Pony: temporary comment editing February 3, 2006 1:05 PM   Subscribe

Temporary comment editing?
I'm sure this has been brought up before but......It would be nice to be able to edit one's comments for a short period after posting. Not for very long, obviously, but long enough to fix glaring errors or spelling mistakes.
posted by fenriq to Feature Requests at 1:05 PM (86 comments total)

It really, really would.
posted by selfnoise at 1:13 PM on February 3, 2006


Don't we already have this, with live preview?
posted by fandango_matt at 1:14 PM on February 3, 2006


or regular preview?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:15 PM on February 3, 2006


The way it is now: You type, preview and then realize your serious mistakes.

The way it would be: You type, preview, edit and the realize your serious mistakes.

Plus it would be annoying to have to wait for the editing period to be over before answering a comment to be sure the person you're answering doesn't just edit their comment making you look like an idiot.
posted by sveskemus at 1:17 PM on February 3, 2006


I don't understand why you can't/don't do this with preview. You type, preview, see mistakes, correct mistakes, preview, post.
posted by fandango_matt at 1:22 PM on February 3, 2006


Perhaps a Microsoft-like intermediate stage with a panel saying "Are you sure you want to post this misspelled, vapid, inappropriate double of a comment that has already been deleted by the administrators"?
We are grown-ups now, fully capable of typing a shame-faced correction after several derisive comments from the mefi post nazis.
posted by Cranberry at 1:22 PM on February 3, 2006


Eh. Just stop obsessing about your spelling mistakes. We're not writing for the ages here.
posted by crunchland at 1:22 PM on February 3, 2006


bit em, churchland.
posted by quonsar at 1:23 PM on February 3, 2006


Aw, fuck you all, you stupid fucks.
posted by graventy at 1:25 PM on February 3, 2006


Ooops. Accidently posted that. I meant comment editing would be handy.
posted by graventy at 1:25 PM on February 3, 2006


I gotta quick thinking with my hands on the keyboard.
posted by graventy at 1:26 PM on February 3, 2006


posted by Cranberry Perhaps a Microsoft-like intermediate stage with a panel saying "Are you sure you want to post this misspelled, vapid, inappropriate double of a comment that has already been deleted by the administrators"?

Well, we already have this, too. When you make a misspelled, vapid, inappropriate, double comment, MetaFilter users immediately inform you.
posted by fandango_matt at 1:26 PM on February 3, 2006


I'd like this too (though I know we won't get it).
posted by timeistight at 1:27 PM on February 3, 2006


I think this is a wasteful idea, and I'll tell you why.

It seems like it provides a period where thoughtful posters will read their material and edit for typos. But it doesn't actually do that. What it does is provide another level of distance from the actual process of forethought.

For instance: at first we just had the post comment button. It didn't seem too much to ask that commenters simply read the text entry field before clicking that button. but apparently it was. so then we had the mandatory preview button. But the problem there is that having a preview button means you don't have to read the text entry field anymore, since the preview will be a more accurate representation of your post. But STILL, people hit post too quickly, without even reading their previewed posts. It's human nature, I guess. I did it all the time. So then we had the Live Preview, which told us exactly what most of our html would look like, and indeed the post itself, without even having to hit preview. Beautiful right? Except now people act as if they don't have to hit the preview button at all (even though doing so will give you another glimpse at the thread to see if anyone just beat you to the punch and/or answered your question while you were typing). And they obviously have no reason to read the text entry field. And they're STILL ignoring the live preview field and hitting post too quickly. It's so easy to assume that, with all these measures at our disposal to prevent errors like that, our natural comment entry process should go more smoothly and naturally be more correct with less effort than previously required. And so we make the same mistakes, because these measures at our disposal DON'T actually prevent errors, they're not even designed to. They're supposed to inspire us to use forethought in making our posts. They're supposed to make the idea of forethought easier to digest and simpler to motivate.

