diffs or who did or didn't edit a comment is pretty much a non-starter and would be as good a reason as any for us not to roll it out in the first place.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:38 AM on January 27, 2011


Well, with cortex's weigh in... I'm officially against the idea.
posted by Netzapper at 7:53 AM on January 27, 2011


I have odd, conflicting feelings about edit pony. I want it when I forget to close HTML tags, but I also like the sense of permanent imperfection that is the Collected Work of MeFites.

The possibility of pranking and (for lack of a better term) accusatory reading of That MeFite Who Is Always Wrong 's comments? I don't think it'd be a huge problem, but I wonder if it would be one of those low-grade issues that burble up in MeTa and make for uneasy callouts.
posted by catlet at 7:56 AM on January 27, 2011


The main reason I would like a short edit window isn't that I post here carelessly but precisely because I do not. Most of the mistakes I make happen because I've gone back and groomed and pruned my comment several times, and I wind up with some small bit that made sense during Edit #3 but not so much in Edit #7.
posted by rollbiz at 7:57 AM on January 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Speaking of MeTa, GAAAAAAH. Now I'm picturing how the edit feature would "enhance" both the grar and the goofery that occurs in this gloves-are-always-off part of the site.
posted by Gator at 7:59 AM on January 27, 2011


If the edit window does get allowed, I don't suppose that there could be a daily/weekly limit? Hey, how about you get one ask, or edit per week. Use them wisely.

Also, I'd like to request that if the edit window is allow, it's purely on comments only. Sorry to Team Mod for then having to go back for any edits needed on FPP and asks, but really, people should be putting reasonable, good faith effort especially into those before hitting post.

The main thing that I dislike about the edit filter, is we've got people complaining that they can't be bothered to try to hit a button to linkify a link when posting on their phone. If people can then go edit crazy, the fear is that lazy will become lazier.
posted by nobeagle at 7:59 AM on January 27, 2011


I equate them because I think trust is trust. Either you trust the users or you don't.

We trust mefites. We trust them enough that, on a high-traffic site where the incentives for pulling crap (whether for lulz or for profit) are considerable, we let them comment and even post to the front page without prior approval. My default assumption about any given member of this place is that they have good intentions and will behave well and justify that trust. It's a nice assumption to be able to make.

But we also do a fair amount of work to deal with the small minority of cases where for one reason or another that trust is violated. A lot of that is just wrangling spam to keep it off the front page and out of the askme archives; some of it is trying to work with new people or aggro people or chemically altered people or people just plain flipping out, who for whatever reason really badly failing to keep their "participate in good faith with the community" part of the deal. Some of it is looking at how we can, as community guides and policymakers, help undercut or prevent outright one or another kind of problematic behavior in the least disruptive way.

So: an editing feature. I trust people here in general to use it in good faith and not be weird about it. I don't trust absolutely everyone to do that all of the time, and think we'd be fools not to keep clear and robust records of its use so we can deal with the folks who violate that trust.

I think beyond just outright bad behavior (which I'm guessing would be very rare) there'd also be confused or borderline behavior (someone using it a lot more than we'd expect; someone making content changes broader than what we'd want to see; someone using it in fast moving threads in a way that causes distractions even if the intent was entirely neutral; who knows what else). We'd need to be able to keep an eye on that and help with some gentle nudging to get folks back in line with what we see as unimpeachable use of the feature.

And beyond that there's a basic site culture question: even if everyone is basically using it well and in good faith, does the introduction of this new thing present a potential shift in how people relate to the site? Does mutability change something essential, or would it just be a tiny ripple in the fabric of conversation here? And that's a big question and one I don't feel like any of us can answer solidly. My fear is that it could weird things up. My hope is that it would be a total non-issue. My practical reaction is to say, okay, if we're gonna do it let's just keep it as simple and as low-profile and non-distracting as we can, and see what happens.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:05 AM on January 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


If the edit window does get allowed, I don't suppose that there could be a daily/weekly limit? Hey, how about you get one ask, or edit per week. Use them wisely.

Why would you not want someone making multiple edits per week?
posted by floam at 8:05 AM on January 27, 2011


I vote no.

