Comment Editing? November 30, 2007 12:51 PM   Subscribe

Comment editing: Is it a pony in the works for some day or will it never ever happen?

In the past, I know there has been some discussion about comment editing, and many on the site were opposed to it. Was the idea thoroughly shot down, or is it still a possibility.

One of the concerns seemed to be that people would edit their comments to completely change their meaning.

If we did allow comment editing, what if a copy of the original version were saved, and could be viewed by users who are interested in seeing the original unedited version.
posted by drezdn to MetaFilter-Related at 12:51 PM (185 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

You've just described my MetaFilter nightmare.
posted by dead_ at 12:55 PM on November 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


If it did happen, maybe it could be limited to within a minute or two after the comment was posted. This way, it would be limited to the "oh shit, I just misspelled something, left something out, etc."
posted by drezdn at 12:57 PM on November 30, 2007


I'd like to be able to edit other peoples comments, yes.
posted by chlorus at 12:57 PM on November 30, 2007 [4 favorites]


Think. Type carefully. Live with the typos. They happen to everyone and no-one else gives a damn about yours.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:59 PM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


If this was going to happen, I'd vote for a five minute fix-your-typos window only. But, I've just got into a habit of skipping over the typos anyway. I mean, people do it in emails and other common stuff too, so it's not a big deal.
posted by philomathoholic at 1:04 PM on November 30, 2007


Yeah, short-term (like 3 or so minutes) editing is something we'll do someday in the next couple months. Since it's short term, I don't believe it'll lead to any major changes besides less typos (and less followup omg I meant assess not asses! comments)
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:04 PM on November 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


I think everyone should get to delete, not edit, ONE of their own comments once a week. This could be accomplished by adding a "Boy Was I Drunk" button on the profile page.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:06 PM on November 30, 2007 [17 favorites]


If it did happen, maybe it could be limited to within a minute or two after the comment was posted. This way, it would be limited to the "oh shit, I just misspelled something, left something out, etc."

Isn't that precisely what the preview button is for? It behaves like "Post Comment," but gives a chance to correct typos or add in things you left out?
posted by dersins at 1:07 PM on November 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


I too would like to comment on editing. Where'd you get your journalism degree, ya stupid Editor? I could edit better than that!
posted by blue_beetle at 1:07 PM on November 30, 2007


Live with the typos. They happen to everyone and no-one else gives a damn about yours.



Drezdn's typos annoy the shit out of me, actually.
posted by Mister_A at 1:10 PM on November 30, 2007


god, why does everyone here have to take everything that is good and pure and simple and make it touch their peepee?

STOP ALL THE MEDDLIN

off my lawn, dbags.
posted by fishfucker at 1:15 PM on November 30, 2007 [4 favorites]


I think we need to asses this idea a little more.
posted by shmegegge at 1:16 PM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


omg
posted by shmegegge at 1:16 PM on November 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


Let the commentor edit his or her own comment, but only show the edited version to the commentor. That way they stop posting followup comments correcting minor typos that most people would just skip over anyway. As an added bonus, if someone *does* mock them for their typo, they will be confused and make a further fool of myself.
posted by cairnish at 1:21 PM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Themselfs.
posted by cairnish at 1:22 PM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Themselves.
posted by cairnish at 1:22 PM on November 30, 2007 [6 favorites]


What fishfucker said.
posted by languagehat at 1:24 PM on November 30, 2007


lolcatz may find this feature very useful. I notice they are terrible spellers.
posted by found missing at 1:27 PM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


cairnish: I think the word you are looking for is "theyselfs" (moran).
posted by Mister_A at 1:28 PM on November 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


Please no editing.

Allowing for editing, even if it is only a 3 minute window, further encourages thoughtless posting. I've always felt that part of the reason MetaFilter's level of discourse is so high stems from the way we post: once you hit submit, your words are more or less engraved in stone. There's a reason people are fearful of posting to the blue their first few times, it's because they know--as we all do--that there's no turning back, so we had better make it good. I think this understanding extends (to a lesser extent) into commenting as well.

Really. I think the permanency of comments, combined with the irrepressible snarking that follows poor posts is the main reason we have so many great posts/comments. It's in the fear, baby.

The Live Preview box, as well as the preview button, exist to encourage careful posting. By allowing for edits, the incentive to actually scrutinize what you are writing is removed. When comment editing is enabled, is there really any reason to reread your comment at all? I mean, if you muck it up, just edit it right away. Examine it in the thread, right? Why bother clicking the preview button?

... and I'm sure someone will find some type of mistake in this comment, which probably undoes my entire point, amirite??!
posted by dead_ at 1:29 PM on November 30, 2007 [14 favorites]


Yeah, short-term (like 3 or so minutes) editing is something we'll do someday in the next couple months.

This also means that we have to decide

- what to do if there has been a subsequent comment and how to deal with jokesterism or weird snipe-then-remove-snipe commenting using the edit feature
- how to indicate that something has been edited
- does editing include deletion?

I really think Preview is supposed to do this, but it sure seems like, for some crazy reason, it doesn't.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:40 PM on November 30, 2007


I imagine [joke here] placeholders as first posts, allowing the first poster to take some time to craft the perfect YouTube link.
posted by ALongDecember at 1:45 PM on November 30, 2007


I know what we should do (we=you, jessamyn). Allow editing, but create a "no editing pledge pin" that shows up in your profile if you voluntarily disable editing. Then we kill everyone who doesn't volunteer.
posted by Mister_A at 1:46 PM on November 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


I hate this idea. I do NOT want comment editing, at all. I agree with dead_. Not being able to change your comments means good things for Metafilter.
posted by agregoli at 1:47 PM on November 30, 2007


Allowing for editing, even if it is only a 3 minute window, further encourages thoughtless posting. I've always felt that part of the reason MetaFilter's level of discourse is so high stems from the way we post: once you hit submit, your words are more or less engraved in stone

Yeah, well check out this comment of mine. I spent forever writing it, explaining a complicated mathematical thing and forgot a </sup> tag ruining the meaning. If anyone tried to comprehend it without the tag, they'd be lost. I posted a corrected version, but there was no way for me to notify people not to read the first.

To this day I still remember that :P That was five years ago. (this is the corrected version, and btw)

As far as thoughtless posting goes, if people didn't do it, they wouldn't need corrections. So obviously it happens.

I'm glad this will be out in a couple months. In fact, I remembered Matt saying we would get it at some point, but that was years ago.
posted by delmoi at 1:49 PM on November 30, 2007


delmoi, something similar happened to me once. I e-mailed cortex and he fixed it.
posted by dead_ at 1:50 PM on November 30, 2007


If the edit function prohibits any new edits after a subsequent comment appears in the thread, I think it would help cut down the number of follow-up correction comments while still maintaining the integrity of the thread.
posted by mullacc at 1:50 PM on November 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


I also agree with dead_. There will be at least as many comments devoted to "WHOOPS MY COMMENT WAS RESPONDING TO WHEN YOU SAID LOLOCAUST NOT WHEN YOU CHANGED IT TO HOLOCAUST" as there currently are comments about "WHOOPS I ACCIDENTALLY MADE LIGHT OF GENOCIDE WITH MY MISSPELLING"
posted by Greg Nog at 1:52 PM on November 30, 2007


I think this is a bad idea. I agree with _dead and with jessamyn; there are complications to this, and even aside from the complications it will tend to encourage more thoughtless posting.
posted by koeselitz at 1:57 PM on November 30, 2007


I enabled post editing on a forum with like a one *hour* window, and still people complain they can't fix something or other. They also never use preview that I can tell. If the edit window is very, very short, it should not really enable much in the way of shenanigans (how naive can I be?) but would allow the genuinely fumble-fingered to tidy up a bit.