What will help us with typos and all of that is nothing less than self discipline. Any other features we want we simply use as an opportunity to shrug off the burden of forethought. Every once in a while, no doubt, some people will use that editing window to correct a typo. But honestly those will be the same people who use the live preview anyway. Or the same people that used the preview button properly. Or the same people who just read the text entry field carefully in the first place. If you're not paying enough attention to your spelling/grammar/typos now, (and I know I'm not) then you honestly still won't if we put in this editing window. You'll just go "Oh! If only the editing window were 10 seconds longer!" whenever you see that edit button gray out just as you finally read your comment.
posted by shmegegge at 1:32 PM on February 3, 2006


Don't type with your mouth full, q.
posted by crunchland at 1:32 PM on February 3, 2006


Against. Wear your mistakes.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 1:38 PM on February 3, 2006


I like it on sportsfilter. I actually edit lots of my comments 30 seconds after I make a post, usually because I'll re-read it while having ten other things going on and realize I forgot to mention one extra point.

I've been meaning to ask Kirk how he did the security of it on sportsfilter, I'll ping him now.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:45 PM on February 3, 2006


Yeah, for some reason, typos that look glaring on post just don't register on preview, so I like this idea.

I actually edit lots of my comments 30 seconds

Cheater.

posted by If I Had An Anus at 1:49 PM on February 3, 2006


What about a prompt that would say "Are you REALLY sure that you want to post that?" if the user clicks "Yes" then they would be automatically banned, and if they click "No" they would be directed to a virus-laden spyware site.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:51 PM on February 3, 2006


Cool!
posted by timeistight at 1:51 PM on February 3, 2006


I support this feature because: I can fix my mistakes when someone corrects me, but still leave their post, and they will look foolish, and I will win the internet.
posted by smackfu at 2:00 PM on February 3, 2006


*seethes*
posted by cortex at 2:01 PM on February 3, 2006


It'll be awesome to watch some of the more heated newsfilter posts if and when this gets implemented.
posted by Gator at 2:04 PM on February 3, 2006


Against. We have Live Preview and unLive Preview.
I'm willing to be open-minded, though. Would someone in favor explain why the above two aren't enough?
And no,
Yeah, for some reason, typos that look glaring on post just don't register on preview
(for example) doesn't count as explanation.
posted by Aknaton at 2:09 PM on February 3, 2006


For it. Works great at sportsfilter. Would use it more than 90 percent of the features most people request.
posted by justgary at 2:14 PM on February 3, 2006


Aknaton, you can't dismiss that explanation, unfortunately. That is, in fact, the crux of the argument. A lot of folks seem to think it's worth it.

I agree with you on the subject (I was pretty vocal in the last thread about this), but a lot of people seem to like the idea, and if Matt's onboard there's not much to do for it except quietly suffer the weight of that (gasp!) excessive previewing, and hope that (and here I'm actually legitimately concerned) no one decides to fuck around with the site.
posted by cortex at 2:23 PM on February 3, 2006


Actually, yes, you can in fact dismiss that explanation, because the claim "for some reason, typos that look glaring on post just don't register on preview" is just plain laziness.
posted by fandango_matt at 2:30 PM on February 3, 2006


f_m, I'm not saying "you cannot, intellectually, decide to dismiss that explanation," as if it's just not possible to set it aside. That'd be silly.

I'm saying you cannot usefully tell supporters of this feature that you're dismissing the argument, because they aren't going to do the same -- it is their argument -- and so they are unlikely to give a shit whether you dismiss it.

It's like dismissing outright the existence of God -- try all you like, but if you're talking to a believer you're not exactly making rhetorical progress, yo.

Again, I agree that it's a useless extra crutchy layer for people who goddam well can work without it if they truly make the effort, but just because I think that doesn't mean people are going to jump on the read-carefully bandwagon.

Again also, I don't really care much one way or the other if people correct their spelling at point A, B, or C; I care that we're adding a fundamentally new and potentially very abusive feature to the site because people don't reread their own comments critically enough before hitting Post.
posted by cortex at 2:37 PM on February 3, 2006


I think both sides are pretty much right in this debate. If people aren't looking at their live preview and using "preview" to check for mistakes, then whatever ponies are there people will still make these mistakes.