Over time I think edits would encourage faster commenting, and a lot of the value here is that repartee is accompanied by considered opinion.
posted by Mngo at 8:09 AM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


If the edit window does get allowed, I don't suppose that there could be a daily/weekly limit? Hey, how about you get one ask, or edit per week. Use them wisely.

I think that's something we'd have to size up once we see it in action. I agree with the general notion of "use it wisely" but I have no idea what that number would be, or how to enforce a limit across a bunch of users with very different comment activity profiles, etc.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:11 AM on January 27, 2011


My job involves careful editing of other people's lengthy technical papers and I'm so used to to re-drafting with every nano-change tracked that I seem to have completely lost the ability to articulate my own thoughts coherently and edit them for recreational purposes. Hence the mortification experienced almost every time I read what I've just this second posted. However, the finickity nit-picking of my own comments is probably best avoided for sanity's sake. Edit windows just exacerbate the face-palm potential...
posted by freya_lamb at 8:14 AM on January 27, 2011


You know, with all the caveats and what ifs and what not, I'm inclined to vote no on adding the feature at this point and just keep on doing what we've been doing, i.e. being human.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:15 AM on January 27, 2011


I have been pro edit window for, sheesh, years now.

I think people are overestimating the abuse factor. Frame and enforce it as a brief window within which you can fix minor typo/braino things (spelling, mismatched case, broken links, malformed html, etc) and that is what it will be. Of course there will be occasional bad uses of it, and the mods will squish them. On balance I reckon it will be the same amount of hassle for them as not having it is, with the benefit that a LOT of people will find it useful and it will remove some grar from their day. MY day. I'd never contact a mod to fix a typo but I'd love love love to be able to fix them myself.

And, yes, admittedly there will be a healthy bump in mod-hassle as it gets off the ground.

But as it is any member can post any thing to the front page, live and unfettered. But the culture and enforcement keep shenanigans down, and mostly limited to brief (but sadly frequent) spam style dumbassery. That will not be a factor in this. I predict a few proof-of-concept style LULZ early on, frowned upon ferociously, and then no significant issues.

Frame it right, enforce it right, and add a few safeguards (time limit, percent change) and it'll be breezy.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:24 AM on January 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


floam: The limit wouldn't necessarily need to be one, but I think that a limit would be good, for preventing people from getting too lazy. As well, if there are borderline edits, then it would make life easier for the mods in the borderline edits, or the users who need to know that it should be typos only, etc.

If nothing else, if someone just thinks "I can always edit later" they might be see a lower bar to hitting post; and possibly even use post as the new preview. If someone really needs 100 edits a day, then I think they're using metafilter wrong. And we're all adults. Yes, it bother's me when someone uses their/they're/there incorrectly (and its/it's). But I can deal with it, and I don't need to shit in a thread to "educate" someone about grammar.

I strongly vote no on this.

dirtdirt: maybe ask the mods how much they're anticipating an Apple thread with unlimited edit windows ?

Could I ask for a pony to add video, audio, and lambda calculus captchas to those posting via the mobile site?</hamburger>
posted by nobeagle at 8:29 AM on January 27, 2011


dirtdirt: maybe ask the mods how much they're anticipating an Apple thread with unlimited edit windows ?

I do not endorse an unlimited window, nor do I endorse editing for content. If people attempt to use it for substream backchannel grabbassing they get spanked, just like if they post a lot of "fuck you"s.

But I guess they anticipate every Apple thread with barely restrained delight, regardless.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:40 AM on January 27, 2011


nobeagle: Yeah, after rereading what you wrote I see you weren't really advocating a specific number. I can appreciate not wanting people editing every single thing they post. I think I would probably use it 3 or 4 times a week.
posted by floam at 8:43 AM on January 27, 2011


I spend a lot of time worrying over potential comments. I would love an edit window.
posted by janepanic at 8:45 AM on January 27, 2011


Booooooo. No.

The solution to your problem is the Preview button and some self-restraint. And the acceptance that we're all imperfect and occasionally grouchy.
posted by mkultra at 8:48 AM on January 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


dirtdirt: maybe ask the mods how much they're anticipating an Apple thread with unlimited edit windows ?

It would be awesome since maybe some of the worst offenders would get banned.
posted by smackfu at 8:48 AM on January 27, 2011


Also, I think the amount of time the edit window is open should be proportional to the speed at which a thread is progressing somehow. A thread where you post your comment and another doesn't show up for an hour and a thread where you post yours and there's another dozen in just a few minutes seem to me they could use different limits.
posted by floam at 8:49 AM on January 27, 2011


Either you trust the users or you don't.