Any longer than a few minutes though, I am in strong agreement - it goes on your permanent record. And gaming the window of opportunity should be a taserable offense.
posted by cairnish at 1:58 PM on November 30, 2007


Man, I have to say this sounds like a horrible, horrible idea. I understand the desire, and have certainly wanted to change a comment of mine, but... please don't change allow it.
posted by ORthey at 2:01 PM on November 30, 2007


I am going to chop off BOTH HANDS if this change goes through.
posted by Mister_A at 2:02 PM on November 30, 2007


I think everyone should get to delete, not edit, ONE of their own comments once a week.

I agree, but only if the comment is chosen at random.
posted by ODiV at 2:06 PM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I really think Preview is supposed to do this, but it sure seems like, for some crazy reason, it doesn't.

Maybe the comment form needs to be revamped? Say like having live preview next to the active comment box, so you're actively seeing what you're typing as opposed to having to scroll to see, then scroll up, then scroll back, etc, etc And please, for god's sake, make the comment box bigger, say twice the width.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:07 PM on November 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


I think what I like most about not being able to edit posts is that in the current framework, if you act like a dick and feel bad about it, you can't just change it a second later and hope no one noticed; you have to actually apologize and admit your dickery. Or you can dig in and refuse to apologize, of course, but either way, everyone knows where you stand. I'm concerned that the expectations for responsibility in maintaining civility are gonna drop if people know they can back out of what they just said.

On a personal note, I would miss the little thrill I get when I hit post, and know that consequences may be well on their way: "Is this dude gonna hunt me down and skin me because I implied modern Led Zeppelin shows are for senior citizens? Who knows! Here we go! Whee!"
posted by Greg Nog at 2:10 PM on November 30, 2007


I kind of like the way it's executed on SpoFi. There you get a couple of minutes to edit, and the window closes after that time. This is usually enough time to handle some real blunders, which is kind of what I suspect it was designed for.
posted by psmealey at 2:16 PM on November 30, 2007


I really think Preview is supposed to do this...

Doesn't Preview mess up some formatting? Or has all that been fixed? Or am I just crazy? If the last, once someone tells me so I'm editing this comment to say "Yeah."

Oh, we can't edit yet? Damn.
posted by solotoro at 2:17 PM on November 30, 2007


Maybe the editing could be given a trial run on Askme, given its nonasshat nature?
posted by R. Mutt at 2:18 PM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


*non-asshat
posted by R. Mutt at 2:19 PM on November 30, 2007


*non-ass-hat
posted by R. Mutt at 2:19 PM on November 30, 2007


*it's
posted by R. Mutt at 2:19 PM on November 30, 2007


I vote for this being a terrible idea.
posted by aubilenon at 2:20 PM on November 30, 2007


I use preview obsessively and read over my yappery again and again and still occasionally use a word that is subtly or spectacularly wrong, think of the right word about fifteen minutes later, and find myself powerless to implement it. My typos I don't care about, but the above-described is killing my soul. I think you should be able to edit a small number of posts per month, like one or two, with maybe a half-hour window. Also that whenever you make a typo and come back and go "Stupid, stupid, stupid! I meant their!" then you should lose your editing privileges for that month because everyone knows you're not an idiot and we probably read through your there, anyway.
posted by Don Pepino at 2:23 PM on November 30, 2007


R. mutt:

non–ass-hat

(retart).
posted by Mister_A at 2:23 PM on November 30, 2007


And please, for god's sake, make the comment box bigger, say twice the width.

Making it a percentage of the window size would be nicer. Resizeable Form Fields can do the trick in the mean time if you use Firefox.
posted by Gary at 2:24 PM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


This is one of those Monkey's Paw style wishes that sounds nice at first but ends up annihilating the world.
posted by brain_drain at 2:24 PM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]




*it's

YOU ARE FAIL.
posted by dersins at 2:29 PM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I downloaded the form fields thing - how do yo do it?
posted by Mister_A at 2:30 PM on November 30, 2007


Nevermind it's working now.
posted by Mister_A at 2:30 PM on November 30, 2007


What about letting people minimize their own comments in some way? The ideal implementation, IMO, would involve putting the comment in a DIV that's hidden by default but can be shown on request. But there are other ways you could do it — tiny font size, text-color-same-as-bgcolor, whatever.

If a comment was an honest-to-god mistake, then minimizing the comment will take it out of the default view and keep it from distracting people. Maybe you hit post before you were done, or made a typo, or had your cat on the keyboard. If you minimize the screwed-up version, people will see the correct version first, and delmoi won't have to be so embarrassed by his damn equation or whatever.

If you were drunk, or angry, or just plain unfit for polite society, then minimizing the comment will serve as a nice obvious "hey, I take it back." But — and this is important — IT WON'T LET YOU ERASE WHAT YOU SAID. You can turn down the volume on the inflammatory comment, so to speak, but you can't censor it completely. Anyone who's curious can still read it and find out what a dickbag you were, and you can't make the angry people posting later in the thread look like idiots by changing your comment to something inoffensive.
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:34 PM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I really think Preview is supposed to do this, but it sure seems like, for some crazy reason, it doesn't.

Because no one uses Preview. There's Live Preview, but it just prints another copy of what you're typing, so it doesn't help you catch typos or anything, just HTML errors.
posted by smackfu at 2:34 PM on November 30, 2007


Mister Rogers was a great man! I loved him!
posted by interrobang at 3:34 PM on April 3 [+][!] [edited at 4:15]

Fuck you, interrobang
posted by MimsyBorogoves at 3:40 PM on April 3 [+][!]

You're a real piece of work, interrobang--Mister Rogers was a great man!
posted by iliketurtles at 3:42 PM on April 3 [+][!]

Hay guys, why's everyone being so mean to interrobang?
posted by thecondombroke at 3:56 PM on April 3 [+][!]
posted by interrobang at 2:39 PM on November 30, 2007 [13 favorites]


What about letting people minimize their own comments in some way? The ideal implementation, IMO, would involve putting the comment in a DIV that's hidden by default but can be shown on request.

The problem is that many people (not me, of course) would scan threads for the very purpose of looking at comments that users regretted making. So this approach would actually draw more attention to "morning after" comments, not less.
posted by brain_drain at 2:40 PM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Seems to me typos are most likely in fast-moving threads, where there may be some pressure to keep up. And it also seems to me that a fast-moving thread could go fucko kerblooie if people are taking their comments off the board thirty seconds after posting, monkeying around with them, and redeploying them a minute later. (The trouble coming in because, I imagine at least, that the removed comments wouldn't disappear for other users until the page had been refreshed.) So I have to throw in with the "this is a pretty bad idea" crowd, especially since all this pony really does is spare users the crushing humiliation of an it's/its stutter.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 2:55 PM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Bullshit Matt, just bullshit.
posted by cillit bang at 3:01 PM on November 30, 2007




Why do people use the word "retart"?