However, I do think that even when people look at live preview and use "preview", there's still some magic that happens after something is truly posted. What I think is happening, actually, is that errors are more visible to us when we have a fresh view and that's partly a function of time. Using live preview and preview may be activities that are nevertheless a continuous look at a post and so many people just don't see some errors. If so, a self-disciplined solution to this problem is to intentionally look at something else or otherwise take a short break and then go back to proofread your preview before you post.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:47 PM on February 3, 2006


Yes, I completely agree with you. You're absolutely right.

What we're really debating here is, as you noted, the usefulness of adding a new and potentially very abusive feature to the site because people don't reread their own comments critically enough before hitting Post, when we already have a feature that addresses the issue about which they're complaining.

I agree the phenomenon exists, and for some it's a problem, but it's best solved by not catering to their inherent laziness. The way to solve it is to encourage folks to read their posts carefully and use preview--once they get in the habit, they'll find themselves checking posts more thoroughly and making fewer mistakes.

This reminds me of the problem of littering. I once read Disneyland discovered the maximum distance people will walk to a trash can is thirty feet, so they spaced all their trash cans sixty feet apart--no matter where you are, you're never more than thirty feet from a trash can. This feature request sounds like people whining the trash cans are too far apart, and they want a trash can right here, next to their dining table.
posted by fandango_matt at 2:56 PM on February 3, 2006


and potentially very abusive feature

How? What problems do you see?
posted by justgary at 2:57 PM on February 3, 2006


One variant on this might be that as soon as you type anything in the "comment" box it holds your place in line so to speak.

(Or once you preview.)

This way there wouldn't be the rush to answer a point before someone intersperses some long digression, and one could preview in a more relaxed manner.
posted by StickyCarpet at 2:57 PM on February 3, 2006


Poster 1, @ 5:00: "You eat shit from your mother's asshole, Poster 2."

Poster 2, @ 5:01: "Who the fuck do you think you are, Poster 1?!"

Poster 1, @ 5:02: [AMENDMENT] "Poster 1, I agree with what you were saying the other day."

Net result: fucked up confusion perpetuated by grace-period-abusing Poster 1.
posted by cortex at 2:59 PM on February 3, 2006


I'm for it. Not that my posts will make any more sense if I correct the errors.
posted by srboisvert at 3:01 PM on February 3, 2006


(My own example being fucked up in it's own right, of course. Justice. The problem, stated simply, is that with the introduction of an editing window comes the introduction of non-static user comments. That is all that needs to be said: people will fuck with the flow of conversation out of defensiveness or malice or boredom.

And the longer (and hence more useful) the grace period, the larger the window for bait-and-switch abuse.)
posted by cortex at 3:02 PM on February 3, 2006


and potentially very abusive feature

Just think how cool it would be to have two different comments in two different threads, that each linked to the other.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:04 PM on February 3, 2006


TOM: "I support the war, because Saddam had weapons of mass destruction."

DICK: "The claim Saddam had weapons of mass destruction turned out to be false."

TOM: (editing entry) "I support the war, even though the claim Saddam had weapons of mass destruction turned out to be false. Please read my comments before responding."

DICK: "But you claimed he had them before I said he didn't, and then you edited so now you're claiming he didn't"

HARRY: WTF?!?!
posted by fandango_matt at 3:05 PM on February 3, 2006


...so everyone starts quoting the posts they are responding to, which would be bad.
posted by smackfu at 3:40 PM on February 3, 2006


people will fuck with the flow of conversation out of defensiveness or malice or boredom.

on the ubuntu linux forums, when a post/comment is edited by the author the fact is duly noted along with time and date. i don't see where this would be a big issue.

Edited by quonsar at 6:40 PM on February 3
posted by quonsar at 3:40 PM on February 3, 2006


people will fuck with the flow of conversation out of defensiveness or malice or boredom.

Wouldn't that type member screw around with metafilter anyway?

However, if you see the pony as having no positives, I can understand the concern. If you see it as a useful feature, the concern doesn't seem that great.
posted by justgary at 3:44 PM on February 3, 2006


Yeah. My constants differ: I see the concern as greater in magnitude than any percieve benefit. (I've said it before -- people will go from missing a spelling error after preview to missing a spelling error after the grace period.)

on the ubuntu linux forums, when a post/comment is edited by the author the fact is duly noted along with time and date. i don't see where this would be a big issue.