This is not the case. We trust the users in general, in aggregate, but there are violations of trust that happen either on purpose or by accident, that we can't predict. The site is spammed and gamed by users nearly daily. Most of those people don't stay users for long, but this isn't a simple binary situation. Some people have temporary extentuating circumstances [bad day, crisis, dentist] that turns them into users who temporarily have different primary concerns than the well-being of the site. Totally understandable. So we're really coming from a "trust but verify" situation here.

We can say "don't mess with the edit window for lulz or you get a week off" to try to explain how serious we are about people not goofing with this, but I'm certain there will be well-intentioned people who will use the feature for other than its intended application because they had a good reason at the time. Our jobs, in some ways, are to anticipate these issues and try to mitigate them but not let our fear of user goofery keep us from implementing truly useful things.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 8:52 AM on January 27, 2011


Is there a way to actually vote for this? Has that ever been done at MetaFilter?
posted by marimeko at 8:58 AM on January 27, 2011


The flag system would be an interesting way of "polling" the userbase occasionally (including lurkers and users who aren't inclined to comment in MeTa threads). "Flag as fantastic if you want this feature; flag as derail if you hate the idea; flag as other if you're not sure and leave a comment." You can only flag a post once, and the flaggers' usernames are visible to the mods, so it would be impossible to game the poll (except for sockpuppets, of course, but the mods would likely spot those).
posted by Gator at 9:09 AM on January 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


"or who often posts from mobile devices (lowercase comment starts and other tells)"

Pyramid Termite and Thomcatspike, right?

"we all orientate"

Never mind. I support the edit window.
posted by klangklangston at 9:26 AM on January 27, 2011


Jesus, spellcheck doesn't catch "orientate" but gets all het up about, well, het up for one!?
posted by klangklangston at 9:27 AM on January 27, 2011


I used to be against this, but having used and appreciated it on other sites I think it should be tried out here. If it causes trouble for the mods, it can be withdrawn. I do not think it likely there would be a lot of troublemakers, but of course none of us knows.
posted by languagehat at 9:34 AM on January 27, 2011


We trust the users in general, in aggregate, but there are violations of trust that happen either on purpose or by accident, that we can't predict.

Maybe a better statement would be: "Assume good faith, punish if abused." This site only works because we assume good faith, but then for this new feature, people aren't willing to extend the same. It's a bit paradoxical.
posted by smackfu at 9:36 AM on January 27, 2011


Is there a way to actually vote for this?

Huh? We're set to vote on this tonight, at The Hall of Moderation, after a dinner buffet that includes:

Lobster Bisque with Sherry Cream
Corn dusted brook trout with sweet potato hash and petite greens
Fire roasted chicken SEO breast with wild mushroom orzo and thyme roasted spammers
Blackberry and Zinfandel glazed short ribs of Tao Lin
Snow crab legs with drawn butter
Dauphinoise potatoes and leeks
Petite vegetables with caramelized threadshitters and olive oil
Artesian bread and cheeses with dried fruits, nuts and fig jam

Did you not get the invite?! Have your people call my people and let me know!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:10 AM on January 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm imagining that Superfriends voiceover guy like "Later....at The Hall of Moderation..."
posted by cashman at 10:18 AM on January 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I renew my call for this feature, and I also renew my call for those who can't stand not having this to GTFO, find a stackexchange site for their needs, and shut the hell up already.
posted by jeffamaphone at 11:36 AM on January 27, 2011


I don't want a window, for five or six reasons other people have stated, but it isn't a big deal. I can live with it if you obsessives insist.

(Also, I'm with like rollbiz -- for me at least, editing tends to generates as many more typos as than it eliminates. The last thing I want is I have no interest in the an opportunity to make things even worse.)
posted by tangerine at 11:53 AM on January 27, 2011


I'm imagining that Superfriends voiceover guy like "Later....at The Hall of Moderation..."

That would be Ted Knight (birthname: Tadeusz Konopka) of The Mary Tyler Moore Show fame.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:59 AM on January 27, 2011


I'm on the ledge with this.
posted by deborah at 11:59 AM on January 27, 2011


Why not just write something, read it for 3 minutes...then press the "post" button?