Well, the cake is a lie. And sometimes there's just no pie left.
So you reach for the tarts. But they're tiny compared to a whole pie. So you need another one. Hence, "retart."

Or...

Say you're in a pitched internet argument with someone who calls you a sour prostitute and you go "I know you are but what am I?" That'd be the other kind of retart.
posted by juv3nal at 3:11 PM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm agnostic, but I'm glad we're talking about it.
posted by Chuckles at 3:13 PM on November 30, 2007


There's a good way to do this. Allow you to append to your previous comment, or edit your existing comment as long as the whitespace-ignoring case-insensitive Levenshtein distance is less than 10 and doesn't involve adding or removing the word "not" or variants thereof; also you can combine these operations on a rare basis (let's say on any 3 posts in a rolling 2-week window that resets on the third Friday of every other month).
posted by 0xFCAF at 3:19 PM on November 30, 2007 [3 favorites]


Preview would go a long way towards fixing this if preview actually behaved or looked anything like the actual post.
posted by 31d1 at 3:20 PM on November 30, 2007 [2 favorites]


fucko kerblooie!

I've been thinking more about this and it seems like it would be really hard to build this in where it was understandable enough to be useful [i.e. without a ton of weird built in "you can edit your comment but only between 7 and 31 seconds after you make it and only then if no one else has commented and only THEN if the month has an R in it" caveats] but also not prone to too much gaming or actual incorporation in various commenting techniques.

So the "comment redeployment" issue which is what I will henceforth be calling this thing, is something I am concerned about. That is where someone edits a comment not to fix a typo but to make a point or fuck with the site or other users. I don't think it would be a huge problem but one that it would pay to be mindful of if this is a feature mathowie decides to rollout.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:20 PM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't really care if matt implements it or not. But we've had this same thread a couple of times here already with possible problem after possible problem being brought up.

It's been a part of spofi for a while now and not a single time has it ever been a problem. Yes, much smaller site, but not one single time. So vote against it, but most of these reasons are straight from chicken little.
posted by justgary at 3:26 PM on November 30, 2007


At the very least, comment redeployment has to be detectable, by keeping a copy of the original in the database.
posted by Chuckles at 3:26 PM on November 30, 2007


Nth-ing "leave the comments be" - forces people to think before commenting. If you keep spilling your milk, don't pour such a large glass next time! Sha.
posted by not_on_display at 3:33 PM on November 30, 2007


I completely agree with you all, we should allow comment editing.
posted by Autarky at 3:36 PM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't believe it'll lead to any major changes besides less typos...

That's fewer typos, Matt :^)
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 3:48 PM on November 30, 2007


Oh boy, I just can't hardly wait for a thousand fucko kerblooie instances of:

Mister Rogers was a Satan-worshipping puppyraper great man. I loved him.

Fixed that for me!
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:56 PM on November 30, 2007


"WHOOPS I ACCIDENTALLY MADE LIGHT OF GENOCIDE WITH MY MISSPELLING"

Earlier this week on NPR Steve Inskeep was interviewing Ehud Olmert and when asking him about the peace talks he said something like "So what do you think the final..." and then there was juuust long enough of a pause to know he almost said "solution to this will be." He caught himself and went with "resolution" I think, but it was pretty awesome.

My typos drive me nuts, but I'm in general against comment editing. Worth a shot, but someone will figure out how to game it, and that should probably be up there with self-links on the Things Not To Do List.
posted by Cyrano at 3:57 PM on November 30, 2007 [4 favorites]


Preview would go a long way towards fixing this if preview actually behaved or looked anything like the actual post.

Preview looks exactly like the actual post.

Live preview, not so much, though.
posted by dersins at 4:07 PM on November 30, 2007


For me the benefit would be to reduce all those in-thread typo corrections. I'm with Wolfdog--everybody makes 'em and nobody really cares much, except where the meaning hinges on it. But people persist on posting subsequent correction entries for typos: "I meant "in" not "on"--haven't had my morning coffee," etc. These are much more annoying that the typos that everyone can figure out anyway.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:13 PM on November 30, 2007


that than the typos.





amirite?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:14 PM on November 30, 2007


If your user number's digits add up to the numerical value of either the current month or day and it's within 3 days of a full moon (based on lat/lon, natch), you begin with a 3 minute editing window, reduced by 30 seconds for each subsequent comment edit, until you run out of seconds or full-moon promximity.

Or, suck it up and don't post corrections that add nothing to the original ("opps! I meant 'their'!"), and don't post nitpicky criticisms of others.

Honestly, I think a few minutes is fine, but it wouldn't bother me if this pony never got out of the stable.
posted by notashroom at 4:18 PM on November 30, 2007


Normally I really like things that allow me to correct mistakes and look less incompetent. But I just can't get excited about this one, I just see to many instances of:

FUCKYOU ASSHOLE YOU SHOULD DIE IN FIRE I HOPE YOU NEVER BREEDE BITCHES THE DEVEL IS GOING TO RAPE YOURE ASS FOREVER AND I AM GOING TO WATCH WITH A MONKEY ON MY SHOULDER LULSOMGBBQ
posted by quin at 6:02 PM on November 30 [+] [!]

-Turns into-

I disagree with your assessment, and I think you do yourself a disservice by making points like that.
posted by quin at 6:02 PM on November 30 [+] [!] [edited 6:03 PM]

Some people will see the pre-edit and react, subsequent posters will have no idea what the early responders are talking about.
posted by quin at 4:20 PM on November 30, 2007


Though if we do go this route, I really like drezdn's idea of being able to view the original.
posted by quin at 4:24 PM on November 30, 2007


That problem is on the same level as the problem of mods deleting a comment and subsequent comments not reflecting what's left. My point is we have already gone some ways down this road, whe might as well do comment editing as well.
posted by Catfry at 4:30 PM on November 30, 2007


(You can tell I'm just itching for the ability to edit my 'whe' to 'we' right now)
posted by Catfry at 4:32 PM on November 30, 2007


SportsFilter has had an 3 minute edit window for a while now and it seems to work.
posted by terrapin at 4:36 PM on November 30, 2007


How about APPEND rather than edit, for three minutes? So you make a comment, realize you f'd up, and you tack on a quick "oops, I mean bluh" -- but it shows up at the bottom of your comment as...

EDITED AT LA LA LA: oops, I mean bluh

Personally I prefer no editing, but it's a compromise I could live with.
posted by davejay at 4:40 PM on November 30, 2007 [11 favorites]


and by EDITED AT LA LA LA I meant Edited at 12:37pm PST
posted by davejay at 4:40 PM on November 30, 2007


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| This meta post seems to be a "pony" request and lacks citations. |
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posted by maxwelton at 4:42 PM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


Anything that will increase the work of the mods is a good thing.
posted by Sailormom at 5:17 PM on November 30, 2007


I meant, nevermind.
posted by Sailormom at 5:18 PM on November 30, 2007


Wolfdog writes "Live with the typos. They happen to everyone and no-one else gives a damn about yours."

