I Don't Have Three Minutes to Change My Mind, Do I? September 27, 2009 6:13 PM   Subscribe

Whatever happened to the "Timed Editing" feature allowing corrections on comments/posts for 3 minutes after posting (pre-announced and tested here in December 2008)? Was it officially canceled, filed and forgotten, or implemented but Wendell's too stupid to figure out how to use it?
posted by wendell to Feature Requests at 6:13 PM (219 comments total)

I too regret many of the things I say.
posted by turgid dahlia at 6:18 PM on September 27, 2009


This is the prettiest pony I've ever heard of. WANT. WANT PUT RIBBONS ON IT.
posted by EatTheWeak at 6:20 PM on September 27, 2009


WFT? Why does anyone even need this feature? Post with care.
posted by carsonb at 6:21 PM on September 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


wendell
posted by fire&wings at 6:23 PM on September 27, 2009


Post in the presence of the pass-en-jare.

I don't have a particular need for this pony but a lot of people seem to want it.
posted by hattifattener at 6:30 PM on September 27, 2009


Unlike quonsar, I do not object to being capitalized. Or capitalized on (if I receive an adequate share). But that changes the subject. Nevermind.
posted by wendell at 6:30 PM on September 27, 2009


That the stupid thing i ever herd. no One needs that
posted by The Deej at 6:30 PM on September 27, 2009 [10 favorites]


DAMMIT!
posted by The Deej at 6:30 PM on September 27, 2009


Give this pony the defibrillator.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:31 PM on September 27, 2009


THIS WILL RUNE THE FLAVOR OF THE INTERCOURSE HERE! DOWN WITH EVIL EDITORZ! NO PONIES FOR ALL! NEXT WE WILL ALL BECOME SOCIALISTS WITH NOTHING MEAN TO SAY.
posted by iamkimiam at 6:43 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


We tested it in December and it seemed solid. We were ready to roll it out. However, editing is a big change for the site and there were some issues that folks were concerned about. They came up in the thread, and the biggest concern was that someone would type "you all go to hell", wait two minutes, and then remove it with no repercussions. We decided to table the feature and discuss some of the issues some more.

Then in January the hackening happened and put all development completely off track. We simply haven't revisited the feature in a while. Maybe this thread could spur is into discussing some of the problems with editing so we can iron them out or scrap the idea if it's too contentious.
posted by pb (staff) at 6:46 PM on September 27, 2009


Just ban people who abuse it. It's not like you wouldn't find out.
posted by smackfu at 6:48 PM on September 27, 2009


You bastards can all go to hell!
posted by Burhanistan at 6:49 PM on September 27, 2009


Oh, you haven't implemented it yet.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:50 PM on September 27, 2009 [16 favorites]


Editing really messes up coherent flow of the comments. We won't all always have the self discipline to avoid toning down an inflammatory snark in retrospect, or deleting a statement entirely when they are shown to be a fool. And the amount of foolishness will blossom and flourish under the sense of security that a three minute edit window offers.

At the very least, please provide a wikipedia style "revision history" link if you implement this. I have participated on discussion sites that offered editing as a feature, and I never really had the impression it was improving the quality of the discussion.
posted by idiopath at 6:55 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Or, you know, just don't do it. Not all software needs to grow and grow and grow until it becomes Microsoft Office.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:02 PM on September 27, 2009 [10 favorites]


I think the obvious solution is to have the originally submitted comment available for public scrutiny. If a comment was edited a third hoojamidngy appears next to [+] [!], say, [#] and if you click that the original comment appears.

We get the ability to edit moronic spelling or link mistakes, but the ability to grief is totally nerfed.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:06 PM on September 27, 2009 [35 favorites]


Hoojamidngy? What I wouldn't give for an edit feature.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:08 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Actually, that strikes me as rather a brilliant solution.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:17 PM on September 27, 2009


I used to be all for this feature, I even recommended it in that thread, but I think I have changed my mind. One of the reasons I wanted it is because even after all these years of using a keyboard, I am still a miserable typist. This mystifies me really, I usually get better and better at things with practice or at least gain a respectable level of competence, but typing is the one thing that eludes me. I have almost jedi like reflexes and eye hand coordination in real life but I still type like a drunken monkey. I'm always three sentences ahead in my mind and then I look back at what I have written and there are these weird tense shifts and typos and missing words. But you know what? I have come to accept it. Mefi is a conversational place, none of this is going to be published. I see other people's typos and errors and simply run them through the auto tune in my brain and it really is no big deal. So I say leave it alone. It will probably cause more problems than it solves.
posted by vronsky at 7:19 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think there'd be little to gain from it, and a lot to lose by it. This aspect of the site isn't very broken. It's an overkill solution if the problem is a few mispellings.

If committing to the idea that what you've said when you hit post remains permanent, then people will (and have) simply develop(ed) better posting habits (perhaps including a cool-off and reread ritual) - or they won't and don't. Either way, they own the consequences.
posted by Miko at 7:20 PM on September 27, 2009


One problem with the hoojamidngy option is that it opens another separate space for conversation. Imagine if you will a clever meta-conversation that takes place only within the confines of edited comments. The initiated would know to look there for comments, but everyone else would be in the dark. Funny and clever, sure, but also a bit alienating. (Not that dissimilar from having "conversations" with tags, but more hidden and with more room to breathe.) We'd like conversations to happen within the thread itself so we're very hesitant to open up any other spaces. Might be an edge case, but I think it's important to consider because it would be another space in need of attention. I can foresee: please remove version three of x comment.
posted by pb (staff) at 7:21 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I remember that fix being discussed, dirtdirt, and someone pointing out that mefites would probably end up using it to have "below-the-radar" sekret conversations. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:22 PM on September 27, 2009


A valid concern that, I think, wording on the edit page (and modly spankings for abusers, if necessary) could take care of. Plus, I think you'd only get one shot at editing. If you can't get it right on your big chance, well....
posted by dirtdirt at 7:32 PM on September 27, 2009


There's also the serious risk of the hoojamidngies getting all hoppitamoppita.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:32 PM on September 27, 2009 [23 favorites]


I really don't see that happening to the point where it would alienate people, pb. I can't imagine that the geek chic value of having a conversation hidden in edits would outweigh the fact that 95% of the people reading it wouldn't know to participate in that discussion and most of the other 5% would just find it tiresome.

It might happen sometimes, but I doubt it'd be any more frequent than people voluntarily disemvowelling their own comments as a callback to the BoingBoing fiasco.

(I'll add a +1 to the vote for a "see original" hoojamidngy)
posted by Riki tiki at 7:33 PM on September 27, 2009


Oh, and I think the intention for the edit window is "I made a typo" and NOT "I regret what I said, although it was properly spelled and punctuated."
posted by dirtdirt at 7:35 PM on September 27, 2009


I agree with vronsky, but only about this. S/he is dead wrong about the merits of steampunk poetry.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:40 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hoo jam and cheese? I wouldn't drive out of my way for it, but I'd eat it if it was available. Kind of like the editing feature.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:42 PM on September 27, 2009


Dude, do you know where they get hoo jam from?
posted by Burhanistan at 7:47 PM on September 27, 2009


Isn't it a good thing that people could delete their just posted, angry "you all go to hell" rather than a bad thing? Won't that make for fewer trainwrecks?
posted by Kattullus at 7:52 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


re: "see original" hoojawhatsis - how many times would one potentially be allowed to edit and re-edit and re-edit a comment? How many "originals" would be shown? Because next thing you know, you're having this long-winded and rambly conversation with yourself about OMG HOW MANY TIMES MUST I EDIT THIS BEFORE I GET IT RIGHT SOBBITY SHUT UP NO YOU SHUT UP &c.