I find that the main reason to post hurriedly, is if you want to respond to the previous comment without quoting it. So maybe a place-holder button that reserves your order in the thread lineup, but gives a few more minutes to form the text?

In the rare case that someone might use it to game a prescient response to the next comment, then so what? Abuse should be flagged and deleted, unless it's really funny.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:07 PM on January 27, 2011


I like the edit window, but I'm a personal nit-picker. I obsess over little things, live in my head, and regret when my comments are unclear or misleading.

My suggestions for implementation:

1. limited window of time for editing (maybe include a timer if a post edit window is open?)
2. tagline altered (ex: posted by filthy light thief at 11:59 AM (edited at 12:01 PM) on January 27 [+] [!])
3. log of edits for mod-view only (I think there's already a mod-view for deleted comments, right?) to be able to check shady edits.
4. no limit on alterations of text.
5. guidelines for edits (only idea so far: don't write something you would normally get warned or banned for, and deleted it before the window closes, or you'll get the normal treatment)
bonus: pre-formatted self-censoring options [wrong thread, incorrect statement, I was being a jerk] where the comment is deleted and replaced with with the according statement: comment deleted, [wrong thread/ ignore me/ sorry] or something like that.

I don't like the idea of a percentage limit, because if you say something that you instantly regret, you shouldn't have to try and re-phrase it to make it fit an arbitrary limit, though it would be amusing to see such attempts:

I actually know far more about this subject than I think you can imagine becomes I actually know more about this subject than I think you realize, with only 12 letters deleted or altered (give or take a few, depending on how you count letters deleted).
posted by filthy light thief at 12:16 PM on January 27, 2011


I am all for it.

(The combination of mild dyslexia and some diminished fine motor skills from MS means that the previous sentence was rendered as I amm for it, I amnall for it, I am al for ti before reaching the form you see now. You can see my interest in making my thoughts coherent for my fellow mefites, if it's all the same to you.)
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:18 PM on January 27, 2011


BB, any MeFi-related buffet requires portabellas, pancakes, beans, and taters. It's in the bylaws.
posted by mkultra at 12:55 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not crazy about the edit window. I have plenty of comments with typos (or just plain dumb comments), but knowing that "post" means, with much finality and pomp, "post," keeps me on my chitinous, hoof-like toes.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:08 PM on January 27, 2011


I am very opposed to having an edit window. It has the potential of undermining the integrity of this site.

The preview button provides a non-disruptive way for people to edit their posts/comments.

I do not understand why an additional solution needs to be implemented when the existing process can achieve the same result.

Assuming good faith knowing that there are already people here who do things in bad faith seems to be asking for trouble. IMHO the potential risks far outweigh the benefits.
posted by garypratt at 7:31 PM on January 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


WORTH REPEATING:

I do not understand why an additional solution needs to be implemented when the existing process can achieve the same result.

No doubt, the EDIT window will catch some mistakes, but not all. It will satisfy the more fastidious of us, but also throw some confusion into the mix, which will inevitably rankle the mods. Having seen how deranged metas can get even when everything everyone actually wrote and published is currently on view, it's not unrealistic to imagine some seriously mad drama.

Net-gain doesn't feel worth the trouble, but this site likes to try shit out and I've been wrong nine times today already, so who knows?
posted by philip-random at 8:10 PM on January 27, 2011


the existing process can achieve the same result.

No, that's not true. The existing process achieves the results it achieves, now. There is no reason to think those results will change if the status quo stays the same.

No one is proposing any mechanism for how the comments are going to become error-free without an editing feature. It's magical thinking.

"Well, if everyone would just..." Yeah, but they don't.

Oh, we do edit our comments before posting. But we're not perfect; we still make mistakes. I regularly re-read my comments before posting. Yet it seems like in half my comments I've left out a crucial word or used an out-of-place word instead of what I meant. So what might have been a useful answer to someone's AskMe question becomes garbled and possibly even misleading to the asker. You can tell me I should take an extra X minutes in addition to what I already spend proofreading. But that is not going to happen. I already proofread before I post, and at a certain point, I'm accepting some risk of error in exchange for moving on to the next thing in my life.