Considering that amount of people (myself included) who go off the rails when someone else uses "its" instead of "it's" (or vice versa), I think that the evidence is against this.

Personally, I like the idea just because of the amount of times where MetaFilter's parsing of HTML entities is wonky, and what looks fine in live preview breaks when actually posted. It's tough, because everybody says "the way to enter stuff with HTML entities is to not use Real Preview, just Live Preview", but the other day it was exactly that which caused the problem.

(I typed "ampersand-sharp-six-zero-semicolon" (with the actual symbols, not these words) to get a "less-than" symbol, which showed fine in live preview, but showed up as just "60;" in the actual comment. Followed by two comments where I tried to fix it, both of which also failed)

Other than that, though, there seems to be a high likelihood of bad usage, so my recommendation is:

Try it out. If it gets abused, shut it off. If it doesn't, leave it. Not all decisions made here are permanent, so "It might result in bad result X!" isn't really an argument about why something should be avoided, just about why it should be done with care and some careful monitoring for a while.
posted by Bugbread at 5:19 PM on November 30, 2007


It's been a part of spofi for a while now and not a single time has it ever been a problem. Yes, much smaller site, but not one single time. So vote against it, but most of these reasons are straight from chicken little.

For the people saying this is a horrible idea, I was right there with you for the first eight years of running this site. I made a point of saying no post-editing ever, and I used to force preview before any comment.

But once we had live preview and instant posting back, I find myself correcting my own typos a couple times a week, and that's only because I'm an admin and I can do it. I find myself doing it on Flickr comments as well, also on Vox. I even tried it on a few wordpress blogs and sportsfilter a few times.

Sure people wanting to fuck with other people can do stupid shit with it, but those same people can screw with other people using everything else on the site. By and large it's been available in these other places and been no big deal -- in fact it's just been another nice little feature that people expect in blogging/commenting software.

So I've come around to allowing some three minute window of minor edits to comments because I think it'd help people fix their typos and grammar after they post with minimal problems otherwise.

It's not really on our plate right now, it's a someday thing that would take a week of work to implement but I would envision it as a time-limited window showing a countdown if you clicked a small "edit" link after posting and we would keep track of your original comment in a private admin view to make sure people aren't using it for nefarious reasons, but a note that you edited it publicly shown seems unnecessary.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 5:21 PM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think this would be a good thing.

Besides, if it's okay for the mods to edit my comments then it damn well should be okay for me to do it too.
posted by timeistight at 5:22 PM on November 30, 2007


This rarely happens, but this is a change to the site I'm fine with.
posted by gsteff at 5:33 PM on November 30, 2007


First of all a lot of the fears people are brining up could be mitigated pretty easily. The biggest would be to allow people to see previous versions of the comments.
posted by delmoi at 5:33 PM on November 30, 2007


There's Live Preview, but it just prints another copy of what you're typing, so it doesn't help you catch typos or anything

What the hell? If you read the Live Preview, which is a copy of what you're typing, you can catch typos. I've never understood this argument. I rarely have typos in my comments, because I use the Live Preview the way God Matt intended.

Fixed that for me.
posted by languagehat at 5:35 PM on November 30, 2007


I am against change because I'm old, and I finally got my lawn just right. My wife likes to move furniture around, "just for the change." Once I've found a spot for something, there it stays until it breaks, or something. So my anti-change vote isn't necessarily because I think MetaFilter shouldn't change -- I just don't like change. And yeah, typos happen. If you're insecure about that, then spellcheck, because nobody really cares, except for the guy you're arguing with. The other 62,999 of us don't think it's a big deal.

If you do add editing though, I will protest by making a cranky post, then editing it, probably. No, Definately.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:40 PM on November 30, 2007


I use live preview but I'm quick about it, hence typos.
posted by Catfry at 5:40 PM on November 30, 2007


If you read the Live Preview, which is a copy of what you're typing

This box I'm typing in has a copy of what I'm typing too, but it somehow doen'st prevent me from making errors.
posted by smackfu at 5:48 PM on November 30, 2007


That's because you are using the old version: the Live Preview, the new one, the Life Preview, shows you every mistake you are ever going to make in the future.

I wish I had never installed it.

The irony.
posted by quin at 5:51 PM on November 30, 2007 [6 favorites]


I would support this idea only because my work server and Metafilter don't get on and I'm constantly e-mailing Jess and cortex to delete two of my accidental triple-comments. And I know its starting to piss them off which irks me since the last thing I want to do is piss them off.

So I'd support this since I could then edit two of my three identical comments with something like 'Accidental Triple-Comment' or something like that.

I will admit, however, that upon first reading of this soon-to-be-real pony, I was worried that it would be prone to abuse like many others here have suggested. I think this suggests a very low opinion of ones fellow MeFites. I'm not saying it won't be abused. I'm sure it will, especially in the first few days of it going live. But I believe that soon it will settle and people will use it for legitimate reasons, rather than hiding their asshattery.

Given that the window of an edit will only be 3 minutes, this reduces the chances that someone will edit a "FUCK YOU ASSHOLE" style comment to something more like "I disagree with your assessment of the situation, sir", especially when most people who post comments like that do it because they want people to see them flame out.

If Matt and pb find a way to make it clear a comment has been edited, the chances of abuse will even further diminish.

So I support this proposal, and I think once most of the nay-sayers see that change won't bring the sky falling down upon their heads, most Mefites will cherish the change also.
posted by Effigy2000 at 6:20 PM on November 30, 2007


Well, obviously if this goes live we will also need a "this fucker changed the meaning of his comment" flag for those who want to misuse it.
posted by micayetoca at 6:21 PM on November 30, 2007


Some people will see the pre-edit and react, subsequent posters will have no idea what the early responders are talking about.

And how's that different from comments that just disappear?
posted by Horken Bazooka at 6:31 PM on November 30, 2007


Perhaps we should all have a random other user appointed to edit our comments. it would be a bit like a real publication. Then you could have stand-up rows with the semi-literate buffoon who's had the temerity to reduce your coruscating multi-layered prose to some tepid quasi-bullet-point farrago.
Not that I'm bitter.
posted by Abiezer at 6:32 PM on November 30, 2007 [5 favorites]


I agree strongly with the fact that there must be a way for all users to easily see the original comment. This will not only limit abuse by the editor, but will forestall those who will (no doubt) claim "Well, you must have edited that comment to be less offensive while I was crafting my callout."
posted by Rock Steady at 7:03 PM on November 30, 2007


I am often amused by people popping back into a thread to say "damnit, I meant solid senior citizen, not soiled." Sometimes it really helps to lighten the mood in a heavy and ugly thread.

I knew things were going to start getting all 2.0 around here once we got rounded corners on our tabs.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:09 PM on November 30, 2007


I really don't like the idea, but Matt's my big dog daddy, what the fuck can I do? explanation seems pretty reasonable.
posted by yhbc at 8:15 PM on November 30, 2007


justgary, how exactly does it work at sportsfilter? Are the changes invisible to other users?
posted by mediareport at 8:27 PM on November 30, 2007


I know I brought it up 18 months ago. I'm pretty sure it was brought up before that as well.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 8:45 PM on November 30, 2007


I used to work for a small online bookseller. My job was to scan in the book cover and format the image for the site, and then scan the text from the back cover for the description.

