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Edit misuse protocol?
January 18, 2013 10:38 AM   Subscribe

As I understand it, the Edit feature is to be used for correcting things like typos, grammar fixes, accidentally leaving out a word, and such. It's not to be used for adding more information or things like that. What, if anything, are we supposed to do when we happen to notice its misuse?

To be clear, I'm not really talking about the abuse of it (like "Screw you you jerk" to some totally calm and reasonable statement), but rather the innocent misuse (like "Hey, what about X?" to "Hey, what about X? And by the way, Y and Z.") And I don't mean this in a "ratting them out" sense; I'm just imagining that the mods might want to drop them a little note explaining that that's not really what the Edit feature is for.

The best "Report" match seems to be "It breaks the guidelines", and of course there's always "Other", but there doesn't really seem to be anything specific. I imagine a specific thing might help to make the issue quickly clear to the mods.

So, do the mods want us to do anything when we notice such things? And if so, what?
posted by Flunkie to Etiquette/Policy at 10:38 AM (197 comments total)

That warning is already on the edit page:
Editing was added October 1st. Please visit MetaTalk to discuss this feature. Here are a few ground rules:
Please don't add/change/delete the content of a comment. This is for typos and small fixes only. Write an additional comment or contact the mods if there's a bigger issue.
Please don't add "edit: [reason for edit]" type notes to your comments. It's distracting and unnecessary.
Take a look at the FAQ about editing for more information.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:39 AM on January 18, 2013


Flag as "It breaks the guidelines".
posted by carsonb at 10:39 AM on January 18, 2013


Then move on.
posted by carsonb at 10:39 AM on January 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


Just don't use it and you don't have to worry if you're using it right.
posted by laconic skeuomorph at 10:43 AM on January 18, 2013


Yeah, flag it and we'll take a look. Depending on the situation I do things like leave a note, revert the comment, and/or drop someone a line if it seems like a Thing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:43 AM on January 18, 2013


Seconding the question because I kinda, sorta, not-really-that-I-cared assumed that this is one of the few places where the mods could have automatic monitoring setup such that they could monitor edits that were more than n characters different from the original.

That combined with the fact that monitoring comments for all but the most egregious edit policy violations, as a user anyway, isn't exactly trivial means I figured policing would fall almost completely on the mods shoulders.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:45 AM on January 18, 2013


I actually ran into a tough call with this comment, where I gave away the answer to the FPP puzzle without knowing it was the answer (I thought you got a different random word each time). After I realized what I had done, I edited the comment to redact it, though knowing it was against at least the letter, if not the spirit, of the edit window rules.

(Yes, I know the remainder of the comment was still spoilery, but I wasn't comfortable axing the whole thing. I probably should have just emailed the mods to delete the comment, but for whatever reason that didn't occur to me.)
posted by eugenen at 10:46 AM on January 18, 2013

Yeah, flag it and we'll take a look.
As "It breaks the guidelines"?
posted by Flunkie at 10:49 AM on January 18, 2013


Yes, that'd be fine.

I probably should have just emailed the mods to delete the comment, but for whatever reason that didn't occur to me.

Yeah, as with most things the best call when in doubt is to just drop us a line and we can hash it out with you.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:50 AM on January 18, 2013


It happens a lot. I can't decide if it's more or less annoying when people actually note their edits.
posted by lalex at 10:51 AM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


cortex: "revert the comment"

Ah yes. Forgot that you can see the edit history.
posted by zarq at 10:54 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have noticed people doing this myself. Which is why I included it as an achievement in the cheevos game! 40 points.

From now on I'll flag it. I wasn't sure the reason I was flagging edited comments would be obvious to mods but I suppose it makes sense that they can easily tell which comments have been edited and of what those edits consisted.
posted by Justinian at 10:54 AM on January 18, 2013


taz left this note on how she handles flags on posts that misuse the edit window.
posted by gladly at 10:57 AM on January 18, 2013


"To be clear, I'm not really talking about the abuse of it (like "Screw you you jerk" to some totally calm and reasonable statement)"

I've used it to de-abuse comments - as in, changing "This is why you're WRONG, YOU STUPID JERK:" to "I disagree, here's why:"

I've also used it to remove links that weren't what I thought they were - my grasp of French isn't that strong.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:05 AM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I hope editing to add clarification re: which comment I am responding to is not a heinous crime because I do that all the time.
posted by elizardbits at 11:16 AM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

I've used it to de-abuse comments - as in, changing "This is why you're WRONG, YOU STUPID JERK:" to "I disagree, here's why:"
I understand the intention, but I think it would be better just to add another comment apologizing. The problem (or at least a problem) with editing it away is that it doesn't necessarily remove jerkiness; rather, it at least potentially misdirects people as to the source of jerkiness. So let's say that I'm having a conversation with X, and X is being reasonable, but I'm being a jerk. So the conversation goes:
X: Blah blah blah, hey, I dunno, reasonable blah blah blah.

Flunkie: YOU JERK
Then I edit it:
X: Blah blah blah, hey, I dunno, reasonable blah blah blah.

Flunkie: I guess I disagree.
In the meantime, X has seen my YOU JERK, and has commented on it:
X: Blah blah blah, hey, I dunno, reasonable blah blah blah.

Flunkie: I guess I disagree.

X: Jesus, Flunkie, no need to be an ass about it.
From the point of view of a third party who never saw my YOU JERK, now X is the jerk, not me. Also, this sort of thing could be easily abused on purpose, and it's probably difficult to tell the "abuse on purpose" cases from the "Boy am I a jerk" cases.
posted by Flunkie at 11:16 AM on January 18, 2013 [9 favorites]


I've used it to de-abuse comments - as in, changing "This is why you're WRONG, YOU STUPID JERK:" to "I disagree, here's why:"

Yeah, I'd assume this type of edit would lead to the comment being removed or reverted based on automatic monitoring of character changes?
posted by lalex at 11:20 AM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


The de-abuse comments seems like a good use, but our problem is that then different people are seeing different things. Some people are seeing "This is why you're WRONG, YOU STUPID JERK," while others are seeing "I disagree, here's why," so some will be responding to one version while others respond / favorite, etc., another, and this becomes a big chaotic mess.

Our guidelines are not because we want to be controlling, but just to preserve normal, sane conversational flow and expectations (ie: I've had complaints from people who favorited a comment, only to find it changed later. It rarely happens, but this is why we have the only-typos-and-minor-edits rule).
posted by taz (staff) at 11:21 AM on January 18, 2013


Flunkie: "In the meantime, X has seen my YOU JERK, and has commented on it:"

Is this happening often?
posted by zarq at 11:22 AM on January 18, 2013


I doubt "often", and I personally have never noticed it here, but I've definitely seen things like that happen every once in a while on other forums that have edit functionality.
posted by Flunkie at 11:25 AM on January 18, 2013


Is this happening often?

I dunno about the "YOU JERK"->"I disagree" edits, but several of the comments I linked to above had edits that either added important new information or substantially changed their meaning.
posted by lalex at 11:29 AM on January 18, 2013


This is for typos and small fixes only.

What are "small fixes"? What are not "small fixes"?
posted by 23skidoo at 11:29 AM on January 18, 2013


There has happily been just about zero of that since we launched the feature, yeah. It's something we want to make sure (a) isn't culturally acceptable and (b) is easily discoverable/verifiable in the odd chance that it does happen, but mostly mefites just know that shit doesn't fly to begin with so it really hasn't been a thing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:30 AM on January 18, 2013


23skidoo: "What are "small fixes"? What are not "small fixes"?"

Just breathe. It'll be OK.
posted by boo_radley at 11:32 AM on January 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


But some of us suffer from "staircase comment", those killer words that we do not think of until we have hit Post.
posted by Cranberry at 11:38 AM on January 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just breathe. It'll be OK.

Ummmm, are you trying to be a jerk to me? I'm just pointing out that the language used to describe how this should be used is leaving itself open to people's interpretations. I'm not all worked up about it.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:40 AM on January 18, 2013


Flunkie: "I doubt "often", and I personally have never noticed it here, but I've definitely seen things like that happen every once in a while on other forums that have edit functionality."

cortex: "There has happily been just about zero of that since we launched the feature, yeah."

*nod* Okay. Thanks. Was wondering.

lalex: " I dunno about the "YOU JERK"->"I disagree" edits, but several of the comments I linked to above had edits that either added important new information or substantially changed their meaning."