Ug. So now we add "edited at..." crap to posts as well. And if we don't include a full changelog, knowing that someone edited something tells us nothing about what it was before. Welcome to another wrinkle: arguments over whether Poster 2 is fabricating the contentious but no longer visible content of Poster 1's edited post.
posted by cortex at 3:48 PM on February 3, 2006


(And I don't know if I've said this explicitly yet: I don't think this is a bad idea for a forum feature in general. quonsar's ubuntu example is a reasonable one; it may serve that forum very well. But I think it's a lousy feature for Metafilter.)
posted by cortex at 3:51 PM on February 3, 2006


Editing (and deleting) comments has worked out really well on SportsFilter. There were some shenanigans when we first added the feature, but that only lasted a day and it's just part of the site now.

We haven't had anyone abuse it, as far as I know. SportsFilter tends to be less confrontational than some of MetaFilter's more provacative topics, though. If the window for editing your comments is short (at SportsFilter you can only edit or delete the comments within three minutes), people would catch it, especially if you're commenting in an active thread.

People on MetaFilter aren't shy about pointing out when someone breaks the rules, so abuses could be corrected through self-policing. I think adding the feature would be less interruptive than the typo callouts and self-callouts.

I don't think typos are out of laziness. I usually read my comments closely in the textarea and in the live preview, then hit the Preview button and read the comment there, and I still have typos. I'm in favor of adding the feature to MetaFilter.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:55 PM on February 3, 2006


Just to clarify what I meant by "shenanigans," there was a lot of goofing off in the thread where we first announced the feature. I don't know of any instances where someone changed the meaning of what they originally posted.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:58 PM on February 3, 2006


As an aside, I'd like to have a "Quote this post" feature.
posted by fandango_matt at 4:00 PM on February 3, 2006


quonsar : "Edited by quonsar at 6:40 PM on February 3"

Whoa, whoa whoa! It's not even 6:40 yet! quonsar is editing his comments from the future!

So..I guess that means Matt decides to implement this feature.
Oh great and future quonsar, please report unto me the score of the Super Bowl.

posted by graventy at 4:03 PM on February 3, 2006


on the ubuntu linux forums, when a post/comment is edited by the author the fact is duly noted along with time and date. i don't see where this would be a big issue.

Since the potential feature is likely to be time limited (to something under 10 minutes maybe?) the time stamp is probably not necessary. A discrete little EDITED after the [!] would be nice though.
posted by Chuckles at 4:04 PM on February 3, 2006


at SportsFilter you can only edit or delete the comments within three minutes

Okay then, 3 minutes... How do the mechanics work? Once you have clicked 'edit', is there a time limit for submitting the change?
posted by Chuckles at 4:08 PM on February 3, 2006


to something under 10 minutes maybe?

Way under 10 minutes.
posted by justgary at 4:09 PM on February 3, 2006


here's the way I would get around shenanigans.

the edit window would be short, 3 minutes sounds good, with a reminder displayed on the page letting people know how much time is left (not a countdown, just static when the edit page is loaded).

Next, I would allow people to update their comments, and as for gross abuse, simply putting a tiny link to the previous version in the posted by line should keep a record around of those that attempt to abuse such a system. You'd only get one edit, and that's it.

It would look something like this:
I love this site, as I said the other day repeatedly said the wanker on the lorem ipsum to the moon with you alice pickles and golden robes but always with the pickles as they worshiped me, their sun god
posted by mathowie at 5:35 PM PST on February 3 (edited) [!]
The link would open a simple page (maybe a popup) showing their previous comment. If people saw a confusing, contentious thread with a bunch of edits, they could see the 3 minute histories of each to see if anyone was goofing around.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:30 PM on February 3, 2006


I dunno... this seems like it adds a lot of complexity and potential confusion just to provide another layer of previewing, when we already have two. If you don't want your posts to contain typos, use the frickin' preview.
posted by gsteff at 5:49 PM on February 3, 2006