The scanner's character recognition was not great, and I tried to clean up the text it spit out before it was published to the site. Sometimes I'd even re-write paragraphs on the pulpy romances or mysteries if the terrible grammar bothered me enough.

I remember one of the back-cover descriptions was a breathless account of a man's emotional journey to reconnect with his wayward pre-teen son. A lot of hallmark-y "until he embarks on an inner journey" and "tries to reach across the generational chasm" stuff.

I did not realize until it went live that the software had misinterpreted the end of the description, "...until he learns to love his son for real," as "...until he learns to love his son for veal."

I am happy to report that it stayed that way as long as the company was in business.
posted by churl at 8:54 PM on November 30, 2007


NO, NO, NO! If you want to edit your comments, then you do not understand blogging. There is a certain expectation that content dated will not change. Perhaps a few typo or dead link corrections can be tolerated, but not much more. Profo yor sht priir to posring, OJ?
posted by caddis at 8:56 PM on November 30, 2007


Editing capabilities is a horrible, horrible idea, even if it is time-limited to a ridiculously short 1-3 minute window. The only obvious method of curbing abuse would be to mark the comments with a symbol indicating the edit had occurred, and to show the original comment when clicking on the symbol.

Otherwise, you are simply asking for trouble.
posted by odinsdream at 9:14 PM on November 30, 2007


jessamyn writes "- how to indicate that something has been edited"

Combined with:

delmoi writes "First of all a lot of the fears people are brining up could be mitigated pretty easily. The biggest would be to allow people to see previous versions of the comments."

Put a character in the sig line, say the *, that links to the original of any edited comment. Indicates a change took place and shorts circuits much of the abusive asshattery comment changing can empower.

jessamyn writes "- does editing include deletion?"

Of course, one can always just replace the original text with nulls (spaces, tabs etc.) or gibberish if technological attempts to thwart blank comments are implemented.
posted by Mitheral at 9:27 PM on November 30, 2007


Perhaps this, and other pony requests with pros and cons, should be detailed somewhere, oh, I dunno. There's a good project for somebody.
posted by waraw at 9:50 PM on November 30, 2007


I'm against this as well. However, if one of the two suggestions previously ..er.. suggested* was implemented it might work out okay.

*1) Being able to see what the comment said prior to editing or 2) The editing is below the previous comment (i.e. Edited at 9:52 p.m. to add: blah blah blah).
posted by deborah at 9:53 PM on November 30, 2007


I find myself correcting my own typos a couple times a week, and that's only because I'm an admin and I can do it.

You rotten SOB.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:00 PM on November 30, 2007


D'oh, I meant to write "fine fellow"!

As an almost nearly functionally illiterate who Previews regularly yet for some reason often misses typos until after they're posted, I think that post-post edit would be handy, but I can understand the objections.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:04 PM on November 30, 2007


Yeah, short-term (like 3 or so minutes) editing is something we'll do someday in the next couple months. Since it's short term, I don't believe it'll lead to any major changes besides less typos (and less followup omg I meant assess not asses! comments)
posted by mathowie


I could live with it or without it. I do think it might get rid of the follow-up corrections, which are not needed, unless the typo changes the meaning of the sentence.

Preview is great. But there is a bug in the system. In the preview window, my posts are perfectly crafted beacons of light. But when I hit post, they become typo-ridden, blubbering, idiotic, useless mouth-droppings.

Please fix this bug before working on the editing feature.
posted by The Deej at 10:07 PM on November 30, 2007


Being able to edit my comments has made me kind of sloppy about my typing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:08 PM on November 30, 2007


Html has support for this people.

The right way to implement this would be to use the strikethrough for this and disable the strikethrough for other use.

So somebody could edit a comment and this editing would be translated serverside to edits of the original text using the html elements del and ins.

That way the original and edited version would be visible at once.

No more 'fixed that for you' jokes though.
posted by jouke at 10:10 PM on November 30, 2007 [1 favorite]


First one to get a screenshot of a really ugly comment changing, wins
posted by waraw at 10:20 PM on November 30, 2007


Would it be possible to write some algorithm that scores a diff of both posts based on the kind of edits are done and then uses that as criteria for insta-edits? A few inserted punctuation marks, maybe a few words changed around, or some HTML tag changes would get a low score. Larger edits, like deleted sentences (maybe even words?) would go to admins for approval, with a policy promising Bad Things for abuse.

Alternatively, maybe just have a link that says "[Edits Made]" that rolls out the comment as originally posted (or diff?) if people are curious. Then everyone can see the revision history, and if it's just some HTML or spelling oopses, no biggie, but if it's someone altering the original intent of the comment, it'll be obvious.
posted by kdar at 10:44 PM on November 30, 2007


I implemented comment editing on a site that I run. I did what odinsdream suggested here. Whenever a comment is edited, I put a big [EDITS] button at the beginning of the comment. Clicking the [EDITS] button takes you to a page that shows you all of the edits for that comment, starting with the original, as well as the time stamps for each edit.

This prevents anyone from making a change that changes the meaning of their comment since they can be easily called on it. It really hasn't been a problem for us. You can still ban people that do stupid shit. Then you just add "edit shenannigens" as a flag-type and let nature take its course.

I would be against the timer--it's very arbitrary and non-intuitive. I would be against any sort of AI, since we can barely get HTML filtering right. I would be against anything where you can't see the entire edit history.

I do think that limiting the number of edits you get per day or per week or something like that is entirely reasonable.

I am for making the comment entry box wider. I am for making the live preview wider. I'm also for moving the live preview above the comment entry box.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:55 PM on November 30, 2007


> Being able to edit my comments has made me kind of sloppy about my typing.

Technology is supposed to make our lives easier. Spell checkers make me lazy about spelling. Refrigerators make me lazy about how long I keep food. GPS makes me lazy about learning the damn street names in this town.

Accomodating technology is good. Lazy is good.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:58 PM on November 30, 2007


I just can't see how this makes much of a difference either way. Then again, we're (royal we) four whiskeys on the side of the good right now.
posted by Kwine at 12:00 AM on December 1, 2007


Nine thumbs down.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:15 AM on December 1, 2007


- does editing include deletion?

Of course, one can always just replace the original text with nulls (spaces, tabs etc.) or gibberish if technological attempts to thwart blank comments are implemented.


I think jessamyn meant complete removal of any indication of a comment, not just the content of the comment.

My personal opinion: disallow complete removal of "posted by" line, allow complete removal of content.
posted by philomathoholic at 12:28 AM on December 1, 2007


I think if we are going to do this, the best way would be to only allow additions; i.e. everything in the original post would need to remain, or only being able to format it (bold, i, strike etc.) in addition to more words. Is this even possible?
posted by a_green_man at 12:57 AM on December 1, 2007


Not Wanted.
posted by adamvasco at 3:02 AM on December 1, 2007


I don't really want this at all, but if we are going to have it, the best way would be to not have the comment be visible while it's still editable, which makes abuse impossible and removes the clutter of indicating multiple versions.