Well sure. But since the edit window was released, I've changed a bunch of comments to correct typos in a way that has substantially changed their meaning -- by adding the word "not", for example. As in, "I am a jelly donut." vs. "I am not a jelly donut." :)

Previously, those would have resulted in a pair of comments like these:
dead cousin ted has been busty. His explanation is here.
posted by zarq at 11:34 AM on May 13, 2011


Shit. BUSY. He's been BUSY.

My kingdom for an edit window.
posted by zarq at 11:35 AM on May 13, 2011
So... you know... I look like slightly less of an idiot these days. Just ever so slightly.
posted by zarq at 11:40 AM on January 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Basically, regard it as typos only. Substantive changes, make a new comment. If you have severe commenter's regret, use the contact form and ask us to delete the regretted one.

Flag this stuff if you see it. If someone has left an [EDIT:...] note, it will be clear what you're flagging about, and we'll often drop that person a note behind the scenes even if we don't revert the comment. If it's not clear what you're flagging about, you can always drop a note to the contact form, bottom right corner of every page, letting us know.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:41 AM on January 18, 2013


If it does become a problem, can I suggest that the "edit" link take users to a page that lays out the rules, and then makes them click another link or button or something that indicates that they understand the rules of the edit window, prior to letting them edit their comment? I like the nice, succinct way you've got the info available on the same screen when somebody edits, but to be honest it's really easy to skip it. If I hadn't read the original MeTa thread when this feature was introduced, I'm sure by now I would have hit "edit" to add my "oh yeah, one more thing" and not actually read the fine [ok normal size, but easy to ignore] print.
posted by vytae at 11:42 AM on January 18, 2013


Although adding "not" into a place where it contextually belonged is kosher as a kind of typo fixing, IMO.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:42 AM on January 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


But some of us suffer from "staircase comment", those killer words that we do not think of until we have hit Post.

Our take is that if it's killer enough to be worth adding, it's killer enough to just add in a followup comment, as has always been the case.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:44 AM on January 18, 2013


23skidoo: "Ummmm, are you trying to be a jerk to me? "

No. I'm simply recognizing that there's rarely "hard and fast" in metafilter, and it'd be unusual to get hard numbers about delta sizes. I apologize for my poor phrasing. It was not my intent to offend you.
posted by boo_radley at 11:46 AM on January 18, 2013


Sure, but you've completely misunderstood me. I'm not asking for hard and fast anything. I'm suggesting that maybe they could use different words to describe what they want it used for.
posted by 23skidoo at 11:49 AM on January 18, 2013


To me, a small fix would be correcting something like "Remember, mix bleach and ammonia!" to read "Remember, don't mix bleach and ammonia!" So, if you've accidentally a word, I think it'd be okay to use the edit feature to put it in.

But when in doubt about whether a fix is small or not, just put it in another comment.
posted by rtha at 11:56 AM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Although adding "not" into a place where it contextually belonged is kosher as a kind of typo fixing, IMO.

Assuming voice or tense changes ("his" to "yours", or vice versa, or "has" to "had", depending on context) is okay? I do this a lot - I'll start writing a comment in present tense, then change my mind and go back and change it to past tense before I hit post, but often only after the fact will I see "damn, I missed one".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:10 PM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


And I know it's not a big deal but I had the grammer teacher from hell when I was in seventh grade and IT IS A COMPULSION NOW.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:11 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, those kinds of things are why we're saying "small fixes" rather than strictly-typos-only.

The borderline cases to me are ones where you might want to replace a word with a synonym, or add an extra clause that doesn't really change the meaning but makes a sentence nicer or whatever. Those kinds of fixes are getting out of the range of the intended use.

Once you get to changing a grar phrase to a nicer phrase (YOU JERK--> I disagree), or adding/deleting a sentence/example/etc, that's pretty clearly beyond the line we're trying to draw.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:18 PM on January 18, 2013


"But some of us suffer from "staircase comment", those killer words that we do not think of until we have hit Post.

Our take is that if it's killer enough to be worth adding, it's killer enough to just add in a followup comment, as has always been the case.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:44 AM"

Fine. Instead of editing, I will make another comment with the French for staircase wit:
L'esprit de l'escalier
posted by Cranberry at 12:25 PM on January 18, 2013


this is one of the few places where the mods could have automatic monitoring setup such that they could monitor edits that were more than n characters different from the original.

We can see this sort of thing but we don't have some sort of auto-notification thing turned on. There are a few people we've talked to about doing substantive edits frequently, mostly this is a non-issue. If you're not clear, ask here or ask us. Dejerkifying, as much as it seems like a good idea, is not what the feature is for, please don't do that.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:31 PM on January 18, 2013


I'm going to start ending all my comments with "Edited to add: So there! Jerkfaces!"
posted by bondcliff at 12:34 PM on January 18, 2013


Not for long you aren't.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:39 PM on January 18, 2013 [24 favorites]


To be honest, I often see people using Edit in the same manner that they use Preview. So, instead of the phrase 'on preview', people are saying 'edited to add' or even 'on edit.' It's kind of been an organic use and I wonder how possible it will be to squash that, given that previewing is completely acceptable.
posted by librarylis at 12:51 PM on January 18, 2013


...I wonder how possible it will be to squash that...

stockade.metafilter.com
posted by griphus at 12:58 PM on January 18, 2013


given that previewing is completely acceptable.

Previewing is both acceptable and invisible. Lots of people come from forums where ETA stuff is AOK and so we're not acting like people who use it are bad people, but we've also got some rapid fire communicators here who may have composed a reply to what you said while you were editing it, and that's awkward. Comes up pretty rarely and it's not the hill any of the mods would like to die on, but there's a big difference between preview and editing, and we introduced the edit window because people, for whatever reason, weren't getting what they needed out of preview.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:01 PM on January 18, 2013


What, if anything, are we supposed to do when we happen to notice its misuse?

My suggestion would be to pour yourself a scotch, sit back, and reflect on just how many more troubling things there are in the world.
posted by Decani at 1:03 PM on January 18, 2013 [15 favorites]


Additionally, I do think the phrase "Edited to add" might not always mean "I used the edit button to add it" but "Edited because I saw this on preview", though, with the addition of the edit button, I'm trying to avoid this because I'm sometimes a pedant and also afraid of getting in trouble/starting shit.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:06 PM on January 18, 2013


On other forums it's acceptable to return to a comment to say "EDIT: Oh yeah, blah foo blahdy blah", although it's totally not cool to do that here.

So I've once or twice done the "EDIT:..." thing out of habit, and then realized "oh damn, not cool". I think that's the problem a few of us are having: Re-training our commenting reflexes.
posted by ardgedee at 1:09 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nth-ing FIAMO.

This comment is 100% natural and contains purely unmodified content.
posted by mazola at 1:11 PM on January 18, 2013


Aren't moderators already changing the context of what you say by deleting comments? Imagine you write "I believe X" and then somebody says "That's a horrible, racist/misogynist/sexist/alienist thing to say" and you respond "You're misinterpreting me. I believe X for these reasons..." Well, if a moderator removes your last comment, they are changing the context of the conversation entirely. In fact, they've effectively altered your social media presentation. What if an HR department later googles you and thinks that you're racist/misogynist/a douchebag based on mod edits or comment deletions? Frankly, I'm surprised that this hasn't become a liability issue for sites like Reddit or Metafilter. I mean, it seems like this is certainly something that has the ability to inflict severe financial harm.

In any case, my point is that given the vast latitude mods have in controlling the social image of we users and how we present ourselves in this forum, it doesn't seem like too much to ask for we the users to have a five-minute window of our own for image control.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 1:13 PM on January 18, 2013


I am with ardgedee (whom my iPad apparently thinks is named "rad gender") on sometimes getting mixed up between Edit culture here and Edit culture on other sites I frequent. My apologies for doing it wrong when I do.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:15 PM on January 18, 2013


That seems like too much to ask to me, wolfdreams01. And I'm going out on a limb to guess the mods would remove the edit feature completely before allowing users the latitude to make substantive edits.
posted by Justinian at 1:18 PM on January 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Imagine you write...

You're arguing a hypothetical. In reality, the mods rarely exercise much control, though obviously the ability to do so is there.

They're quite willing to let us be asses all on our own.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:20 PM on January 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Yeah, flag it and we'll take a look.
As "It breaks the guidelines"?


I think the point is it doesn't matter what reason you flag it for.
posted by grouse at 1:27 PM on January 18, 2013


Well, flagging it as "awesome comment" would probably not be helpful.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:28 PM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Imagine you write "I believe X" and then somebody says "That's a horrible, racist/misogynist/sexist/alienist thing to say" and you respond "You're misinterpreting me. I believe X for these reasons..." Well, if a moderator removes your last comment, they are changing the context of the conversation entirely. In fact, they've effectively altered your social media presentation.