Hoo jam comes from the delicious fruits of the hoohoo tree, as all right-thinking people know.
posted by elizardbits at 7:55 PM on September 27, 2009


You know what? Reddit lets you edit your comments after you've submitted them and I goddamn hate it. For some reason, a tradition has developed there where the nature of the edit is noted in the comment, e.g. "Edit: grammar" or "Edit: fixed link" or "Edit: added comma". Threads there are filled with that drek and and it's pure noise. I really couldn't give a shit that you changed "your" to "you're". I'm not grading your paper, I don't care, it's just distracting as hell -- I would much rather just have a typo than a corrected typo complete with a changelog and/or apology for the now non-existant typo. (And this is despite the fact that reddit shows a '*' next to comments that have been edited.) For that reason I'm steadfastly against the idea of being able to edit comments because I really don't want to see that noise find a home here.
posted by Rhomboid at 7:56 PM on September 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


When a mod deletes a comment, they delete the people who bit the troll. Is every reader of the thread going to check back fastidiously for deleted trolls they bit?

Then we get the next level troll, once people take editing for granted: someone edited a comment, you post a comment talking all kinds of shit about them, claiming to responding to the invisible prior comment, making them look like the asshole who shat in the thread and then edited it out.
posted by idiopath at 7:57 PM on September 27, 2009


by delete the people, I of course mean show up in their houses and kill them, not delete the comments they left replying to the troll
posted by idiopath at 7:59 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Rhomboid: having seen that pattern develop on several other forums, I can see why it happens. If you implement an editing feature, it's a good idea to have some sort of marker that a comment has been edited so that people don't pull the rug out from under the subsequent conversation.

But most forums don't implement a way to see the original comment, for various reasons (difficult to implement, consumes disk space, whatever). So if you see that a comment has been edited, you probably wonder why and might assume the worst.

Putting an "edited: grammar" indicates that you weren't changing the substance of your message, and defuses any accusations of abuse before they turn into a big pointless flame war. Granted, it depends on the honor system, but it seems to work okay other than adding a visually jarring footnote to a lot of comments.
posted by Riki tiki at 8:02 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why not have some option that's like the Gmail undo feature? If you turn it on, then all of your comments would have a 3-minute delay before being published. During that window, you could edit it or delete it or whatever. Once the 3 minutes are up, boom!, the comment becomes immutable and viewable by the public.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:04 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


idiopath: by delete the people, I of course mean show up in their houses and kill them, not delete the comments they left replying to the troll

That is, historically, pb's job.

Also, I think that editing histories for comments are a terrible idea, but I can't explain why. It's dirty and messy, somehow, and makes threads convoluted to read in their entirety.

I'm sorry, I cannot parse the sentence "you don't have to read every single word in a thread."
posted by Kattullus at 8:05 PM on September 27, 2009


I think you'd also get a lot of people 'quoting' other people and saying that somebody said such and such and then edited it, regardless if it was true or not.

My personal opinion is that this would be a detriment to the site. Adding a layer of on-record/off-recordness really changes the social dynamic considerably. I like that people are committed to what they say once they press the Post button, and that they must deal with the ramifications of that. It makes the community much more like a speech environment, where you can't unsay what was said.

I also think that you'll end up with way more meta going on than people could ever possibly handle. There's already a fair amount of in-group/out-group social dynamics and this could promote that type of behavior in a very divisive way.

Put this way, I think back to what it was like the first year I joined the site. I wasn't familiar with user names and I didn't know to pay attention to who was saying what or who was responding to whom. I assumed that this was just a bunch of people who didn't know each other, participating in discussions about topics. As I got more familiar with the site, I started to recognize that some people had connections to other people. They responded to them directly, and repeatedly. Did I have a right to do that? How did these people know each other? What would happen if I responded to somebody directly? What would happen if I challenged a claim, or went against the tide? Would it be a united front against me (I mean who is this strange 'iamkimiam'; who the fuck does she think she is? she acts like she knows us!), or a bunch of random strangers? Would those same random strangers unite with me, to become a front against the new opposition, should it arise? What exactly was my position relative to the group? What were the mechanisms for 'advancement'?

It wasn't until I really stepped into it, made some mistakes, received some encouragement and whatnot before I really started to get the culture here. I had to ignore the social implications of not knowing what DTMFA, IANAL, FPP, MeTa, . , the blue/gray/green, [not ___-IST], beans, taters, OP, @ vs. >, FIAMO, etc. meant, while at the same time, researching what these things meant in order to stay current and play the game.

A post-comment editor adds a whole off-record, shifting level to the dialogic that introduces a bit of untrustworthiness and deception, since there is this inaccessible, changing layer of meaning that in-group users know how to keep up with and would actively comment on. This sucks for everybody else that is basing their experience on what is, and what is permanent and dependable. There's enough to figure out on-record, and interpret 5 ways from Sunday. Why must we add this? Can't we just be responsible for what we say, and deal with it when it comes out all pear-shaped and tatery?
posted by iamkimiam at 8:10 PM on September 27, 2009 [10 favorites]


I should clarify...this IS just a bunch of people who mostly don't know each other, participating in discussions about topics.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:12 PM on September 27, 2009


iamkimiam: I should clarify...this IS just a bunch of people who mostly don't know each other, participating in discussions about topics.

Phew for a minute there I thought you'd revealed to the world the existence of the Cabal.
posted by Kattullus at 8:14 PM on September 27, 2009


Why not have some option that's like the Gmail undo feature? If you turn it on, then all of your comments would have a 3-minute delay before being published. During that window, you could edit it or delete it or whatever. Once the 3 minutes are up, boom!, the comment becomes immutable and viewable by the public.

Because nobody would turn it on because nobody thinks they need it, until they do. Me included.