I got the idea from Sportsfilter and like it there as well. I don't see it being overly abused there but the traffic's lighter and alot less contentious (usually).
posted by fenriq at 5:50 PM on February 3, 2006


I agree with those who see it as a superfluous add-on, irrespective of potential abuse. Perhaps make spellchecking mandatory for some users. And if you want to say something else, then type another comment. 3 layers of editing for a message board. Heh. Ulysses could have done with this.
posted by peacay at 6:01 PM on February 3, 2006


A limit to the number of characters one could change in a certain amount of time might alleviate abuse of this feature.

If you're only transposing letters in three or four words that you've typed wrong, for example, it's not likely to lead to confusion, and removes the risk of people changing the entire meaning of their comment.
posted by interrobang at 7:30 PM on February 3, 2006


The reason the live edit feature doesn't work often is people want to get their precious comment published NOW. It's more important to respond quickly or get credit than carefully proof read your post. Only when your comment is posted and you sit back in your chair satisfied do you suddenly realize your mistake, or the one sentence you left out. I realize that falls on the user, but it's what makes the live preview different from comment editing.

If you're only transposing letters in three or four words that you've typed wrong, for example, it's not likely to lead to confusion, and removes the risk of people changing the entire meaning of their comment.

If you only have a limited window of time to edit you really don't need that. Besides, to change the meaning of something all you'd have to do is add a "don't" to "I believe".

I really doubt there would be much of a problem. Do people really think there's that many members who would screw with it? There are lots of places on metafilter a member could cause trouble. Matt can and does ban them. Same here.
posted by justgary at 7:42 PM on February 3, 2006


If you only have a limited window of time to edit you really don't need that. Besides, to change the meaning of something all you'd have to do is add a "don't" to "I believe".

I really doubt there would be much of a problem. Do people really think there's that many members who would screw with it? There are lots of places on metafilter a member could cause trouble. Matt can and does ban them. Same here.


I agree with this. I'm only suggesting it because the only time I ever make a mistake is when I spell something wrong, and I wish I could go back and fix about two letters. My solution is only a suggestion to those that are worried that people would change the meaning of their comments.

It would also cut down on thsi:
posted by interrobang at 7:47 PM on February 3, 2006


*this*, damn it.
posted by interrobang at 7:48 PM on February 3, 2006


Do people really think there's that many members who would screw with it?

There are some members who engage in high-profile Personality Wars with one another, and they're not getting banned. Maybe Matt's "track changes" idea (where people can click to see exactly what was edited) could cut down on feuding MeFites derailing the fast-moving, high-intensity threads with edit wars, I don't know. But on the other hand, when people see the "edited" link, pretty much everybody's going to click it to see what was originally said, and possibly (probably?) comment on it or take it into account, which might kind of defeat the purpose of the feature (at least, for people who are only going to use it to correct minor edits).

I dunno, just thinking out loud. It really does seem like more trouble than it's worth, though.
posted by Gator at 7:52 PM on February 3, 2006


Conan the Grammarian would approve.
posted by fenriq at 7:56 PM on February 3, 2006


here are some members who engage in high-profile Personality Wars

Well, I can see both sides. I'll shut up now as I'm already said I'm on the yes side. We haven't had the trouble (sportsfilter) that's being talked about here (nor the live preview, which makes the editing perhaps more important), but metafilter is a different beast, and for the most part we don't have many personality wars, and we're quite a bit smaller. So who knows...
posted by justgary at 8:12 PM on February 3, 2006


mathowie: Next, I would allow people to update their comments,

I'm not sure if I get this part. Sounds a little like you are saying that people will be able to make additions without time limit, but edits with a 3 minute limit...

justgary: The reason the live edit feature doesn't work often is people want to get their precious comment published NOW. It's more important to respond quickly or get credit than carefully proof read your post.