People make mistakes. This will always be the case. When you have a website written by thousands of people who are participating for fun and get to publish instantaneously, there will be cosmetic errors posted to the website even if these are all smart, diligent people. This isn't the worst thing in the world, but the website will be a bit nicer if you allow the errors to be corrected.
posted by John Cohen at 8:36 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can tell me I should take an extra X minutes in addition to what I already spend proofreading. But that is not going to happen.

"I half-tried and gave up, now I want you to make accommodations for me" - The 21st Century American Way
posted by mkultra at 9:59 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


You could use that same argument against the Preview button itself. Maybe they should remove it, after all, those that really take Metafilter seriously know to get it right the first time and not hit any buttons until they're OK with the result!
posted by floam at 10:11 PM on January 27, 2011


Difference is, as long as you keep hitting preview, nobody's going to see it but you.
posted by philip-random at 10:17 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


"<>No one is proposing any mechanism for how the comments are going to become error-free without an editing feature. It's magical thinking.

"Well, if everyone would just..." Yeah, but they don't."

Except that you're just inverting the error — there's a solution that already takes the same amount of effort and people don't use it.

"You can tell me I should take an extra X minutes in addition to what I already spend proofreading."

Unless the edit feature includes time travel (in which case I am all for it), there is no way to correct your mistakes without spending extra time. If the failure of the current system is that it requires extra time from the user, how will that not be the failure of the future system?

Look, I don't want to give the impression that I really care about this on any level. I tend to think that it's likely to be used rarely, once or twice for griefing, and then pretty mundanely, and that questions over ambiguity and authenticity are pretty minor. But you're arguing like our only hopes of transcending the swamp of typos and miscommunications is adding a technological solution that most people still will be too lazy to use.
posted by klangklangston at 10:34 PM on January 27, 2011


adding a technological solution that most people still will be too lazy to use.

That's a different lazy. I doubt anyone hits Post knowing there's a typo. Spending time proofreading requires discipline, you very well may waste your time doing it and not have to make any corrections.

But being too lazy to use the edit feature means you see a problem you caused in the wild but couldn't be bothered to fix it. That's quite different. You don't have to go into an "edit" mode to discover your problem, you simply notice it because it's easier to notice it afterwards, and then you can go and fix it. Do you never have things you notice you messed up after the fact?

For me it is a lot easier to see where you screwed up when a minute has gone by, you see the comment actually on the page in context and your brain has sort of reset a little and isn't ignoring the errors.

This might depend on how people use Metafilter. Me, I Preview if it's a long comment, but pretty much 100% of the time after I post the comment I go and read any new comments since I started. After getting through those, there's yours at the end there and I find it hard not to re-read my own stuff from sort of a detached perspective.
posted by floam at 11:08 PM on January 27, 2011


Just did it now. (And, when you're re-reading your comment after the fact, there's no timer in your head like when you're previewing where you know it's getting longer and longer since the comment you are responding to was posted)
posted by floam at 11:11 PM on January 27, 2011


It would be good to have an edit window and I would never misuse it. It would only be used for brain-farted typos, grammatical errors and awkward turns of phrase which make me cringe to see them later on, I promise.
posted by h00py at 12:07 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


One difference between preview and edit is that you will never catch some things all by yourself with the type-preview-fix-post cycle, but with the type-preview-fix-post-feedback-curse-fix-preview-post cycle can get feedback from others in comments or mail and then act on that feedback. If someone mails you with "Didn't you mean to say that you DON'T approve of skinning live dogs and eating their limbs while their hearts still beat" you can curse aloud, click Edit, and insert the "don't" before it becomes a permanent record.
posted by pracowity at 1:24 AM on January 28, 2011


The window is usually put forth as only lasting a few (3?) minutes. Not enough time for any but the most compulsive on both ends to read comment, email, read email, initiate edit, make changes and save. And if the edit feature does result in this kind of MeMailing then I'm against it.
posted by Mitheral at 5:10 AM on January 28, 2011


Spending time proofreading requires discipline, you very well may waste your time doing it and not have to make any corrections.