I say bah (BAH I SAY) to this feature request. Sappy, but one of the things about this site that warmed my cold little heart was seeing the mods make typos. Typos in casual conversations, typos in jokes, typos in comments that got 50 favorites. And it let me know that it is okay. That if I make some little error, that it isn't the end of the world. That these people who coordinate 10 websites of their own and flickr accounts and have all sorts of technology that they use daily - they make mistakes too, and are human. And that even if I mess up something I'm typing, people will figure it out and take it for its merits or lack of, if it is just a small typo. The mods just being themselves, and not carefully editing each word and letter of their own comments, even during intense discussions where they are parsing down some pretty detailed arguments in the heat of a contentious issue. That made me like this site. The obvious power to do something, yet the ability to appear vulnerable and let ones work stand on its own. I should probably be humming some kind of mefi anthem at this point.
posted by cashman at 8:16 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


A possible solution to this is a 15 second edit window to edit during which time the comment doesn't actually go live.
I always catch a typo the second after I hit post (even if I preview).
posted by special-k at 8:27 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yes, I understand quite well why it happens and it really saddens me that people seem so eager to adopt this stance of "OMG my post will show that it's been edited, I must therefore pro-actively thwart any notion that I am up to no good!" despite the fact that 99.9% of edits are for completely mundane stuff that nobody cares about. It doesn't even make any sense if you really think about it, because if I really wanted to troll somebody through clever editing of my comments, I might as well just go ahead and do it and falsely tack on "Edit: grammar". Self-labels are worthless, yet they clutter up sites that allow comment editing. That's why I really hope metafilter decides to not implement this feature. Yes - being able to see edited comment history would probably remove the need to add these things but people seem so ingrained to doing so from other sites that I bet 20 quatloos they would still do it here, completely defeating the point.
posted by Rhomboid at 8:27 PM on September 27, 2009


It'll also inspire a whole bunch of annoying, crappy memes all based on the authenticity, unedited-ness, and 3-minute wait of comments. A discussion about on-record noise (people who would rather comment in the thread and make their edits known vs. those who silently change their contribution with virtually nobody the wiser) would pop up on MetaTalk every month, alternating with the desire for some sort of marker pony that indicates when a comment has been modified by its author.

I'm also going to go way out here and guess that the ratio of "You're an asshole"'s to "You are wonderful"'s that get posted then removed will be somewhere in the 5,000,000:1 proportion.

(I mean seriously, if you had a button on your desk that, when pressed, would yell "ASSHOLE!" but not *really* yell 'asshole', wouldn't you press it? Just to feel better, if only fleetingly so. I'm glad I don't, but please don't give me that button. I'm trying to diminish all temptation to be a snarky asshole.)
posted by iamkimiam at 8:34 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


cashman: some kind of mefi anthem

Oh glory be to MetaFilter
Glory to the blue, green and gray
Showing us the cool and off kilter
Of the web every everliving day
To our questions we get answers
To our trainwrecks we get snark
We are afraid of the fishpantser
When we're alone in the dark
Glory oh glory MetaFilter
Glory on the blue, green and gray
The best, the cool, the off kilter
Of the web is delivered everyday
posted by Kattullus at 8:35 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


I can't imagine that the geek chic value of having a conversation hidden in edits would outweigh the fact that 95% of the people reading it wouldn't know to participate in that discussion and most of the other 5% would just find it tiresome.

Z̜̹̻̞̖̳̓ͪ͑̑̍̓̽̊̂͟͠ͅA͈͕̙̬̩̱̠̝̔̆ͥ̕L͚̙̘͚͇̝̘̺͕͊̍͆͋ͯ̚͠G͖̩̼ͣ̒̏͑O̹̯͖͇̻͓͎͇͆ͯͤ̊̃ͩͥͨ̚!̥̥̫̼̝̖ͨ̆̆ͧ͗͘͘ͅ ̸͈̼̖͕̜͙̘͑͆ͣ̉͂͆H͂ͤ͌ͦ̀̈́̓͌͏̷͚͈̙͓͓̻ȩͯͪ̍̏́҉̝͕̜ ̶̪̠̇̓͋̅̚͞C͈̳ͫ̇ͫ͘̕ȯ̲̜̞̥̱̦͓̲̅͛̓̍͊̆̃́̕͘m̂͐̇͡ -- oh.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:35 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


mmm, tatery
posted by carsonb at 8:48 PM on September 27, 2009


Why not have some option that's like the Gmail undo feature? If you turn it on, then all of your comments would have a 3-minute delay before being published. During that window, you could edit it or delete it or whatever. Once the 3 minutes are up, boom!, the comment becomes immutable and viewable by the public.

This already exists:

1. Type your comment.
2. Wait three minutes.
3. Read your comment.
4. Post it with or without edits.
posted by Mikey-San at 8:51 PM on September 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


The problem, such as it is, is that people sometimes make typos. I used to do the "correct in the next comment" thing (which is totally fine), but now I just leave it unless I think it really hampers the understanding of what I said.

This feels like using nuclear missiles to kill flies. You can't argue it wouldn't kill the flies. But...
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:02 PM on September 27, 2009


Put another way:

One of the outstanding things about Metafilter is the simplicity- the fact the conversations can be read as conversations. Nowadays when i see a site with threaded comments and thumbs up and down and hidden comments cause they got eight thumbs down and all that bullshit, I don't even bother trying to read it. It's just not possible to comprehend who said what, when, to who, without a shitload of extra effort. And sometimes not even then.

I'm not saying this would be that bad, but it's certainly a move in that direction.
posted by drjimmy11 at 9:06 PM on September 27, 2009 [8 favorites]


biggest concern was that someone would type "you all go to hell", wait two minutes, and then remove it with no repercussions.

This seems a bit overly cautious. If this is a huge concern, why not an edit window of 30 seconds? There is also a lot of 'oh no! change is bad!' hand wringing going on with people wracking their brains to think of the ways it could be a BAD idea. Why not try it out? Let something loose for a few days, and kill it if there are real issues.

This is more of a general design philosophy question than about just this issue per se. As hattifattener mentioned above, this is a feature that people wank.
posted by xorry at 9:07 PM on September 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


dammit
posted by xorry at 9:08 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Whenever I hear people say that we shouldn't introduce Fantastic New Feature X because it's open to abuse, I groan.

This is Metafilter, where we by and large pride ourselves on being better than other communities on the net because we ARE better than every other community on the net. Anyone who comes here and contributes does so because they don't want to be a part of the shambling mound that is the rest of the internet. This is Metafilter, where the idea of a community matters and is valued.

To then say "oh, we can't introduce Fantastic New Feature X because it'll be abused" is to do two things. Firstly, it devalues the community and the contributions we all make here because it assumes that despite the 99% of incredible, intelligent discourse that happens here, once we get a new feature we'll all use it to act like childish bufoons. And secondly, it plays right into that 'Plate of Beans' thing, namely "No, Don't Introduce Fantastic New Feature X because I've imagined the most convoluted way of abusing it and no doubt this will happen! Woe betide all who stare into the grim face of Fantastic New Feature X!!!"

Look, if and when a great new feature is implemented here, yes, someone will abuse it. That someone will be banned or dragged into MetaTalk for a public flogging because the mods are great and efficient and the 99.99% of us who love this place will be the ones to tell the mods about it when and where we see it. And then life will continue on as per normal around here except now the experience will be enriched with the addition of Fantastic New Feature X.

Let's not worry about the minority and instead applaud the majority for making this place great.
posted by Effigy2000 at 9:10 PM on September 27, 2009 [17 favorites]


Wait, that wasn't intentional, xorry? Because that was hysterical.

Oh, and I'm now firmly on the side of the "no edits!" crowd.
posted by Kattullus at 9:10 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I look back over improvements to the site, threads usually seem to reflect negative reactions to them. I really don't see this as harming the site if the editing window is narrowed to prevent abuse.