And that's why the mods also often remove the other person's response accusing you of being racist/misogynist/sexist/alienist as well, so your social media presentation is preserved.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:29 PM on January 18, 2013


Aren't moderators already changing the context of what you say by deleting comments?

No. You are welcome, in almost every case, to re-comment in a way that is acceptable and doesn't break site guidelines.

It's on you to not be so ununderstandable that this sort of thing comes up more than maybe once in your MeFi career. You can control your own image by controlling every single word that you type here and using preview and your own common sense to make sure that you are being clear and precise.

There are a handful of people here who seem to be in a constant state of "You are misunderstanding me AGAIN" wars with many members of the site. I feel that this is the result of a breakdown between what those users think they are saying and the way those statements are conventionally interpreted here. An argument could be made that everyone on MetaFilter, including the mods, subscribes to a particular semantic philosophy that renders some comments' meanings here different from how they would be interpreted nearly anywhere else, but that's sufficiently unlikely that we are not concerned about it.

People have ample tools at their disposal, up to and including not using their own names, to keep their statements from the probing eyes of HR and others who might wish to do them real-life harm of some sort in response to their participation in online fora.

Put another way: this has almost nothing to do with the edit window. You know how to contact us if this is really about something else.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:30 PM on January 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


Imagine you write "I believe X" and then somebody says "That's a horrible, racist/misogynist/sexist/alienist thing to say" and you respond "You're misinterpreting me. I believe X for these reasons..." Well, if a moderator removes your last comment, they are changing the context of the conversation entirely.

Unless you also believe there's a shadow conspiracy of mods deleting MeTa threads, that scenario you describe -- statement, call-out, rebuttal, deletion of rebuttal but not call-out -- occurring with anything resembling a frequency, would cause a MeTa shitstorm the likes of which we see, like, once or twice a year.
posted by griphus at 1:30 PM on January 18, 2013


When we delete comments, we try to take that into account, wolfdreams01. It can sometimes be tricky to clean up a thread when there's a lot of back-and-forth over some derail or if people are being fighty, so we do our best.

Another thing people can do about their image is to not get into those exchanges in the first place -- by not making provocative or belligerent comments, and not being easily provoked by other people's comments.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:32 PM on January 18, 2013


wolfdreams01: "Aren't moderators already changing the context of what you say by deleting comments? Imagine you write "I believe X" and then somebody says "That's a horrible, racist/misogynist/sexist/alienist thing to say" and you respond "You're misinterpreting me. I believe X for these reasons..." Well, if a moderator removes your last comment, they are changing the context of the conversation entirely.

In my experience, they usually don't delete comments where you try to clarify your words to sound like less of an asshole. (Collective 'you' here, not you personally.) Or if they do, they'll also delete the comment from your accuser(s).

They may stop you from getting the last word in when you're having an argument, (something that I have very infrequently groused about to cortex and jessamyn) but they usually don't squash an attempt at clarification or defense, unless you're being a total ass about it.

Meanwhile, you're able to comment again immediately afterward. So it's not like they're trying to silence you completely. Just steer you towards obeying the guidelines a little more closely.

In fact, they've effectively altered your social media presentation.

With the benefit of hindsight, I've personally been pretty happy when they've deleted my asinine comments. YMMV.

In any case, my point is that given the vast latitude mods have in controlling the social image of we users and how we present ourselves in this forum, it doesn't seem like too much to ask for we the users to have a five-minute window of our own for image control."

Use the contact form. Seriously. Whenever I've been concerned that a mod edit made me look bad or left me unable to respond to a comment, I've taken it up with them directly.
posted by zarq at 1:35 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I mean, it seems like this is certainly something that has the ability to inflict severe financial harm.

*Looks around at the world.*

On the spectrum of things in life that contain the potential to inflict severe financial harm, this is on the 'barely registers' end. Which, of course, makes it super-easy to account for: Don't go around saying things that can be construed as racist/misogynist/sexist/alienist!
posted by carsonb at 2:01 PM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


You could also link publicly to the edit history somehow.
posted by two lights above the sea at 2:06 PM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I mean, it seems like this is certainly something that has the ability to inflict severe financial harm."

Because you're being forced to participate on the site against your will, you mean? Because voluntarily participating in discussions on hot-button topics, on a site you don't control, where conversations are archived on the internet, seems to run the risk of having a heated or badly-phrased comment available for all eternity anyway.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:31 PM on January 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


What, if anything, are we supposed to do when we happen to notice its misuse?

I run in circles and flail my arms a bit. It keeps the blood circulating if nothing else.
posted by octobersurprise at 2:46 PM on January 18, 2013 [19 favorites]


Honestly, it's really easy to forget that MeFi has different rules about editing than most other sites. And the instructions aren't going to affect anything since no one reads them after the first edit.
posted by smackfu at 3:13 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


If your comments are often misinterpreted by others to appear as though they are racist/sexist/bigoted/etc when your intended meaning was otherwise, the actual solution to this problem is not to worry about mods deleting your explanatory follow-up comments, it's to be more mindful of the words you choose to express your feelings in the first place.
posted by elizardbits at 3:49 PM on January 18, 2013 [17 favorites]


Flunkie: "In the meantime, X has seen my YOU JERK, and has commented on it:"

Is this happening often?
posted by zarq at 11:22 AM on January 18 [+] [!]


It is happening often enough that people are seeing changes, hence this thread about people seeing it happen.
posted by BurnChao at 4:06 PM on January 18, 2013


I mean, it seems like this is certainly something that has the ability to inflict severe financial harm.

Plenty of people in plenty of professions accept that they must tread lightly/carefully on the Internet. If you're truly concerned with HR people reading your Internet comments via google, and the potential financial impact that may have on your future, you should probably craft your comments with these considerations beforehand. I don't see how it could possibly be incumbent upon Metafilter's staff to protect you from people interpreting your comments negatively. It's entirely your job as a commenter to do that thing for yourself.

If you don't possess the rhetorical chops to present yourself clearly in ways that won't be misinterpreted as $ist, then you should consider refraining from commenting, if your future is at stake.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:16 PM on January 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


What's the rationale for this? It partly defeats the point of being able to edit comments. I'll often think of things after I comment, or see something I need to quote. If I edit it in, it's wrong. If I add another comment, I'm posting too much. I don't get it.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:29 PM on January 18, 2013


If you're actually commenting too much, that's a systemic thing with how you interact with the site and suggests mostly that you need to slow down while commenting. No one will ever, ever get any grief from the mods just for adding an "oh and another thing I meant to say" second comment in a thread now and then.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:32 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well this just blows months of scheming, wherein I had huge plans to subvert multiple threads with carefully timed edits, and thus achieve a sort of omnipotent Wikipedia level of control over my comments. A power so great that laundry can be ignored for another day. But now that you're on to me, I guess I can go back to making animated GIFs of cats chasing dogs (you read that right, CATS chasing DOGS).
posted by Brocktoon at 4:57 PM on January 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


The instructions are super clear. Applause to whoever wrote them.

The challenge for me is turning off my other-sites-appropriate Edit mode when presented with the MetaFilter Edit window. Because it's an Edit window, and while I'm fixing my iPad's unfortunate auto-"corrects" I have to remind myself that I can't add "My best friend ate chicken that old once, and she was fine" or "Another novel you might like is Less Than Angels" and sometimes I fail.

But that is totally about my learning curve, not about any lack in the policy or unclarity in the instructions, and my hope is to do better as I get more familiar with MetaFilter even having an Edit window at all.

In the meantime, thanks to flaggers and mods for catching my errors when they occur.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:05 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


The challenge for me is turning off my other-sites-appropriate Edit mode

There are other sites?!?
posted by rtha at 5:12 PM on January 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Okay but what if I leave out an important step in my lengthy recipe comment that I'm spamming into every Meta thread? Can I edit it to add the step back in?
posted by shakespeherian at 5:16 PM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I bet you could and just blame it on new-parent-sleep-deprivation!
posted by rtha at 5:31 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are other sites?!?

No but seriously sometimes I find myself cycling through The Millions The Awl and MeFi and wondering what else is there
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 5:34 PM on January 18, 2013


It depends if the recipe is for pizza or not-pizza.
posted by elizardbits at 5:43 PM on January 18, 2013


If I add another comment, I'm posting too much.