I completely agree. The thing is, sometimes it is important to get a comment posted fast. As you say, to get credit, but also because you can help shape a conversation.

interrobang: I'm only suggesting it because the only time I ever make a mistake is when I spell something wrong,

Oh really?
posted by Chuckles at 8:14 PM on February 3, 2006


Ya rly.
posted by interrobang at 8:26 PM on February 3, 2006


Maybe Matt's "track changes" idea (where people can click to see exactly what was edited) could cut down on feuding MeFites derailing the fast-moving, high-intensity threads with edit wars, I don't know.

Derails from some members are exactly why comment edits are a Really Bad Idea.
posted by Rothko at 8:29 PM on February 3, 2006


Like you?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:45 PM on February 3, 2006


Or you?
posted by Rothko at 8:53 PM on February 3, 2006


OOOOOooooo!
posted by interrobang at 9:05 PM on February 3, 2006


If only Keith spent more time on quality posts and less on frivolous comments, he'd have less need to revise what comes out of his big mouth.
posted by Rothko at 9:12 PM on February 3, 2006


Rothko, I thought you didn't like being addressed by anything other than your present username. How about just walking the walk huh?
posted by peacay at 9:16 PM on February 3, 2006


See, if you had just left it with "Or you?" then it would be arguable that we're both guilty (or not guilty) of it here. But then you go and add the second comment, true to type, and are your own best example of the behavior you're condemning. Which makes my original comment relevant and not an example of the behavior you are criticizing.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:26 PM on February 3, 2006


See, if you hadn't commented in your usual tedious and snotty manner, your behavior wouldn't have been brought up. I mentioned your name because that's a very good example of how you try to derail threads.
posted by Rothko at 9:33 PM on February 3, 2006


Wouldn't it be more fun if anyone - besides the poster - could change a comment?
posted by Cranberry at 9:37 PM on February 3, 2006


You two are so cute.
posted by Kwantsar at 9:39 PM on February 3, 2006


A little perspective as to what EB brings to this place:

Ethereal Bligh has posted 7 links and 1889 comments to MetaFilter

Rothko has posted 36 links and 1759 comments to MetaFilter


No small wonder he wants to edit his comments.
posted by Rothko at 9:39 PM on February 3, 2006


But ethereal bligh comes out on top when it comes to contacts linking to him.

We need a tie breaker! O.k. Whip em out.
posted by justgary at 9:58 PM on February 3, 2006


...

Right. So you're both catty bitches, but EB doesn't post the blue often enough, compared to the Rothko gold standard, and so you win.

Congratulations on that.
posted by cortex at 10:01 PM on February 3, 2006


I think that perhaps a 3 minute edit window would be most appropriate for FPPs, to fix up any glaring spelling mistakes that somehow made it through preview and live preview. But I agree with others in this thread who have said that during the ensuing debate that most threads (especially political) generate, allowing users to edit their comments could lead to non-sequiters and would potentially make people look foolish.

So I support the idea of a 3 minute window to fix up FPPs, but not in-thread comments.
posted by Effigy2000 at 10:01 PM on February 3, 2006


EB & Rothko -
Get a room, please.
posted by swell at 10:14 PM on February 3, 2006


"Get a room, please."

Hey, don't look at me, I only made two comments.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:22 PM on February 3, 2006


Don't look at me, either. I made one comment and Keith gets snotty again.
posted by Rothko at 10:24 PM on February 3, 2006


please stop bringing external shit into this thread. thank you.
posted by shmegegge at 10:26 PM on February 3, 2006


please flame out in this thread. thank you.
posted by Kwantsar at 10:38 PM on February 3, 2006


I would like the ability to go back and edit or delete Rothko's and EB's comments. But mostly Rothko's.
posted by soyjoy at 10:41 PM on February 3, 2006


I wouldn't mind the ability to edit a few people's comments, too.
posted by Rothko at 10:50 PM on February 3, 2006



posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:01 PM on February 3, 2006


I wouldn't mind the ability to e-bitchslap a few people.
posted by fandango_matt at 11:08 PM on February 3, 2006


Rothko writes "I mentioned your name because that's a very good example of how you try to derail threads."

That's the comment I'm putting on the teeshirt of my Rothko Metafilter-Action-Figure-Dollâ„¢.
posted by peacay at 12:04 AM on February 4, 2006


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