Like Special-K, I've nearly always caught my typo within a few seconds of posting it, so a edit window of 10-15 seconds would do me just fine -- and, I think, would probably suit anyone else. For those posting large, multi-paragraph comments, I daresay they're proportionally more likely to have looked over their comments more thoroughly before posting them, just due to them being more epic.

Additionally, the idea of it being a "queue comment, and after edit window time has passed, post it" idea, like Gmail's Undo Send feature, is yet another alternative that would achieve the purpose well.

Yet even were neither of these solutions used, and instead the original three-minute window concept implemented -- I don't know. Yes, people could easily fuck around with it, but I just don't see that often happening. Maybe allow just one edit, and have that edit viewable, as pointed above. Then, there's really only one alternative to the comment. Yes, that can be gamed, but I don't see it being quite as fun to game. There's not a lot of "let me go back and edit what I said to appear substantially different" on debates in Wikipedia talk pages, if my memory from that time serves me, and if immature abuse of retroactive editing was going to flourish anywhere, it'd be there.

Yet another idea might be this: you have a window, but it's not an edit window, it's a DELETE window. If you delete your message within that 15-30 seconds (or within 3 minutes, etc.), it's deleted. It'd be nice if the site then deposited you at the comment form, prefilled with the comment you had posted -- but in such a case, the edited comment would be posted anew as a new comment, not as an edited comment with its original time and date. You could then hit Cancel if you just wanted to leave the comment deleted. Again, something OPEN to abuse, but not exactly "fun" to game.

Of all the various feature suggestions I've seen roll across this site, I'd really hope this one would get implemented. It's really the perfectionist in me: I hate when I spend some time writing out my thoughts, trying to express myself cogently and clearly, and then screw up by making a small spelling imperfection, or leaving a sentence unfinished. Yes, I know, it's Metafilter, not a final draft of a Pulitzer nominee, but nonetheless, the ability to right those minor imperfections would really be a balm for those small niggles.
posted by WCityMike at 9:23 PM on September 27, 2009


My Metafilter existence feels no great need in the absence of this feature.
posted by allkindsoftime at 9:28 PM on September 27, 2009


I brought this up because I've seen more than the usual number of people correcting typos in a subsequent comment, and found it surprisingly distracting, especially if someone else has made a comment inbetween. A link in the edited comment to the text of the pre-edited comment should discourage most abuse, or you could even keep the pre-edited text in the comment in some changed format (color? smaller text?). But then, it was inevitable the idea would lose all its support now that I've endorsed it (I am SO going to regret that comment).
posted by wendell at 9:32 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


This screams "too much hassle." I make loads of typos. It doesn't keep me up nights. I, for one, am not judgmental of people based on how professional, careful, or illiterate they are in their comment composition.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:38 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


enable the feature, charge users 25 cents per time to use it.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:41 PM on September 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


If there was a three minute edit window, I'd have fixed the spelling of Pittsburgh in my fpp :(
posted by empath at 9:42 PM on September 27, 2009


I think it'd be a good feature and that the potential for abuse is more theoretical than actual.

I'm sure there'd be a day or two immediately after rollout during which people would be playing with the shiny new toy in perverse ways, as you do with shiny new toys. After that, it'd just be a way to fix typos.
posted by ook at 9:42 PM on September 27, 2009


And for the record, I have no problem with people who see no need to fix minor typos. It's the separate comment to fix the typo that's bothering me right now. Please, everyone, think of empath. THINK OF PITTSBURGH!!!
posted by wendell at 10:02 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I also wank this feature.
posted by grouse at 10:09 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


I also have a typo in a recent post. Hope please?
posted by Burhanistan at 10:15 PM on September 27, 2009


How about basically flagging every edited comment like existing flags making it easy to review them and/or see who is trying to pull edit tricks on a regular basis and then do the usual thing - a warning followed by THE BANHAMMER.

After all, I could post "GO THE HELL TO HELL ALL OF YOU" for every comment without an editing feature and I think that would get handled pretty quickly.
posted by GuyZero at 10:17 PM on September 27, 2009


Other reasons why I'm against this feature:

It seems totally out of place here. We don't even have a shiny white background. Or advanced email functions. I'm not complaining at all...I LOVE that MeFi is a bit unpolished and rustic. Occam's razor and all. There seems to be this correlation these days between design/technology=class/sophistication/intelligence. MetaFilter defies that equation by being relatively lo-tech, minimally designed (in a non-minimalist sense), yet super classy (most of the time), credible and intelligent. I think the balance between needs/wants vs. feature overkill gets trickier as the site grows, but it seems that the choices have served the site well so far. I'm not sure what the comment-editor adds, other than unnecessary complexity and some extra pragmatic rules about community standards.

Also, I love the typos, bizarre lexical choices, punctuation weirdness and strange thoughts that come from spontaneous 'speech'. It gives everybody character. The bad spellers in our midst (and I know who you are) ... totally charming. I notice because most of them have really wonderful things to say. I like to think that they're either A) the pioneers of new conventions, or B) so wrapped up in the content of whatever it is, that they've spent all their processing points, with none left for form, or C) either consciously or subconsciously manipulating the form stylistically. With editing comes all this conscious awareness about language use, killing this fun stuff. Maybe that's just the descriptivist in me, but I'd hate to see all those little details go. I don't want all of the discourse here to be cogent and error-free. I want it slightly rough and tumble, like the rest of the site.

I like that I can come here, make my mistakes and leave 'em. If I start getting all, "Oh, maybe I should fix that" then this one step closer to formality. And then I'd have to put my pants on.
posted by iamkimiam at 10:26 PM on September 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


Oh, and I think the intention for the edit window is "I made a typo" and NOT "I regret what I said, although it was properly spelled and punctuated."

But intention doesn't determine use. People complain about the manner in which others use favorites vs. the Way They Were Intended.

Amazon intended to give away the bag, not the camera.
God intended it to be a stick and some damn dirty ape used it to get into a pyramid termite.

You go to the blue with the comment you have, not the comment you want.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 10:30 PM on September 27, 2009


: This seems a bit overly cautious. If this is a huge concern, why not an edit window of 30 seconds? There is also a lot of 'oh no! change is bad!' hand wringing going on with people wracking their brains to think of the ways it could be a BAD idea. Why not try it out? Let something loose for a few days, and kill it if there are real issues.

One doesn't have to think very hard to recognize that this could affect the tone of Metafilter.

Unlike MeFi mail or flags, this feature represents an illusory increase in usability or functionality. Tell me how taking a breath and re-reading your comment (for up to three minutes) wouldn't accomplish the same goals. The only "benefit" would be letting people think less before posting. Meanwhile, it opens potential shenanigans and increases user-to-user mistrust. Additionally, because MeFi threads are sometimes truly fast-paced conversations, this feature enables hiccups in that conversation.

As I said somewhere before, Matt et al have already developed a pretty slick editor-- you know, the one with the preview button that lets you see what your comment looks like in-thread? That one.