I'm not sure who is saying that, but we-as-mods are not saying that. Make a second comment, that's fine.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:08 PM on January 18, 2013


Oops. I did this once, when I was posting quickly and was certain I had put a link in and then somehow hadn't even though I still had the damned tab open with the link in it. How embarrassing. (Preview? What preview?)
posted by dilettante at 6:25 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Does changing a comment that's in the wrong thread to "(dammit, wrong thread)" count as fixing a mechanical error? Pretty sure I've seen that happen.
posted by darksasami at 7:04 PM on January 18, 2013


We'd prefer people just contact us and we'll delete them, but we at least know what to do in that case. So not optimal, but it may happen. I've seen that maybe twice since we've had the edit window.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:13 PM on January 18, 2013


Poster's remorse. One learns. In recent days this has been a superb platform for learning.

/sorry about that last one, Taz ;p
posted by infini at 7:36 PM on January 18, 2013


You could also link publicly to the edit history somehow.

That's a good idea. Facebook does it. (It's not a good idea because Facebook does it; that's just an example if you want to see what it looks like.)
posted by John Cohen at 7:41 PM on January 18, 2013


Oh no.

I said celebrate.
I meant celibate.
Oh.
No.
I meant celebrate.

Too late.
posted by mule98J at 7:46 PM on January 18, 2013


Cranberry: "But some of us suffer from "staircase comment", those killer words that we do not think of until we have hit Post."

I was either going to post an ask question about what to call the concept of when you think of a great retort or comment to a situation as soon as you leave the situation or it ends. I have often tried to think of a made up word to describe the concept. Is "staircase comment" what I am looking for?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:34 PM on January 18, 2013


mule98J: "Oh no.

I said celebrate.
I meant celibate.
Oh.
No.
I meant celebrate.

Too late.
"

I think you meant calibrate
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:35 PM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


JohnnyGunn, the phrase you're looking for is "l'esprit d'escalier," which translates, roughly, to "staircase wit." Cranberry is playing on that.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:39 PM on January 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Does anyone else think that an "Edit Misuse" flag might be of value? Edit feature misuse isn't always obvious, and while it's possible to flag it and contact the mods in those cases, a lot of people just don't use the contact form for whatever reason and maybe it'd be nice to be able to tell the mods "Hey, it might not be immediately obvious but I am flagging this because the writer used the edit feature to add an entire extra sentence into the third paragraph of this comment" or whatever, without having to actually hit them up on the contact form. Yes? No?
posted by Scientist at 8:40 PM on January 18, 2013


Thank you Rustic Etruscan
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:43 PM on January 18, 2013


That sounds reasonable to me, Scientist. I don't use flags often, but I wouldn't be sure which to use in this event.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 8:49 PM on January 18, 2013


"Hey, it might not be immediately obvious but I am flagging this because the writer used the edit feature to add an entire extra sentence into the third paragraph of this comment"

I think you misunderestimate jessamyn, cortex, restless_nomad, taz, Lobster Mitten, goodnewsfortheinsane, and mathowie. If you flag a comment for breaching the guidelines the moderators are perhaps the best-suited individuals alive for understanding why. They have the ability, and the technology.
posted by carsonb at 9:45 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


They can rebuild it.
posted by ODiV at 10:38 PM on January 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


True carsonb, but the mods have said before that they often (and quite reasonably) will write off a lone flag if they can't easily figure out what the deal was that the flag was about. Although I also know that they can see when a comment has been edited and I'm sure that they would eyeball the before and after if they got a inscrutable flag on a comment that had been edited. So it's probably a non-problem.
posted by Scientist at 10:50 PM on January 18, 2013


I primarily type on an idevice these days. Sometimes whole sentences are mashed together into one word, sometimes I realize an entire sentence or thought I meant to delete stayed in accidentally because I can not view the entire post easily on a small screen...

Other times (for the same reason of not being able to review the entire comment easily because I'm on a small screen) I delete or change a word here or there because it's just too harsh.

To me, these are typo's because - Hey! Small screen! - to the mods, maybe not so much.

I originally tried to solve this problem by writing super short answers regularly - but I got dinged for that, too, a few months ago by the mods. Apparently my shorter answers were offensive somehow:(

-----

I'm a shitty typer. Sometimes I change focus midstream, and it's hard to edit (preview loads too slowly) and those 5 minute edit times are CRUCIAL for me.

In fact, sometimes I hit preview and it doesn't load. Then my only choice is to hit post and dig back in. This happens most of all.

If you can change a sentence here or there within a scant 5 minutes to make your comment coherent, meh.

I can't be the only one with posting or typing issues?

Today I used the same word twice in a sentence, and I used the edit function to go back and change one of those words to a synonym, since the original sentence was bad form.

Preview wouldn't load, so I had no choice.

I'm happy for the opportunity to go back and clean up my comments (again, small screen/preview loading difficulties.)

While typing this question, I accidentally combined multiple words into one a minimum of 6 times thanks to my idevice. Can't wait to read this after I try to preview, then post!
posted by jbenben at 10:56 PM on January 18, 2013


Does anyone else think that an "Edit Misuse" flag might be of value?

It'd be a very niche thing to dedicate a new flag reason to, which means it's really unlikely that we'll go there. If there was some major systemic issue with edit misuse that had manifested early in the feature's lifetime without somehow basically showing that the feature wasn't going to work, that might have been a thing to look at, but as is it really is an odd rarity in practice and just using "other" or "breaks the guidelines" is totally sufficient.

For the especially complicated stuff: contact form.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:10 PM on January 18, 2013


At least twice I have hit Post and immediately thought, "Dick move, gingerest." I can tell you, the Contact form plus self flag gets comments deleted lickety split. Like in under a minute. You don't need to edit those. And if you want to retain the rest of your content and repost it seems to go over fine.
posted by gingerest at 12:45 AM on January 19, 2013


Would it be okay to edit your comment to "(I'm asking a mod to delete this)" then hit the contact form?
posted by fleacircus at 3:35 AM on January 19, 2013


Nobody loves a narc.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 3:36 AM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


"would it be okay" meaning, "I hope you don't mind when I totally do this some day."
posted by fleacircus at 3:37 AM on January 19, 2013


In an emergency? A comment emergency? Sure, if you've accidentally posted your credit card details or something. If it's just something like posting in the wrong thread, for example, just contact us., and we'll delete it quickly.
posted by taz (staff) at 4:53 AM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is happening often enough that people are seeing changes, hence this thread about people seeing it happen.

Except... No, it isn't. According to the person who created this post and wrote that comment, they've *never* seen examples of that sort of "dejerkifying" happen on mefi. And cortex said there have been virtually zero cases since the edit window was launched.

Lalex' linked examples didn't really fit Flunkie's hypothetical 'dejerkifying' scenario, either, as far as I could tell. (I could be wrong there.) They are abuse of the edit window rules, sure. But that's not what I was asking about.

Which is why I asked. For clarity's sake, it's better to distinguish between hypothetical examples and actual ones. If something is a disruptive problem, I totally agree it should be addressed. But if it's not happening at all, or only very rarely, then is there need for concern?
posted by zarq at 4:58 AM on January 19, 2013


I've had complaints from people who favorited a comment, only to find it changed later.

If you noticed this, why would you go running to the mods about it? Why wouldn't you just remove your favourite to reflect your new view of the changed comment?

Some people just have snitch blood in their veins.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:47 AM on January 19, 2013


I originally tried to solve this problem by writing super short answers regularly - but I got dinged for that, too, a few months ago by the mods. Apparently my shorter answers were offensive somehow:(

I don't know if you misunderstood us or if there was some communication I was not privy to but if I am remembering correctly what we had asked you not to do was comment three or four times in a thread rapidly and sequentially which seemed to sort of use up all the air in an AskMe thread. Please let us know if you got the feeling something else was happening because I am certain we did not feel like your short answers were "offensive" but if there was a miscommunication maybe we can clear it up.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:18 AM on January 19, 2013


Some people just have snitch blood in their veins.

This is sort of an absurd approach to trying to respect the guidelines of a community website. I'd sure as shit hope people would let us know if someone was fucking around with Metafilter, and stigmatizing that as something inherently deserving of nastiness because it's telling is the opposite of helpful on a large site run by a small staff with limited resources. Folks whose prime social directive is Snitches Get Stitches probably need to spend time elsewhere.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:49 AM on January 19, 2013 [14 favorites]


Who's opening for Snitch Blood?
posted by ctmf at 7:51 AM on January 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I primarily type on an idevice these days.