I'd shorten the editing window to 1 minute to stop the lag being a problem (clicking edit would cancel the comment and give you as long as you like to try again), and there'd be an instant posting (ie no editing) option in the preferences and/or comment box.
posted by cillit bang at 3:19 AM on December 1, 2007


Seems to me the easiest place to keep the 'edits made' rollout is under the [edited at 6:15pm] bit that people are sticking in their edited comment parodies.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:23 AM on December 1, 2007


3 years and 352 days ago I made two typos in this post which have been causing me countless sleepless nights. ("blue aluminum ring" should be "blue aluminum key" and "glares at the ring" should be "glares at the key").

If the mods could rig something up that allows me and only me to edit this comment and this comment only, I'd really appreciate it. I don't really care about any of the mistakes other MeFites make. They're too anal if you ask me.
posted by dobbs at 7:09 AM on December 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Put a character in the sig line, say the *, that links to the original of any edited comment.

if we are going to have it, the best way would be to not have the comment be visible while it's still editable


Either of these ideas works for me. Otherwise, I'm agin it.
posted by languagehat at 7:11 AM on December 1, 2007


dersins: Isn't that precisely what the preview button is for? It behaves like "Post Comment," but gives a chance to correct typos or add in things you left out?

mathowie: I made a point of saying no post-editing ever, and I used to force preview before any comment. But once we had live preview and instant posting back, I find myself correcting my own typos a couple times a week, and that's only because I'm an admin and I can do it.

So why not bring the Preview page up to speed with the rest of the site and force preview again? Knocking out live preview and making the Preview page act like the post thread (favorites, flags, etc.) would simplify the site a bit while solving this comment editing issue. Or, instead, you could keep slapping FIL-O-DENT widgets on top of the problem, open yet another avenue for fuckwits to do their thing, and have to explain yet one more 'feature' to the slobbering hordes who'll never even use it anyway.
posted by carsonb at 7:20 AM on December 1, 2007


hordes whores
oops
posted by carsonb at 7:21 AM on December 1, 2007


Actions you can't undo are not humane, so a three-minute editing window might be a nice compromise.
posted by grouse at 7:29 AM on December 1, 2007


I'm with carsonb: Fix all the remaining entity encoding problems, and make preview not a copy of the site code from several years ago before thinking about all the lovely LULZ comment editing would bring.
posted by blasdelf at 8:21 AM on December 1, 2007


Call me chicken little, but I'm voting no.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:40 AM on December 1, 2007


(Though not having the comment appear until after the editing window closes is fine)
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:40 AM on December 1, 2007


the best way would be to not have the comment be visible while it's still editable, which makes abuse impossible and removes the clutter of indicating multiple versions.

That's a brilliant idea and removes a lot of the potential for "people will abuse this basic word processor functionality!" feedback. You have 60 seconds to hit the edit button, and when you do, your comment gets removed until you hit save again.

Simply put, there's not a lot of chaos that you can cause in having your crazy comment up for less than 60 seconds before it disappears for your jokey edit into a milder version.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 8:45 AM on December 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: a word processor?
posted by Wolfdog at 8:58 AM on December 1, 2007


there's not a lot of chaos that you can cause in having your crazy comment up for less than 60 seconds before it disappears for your jokey edit into a milder version.

Sure, not a lot in one instance. But if you multiply that crazy by 80 threads a day (MeFi and MeTa) or so... if I were a moderator I wouldn't want that sort of cumulative crazy on my hands.

Anyway, I don't really care which way this goes just as long as it goes one direction or another. If you're gonna implement a comment editing feature, at least take the opportunity to pare down redundant features. Take away the Preview button. Kill live preview. This is the sort of issue that demands one good solution, not eight legacy patches that confuse, misdirect, and only sorta work.
posted by carsonb at 9:03 AM on December 1, 2007


Man you guys are such scolds. Have a bit of faith in your fellow man yeah? Not EVERYONE posts something EVERYTIME that incites a response which would be incoherent given a change the original poster made 60 seconds later. Sheesh.
posted by Firas at 9:05 AM on December 1, 2007


Fixed that for you, dobbs.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:10 AM on December 1, 2007


Fixed that for you, dobbs.

god I hate it when people say that!

Have a bit of faith in your fellow man yeah?

Let me know when it's Take Firas to Work Day and I'l teach you a thing or two about faith.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:22 AM on December 1, 2007


Does it involve getting a medal for officially getting ModSlapped™? Coz I've been blueballed for three years now.
posted by Firas at 9:48 AM on December 1, 2007


I am probably not the first person to tell you this, but your blue balls are your own problem.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:01 AM on December 1, 2007


I see your inordinate fascinations put your worldliness to good use.
posted by Firas at 10:18 AM on December 1, 2007


a lot of the fears people are brining up could be mitigated pretty easily.

That's some salty language you're using there.
posted by brain_drain at 10:26 AM on December 1, 2007


I disagree with the "It works fine at SportsFilter, therefore it will work fine here" argument. That's a completely different, and smaller, user population.

I also disagree with the "Naysayers are being Chicken Little" argument (unless MetaFilter is the first real website that one has ever spent time on, and then I'll give you a pass); that people will behave stupidly, and use Nice Things as they weren't intended in order to cover up their own douchebag behavior (or even amplify it), is a sad fact of the internet. I have seen every one of the comment-editing abuses speculated here, executed on other websites.

A message board I used to visit (can't credit it as I don't remember which one it was) had a motto that I think applies nicely to MetaFilter: "think twice, post once." The permanence of my words makes me think and review and preview and spellcheck -- I take care here when posting, that I don't have to take at other sites. I agree with the comments speculating that it raises the overall quality of the discourse.

If the problem is simply the follow-up comments, then let's gently encourage people to 1. Use the preview options more, 2. Don't follow-up post a typo correction unless the actual meaning needs clarification (soiled vs. solid), etc. 3. Be courteous and don't post just to harrass others over what might have been an incidental typo, not a chronic misspelling.

I also think that we should try to avoid the issue of authoritative reference, if possible. If User X posts a comment at 17:01 on May 8, 2009, that comment should be that comment. There shouldn't be versions 1, 2 , and 3 of that comment, nor should that comment be able to disappear. (And yes, I'm also in the camp that wishes comment deletion by moderators was recorded differently. But, I allow that my concern for the general idea of The Official Record is probably more persnickety than most people's.)

I'm not a fan of the comment editing prospect... but if it's going to happen regardless I like the cillit bang/language hat approaches.
posted by pineapple at 10:43 AM on December 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


the best way would be to not have the comment be visible while it's still editable, which makes abuse impossible and removes the clutter of indicating multiple versions.

That's a brilliant idea and removes a lot of the potential for "people will abuse this basic word processor functionality!" feedback. You have 60 seconds to hit the edit button, and when you do, your comment gets removed until you hit save again.


Isn't that just a sixty second forced preview? If we must have anything, I'd prefer something like that. I've been on a message board where in heated discussions people grew very adept at writing something purely evil, and then editing it at the 115 second mark. Then the rest of the thread would devolve into everyone getting shouty about what had/ or had not been said and why. Ultimately, I feel like this edit pony would be solving a problem that we don't really have, and I'd vote against it, if there was a vote. Forced preview seems like a decent compromise.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:29 AM on December 1, 2007


I feel like this edit pony would be solving a problem that we don't really have

We have the problem of zillions of followup comments from people fixing their typos. I see it dozens of times everyday. It's annoying to the people that read them and to the people that write them and had to do it. I've noticed my own use of the feature and realized it's a handy thing to have once a week or so.