Speaking of preview, also what iamkimian said.
posted by zennie at 10:34 PM on September 27, 2009


"Tell me how taking a breath and re-reading your comment (for up to three minutes) wouldn't accomplish the same goals."
posted by zennie at 4:34 PM on September 28

I don't know why, but when I was at University I could read and re-read my assignments on a computer screen over and over again, looking for grammatical and spelling errors but it wasn't until I printed the damn thing that I noticed a couple of mistakes here and there. For some reason, this has been the same here at Metafilter, though obviously you'll want to supplement the word 'print' for 'post' to make it applicable.
posted by Effigy2000 at 10:50 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Nthing iamkimiam. Maybe 20% of my comments don't have a glaring typo or dropped word. I've learned to live with typographical imperfection. The site functions fine, and we all understand each other.

(I do enjoy the professional white background, though. You can have one, too, if you choose it in your preferences.)
posted by Pater Aletheias at 10:52 PM on September 27, 2009


*ahem*

Yes, editing would be nice. Not for me, for other people who are less careful. Becuase I never make mistakes.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 10:57 PM on September 27, 2009


3 minutes? That's a minute more than you need for a good Hate.

Agree too with the additional comment to correct minor typo thing; fair enough if the typo changes the context of the comment, but the majority seem to be of the "too -> to" variety.

I suspect a 3 minute window will lead to similar correction posts, but with added goodness:
Sorry, edit window timed out. Of course I meant "honorable senator", not "drippingly pustulent son of a diseased whore".
posted by Pinback at 11:01 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't know why, but when I was at University I could read and re-read my assignments on a computer screen over and over again, looking for grammatical and spelling errors but it wasn't until I printed the damn thing that I noticed a couple of mistakes here and there. For some reason, this has been the same here at Metafilter, though obviously you'll want to supplement the word 'print' for 'post' to make it applicable.

I know exactly what you mean. It's like looking in the fridge for something and not seeing it because it's right in front of your nose.

Now, imagine the same process you describe, but add a three-minute period of anxiety to the end and double the embarrassment you feel for having typos. Voila.
posted by zennie at 11:04 PM on September 27, 2009


I don't care much for this idea --- I think not being able to edit is generally positive for the tone of the site. If you want to make this work though, you need to delay the corrections.

Take, say, a couple of hours from the time a correction is submitted before it goes live. If it's an offensive comment, people will have seen and flagged it in the meantime. If it's just a typo, people will learn not to rush to complain and maybe point it out to the commenter via mefimail so they can fix it without asking the mods for help.

On top of that, with a substantial time delay you can set up a simple filter where mods are alerted if someone changes more than X % of their comment, and can overrule the correction.

In this way, anal retentive grammar-conscious people can clean up their comments for posterity and most of the shennaningans are averted.
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:05 PM on September 27, 2009


I don't know why, but when I was at University I could read and re-read my assignments on a computer screen over and over again, looking for grammatical and spelling errors but it wasn't until I printed the damn thing that I noticed a couple of mistakes here and there. For some reason, this has been the same here at Metafilter, though obviously you'll want to supplement the word 'print' for 'post' to make it applicable.

There is a break in time and context when you print out your assignment, as compared to reading it ten times in a row on the screen. I imagine our brains somehow read words on paper differently than a computer screen, as well, but I have literally zero data here—totally making shit up off the top of my head.

I don't think my life will be any better if I can edit my MeFi comments for 15 seconds after they're committed. But I'm pretty sure—and there's all kinds of data on this subject—that it'll be the downfall of the entire fucking Internet if MetaFilter does this.
posted by Mikey-San at 11:05 PM on September 27, 2009


Would it be difficult to come up with a "spelling ranking" of MeFites? I'm dead curious to see where I place!
posted by five fresh fish at 11:08 PM on September 27, 2009


fff, you're charming even without typos!
posted by iamkimiam at 11:16 PM on September 27, 2009


Hitting "Submit" is kind of like handing in your term paper to your professor, and it counts for 51% of your final grade.

Built-in spell-checking is standard these days, isn't it? Not very many people need to be making a spelling mistake.

Grammatical correctness is probably an entirely different sort of challenge. One's natural writing "voice" is probably more conversational than bookishly attentive to the formal rules of grammar. One might treat 'em more like guidelines, to be bent and broken to develop a natural voice. Eh.

Punctuation, too, as I demonstrate by freely littering my writing with, you guessed it, commas.

And of course, web writing is an entirely different creature than, say, fiction writing.

As an unemployed technical writer I keep getting opportunities to do web writing. For the life of me, I can't tell if they're legit or if they're some sort of scam. Something called "web writing" pays? I expect that in the end, I'm supposed to submit a writing sample and a hundred bucks…

I should start a curmudgeonly FFFish blog. Humbug to that whole twittering, facebooking, new-fangled social web stuff! Huzzuh the day of single-line 300baud BBSes! You kids get off my lawn! Usenet! Archie! POP3! Mumblesputter…
posted by five fresh fish at 11:22 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


What if, instead of replacing the old comment with the corrected version and having a (#) hoojamidngy that reveals the original, we leave the old comment as-is and the (#) reveals the corrected version?

That would make it a good way to register that you know you screwed up without having to litter the thread with typo corrections, but there would be no risk of substantively changing the conversation after people have already responded to you.

Hell, when it comes down to it, the people who hate typos but aren't concerned about editing abuse could just make a greasemonkey script to "default" to the corrected versions. Or it could be an official preference, if our fearless leaders so chose.
posted by Riki tiki at 11:35 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just throwing out a datapoint here -- Digg allows edits, and I've yet to see a problem caused by editing shenanigans on that site and I read the comment threads there all the time.. And I think our commenters are a bit more mature than Digg's.
posted by empath at 11:44 PM on September 27, 2009


The edit feature would be open to abuse, but it would be traceable abuse. Think of it as a litmus test for rule breakers.

If someone uses the edit feature for reasons other than editing (like secret conversations, fucking with the site, etc) then you ban them. Problem solved!
posted by ODiV at 11:55 PM on September 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


I don't know how this should work, but whatever it is should involve the strikethrough tag.

I love strikethrough!
posted by aubilenon at 11:56 PM on September 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


One of the things that makes this a great community is that it is full of the kind of people who can be bothered dealing with the limitations of its simple set-in-stone-once-committed conversation model and are not so up themselves that fear of an occasional typo keeps them from contributing.

Constraints fuel creativity. The less you have, the more you can do.

I do not like this pony. If I feel a need to read polished prose, I buy commercial fiction.
posted by flabdablet at 12:10 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dude, do you know where they get hoo jam from?

Crushed Hoos - Go Tribe!

Given that this will never happen again, we are going to keep milking it for awhile. Sorry.
posted by naoko at 12:13 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


In my opinion, this would make everything unnecessarily complicated with no clear benefit to anyone. I don't particularly care if there are fewer typos on metafilter, so long as we are free of "you SUCK!!! fag lol" youtubery.
posted by creasy boy at 12:27 AM on September 28, 2009


I don't know how this should work, but whatever it is should involve the strikethrough tag.

I don't actually want the editing feature, but I gotta say, there's a neat idea lurking in this joke.
posted by Mikey-San at 12:48 AM on September 28, 2009


They came up in the thread, and the biggest concern was that someone would type "you all go to hell", wait two minutes, and then remove it with no repercussions. We decided to table the feature and discuss some of the issues some more.