The entire argument following this sentence would be rendered moot by using a $device with decent input methods. Don't get angry with the nail when the tiny plastic hammer you're using doesn't work.
posted by carsonb at 8:04 AM on January 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Huh, I've often edited things to clarify my meaning a bit or to clean up muddy language. I've been known to add a sentence when I realize that my initial comment might have been too abrupt or sounded rude. That's traditionally what editing is for.

My past behaviour has therefore clearly been in violation of site policy, but I'm at a total loss as to how it could harm anyone or take away from the experience of the site. In more extreme examples, sure, but I don't see how moderate levels of editing would hurt anyone. Is this actually something that mods look out for?

I'll try to bide by the site rules on this one regardless of personal feelings, but the rigidity is bit baffling. Even more baffling that someone would bother to lodge a complaint about it I suppose.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:01 AM on January 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's mainly that we want to have a fairly bright-line rule that the edit function is not for time travel. (Time travel, meaning a situation where you can decide to change or refine what you said, while other people will already be viewing the original version of your comment.) This was always the objection to the feature -- various problems that can arise from allowing substantive edits -- so when it was instituted, the rule was, don't do that at all.

Preview is for substantive edits and reconsideration. The edit window is really only for the people who get twitchy about typos.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:06 AM on January 19, 2013


Thanks for taking the time to clarify.

Somebody had better whip up a chart showing that we've decreased misuse of there, their, and they're by X amount. Concrete returns!
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:09 AM on January 19, 2013


> Who's opening for Snitch Blood?

The Suturists.
posted by gilrain at 9:11 AM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I almost never know which flag I want, when I want to call attention to something that seems like a problem with the spirit of the site. Now, "fantastic comment" is one I understand completely. "HTML error" makes sense to me. Then all the others, especially "noise," "derail," & "something something(?) guidelines" seem to be some equivalent combination of "Bad Thing!!!" Basically, I just think of flags as "Good," "Bad," and "Tech Issue." When I go for "Bad," I usually get frustrated for a few minutes, then choose "other," reassured that its more likely a preponderance of flags than my heads-up that a mod will respond to.

And that, dearies, is how .kobayashi. FIAMOs. Part of him would really like a "editing issue" flag. But mostly, he knows that he probably would just think of that as part of the universe of "Bad" flags.
posted by .kobayashi. at 9:40 AM on January 19, 2013


The edit window is really only for the people who get twitchy about typos.

Maybe this cold (now on week 2) is making me extra cranky, but I don't get why this seems to be such a hard thing for people to grasp, especially since the text by the edit window says to only use it for typos and small changes (like, if you forgot a word).

As for the "don't snitch" attitude - that's just beyond me. If someone is fucking with site guidelines, it doesn't make them Hitler but it's not like anything "less than Hitler" should get a pass just because. I've flagged stuff for misuse of the edit function and will continue to do so, and I guess if that makes me a snitch in your book, so be it.
posted by rtha at 10:21 AM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Edit window. Check.
Flux capacitor. Check.
Mr. Fusion. Check.
1.21 Gigawatts. Check.
88mph. Check.

Tubes? Where we're going, we don't need tubes.
posted by zarq at 10:32 AM on January 19, 2013


I don't get why this seems to be such a hard thing for people to grasp, especially since the text by the edit window says to only use it for typos and small changes (like, if you forgot a word)

When language is vague, different people will interpret it in different ways.
posted by 23skidoo at 10:36 AM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Snitches get Stitches, shoutout to Lilo.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:49 AM on January 19, 2013


I've broken this rule a lot to make fairly major changes and will likely continue to do so. As long as you make the changes quickly the chances of negative consequences to the conversation are pretty slim. If they do occur, which I have not yet seen, the poster can clarify what has occurred to settle the matter without a fuss. The focus on this rule seems like a result of the strong anti-edit vibe among many folks. I respect those views as I have my own hangups on other changes made to the site (DIE TITLES!), but the negative consequences have not really materialized and I don't think they will even as editing becomes more common.

posted by Drinky Die at 10:58 AM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seriously?
posted by ODiV at 11:06 AM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


We are asking that people not do that, for reasons that have been explained at length.

I have reverted your ha-ha edit joke here.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:17 AM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


That just seems unnecessarily contrarian and dickish, Drinky Die. *You* know you don't mean any harm, so it's okay for you to violate the quite reasonable guidelines the site has asked you to follow. Is it really such a terrible burden to make a follow-up comment to clarify something or add to an earlier comment?
posted by rtha at 11:30 AM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I seem to recall that edited comments are not updated inline. So, what percentage of logged in users have inline comment updates turned on? Do people habitually refresh the page to check if someone has amended an opinion? If a comment is edited before I have a chance to click "1 new comment" which version is served up? This seems like it would make editing for content particularly useless in megathreads where much contentious discussion takes place. It seems to be taken for granted that people will actually see the edited version of a comment, but I'm not so confident.
posted by Lorin at 11:41 AM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


fwiw....i think the edit timeout should be cut down to 3 minutes from the current 4. And this is coming from a person who always makes toippus.
posted by lampshade at 11:42 AM on January 19, 2013


I've broken this rule a lot to make fairly major changes and will likely continue to do so.

We would like you to reconsider this course of action. People who willfully fuck with the things we've told them to please not fuck with will find that there are consequences to those decisions.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:17 PM on January 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Drinky Die is kidding, right? He doesn't actually do that?
posted by Justinian at 12:27 PM on January 19, 2013


Initially I was opposed to this edit rule, but after some heavy consideration and drinking I have decided it is a great idea. However, since rules are useless without enforcement, I feel like we need a system of draconian punishments to enforce the will of the people.

My suggestion is that on the first misuse of the edit window, the offending user is to be banished for a week. On the second misuse, a scarlet symbol of some kind will be permanently applied to their user profile, so that everyone in the community knows to shun them for their misdeeds. On the third (and subsequent) misuse of the edit window, they must run the "Gauntlet" - an IRL event where all local MeFites line up with ping-pong rackets and cricket paddles, and the offending MeFite is forced to dash between them, with everyone taking a swing at their posterior. (As a side benefit, this will also foster more IRL interaction, giving MeFites a stronger sense of community.)

Of course, just as we punish the guilty, we must also reward the virtuous. It takes real courage to "rat out" somebody who misuses the edit windom, and we need to encourage people to do so with rewards and incentives. I propose a system of "Loyalty Points" which represent fidelity to the MetaFilter ideals. Loyalty points can be traded in to do things like insult people without mod intervention, to gain fun MetaFilter "swag" (such as MetaFilter-branded ping-pong rackets and cricket paddles), and at the highest levels, allow people temporary mod privileges, such as deleting or editing other people's comments.

This system will turn our community into a new utopia for the common MeFite. No longer will we be trampled by the oppression of the elite who unscrupulously use edit windows to get the upper hand in a debate. MeFites of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!
posted by wolfdreams01 at 12:44 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is a man not entitled to the editing of his comments? "NO!" says the man in Oregon, it belongs to the mods.
posted by Justinian at 12:51 PM on January 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


On the third (and subsequent) misuse of the edit window, they must run the "Gauntlet" - an IRL event where all local MeFites line up with ping-pong rackets and cricket paddles, and the offending MeFite is forced to dash between them, with everyone taking a swing at their posterior. (

We already do this at every Chicago meetup so you'll have to come up with something else.

NB: This is the real reason SpiffyRob moved to Philly.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:08 PM on January 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've been guilty of using the edit window to refine a comment, or delete a repetition; when it comes to writing, I'm a tinkerer. I'll keep my changes to typos from now on, and try to remember to reread my comments twice before posting.... I think it's perfectly reasonable to ask people not to mess with the substance or actual content of their comments through use of the edit window.
posted by jokeefe at 1:13 PM on January 19, 2013


Drinky Die is kidding, right? He doesn't actually do that?

Use the edit feature the way it is used everywhere else on the Internet? Yes.
posted by Drinky Die at 2:51 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah this seems like another one of MeFi's 'rules for the sake of rukes' and I don't understand it. It's like the lack of a quote button - what do we gain by not editing?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 2:55 PM on January 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've read through the thread and I found it pretty easy to understand why as folks explained it. Surely you've seen those comments too?
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:00 PM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Use the edit feature the way it is used everywhere else on the Internet? Yes.