It does not follow that if you have no corrections, you've wasted your time.

but with the type-preview-fix-post-feedback-curse-fix-preview-post cycle can get feedback from others in comments or mail and then act on that feedback

Comments referring to other deleted comments are bad enough without comments referring to no-longer-extant deleted text in another comment.
posted by mkultra at 5:22 AM on January 28, 2011


To be clear: for me the edit window is not for changes. It isn't for re-thinking things or for following up, or for placeholding - it is for fixing mechanical mistakes. Repairing unintentionally malformed language. The framing and enforcement of that might be a challenge, and would be the whole ballgame.

"I half-tried and gave up, now I want you to make accommodations for me" - The 21st Century American Way

Jessamyn says above that part of the reason she thinks the edit window is worth looking at is that she finds it useful to edit her own typos. Do you think she is half-trying? Or not using preview enough?

It doesn't seem to matter how many times I hit preview, I still regularly miss an errant apostrophe, or an extra space, or a mismatched case/form thingus. Something about the intensity (such as it is) of composing the comment in a "this is what I mean" way ratchets down the part of my brain that notices those small mechanical details. So I hit post and the "this is what I mean" part powers down and out comes the red pencil.

I don't know why that is, and I wish it were different, but it isn't.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:34 AM on January 28, 2011


One difference between preview and edit is that you will never catch some things all by yourself with the type-preview-fix-post cycle, but with the type-preview-fix-post-feedback-curse-fix-preview-post cycle can get feedback from others in comments or mail and then act on that feedback. If someone mails you with "Didn't you mean to say that you DON'T approve of skinning live dogs and eating their limbs while their hearts still beat" you can curse aloud, click Edit, and insert the "don't" before it becomes a permanent record.

Um, I'm pretty sure that your policy regarding "...skinning live dogs and eating their limbs while their hearts still beat." would be qualified by context, nevermind a typo.

With love: "...type-preview-fix-post cycle, but with the type-preview-fix-post-feedback-curse-fix-preview-post cycle.." suggests to me that you should insert forgiveness somewhere amongst those cycles.

Oh, and never play Nethack.
posted by vapidave at 7:01 AM on January 28, 2011


dirtdirt: "Jessamyn says above that part of the reason she thinks the edit window is worth looking at is that she finds it useful to edit her own typos. Do you think she is half-trying? Or not using preview enough?"

1) Jessamyn's a Mod, so I have absolutely no problem with her having more editing power over her posts. Do I really need to explain to you why this is so?

2) If you read the rest of her comment instead of cherry-picking her words out of context, she goes on to say:
That said, the concern [my concern] is that people would make the same number of typos and beg us to fix them, except that it would be because they'd missed the edit window, not because they didn't have one. In other words, I think the problem is people who are excessively concerned about minor typos and I don't think having an edit window for them will make enough of a difference to lessen our typo-fixing workload. I'd be happy to be wrong.
posted by mkultra at 7:19 AM on January 28, 2011


Every time this topic comes up, yet again, it reminds me of Lud and Marie discussing the cake.

MeTa: PLEASE STOP TALKING ABOUT THAT CAAAAAAKE!
posted by The Bellman at 7:38 AM on January 28, 2011


If I never had to see another "oops, it's not its. It was a typo! I too am a member of the elite class of supra-literate people, I promise!!" comment, it would be too soon. But instead of an edit window, why not just a FAQ entry along the lines of "Everyone makes typing mistakes. Please don't post additional comments just to 'fix' them." People would eventually get the picture, and crude attempts to edit one's own posts and/or attempts to get the mods to do it would go down.

If an edit window really is the best way to reduce moderator workload and avoid these silly typo-fixing posts, then so be it. But I strongly doubt that's the case, for reasons others have noted above.
posted by Maximian at 7:45 AM on January 28, 2011


1) Jessamyn's a Mod, so I have absolutely no problem with her having more editing power over her posts. Do I really need to explain to you why this is so?

My impression is that Jessamyn the user found it useful to have Jessamyn the mod's power to edit typos from time to time, and that she could see where other users would find that power useful as well. All I meant to point out was that you could be a by-all-accounts 'correct' user of MetaFilter and still want to edit a typo. It doesn't mean you aren't trying.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:49 AM on January 28, 2011


My impression is that Jessamyn the user found it useful to have Jessamyn the mod's power...

I would read this comic book.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:08 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Do you never have things you notice you messed up after the fact?"