This won't be like a bulletin board forum editing you might have seen elsewhere, it'll be more like very time-sensitive quick typo editing that you might expect out of any blogging package currently available.

I'm giving the benefit of the doubt here to everyone because I think 99% of you will use it sporadically to fix minor typos. 1% of the userbase might use it to try and be a jerk and fuck with people and we'll have ways to deal with those kind of stunts. But I'm tired of not doing basic functionality because 1% are douchebags. Also, remember quonsar is taking some time off, so that's like half the bufoonery out the window right there.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:12 PM on December 1, 2007


^ that's me joking up there about quonsar
posted by mathowie (staff) at 1:19 PM on December 1, 2007


I'm with matt 100% on this. You all are saying that the sky is going to fall based on nothing but air. I've seen comment editing on dozens of boards and have never seen a major problem happen because of it, even when there is no time limit, even on boards where half the membership are complete assholes.
posted by empath at 2:09 PM on December 1, 2007


I think sometimes it's the "meta" ness of everything that leads to these feature-based jokes-within-jokes but I think if we go ahead and declare comment editing a no-jokes-please feature from the get go, it is likely to be okay. I fix my typos and others' typos all the time and would love it if everyone were deputized to fix their own posts.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 2:18 PM on December 1, 2007


We have the problem of zillions of followup comments from people fixing their typos.

I guess it never really seems like that is much of a problem- somehow I must be able to tune it out. Obviously if it causes all kinds of trouble for people, it should be remedied in some way.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:25 PM on December 1, 2007


that's me joking up there about quonsar

Although it might have been almost true a couple years ago (but he never achieved more than 29% of all MeFi buffoonery when he was trying his hardest).

we'll have ways to deal with those kind of stunts

Sounds ominous. Virtual waterboarding, anyone? Like a ddos exploit that comes just short of drowning your server?

if we go ahead and declare comment editing a no-jokes-please feature from the get go, it is likely to be okay

Second benefit would be killing off the "fixed it for you" jokes (at least for those who don't like them). Strict initial enforcement of the rules on anything new will take more effort at first but pay off over time.

Still, if I had my "druthers", I'd go for being able to APPEND to a comment for a few minutes after (maybe enable strikethrough on original text but that's all) and show the time of editing (unless you really are limiting it to 60 seconds, which becomes a kind of 'beat the clock' thing if you notice that something reads wrong but you aren't immediately sure how to fix it).

Or maybe allow unlimited editing for X minutes or until another comment has been made, whichever comes first. (I don't know if this has already been suggested; I haven't read the whole thread... I'M SORRY)
posted by wendell at 2:41 PM on December 1, 2007


Obviously if it causes all kinds of trouble for people, it should be remedied in some way.

That sounded kind of condescending but what we have now is essentially stone tablets and you have to ask the gods to change something for you (or begin carving another stone tablet to correct your previous one) vs. a word processor from 1975 that lets you ^H^H^H^H fix typos easily.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 2:50 PM on December 1, 2007


Actually, that comment above not entirely accurate, because I don't tune it out. I see typos, and their corrections, and all the other mistakes and subsequent clarifications that people make. And I like it. I like the little reminders that we all make mistakes, and that the people typing are real human beings somewhere. It's all part of the texture and grit of this site that pleases me in insignificant yet interesting ways. I doubt any implementation is really going to change anything in any noticeable way, and certainly my opinion counts for very little, if anything. I just see the cruft as more of a feature than a bug. Obviously if personal editing helps out with moderation, that's a good thing.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:53 PM on December 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Not meant to be condescending- just that I don't know what goes on behind the scenes with people emailing to have typos fixed and whatnot.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:54 PM on December 1, 2007


(and jessamyn hadn't posted her comment when I wrote that- so if it seems like I'm responding to her in a prickly way, I'm not.)
posted by oneirodynia at 2:56 PM on December 1, 2007


jouke: Html has support for this people. [...] html elements del and ins.

You could also hide deletions behind the abbr tag, if huge swaths of strike through text is too ugly (if it was a deletion with no insert, you'd add an underscore to keep the deletion available, or whatever).

You might have to limit people to a single round of editing with this approach, to keep things from getting messed up too badly.

jeffamaphone: I implemented comment editing on a site that I run. I did what odinsdream suggested here. Whenever a comment is edited, I put a big [EDITS] button at the beginning of the comment. Clicking the [EDITS] button takes you to a page that shows you all of the edits for that comment, starting with the original, as well as the time stamps for each edit.

I like these ideas more than a timed window. Either one solves the problem of maximum functionality for well intentioned uses while keeping the risk of abuse negligibly small.

Non-timed editing would be quite a change in site dynamics, but it might be a good change. For questions that come up a lot on AskMe (DC adapters comes to mind) I've found myself reading old answers, finding a correction, and creating links back and fourth to try and clarify.. It gets messy, and people probably don't even notice, which means the original problematic answer becomes the one that stands out.

Also, if the content under [edits] was viewable for users, but not searchable, it might be a way to deal with certain legal issues that have occurred around user comments in the past..



mathowie: By and large it's been available in these other places and been no big deal

jessamyn: I think if we go ahead and declare comment editing a no-jokes-please feature from the get go, it is likely to be okay.

Mmm... Image tag..
posted by Chuckles at 4:00 PM on December 1, 2007


I like these ideas more than a timed window.

jouke's and jeffamaphon's ideas, that is. It was clear until I edited :)
posted by Chuckles at 4:02 PM on December 1, 2007


Honestly, what is more delicious than catching a douchebag trying to self-edit their way out of a sticky situation.

I'm surprised more people don't see this advantage.
posted by ogre at 4:12 PM on December 1, 2007


That should have been a question mark.
posted by ogre at 4:13 PM on December 1, 2007


I'm surprised more people don't see this advantage?

Fixed that for you?
posted by wendell at 4:32 PM on December 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


Has anyone explained how it works at Sportsfilter yet?
posted by mediareport at 4:52 PM on December 1, 2007


I've been editing my comments after posting for several months now. Nobody seems to notice.
posted by breezeway at 5:04 PM on December 1, 2007


The secret to being a good artist is to know when to stop.

In what possible way is there a need for editing in MeFi? Stop fucking with what has been working.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:18 PM on December 1, 2007


We have the problem of zillions of followup comments from people fixing their typos. I see it dozens of times everyday. It's annoying to the people that read them and to the people that write them and had to do it.

I've always found a simple "knock it off, we know what you meant! Dont treat us like we're stupid!" does the trick.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:25 PM on December 1, 2007


carsonb writes "So why not bring the Preview page up to speed with the rest of the site and force preview again? Knocking out live preview and making the Preview page act like the post thread (favorites, flags, etc.) would simplify the site a bit while solving this comment editing issue."

Well if nothing else it's a second hit on the DB. Usually not a problem but on threads with twelve hundred odd comments it's a pain waiting for the thread to reload.
posted by Mitheral at 6:07 PM on December 1, 2007


on threads with twelve hundred odd comments it's a pain waiting for the thread to reload.