This kind of attitude is the main reason I've had reservations about instituting the edit feature here. It's willful obnoxiousness. On "the rest of the internet" it's common and often condoned to troll, flame, and/or call names. Those things aren't okay here. Do you go around mefi calling people shitheads because that's okay on other parts of the internet? No? How come? Do you post spam links, or make stealth fpps about sites you've created? Those are also done on "the rest of the internet."

tl;dr: Your argument is shitty and self-serving.
posted by rtha at 3:03 PM on January 19, 2013 [23 favorites]


this seems like another one of MeFi's 'rules for the sake of rukes' and I don't understand it.

It's my favorite thing, the rejection of things one doesn't understand.
posted by carsonb at 3:04 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


What's wrong with rukes?
posted by shakespeherian at 3:06 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


This kind of attitude is the main reason I've had reservations about instituting the edit feature here. It's willful obnoxiousness. On "the rest of the internet" it's common and often condoned to troll, flame, and/or call names. Those things aren't okay here. Do you go around mefi calling people shitheads because that's okay on other parts of the internet? No? How come? Do you post spam links, or make stealth fpps about sites you've created? Those are also done on "the rest of the internet."

It's not about that. It's about adding more content to a comment after its made instead of adding a bunch of extra comments, which just looks spammy.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 3:09 PM on January 19, 2013


On "the rest of the internet" it's common

You have identified a group of things that negatively impacts the websites they are common on. In over a decade and a half online, I have never, ever seen editing become an issue anywhere. YMMV, but that's where I'm coming from. I also think it would be easier to regulate someone engaging in such problematic editing than to regulate away anything but typo editing.

I understand what people are afraid of, but it looks like phantom concern to me. This is, of course, why I pointed to elsewhere on the net. Some things, like porn, are everywhere because they are good.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:10 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I also think it would be easier to regulate someone engaging in such problematic editing than to regulate away anything but typo editing.

As with everything else, there's a big grey area. We could actually prohibit any edits that were more than X characters and we specifically didn't. We have a "be cool" policy and we have explained what, to us, that means. We'd like to head off goofery at the pass or situations where someone adds a lengthy part to their comment while someone else is replying to it. More specifically, as much as we appreciate people trying to dejerkify their comments, if you've already made that comment and people have read it, dejerkifying can create a problematic time machine problem where people are replying to comments that are not there. This is why we have few hard and fast rules (technological-type solutions) to how this can be used but we have a lot of explanations of how we'd like it to be used.

MetaFilter is not like the rest of the internet, in good and bad ways, but one of the good ways to my mind is that we have a cohesive community that agrees to some basic norms of behavior. This is one of those things. We've explained how it works, and how we expect it to be used. You're welcome to not agree with that or have a discussion about it here. You're not actually welcome to do whatever the hell you want. You are welcome to test those limits by trying stuff, or if you're unclear you're welcome to ask us about specific situations (here or over email). We've got a zero tolerance for people using the edit window to fuck with the mods or other people and we'll be more than happy to make that clear in word and deed. Up to you.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:16 PM on January 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


Welcome to a place online where editing is an issue. I suggest you adapt or Drinky Die.
posted by carsonb at 3:17 PM on January 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Personally, I think comments should have a public edit history, then nobody has to worry anyone is going to edit comments to change context, or screw with people. People who are going to make trouble and fuck with people are going to do it with or without willfully abusing editing.

Other sites have editing and it doesn't devolve into the rest of the internet where people call eachother shitheads. Hacker News has editing, and the vast majority of insulting comments and even snark are down voted or deleted. I don't think there is any connection between editing and the vast hordes of trolls just waiting to descend and turn sites into the rest of the Internet.

Not a big deal to me though. I've just been fixing typos and autocorrect mistakes. If I think of something I want to add I just wait a bit so I don't have two comments in a row.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:25 PM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's about adding more content to a comment after its made instead of adding a bunch of extra comments, which just looks spammy.

Again, short of a legitimate impulse-control problem that dwarfs the question of the edit window protocol, this is no actually the case. People so incapable of pausing to collect their thoughts that they comment in rapid cadence on a regular basis need to deal with that as its own thing; everyone else is going to be totally fine with the occasional followup comment, and that is always how it has worked in practice here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:26 PM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Welcome to a place online where editing is an issue.

By an issue I mean an actual problem, not arbitrarily outlawed to prevent a problem that doesn't actually occur.

There isn't much reason to base your decisions on the rest of the Internet, believe me I was not not a fan of the "Other blogs have titles" portion of the reasoning there, but it can be instructive in the result of various policy decisions. It is my observation that replying to edited comments is an exceedingly minor issue and does not particularly disrupt anything.

It doesn't seem like a particularly good use of a limited moderator attention and resources to me to police benign content editing within a very limited window of time.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:27 PM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


It doesn't seem like a particularly good use of a limited moderator attention and resources to me to police benign content editing within a very limited window of time.

That's fine for you to feel that way. We disagree, but so it goes. But we're the ones actually dispensing the resources, the guidelines are what they actually are, and declaring that you're going to keep flouting those guidelines is a crappy thing to do regardless of your opinion.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:30 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am clear on the moderator point of view there.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:33 PM on January 19, 2013


Well, it's nice knowing you while it lasts, DD.
posted by Justinian at 3:34 PM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's pretty much instinct at this point. What about going back to edit a typo and then thinking of something else to say?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 3:40 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm confused - is "crap, I thought I added a link to that word but I didn't so here it is because it's sort of implied that there was a link" not a small edit/typo fix?

Because I add links in my answers so much (example with 2, with 3, with 11) that I find one has been dropped at least once or twice a week. This is basically the main thing I've used the edit window for (besides the "oops, I forgot to negate that verb" thing.)
posted by SMPA at 3:43 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Having the "don't make substantive changes" baseline actually limits the amount of mod attention this feature requires. As it is, everyone knows that they're not supposed to make substantive changes, and people are mostly pretty cool about that. There are very few substantive changes made.

This means the edit feature didn't introduce a new class of work for mods. We don't have to check lots of changed comments to be sure they're benign. We don't deal with complaints from other users when they reply to comments that then changed; we don't have to delete their comments replying to previous versions of other users' comments. We don't have to make judgment calls about when to revert a changed comment; we don't deal with complex rules about when to revert, or complaints about how this set of changes was in a gray area so it shouldn't have been reverted. Non-benign changes don't have a chance to start fights, so we don't have to stop those fights.

This is not a hard thing -- do your substantive editing before you post, just like you always had to do before. If you can't stop yourself tinkering once the edit pane is open (and I sympathize), don't open the edit pane. Make your peace with the occasional typo.

Unilaterally deciding that the rules don't apply to you is a non-starter. If this bothers you too much, there are a lot of other websites where you can go that don't impose this restriction.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:43 PM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


SMPA, adding a link that you intended to include originally is fine, unless it creates some kind of weird contextual thing that would change the meaning of your comment for someone who had loaded the no-link version.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:50 PM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


We don't have to make judgment calls about when to revert a changed comment

See, in my view, the answer is never. Let the author decide what version of their comment they want displayed and if the displayed content is abusive you deal with it as usual. We are talking about a minutes long edit window here, it's not like people can edit a post from a day before which could make a conversation make no sense.

Non-benign changes don't have a chance to start fights, so we don't have to stop those fights.


I must have a pretty different Internet experience from you guys, is the only way I can explain it, because I have never seen a fight of this nature happen. Of course, people on the Internet can find a way to fight over everything.

Unilaterally deciding that the rules don't apply to you is a non-starter. If this bothers you too much, there are a lot of other websites where you can go that don't impose this restriction.

Message received loud and clear.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:57 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Drinky Die's Edit that was reverted

Your strategy for convincing the mods that editing isn't disruptive is to use editing to be disruptive? Doesn't sound like you thought that through.

It's pretty much instinct at this point. What about going back to edit a typo and then thinking of something else to say?


Then you fix the typo, and add another comment.

The way I look at it you have to ask yourself, are you typing because you need to SAY something, or are you typing because you want other people to read what you said? If it's the second, then you'll get much more utility by posting a second comment. I would imagine the number of people who would get in the habit of going back and having to re-read every conversation to check for changes is pretty miniscule. There's no alert that pops up when someone edits something, and as far as I can tell, so as far as the person who's already got the page loaded what you said originally is all that you said, and then when they load the page again, they've already read what you said, so why reread it?

On the other hand, the people who are interested in the subject are probably going to come back and check for new comments, AND there's already a mechanism in place to keep track of what's been added since you've been gone.