Yeah, all the time. But it's also a valuable lesson to learn to let these things go.
posted by klangklangston at 8:09 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


After sleeping on it, I would be in favor of a brief edit window on actual POSTS (AskMe, Main page and even here) but not comments.
posted by philip-random at 8:10 AM on January 28, 2011


Can we get this feature for our usernames, with like a 5 year window? I've been regretting signing up in a mirror for at least 2 years now.
posted by owtytrof at 8:35 AM on January 28, 2011


Yeah, it would be really cool if we could morph usernames in a way that would still track back to the original name/account.
Has this pony been requested before?
I will start asking for it on an annual basis.
My new name will be possessiveitshasnoapostrophebutidontcare.
posted by Mngo at 8:49 AM on January 28, 2011


> But instead of an edit window, why not just a FAQ entry along the lines of "Everyone makes typing mistakes. Please don't post additional comments just to 'fix' them." People would eventually get the picture

Are you serious? No, they wouldn't.
posted by languagehat at 9:01 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Has this pony been requested before?

Yes. This is one of those "not going to happen" situations. While the actual name change is trivial in the database, it renders every comment that has quoted the username broken, obscures a user's identity on the site and is flat out a non-starter for a few reasons. People are welcome to close their old account and open a new one and indicate that the new account is a continuation of the old one, but unless you've basicaly never participated on the site at all, we do not change usernames.

Apologies if you were merely kidding with this question.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:02 AM on January 28, 2011


I get why people don't like the idea of an edit window. Really, I see where you are coming from. What I don't get, and never have, is why the idea seems to generate such frothing opposition, DON'T WANT and the like. To the barricades, mon freres!

Do you really think a brief edit window would so drastically change site culture?
posted by Chrysostom at 9:03 AM on January 28, 2011


Do you really think a brief edit window would so drastically change site culture?

We had an experiment with flags, one chilly November that suddenly hot. It was not pretty.

It's completely understand that the mods are moving slowly on this or just say "Oh screw this, I'm going to the beach/bar/bed/bdsm convention".
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:15 AM on January 28, 2011


I've been there. It's ... an experience.
posted by owtytrof at 9:23 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am definitely pro edit window.

That said, I think a lot depends on the implementation. When you have a community that is basically built around a piece of technology, as Metafilter is, how something is implemented might have a great effect on behavior.

Allowing comments to be edited as long as they're the most recent, with some maximum value, seems like an interesting idea. (Although someone could still threadshit, wait a minute, then change it ... hoping that someone would already be in the process of responding to the turd and would hit Post without previewing ... meaning the second person would have to catch the fact that they'd responded to something that was now OBE and edit themselves.)

An ability to see all versions of a post, either inline or by going to some sort of history screen, is pretty important, I think, for accountability / historical reasons. Although I assume that any implementation would let moderators see old versions of posts, if the implementation details aren't too difficult it'd be nice, in a sort of transparency / full-disclosure way, if all users could see all versions of all posts.

I think if you did that, it would keep people honest and keep the mods from having to chase down too much editing misbehavior. If people know that the old version is still going to be around, it discourages changing the overall meaning of a post too much ... and instead encourages people to use the edit window just for grammar / typo / HTML fat-finger corrections. My suspicion is that it would pretty much instantly become bad form to change a post too substantially, and people would get called out for doing it, so the feature would hopefully be self-moderating to an extent.

There are other ways you could keep edits from being too severe (doing some sort of delta and rejecting the edit if it's beyond some limit), but it seems like this is something where a social solution would be better than a technical one, and easier to build.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:37 AM on January 28, 2011


Howabout we just stomp the hell out of the next jerk that corrects someone on it's versus its and hang their body off of the comment text field? That would solve about 99% of the problems edit would.
posted by Artw at 10:03 AM on January 28, 2011


ArtW, seriously, who is doing that?
posted by Gator at 10:04 AM on January 28, 2011


Someone does it in every AskMe or MeFi post I've seen that uses the words incorrectly. We delete those comments whenever we see them. Maybe once a month someone does that? It's rarely the same person.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:26 AM on January 28, 2011


You've never seen anyone do that?
posted by Artw at 10:32 AM on January 28, 2011


Very rarely. I can't think of any I've seen recently. Certainly not to the extent that it's a pervasive problem. If it's happening once a month like jessamyn says, how much of a problem is it, really?
posted by Gator at 10:34 AM on January 28, 2011


How about an edit window that only allows a user to change it's to its and vice versa?
posted by The World Famous at 10:48 AM on January 28, 2011


If it's happening once a month like jessamyn says, how much of a problem is it, really?