You can do like stackoverflow and allow people to see the changes.
posted by delmoi at 1:09 AM on September 28, 2009


I can't remember what I said last time (or the time before that), but this time, my thumb is firmly down, for what it's worth.

I don't see enough benefit there to outweigh the liabilities, and as some have said, it seems in a way to run counter to the take-some-care culture or language use here.

And I make mistakes in my typing all the damn time.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:36 AM on September 28, 2009


Actually, one could do "hit 'post,' show a preview & start a timer, then countdown, then actually submit" in Greasemonkey.
posted by Pronoiac at 1:46 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


So roll out the edit feature for posts and not comments and we'll see how it goes. Mistakes in comments are something we can fix with a follow-up comment. Mistakes in posts are a different issue, but I'd guess they're not all that common.

I would have been in the pro-edit-comments club a while ago, but thinking about the times I've said something ill-considered, been shot down in flames, and then wished I could go back and edit out the stupid part of what I said, things could get very weird very fast. Emotive threads would end up going down the "but you said X in your original comment, I replied Y, and how you've changed it to Z" route. And trying to iron out those threads through moderation would be a nightmare.

I suppose some sort of 3-minute window where it's possible to revise a comment provided it's still the most recent comment might reduce the fallout. Anyone posting a comment immediately after such a revised comment would probably need to be warned in some way because there's a chance, even with preview, that they're replying to something that's no longer current. And that's the situation where I see the most misunderstanding arising - not the hypothetical extreme of every comment having some sort of revision history à la Wikipedia.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 2:15 AM on September 28, 2009


Being malleable and non-confrontational, I've favorited a few comments on either side of this issue, and will both support and complain about whatever decision is made.

In other words, fuck and unfuck this idea.
posted by maxwelton at 2:27 AM on September 28, 2009


Tangentially, would there be any merit to the idea of some sort of 'sandbox.metafilter.com' site? Because putting new features into the hands of real users is often a good way to gauge their usefulness.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 2:33 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


You can do like stackoverflow and allow people to see the changes.

yes let's model stackoverflow, where everyone reads every answer and post thoroughly

this comment brought to you by sarcasm
posted by Mikey-San at 2:47 AM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm on the fence about whether this is a useful feature. But why not visually mark a comment if it has been edited, but only have the previous version apparent to the mods? If there are shenanigans, users can see that people are having an unexpectedly strong reaction to an innocuous-looking post that has an edit mark and they can deduce that there was monkey business, and the mods can just see the paper trail and deliver the instaban. Not allowing users to read the previous versions means that the secret conversation thing is squashed (I agree that it's a danger and would be a step down the wrong path for the site -- too many inside jokes in little alcoves make an online community stagnate because it starts to put an enormous burden on new users to understand the site culture).

I don't know if editing would be frequently abused, but the abuse would probably have a very obvious pattern: a comment version that has been subsumed with a lot of flags on it compared to the current version. Restrict people to a single edit and you could probably write an algorithm that will point out probable cases of edit-gaming.

The mods would still be responsible for figuring out whether the user changed something offensive because they had a change of heart about it or because they're trolls, though. Have you all upgraded the firmware on your telepathy implants yet?
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 2:48 AM on September 28, 2009


that it'll be the downfall of the entire fucking Internet if MetaFilter does this.

I'm not sure why so many Mefites think this is going to bring ruination to the site. I think it's being a bit negative if you're going to sit around and say "Oh, how the asshatery would commence!" I think it's much more realistic to say something like how many people would be relieved when they could fix the damn typos they make. I've written a comment up, read it through, previewed/reread it, and still have come up with multiple typos. I've also made comments that I regretted before, but it was nothing that three minutes would've fixed. I think the preview and the "take a breather" methods are kind of ridiculous answers to this since they are available now and yet they don't work.
I say at least give this thing a trial run, what have we got to lose by doing that?

I'm also not buying the whole we'll be losing the folksy charm angle either.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:06 AM on September 28, 2009


Yeah but then the solution is that people just shouldn't worry about typos so much. Let them live in peace. Unless you spell every word wrong, we'll get your drift.
posted by creasy boy at 3:38 AM on September 28, 2009


Well at this point people have to live in peace with their typos, but that isn't a reason to not give this a try.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:47 AM on September 28, 2009


Ok, I'll admit it: I fear change on this. It seems like a lot of effort and change with too much potential for mischief and changing the dynamic of Metafilter. I could be totally wrong about that, but it really doesn't seem worth doing the change to actually find out. We have a preview button and we have live preview, if that's not enough, then when does it stop?

The other alternative is to make all of us mods.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:06 AM on September 28, 2009


The other alternative is to make all of us mods.

If we all get free Metafilter parkas, I'm in.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 4:17 AM on September 28, 2009


the biggest concern was that someone would type "you all go to hell", wait two minutes, and then remove it with no repercussions.

Maybe if a comment gets flagged, it can't be edited? Instant lockdown?