So, what's your goal, the cathartic release of the words, or sharing information? Because editing to add is o.k. for the first, but the way Metafilter is currently set up, it's terrible for the second.
posted by Gygesringtone at 4:10 PM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


The main reason I was against the edit window was I was sure that once it was available the outcry would grow to expand it’s use, and as more new members signed up they would insist on using it like they use it on other sites (having not been around before it was implemented). I still think this is really going to be a big problem. It’s one thing to explain it to people when it’s new, another to explain it to new people.

Without knowing the site it would seem odd to have an edit window with no restrictions, but expect people to use it with restrictions.

The edit window is really only for the people who get twitchy about typos.

Still not a great reason.
posted by bongo_x at 4:15 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Your strategy for convincing the mods that editing isn't disruptive is to use editing to be disruptive? Doesn't sound like you thought that through.

It was an unwise joke, not an attempt at persuasion. Like most edits, the presence or non presence made zero substantive difference to the thread.
posted by Drinky Die at 4:16 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


The main reason I was against the edit window was I was sure that once it was available the outcry would grow to expand it’s use, and as more new members signed up they would insist on using it like they use it on other sites (having not been around before it was implemented).

Metafilter has no problem saying "That's fine if other places do X, but we're not going to do so".

I still think this is really going to be a big problem.

Perhaps, but I'm content to not worry about and let the mods deal with it.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:37 PM on January 19, 2013


Metafilter is a community where a) people by and large are emotionally invested in the community and in their interaction with fellow community members; b) it is generally accepted that people commenting in a thread have read what others have to say; and c) where often threads move quickly enough that someone can reply to you within seconds of you posting something. Those things, to me, feels like the basis for a lot of other display and moderation decisions as well:

The reason we don't have threaded comments is because the mods don't want to create sub-conversations and side-threads, but instead to integrate everyone into one big conversation. The reason we don't have up/down voting is because the mods don't want to have comments displayed out of order, and some comments buried altogether. The reason we don't have paged threads is because the mods don't want to create a situation where a lot of people read only page X and skip out on a lot of context. This stuff has been the cause for a lot of griping in the past, but the mods have been super consistent in their stances about this. Hell, we have an Ajax re-loading feature because in fast-moving threads it was getting difficult to keep up with comments that had been posted while you were composing yours.

Those features about Metafilter don't apply to every other website on the internet, nor do most websites want those features. Have threaded comments and paged threads ruined other websites? Probably not, but that's not how the culture of Metafilter functions. Hacker News and Reddit just downvote dumb editing fuckery, but that's not feasible here. Rare is the Facebook thread that moves so quickly that multiple people are commenting at once and those comments are likely to conflict (or maybe I just have boring friends).

So it feels a little bit disingenuous to just say "feature X works for website Y and there are no appreciable problems that I have noticed, so I will adopt that behaviour at Metafilter and nothing will happen here either, screw what the community norms are". Why discourage significant edits from the get-go, and revert the ones that slip through the cracks? Because it's important to the community culture, and always has been, that everyone starts with the same information as much as possible. (And yeah, you can implement the ability to see comment history, but let's face it, 90% of the userbase can't be bothered to change their own site preferences. It'd be naive to think that everyone who reads a given edited comment will dig into the edit history.)

I get why someone might not be entirely on board about this, but in my schmoopy and not-very-important opinion, at the end of the day we're still here because we want to be part of this community. Are the stakes of not being able to significantly alter published comments really so high that not doing it will destroy your experience on Metafilter? If not, why bother make the mods' lives more difficult?

TL;DR: I like the edit window and its stated functionality.
posted by Phire at 4:37 PM on January 19, 2013 [11 favorites]


I will adopt that behaviour at Metafilter and nothing will happen here either

Nothing did happen. :) Anecdotal though, of course.

The problem with arguing based on community desires for how the site should function is that it is not entirely clear what the community view is. We ran into that with the titles too. I suspect, though I obviously have no way of proving, that the community would likely support less stringent edit rules and policing if it was polled.

It would be interesting to try less stringent rules for a little while and see if there is any disruption. I have serious doubts the character of the site would change in any way.
posted by Drinky Die at 5:05 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am less and less enthusiastic about the growing role moderation plays, and the front-and-center visibility of it, on Metafilter.

I think our mods are fine people who do a fine job, but the trend -- and some of the comments they've made in this thread, more than one of which say, basically 'like it or leave' -- is one toward ever-increasing appeal to authority.

I've ridden that hobbyhorse before, though, so I'll just say: not comfortable.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:08 PM on January 19, 2013 [5 favorites]


I really couldn't possibly agree more with stavros.
posted by lalex at 5:36 PM on January 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


And yeah, you can implement the ability to see comment history, but let's face it, 90% of the userbase can't be bothered to change their own site preferences. It'd be naive to think that everyone who reads a given edited comment will dig into the edit history

It's only an issue if it is an issue right? The way it stands now we can just flag at the suspicion someone made a malicious edit. If you are going to take the time to flag, you would hopefully take the time to check the history before doing so. At the very least it should cut down on spurious flagging. It would also eliminate any hypothetical in thread arguments over whether a comment was edited and what was changed.

Just trust the users, you guys don't have to check every edit to make sure nobody is abusing it. Give users tools to do so reliably and they can report abuse.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:40 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


A stopgap would be to add a "edit window abuse" option to the flag drop down that only appears if the comment was edited. Should be unobtrusive, prevent spurious flagging, and if you care enough to check that is is not there, quell fears that the comment you are replying to has been edited to change its original meaning.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:51 PM on January 19, 2013


I still think this is really going to be a big problem.

Perhaps, but I'm content to not worry about and let the mods deal with it.


Agreed. I didn’t say it was going to be a problem for me. I just happen to be wandering by and shot my mouth off.
posted by bongo_x at 6:46 PM on January 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


MetaTalk: I just happen to be wandering by and shot my mouth off.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:04 PM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Agreed. I didn’t say it was going to be a problem for me. I just happen to be wandering by and shot my mouth off.

If you got time to shoot off your mouth, you have time to feed the chickens and horses and muck the stalls, don't ya?

I think our mods are fine people who do a fine job, but the trend -- and some of the comments they've made in this thread, more than one of which say, basically 'like it or leave' -- is one toward ever-increasing appeal to authority.

Eh, while I don't agree with every change or action on the administration of the site, it's a very good idea to say no to some requests and focus on what makes you good.

You can't please everyone and if one tries, you go nuts.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:24 PM on January 19, 2013


Isn't is fairly simple to wait 5 minutes after someone calls you a jerk so that the edit window closes before you retort? Letting an insult just hang out there for 5 minutes isn't going to diminish you.
posted by humanfont at 8:40 PM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


BUT PEOPLE ARE WRONG ON THE INTERNETS RIGHT NOW
posted by elizardbits at 9:31 PM on January 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


I will never get tired of the howls against the increasing iron grip of authority over Metafilter, supposedly led by moderation battalions, instilling such unreasonable policies as "don't edit for content" that must be publicly flouted at every turn, lest the mantle of liberty be tarnished by tyranny.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:42 PM on January 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


crying_eagle.gif
posted by elizardbits at 10:53 PM on January 19, 2013


I will never get tired of the howls against the increasing iron grip of authority over Metafilter, supposedly led by moderation battalions, instilling such unreasonable policies as "don't edit for content" that must be publicly flouted at every turn, lest the mantle of liberty be tarnished by tyranny.

I never get tired of half-clever attempts to belittle and ridicule through sarcasm and willfully over-the-top exaggeration the legitimate and reasonable concerns of long-term members about the growth and development of the site and its policies, especially when those concerns are obviously poorly understood. Such respect for others' opinions it shows; my heart swells three sizes each and every time.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:38 PM on January 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


wonder_chicken.gif
posted by infini at 12:00 AM on January 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Let me say, though, that I have no dog in this fight, really. I use the edit window, gladly, for fixing mistakes or occasionally clarifying phrasing or meaning, which I don't think is outside the scope of its intended use. I would hope and assume others would do the same. If they don't, well, poop on 'em.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:08 AM on January 20, 2013


I will never get tired of the howls against the increasing iron grip of authority over Metafilter, supposedly led by moderation battalions, instilling such unreasonable policies as "don't edit for content" that must be publicly flouted at every turn, lest the mantle of liberty be tarnished by tyranny.

Yes, 'Don't edit for content' is such a reasonable, common sense rule. It's found everywhere on the Internet, like, um...
and...