Irrelevant. How often does that happen again? Either way, my point stands that the preview page/live preview/potential comment editing redundancy should really be pared down.
posted by carsonb at 6:23 PM on December 1, 2007


mathowie writes "But I'm tired of not doing basic functionality because 1% are douchebags. Also, remember quonsar is taking some time off, so that's like half the bufoonery out the window right there."

I also think people are far too likely to consider a site change some sort of set-in-stone thing. Which is kinda odd, since the whole point of a site change is that the site changes. So, yeah, there might be douchebaggery. What everyone seems to be forgetting is that, if this becomes a problem, Matt can just turn editing back off again. We're not talking about a Constitutional Amendment that would take years to abolish.

Option 1: Leave things the way they are. Relative value = 0.
Option 2: Try the change. If it works, relative value = +. If it doesn't work, turn it off, going back to the way things used to be. Relative value = 0.

I don't see why given two choices, one where things stay the same, and another where things either stay the same or improve, people are so vociferous in their support for the former option.
posted by Bugbread at 6:24 PM on December 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


(But, yeah, mathowie, make sure to keep a backup of all the files before the change, so rollback can be performed smoothly and painlessly if it's necessary).
posted by Bugbread at 6:25 PM on December 1, 2007


my point stands that the preview page/live preview/potential comment editing redundancy should really be pared down.

Yeah, the preview (on a new page, not live) should be brought in line with the text-filtering we do on posts so that it's a true preview.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:21 PM on December 1, 2007


Probably too late for real consideration, but how about this: Edit button, 10 minute window, append only, edits can't exceed % of original post size. Gives people a chance to fix typo's, explain poor turns of phrase, and preserves the original for posterity and ridicule - e.g.
[edit] Sorry, that should be "typos". I'm a greengrocer by trade...
posted by Pinback at 7:32 PM on December 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Pinback, that's not just a proposal I can support, but also an excellent demonstration.
[edit] what I mean is... aw hell, you know what I mean
posted by wendell at 7:54 PM on December 1, 2007


Thanks, Cortex! I love you!
posted by dobbs at 8:14 PM on December 1, 2007


Pinback's proposal works for me.

I believe the essential success of MeFi lies in its as-if-verbal messaging system: I liken it to a pub with each FPP as its own table; the conversation doesn't bridge tables, the conversants take turns, the discussion meanders as individuals take turns sharing their thoughts, opinions, ideas.

One doesn't get to go back and edit one's verbal communications. At most, one gets a moment to squeak in an apology or disclaimer before someone else takes the lead in talking.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:27 PM on December 1, 2007


The beautiful thing about the internets is that we aren't forced to put up with the limitations of verbal communications.
posted by empath at 8:39 PM on December 1, 2007


And there are other places where other types of communication are encouraged, empath, though I'm not aware of any that will allow you to go back and wholesale edit what you've previously written.

But there are, for instance, threaded systems. These permit a type of "talking" that can't be done in real life. You can choose to frequent them. They aren't MetaFilter.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:58 PM on December 1, 2007


Er, not that you're saying we should be able to go back and edit what we've said.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:58 PM on December 1, 2007


The beautiful thing about the internets is that we aren't forced to put up with the limitations of verbal communications.

Which limitations now?
posted by carsonb at 9:22 PM on December 1, 2007


And there are other places where other types of communication are encouraged, empath, though I'm not aware of any that will allow you to go back and wholesale edit what you've previously written.

Several examples have been mentioned in this thread. Sportsfilter is one. Digg is another. Any number of vbulletin boards as well.
posted by empath at 10:09 PM on December 1, 2007


[x] [Flagged for: stupid typo doesn't merit annoying self-correction]

Then break out the banhammer. Problem solved!
posted by ryanrs at 11:29 PM on December 1, 2007


I've always found a simple "knock it off, we know what you meant! Dont treat us like we're stupid!" does the trick.

I add on annoying addendums to posts adding/removing extraneous s's and whatnot because I don't want you to think I'm stupid, but now that I know it's a pain in the arse I'll stop.

I think a small window of opportunity in order to correct typos, etc is a good thing.
posted by h00py at 3:42 AM on December 2, 2007


I just made a comment for the first time in years and made a typo (probably cos I'm out of practice). I noticed it just after I'd posted, but found that I am just too lazy to add another comment to correct. What I'd like - and obviously Matt should above all take into account the opinions of those who have mainly lurked for 6 years now - is a little marker that I could put on a comment that means: "I know I flubbed something, be it grammar or spelling or typing, in that comment, but I think you still know what I mean."

I could then go on to add them to all comments I make, even the ones I think are perfect, just in case they're not.
posted by calico at 4:01 AM on December 2, 2007


a little marker that I could put on a comment that means: "I know I flubbed something, be it grammar or spelling or typing, in that comment, but I think you still know what I mean."

You know, an admin-channel version of that—a "fuck, typo!" flag to complement the more high-level "html/display error" flag—could be an interesting idea.

I could then go on to add them to all comments I make, even the ones I think are perfect, just in case they're not.

Then again, I can see some downsides to the idea. Heh.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:36 AM on December 2, 2007


Or you could all, y'know, gain a sense of perspective and realize that typos are just a fact of life.

The only important thing about your message is this: does it convey the message you are trying to communicate? Is the typo so heinous that it prevents your reader from getting the message? Not bloody likely.

Focusing on typos is to focus on entirely the wrong thing.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:16 AM on December 2, 2007


Serious question about the functionality of this, matt I notice you said that a notification of editing seemed unnecessary, but is it possible to simply have a "show edits" button on a post that would navigate through the comment's history? It seems that way people would be able to inspect the intent of the edit. The original comment could always appear as the default view, and one would have to click through to view any edits on it. That way people can choose to switch to a corrected version and also know if the comment was edited nefariously.

Then again, could be a really bad idea.
posted by baphomet at 1:02 PM on December 2, 2007


Yeah, short-term (like 3 or so minutes) editing is something we'll do someday in the next couple months.
Oh god, isn't the bar low enough already? The knowledge that people can skip back and change their comment within x minutes would make for lots more thoughtless comments, I think (hard to imagine, but I think we can fit more thoughtlessness in here).

Also, 3 minutes can be a long time in a fast-moving thread. Apart from the confusion as things you have replied to change after you have commented, it would be trivial for someone to fuck with a conversation by changing inflammatory comments once they have shit in the thread. If you must do this, make the time period very short, like 30 seconds after the comment posts.
posted by dg at 1:30 PM on December 2, 2007


Or, only allow comment editing when there has not been a subsequent comment added to the thread.
posted by dg at 1:31 PM on December 2, 2007


But I'm tired of not doing basic functionality because 1% are douchebags.

I'd just like to say THIS IS GOOD. Taking account of outlier activity is wise, but having those outliers dictate the shape of things a bad thing. Design something robustly, and hammer the douchebags when they douchebaggerate, as necessary.

More generally, for my part, I'm not much in favour of editable comments (much as I catch stupid typos one second too late all the damn time), but I'm also not stressed too much either way. I'd probably lean towards dg's 30-second edit window -- the only legitimate purpose I can see for the feature, I think, would be typo-editing, basically.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:33 PM on December 2, 2007


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