Also, if the comment above is there for 2 minutes, and nobody flags it, is it either a] because nobody noticed it (in which case, does it actually do any harm?) or b] because someone noticed it but doesn't actually care, and mentally flags it as noise (in which case, does it actually do any harm?). Or maybe something else?

~~~~~

I would love to have this feature. Often I think of something to add after posting a comment, but I don't because it either looks messy to have another comment, it it needs to be in the flow of the original comment to make sense.

I haven't read this entire thread, but if this site is as good as it appears to be, then this wouldn't actually be abused. Most (ref 99% claims above) of the people here wouldn't engage in the kind of trolling that this would encourage. And for those who do do this kind of trolling regularly, why are they tolerated on the site? I'm not questioning the Mod's modding decisions. I realise that anyone can have an off moment and post a rude comment. However, if someone is constantly posting offensive/crude/whatever comments, then they're going to be picked up on. And what kind of troll posts a trolling comment, and then removes it? Doesn't that defeat the purpose of the original troll?

On a quick glance through this thread, some people seem to be bothered that other people want this feature for whatever reason. This confuses me. If other people are abusing the feature, I have faith that the community will call them out on it. And it shouldn't be too awkward to write the code to allow the revisions of the comment to be shown. I guess I'm confused as to why someone would actively want someone else to not be able to enrich the conversation/correct a typo/whatever. That's not a dig at anybody in particular. I just find it curious.

Yeah, some people will use the tool in a different manner to which it was intended. This happens with the favourites feature. It happens when people self link on the blue. It happens when people ask chatty questions on the green, or get told to see a lawyer/therapist/doctor because that's all anyone can reasonably suggest. However, we still have those tools. Just because some people misuse them some of the time, it doesn't mean that those tools should be taken away from us. Generally speaking, those tools are wonderful, amazingly useful tools. The fact that occasionally, someone misuses them either through accident or design, doesn't make them any less valid or useful.

I don't always agree with the stance of the community. I don't always disagree either. One thing that I always agree with though, is the fact that each person's views are taken into account, even if the opposing stance is taken. So this is my opinion, for what it is worth.
posted by Solomon at 4:19 AM on September 28, 2009


Yeah but then the solution is that people just shouldn't worry about typos so much. Let them live in peace. Unless you spell every word wrong, we'll get your drift.

I assume that reading and/or responding to and/or executing edit requests is a current part of the mod workload which might be decreased by giving users a little more editing control. If that isn't the case then it's probably not a huge win to enable the feature.

But you know, depending on what the subject is and who is participating, posting here can sometimes feel like pushing the button on opening your contribution to a very high level of scrutiny, and maybe it shouldn't, because this is just a website and the participants are a particularly-picky subset of normal humanity. Think of all the bytes that could have been saved here in Metatalk if a newbie could remove an "@" notation from their post after a nice person sent them a memail heads-up that it tends to rile people.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 4:25 AM on September 28, 2009


Just to be clear, the "downfall" thing P.o.B. quoted was also sarcasm. However:

Ok, I'll admit it: I fear change on this. It seems like a lot of effort and change with too much potential for mischief and changing the dynamic of Metafilter. I could be totally wrong about that, but it really doesn't seem worth doing the change to actually find out. We have a preview button and we have live preview, if that's not enough, then when does it stop?

In complete seriousness, I agree with Brandon Blatcher. At best, it's another level of preview. How many levels of preview are enough? Can't wait for the MeTa thread where people want an edit window extension after editing their comment so they can have another editing window if they need it. At worst, it's an avenue for abuse and confusion in a thread.

MetaFilter has done better than almost every single other comment-enabled site on the Internet, if not every one of them, without this feature. What's the problem with the self-enforcing "think, type, preview, post" thing we've got going on? A few typos here and there? That isn't a good enough reason.
posted by Mikey-San at 4:38 AM on September 28, 2009


I assume that reading and/or responding to and/or executing edit requests is a current part of the mod workload which might be decreased by giving users a little more editing control.

Well, if it would save the mods some headache I could get behind it. But are people seriously emailing the mods about typos? If I were a mod I would be some kind of pissed about that.

And yeah, people get raked over the coals here with some regularity, but that's generally for their opinions, and it seems we're all in agreement that substantial editing would be an abuse and just sow havoc and menace.

But, I am usually wrong about these things, so maybe comment editing is a great idea. I just always hate to see minimalism fucked up with useless ornament.
posted by creasy boy at 4:46 AM on September 28, 2009


Just to be clear, the "downfall" thing P.o.B. quoted was also sarcasm.

I figured that was obvious but I took it an ran with it anyway.

How many levels of preview are enough? Can't wait for the MeTa thread where people want an edit window extension after editing their comment so they can have another editing window if they need it. At worst, it's an avenue for abuse and confusion in a thread.

It would actually be a postview, wouldn't it? From what I can see is we have; fear of change, contrived menace, and non-solutions to problems that already exist and will continue without abatement anyway. Doesn't seem like solid enough reason to not do it.

How about at it's best it could fix problems, get rid of typos, and allow people to erase misguided and/or hasty notions. Or even allow people to add clarifications, and apologies.

It seems that enough people are hot and bothered by the outrageous idea of fixing typos that this probably won't get a chance to see the light of day at this point, but I'm going to maintain that's mistake and we should give it a go.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:57 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


an = and. SEE! We need this. I previewed that twice.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:58 AM on September 28, 2009


How about at it's best it could fix problems

I'm unconvinced that there are problems large enough that MetaFilter should do anything at all. No offense, but I find "let's try it, because it might fix problems" to be a solution rooted in an unproven assertion.
posted by Mikey-San at 5:02 AM on September 28, 2009


an = and. SEE! We need this. I previewed that twice.

No one thinks you're stupid for dropping a letter once in a while on the Internet. Your typo is not proof of any sort of dynamic-altering necessity.
posted by Mikey-San at 5:04 AM on September 28, 2009


And yeah, people get raked over the coals here with some regularity, but that's generally for their opinions, and it seems we're all in agreement that substantial editing would be an abuse and just sow havoc and menace.

Well, people get raked over the coals here with some regularity, but it's just as likely to be because of how they presented their opinion, whether people responding are having a bad day or are drunk, if they've flaunted community norms intentionally or otherwise, or if they piqued the interest of someone who always likes to fight/always likes to fight about a particular subject as it is to be a measured reaction to the meat of their opinion. I don't think that this feature fixes all that, of course.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 5:14 AM on September 28, 2009


"let's try it, because it might fix problems" to be a solution rooted in an unproven assertion.

And I find the "let's not do it, because it will cause problems" to be rooted in an unproven assertion.

dynamic-altering necessity.

The dynamics of fixing typos? What world changing effect that this could have is so scary? Even a trial run would not be a good idea?
posted by P.o.B. at 5:16 AM on September 28, 2009


Or, you know, just don't do it. Not all software needs to grow and grow and grow until it becomes Microsoft Office.
This. Sometimes the most important skill in building something is to know when to stop.
posted by dg at 5:21 AM on September 28, 2009


If you goes do implement this, all the edits should be saved and viewed by the admins in case a problem does occur. I'm not sure whether the edits should be viewed to users, though. On the one hand, it's another aspect of community policing, but it could easily tip over into micromanaging and sub threads within a thread.

Sure, this would free the mods from correcting typos, but it may place more work on them in terms of policing or at least being aware of the edits. While the proposed feature, as I understand it, is designed to correct spelling and minor edits, where's the line for what constitutes a "minor edit"? Imagining the worst outcome possible, it's easy to imagine MetaTalk threads being created over where that grey line is and of course in the heat of a moment, posters would view minor edits in a less forgiving light.

None of these problems are insurmountable, but it does raise the following questions: what problem is the addition of the editing feature going to solve and will the solution create other problems and if so, are those problems larger or smaller than the original problem and worth spending limited admin resources on.

Most of us would probably prefer the mods be below deck partying with us down in steerage, only slipping out every now and then to take care of business on the ship that is Metafilter. Would this change 'cause them to spend more time tending to the running of the ship and if so, is that a good thing?

I don't pretend to have an answer. We should sacrifice a member (Hey, where's Eideteker?) to the gods and pray for their guidance .