Those places!
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 12:09 AM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Why should we care if other sites do it differently? Argumentum ad populism is a fallacy.
posted by harriet vane at 12:30 AM on January 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


If other sites told you to jump off a bridge, would you do it?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:05 AM on January 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I did, that's how I ended up here.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:40 AM on January 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


> I think our mods are fine people who do a fine job, but the trend -- and some of the comments they've made in this thread, more than one of which say, basically 'like it or leave' -- is one toward ever-increasing appeal to authority.

I love ya, stav, but 1) this place has always ultimately come down to 'like it or leave'—there was never a golden age of anarchy when you could do whatever the fuck you liked and suffer no consequences (I could refresh your memory with a list of ancient bannings if need be), and 2) you are supporting Drinky Die, who [intemperate description redacted] probably doesn't deserve it.
posted by languagehat at 7:25 AM on January 20, 2013 [11 favorites]


Metafilter: I've ridden that hobbyhorse before
posted by Chrysostom at 9:19 AM on January 20, 2013


Why should we care if other sites do it differently?

Because it allows us to evaluate the potential consequences of changes here. Mefi is relatively unique in some ways, but not in others. There is plenty you can predict based on what happens elsewhere.

I can understand why someone might have valid concerns about what happens when you plummet off a bridge, but this feels more like building a fence to keep the unicorns from pooping in your yard.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:12 AM on January 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


At this stage,
I, usually refer to the rubber nubbins'.
posted by clavdivs at 12:36 PM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


oh, the redactive nature of this, this ABUSE is weird. Like trying to eliminate pharoahs name with quick setting crayon.
posted by clavdivs at 12:44 PM on January 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


you are supporting Drinky Die

Not at all, sir. I disagree strongly with the idea of willfully disobeying the guidelines for using a feature here just because special snowflake, and I don't pay enough attention to things to know who Drinky Die is.

I was talking only about what I was talking about.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:29 PM on January 20, 2013


I was talking only about what I was talking about.

If I have shirts made with this quote, do I owe you royalties, or will a shirt of your own do?
posted by dotgirl at 2:41 PM on January 20, 2013 [5 favorites]


> I was talking only about what I was talking about.

Fair enough, amigo. Fair enough. But I still think you're romanticizing the days of yore. Which I too am prone to, so I cast no stones.
posted by languagehat at 5:04 PM on January 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am less and less enthusiastic about the growing role moderation plays, and the front-and-center visibility of it, on Metafilter.
I doubt that you're alone here, but I think this is inevitable as a community evolves (devolves?) from a medium-large-ish group that has grown slowly over time, allowing everyone to absorb the culture and norms of the site, into a very large group, many of which are either not engaged with the site culture at all or who are only engaged at times when something is troubling them. Due to the wide-spread lack of understanding about acceptable behaviour here, there is a greater need for moderation to be visible simply because those being moderated don't have that community engagement to help them understand why. This is exacerbated by one of the great things that makes MeFi what it is - a lack of hard rules and an expectation that we will be excellent to one another.

Unfortunately, as these things go, I think MetaFilter will one day have to develop a comprehensive set of rules that govern each possible interaction with the site, because the more 'human' form of moderation only scales up to a certain point. This may resolve some things for people that are comfortable with known, well-described boundaries, but will also bring out the rules-lawyers who will argue endlessly about the meaning of 'will, must, should, may' until the end of time. When (if) that happens, a little bit of me will die, partly because that sort of shit is what I spend a ridiculous amount of my work time doing and I'm not rapt about the prospect of doing it here as well.
posted by dg at 8:03 PM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe Mathowie should pick an active userbase number and scale the $$$ signup fee to maintain it. Jack up the prices as the number of active commenters rises above that level. Lower the price as attrition brings the number below that level.

It could work, I tell ya!
posted by Justinian at 10:49 PM on January 20, 2013


Not at all, sir. I disagree strongly with the idea of willfully disobeying the guidelines for using a feature here just because special snowflake, and I don't pay enough attention to things to know who Drinky Die is.

Why? What about untentionally disobeying them?

Maybe Mathowie should pick an active userbase number and scale the $$$ signup fee to maintain it. Jack up the prices as the number of active commenters rises above that level. Lower the price as attrition brings the number below that level.

::tenbux::
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 12:12 AM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


While sympathetic to notes that moderation may be becoming too stringent, I do not feel the moderator response was out of line in this case and I have fully absorbed the message.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:41 AM on January 21, 2013


After absorbing the message, did you convert it to chemical energy to use for food?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:38 AM on January 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


the beans on this plate have been re-arranged. some were removed, others were added. discuss ad nauseum.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 6:15 AM on January 21, 2013


Full absorption costs extra, and is illegal in most states.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:34 AM on January 21, 2013


Converting a message into something fundamentally different is what got me in trouble in the first place!
posted by Drinky Die at 12:15 PM on January 21, 2013


I don't pay enough attention to things to know who Drinky Die is

Drinky Die is a magical talking pink pony with a bottle of whisky... obviously. Even if you didn't bother checking out the picture on their user profile, the awesomeness of their comments should be enough to inform you of that. You don't generally get this kind of straight-shooting honesty from the real world; I'll tell you that much.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 1:16 PM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


The real world is just your projection, man.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:24 PM on January 21, 2013 [2 favorites]


Straight-shooting?
Oh please. Not the gun thing again.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:01 PM on January 21, 2013


I never get tired of half-clever attempts to belittle and ridicule through sarcasm and willfully over-the-top exaggeration the legitimate and reasonable concerns of long-term members about the growth and development of the site and its policies, especially when those concerns are obviously poorly understood. Such respect for others' opinions it shows; my heart swells three sizes each and every time.

Alright, I apologize for deliberately and obviously using hyperbole to make fun of chronic complaints about mod power abuse and "appeals to authority", as you put it. I guess what I mean is the sites that do not have a "like it or leave it" policy tend to be the absolute worst shitholes on the internet, and as far as moderation polices go, Metafilter is one of the more reasonable places I've been to. Our experiences clearly differ.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:22 PM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


PS: The aforementioned hyperbole was not directed at you, especially, long-time user.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:26 PM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Apology gratefully accepted.

But I think maybe you misunderstood what I was saying, or the point I was getting at, which I'm happy to take responsibility for. I've written at length about 'appeal to authority' before, and to be honest, it's not that big a deal at the end of the day, and I'm loathe to go into it all again. Like I said, it's a hobbyhorse I consciously tried to dismount years back,.

As dg says upthread, the big question is, as it has been for years, how well the site can scale and keep its integrity and culture mostly intact, and mostly it's scaling reasonably well.

Our experiences clearly differ.

No, I don't expect they do. Perhaps I just waste more time thinking about the (interesting, to me) issues that grow out of large-scale (or small-scale for that matter) online community. As I said to jessamyn privately yesterday, concerns or criticisms I voice are just me being some combination of wanting the community to be the best it can be, to continue to scale well, and my own personal tendency towards occasional crankiness.

Though friend languagehat thinks I view the past through some rosy lenses, I don't think I do, really. I think the site and community are in at least as many ways better as they are worse, compared to years past. The ongoing experiment is fascinating, and although I do think some individual mis-steps have been made here and there (which is only natural), overall, I feel confident in the way Matt and the gang are guiding things.

Guiding being the keyword in my occasional discomfort, though, perhaps, but it is just a fact that as the site grows, more guidance is going to be necessary, and more surface area, if you will, in the interface between moderation and community-at-large. That's just the way of things, I accept, even if there are times when I think it can be a wee bit regrettable.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:58 PM on January 21, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wonder Chicken leaves me with no words that are not redundant.
posted by infini at 11:47 PM on January 21, 2013


The ongoing experiment is fascinating...
To me, also and I suspect there's a significant leaning that way among the MeTa regulars. It's like a little corner of the Internet built especially for us!

... overall, I feel confident in the way Matt and the gang are guiding things.
I hope I didn't give the impression that I think otherwise - the way the community has been managed has scaled well beyond what I would have expected it to - a testament to careful selection of the right mix of people, I think. I think the very human interaction that moderators have with the rest of the community is what makes that work, while potentially being the achilles heel in the longer term because there must come a point where the place gets so big that it's not viable to have enough moderators to make it work.
posted by dg at 7:10 PM on January 22, 2013


Imagine if there was a live feed of all the edits over time. That would be awesome, to see exactly how anal people are. Don't even need usernames or anything.
posted by smackfu at 2:13 PM on January 30, 2013


The API will be out soon for that sort of thing, and you can buy my Android homescreen widget!
posted by Burhanistan at 5:21 PM on January 30, 2013


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