This is literally just the its/it's stuff. The tendency of people to correct other people's spelling or other typing accidents on the site [or emailing us about them] happens enough that I consider it a minor annoyance. Mostly it's people asking for us to correct their own typos.

The question we have is whether having an edit window would lessen this minor annoyance or whether the presence of the edit function would just make people even more hyperconscious of small typo-like stuff and actually cause an uptick in "fix my typo" sorts of requests. In my dream world, once we had an edit window people would stop asking us to fix typos because, well, they had their chance. In an actual world, I am certain people will argue that the way the edit window is configured is wrong and they will make the exact same number of typos as before and still want us to fix them.

Which, to be fair, we're happy to do. However when things get busy and/or we're not super available [or only available by phone] fixing 5-10 typos a day gets old quick. Part ofthe problem is that I'm somewhat empathic and so when people email all agitated that they made a mistake. And then email again because maybe we were gone for an hour or something, I feel bad. But ultimately it's people's responsibility to check their own work, for which we have the preview function. But people, myself included, aren't perfect and preview doesn't solve their problems. The open question is: would an edit window? Would it solve enough of a problem that it would be worth the hassle factor in implementing it [where any change introduced to a large commmunity has a degree of hassle associated with it, not this thing in particular]? And I don't know and every time we talk about it, I don't get much of a clearer sense of it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:49 AM on January 28, 2011


Maybe we should just move Metafilter to Github, and set each thread up as a repo. That way, authors could revise all they want, and readers could fork/merge as they see fit.
posted by mkultra at 11:02 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


How about the ability to edit posts, but you see the original content when you move your mouse over an edited section? Or maybe like an expandable arrow that when clicked shows previous changes? And the arrow location is next to the edited section?
posted by antgly at 3:14 PM on January 28, 2011


In an actual world, I am certain people will argue that the way the edit window is configured is wrong and they will make the exact same number of typos as before and still want us to fix them.

I had a prophetic dream and this was one of its many details.
posted by philip-random at 7:34 PM on January 28, 2011


Certainly not to the extent that it's a pervasive problem.

Has anyone ever corrected you, here or in RL? It's a huge dick move. We're not talking about someone tactfully taking you aside or nicely MeMailing you the proper grammar. We're talking about something akin to boastfully pointing out, in front of thousands of people, how you've fucked up. Something that you may already know and perhaps just mistyped. So you can see it's not about correcting someone but more about publicly shaming them and it's reeeaally out of line regardless of how people feel about the suject. Nobody here is five years old, and for some reason some people feel it's perfectly okay to treat people as such for what could be a very innocent and innocuous mistake. I've had it happen to me a couple of times here and I've gotten over it pretty quickly, like I said I make mistakes, but I do remember how much of a dick move it was.
If the argument against an edit function is "hey, we all make mistakes sometimes and we don't need something to confuse people", I'm fine with that and so should all the grammer Nazis. But if the argument is "you have a preview button, thus you should not make mistakes and therefore do not need another function", then screw that weaksauce noise.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:04 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


How about just moderated edits? Edits are sent to the admins and they can accept or reject them.
posted by antgly at 9:39 PM on January 28, 2011


And the same for comments. If it goes against the spirit of the original comment or post then it can be rejected as an edit.
posted by antgly at 9:40 PM on January 28, 2011


How about just moderated edits?

o_O
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:54 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Has anyone ever corrected you, here or in RL? It's a huge dick move.

Of course I agree that it's obnoxious, and it should be discouraged (preferably by people flagging those comments so the mods'll delete them instead of thinking "oh that's not worth flagging"). I just don't see it happening enough on the site to be especially noticeable. By contrast, I see some flavor of that @#$%&* "special snowflake" in AskMe practically every single day.
posted by Gator at 3:54 AM on January 29, 2011


Here's two of the fuckers in quick succession.
posted by Artw at 11:45 PM on February 16, 2011


...Almost three weeks later.
posted by Gator at 2:11 AM on February 17, 2011


...and we deleted them. People should know better.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:57 AM on February 17, 2011


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