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:23 AM on September 28, 2009


How about at it's best it could fix problems, get rid of typos,...

I am torn between my desire to correct the mistakes of others and my aversion to adopting new ideas.

Or, you know, just don't do it. Not all software needs to grow and grow and grow until it becomes Microsoft Office.

I vaguely remember a law stating that the scope of every software system creeps until it includes the ability to send and receive e-mail. Isn't there's a mefimail thread a couple of posts down?
posted by Dr Dracator at 5:24 AM on September 28, 2009


Here's a different tack. You're ruining the awesomeness of humanity with this pony.

I like to think that they're either A) the pioneers of new conventions, or B) so wrapped up in the content of whatever it is, that they've spent all their processing points, with none left for form, or C) either consciously or subconsciously manipulating the form stylistically.

If we didn't have typos, we wouldn't have had a substantial amount of the your/you're errors that are pushing toward both forms being acceptable/interchangeable. 'Forgive' was forgif or forgeaf, "Heaven" was heofon, heofen, and heofne.

Let the typos and messups stay. Let language evolve. The your/you're thing annoys me too, but language is fluid, and I say let us be among those who are involved in its evolution.
posted by cashman at 5:29 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


But why not visually mark a comment if it has been edited

How about the opposite - highlight all comments that are still editable by the person that wrote them? That would make clear what's a final concrete comment and what isn't.
posted by cillit bang at 5:31 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's great if you are the sort of person who can use the preview to catch every typo/braino you make, or the type of person who doesn't mind when you make a glaring typo here or there - I'm not that type of person. I preview and regularly have dumb mistakes make it through to post. And, when it does, it tortures me. It howls at me. I try hard to write comments that mean what I mean them to, and when I have an extra or dropped letter, or repeated word, or iPhone related surrealist word substitution hanging out there like a booger I can feel and see but not flick off? Maddening.

Other peoples typos don't bother me, but mine are like poison ivy on my eyeballs.

Frame the feature as 'typo fix', make the intentions on the screen explicit, add a "deceptive edit" flag that is also, uh, unfurled if some 'percentage changed' threshold is met so the mods put the hurt on those who change "eat a bowl of fuck, dirtdirt" to "who wants pancakes?" (y'all weren't busy, right?), addand have the whole thing transparent (visible edits).

I think it has upside, and little risk other than a itsy bitsy wrinkle on the status quo.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:08 AM on September 28, 2009


All the typos above are because I am on my phone on the bus, and they (and the like) would certainly survive any editing window, and MeFi would even retain that folksy charm. WIN/WIN!
posted by dirtdirt at 6:14 AM on September 28, 2009


"Heaven" was heofon, heofen, and heofne.

Oo Baby do you know what that's worth? Oo Heofon is a place on Errif. They say in Heofen love comes firth, we'll make heofne a Pelayce on Eayth!
posted by The Whelk at 6:23 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here is what I said about this last December. It is still correct.

Here is me, showing up as per usual to say why the latest site "improvement" is a bad idea. Ready? The current (old?) system rewards paying attention, and paying attention is a good thing. If I know that, irrevocably, whatever I type into the comment box goes into my personal site history, forever, I pay attention. I reread my comment many times to make sure that it is clear. I catch typos. I keep myself from being a horrendous asshole. I realize that my joke isn't funny and detracts from the thread. If I miss these things (as I sometimes do), everyone thinks less of me, as well they should. The knowledge that your comment becomes part of your permanent record once you hit post forces you to pay attention, or to be known as one who does not or did not pay attention. This is not a bug.
posted by Kwine at 6:23 AM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh, well, that settles it. *eyeroll*
posted by P.o.B. at 6:37 AM on September 28, 2009


I catch typos. I keep myself from being a horrendous asshole. I realize that my joke isn't funny and detracts from the thread.

The point of this pony is only meant to address the first of these. Our unfunny assholeness will remain in perpetuity.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:38 AM on September 28, 2009


This is either a very good idea or a very bad one. I just have not yet figured out which one.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:41 AM on September 28, 2009


This has been a good and thoughtful discussion, with a pretty full set of arguments presented on both sides, and I am now firmly in the "against" column. Special props to iamkimiam for her very convincing comments.
posted by languagehat at 6:51 AM on September 28, 2009


What if edits changed the comment, but the software generated a diff and spat it out such that the original text appeared in strikethrough and the revised text in bold (or something to that effect)? That way the history would be preserved right in the thread, but people who find the need to correct typos could still do so. It would look something like:

TehThe plate of beans is alive!

But auto-generated as a result of clicking the edit button and changing "Teh" to "The."
posted by zachlipton at 6:55 AM on September 28, 2009


What good does that do?
posted by cashman at 6:58 AM on September 28, 2009


"One of the outstanding things about Metafilter is the simplicity- the fact the conversations can be read as conversations. Nowadays when i see a site with threaded comments and thumbs up and down and hidden comments cause they got eight thumbs down and all that bullshit, I don't even bother trying to read it. It's just not possible to comprehend who said what, when, to who, without a shitload of extra effort. And sometimes not even then."

I like the simplicity. I agree with the above. If this feature is implemented, please let it be without too much extra clutter.

I do not think we need this feature.
posted by Cantdosleepy at 7:02 AM on September 28, 2009


empath: If there was a three minute edit window, I'd have fixed the spelling of Pittsburgh in my fpp :(

As far as I know the admins aren't considering rolling out a post-editing function (which, incidentally, was the subject of my very first MetaTalk post). I preview the everlivingness out of posts but typos and incorrect linkage still make it onto the front page. Typos I can live with (except in people's names) but when I make an error I can't live with I pester jessamyn and cortex who're usually more than happy to fix it. Still, it would be nice to have an editing grace period for posts, but I can live without them.
posted by Kattullus at 7:08 AM on September 28, 2009


Here's a vote for editing from someone who often posts in the morning pre-caffeination and also at the end of long days when I'm half-braindead.

And anyone who would seriously use an edit feature the way iamkimiam describes is a four year old who needs to be punched in the dick.
posted by The Straightener at 7:21 AM on September 28, 2009


Why does everyone assume that people will act in bad faith, when so much of Metafilter is based on assuming people will act in good faith?

Also that we need a technical solution to "prove" that people are using the feature in bad faith, as if people wouldn't complain to the mods anyway if people are abusing it.
posted by smackfu at 7:21 AM on September 28, 2009


A post-comment editor adds a whole off-record, shifting level to the dialogic that introduces a bit of untrustworthiness and deception, since there is this inaccessible, changing layer of meaning that in-group users know how to keep up with and would actively comment on.

I disagree. If the expectation (and enforcement) was that it was for editing grammar/spelling/formatting/link mistakes, and there was only a brief window when this could occur, and the original and edited versions were visible I just do not see this being an issue.

The fact that there are knuckleheads out there who want to exploit anything for their own ill reasons has not stopped us from having a big text field into which you can type anything that you please and have it posted for all the world to see - vigilance and community norms keep thinks in check. It would keep this in check too.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:30 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Why does everyone assume that people will act in bad faith, when so much of Metafilter is based on assuming people will act in good faith?

It's not so much bad faith but there would be another vector for people to gripe or get angry about.

Imagine, say in a thread about Roman Polanski getting arrested, the numerous things that could be posted, then edited and how that would effect that or any heated conversation. Is adding the feature worth that potential headache?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:38 AM on September 28, 2009


It's not so much bad faith but there would be another vector for people to grape or get angry about.

OTOH, people could pretty easily mess with quotes to disrupt the site, but they don't.
posted by smackfu at 7:45 AM on September 28, 2009


Me : Why not have some option that's like the Gmail undo feature? If you turn it on, then all of your comments would have a 3-minute delay before being published. During that window, you could edit it or delete it or whatever. Once the 3 minutes are up, boom!, the comment becomes immutable and viewable by the public.

Cashman : Because nobody would turn it on because nobody thinks they need it, until they do. Me included.


I don't know about that. I turned on the Gmail undo feature as soon as I heard about it.

Anyway, I think this would be the perfect solution. People who care about having an editing delay will have it, and nobody else will ever have to suffer for it. What possible drawback is there?
posted by Afroblanco at 7:56 AM on September 28, 2009


I don't know how this should work, but whatever it is should involve the strikethrough tag.

Yes. If this gets implemented, I'd like to see removals in an edited comment automatically show up with strikethroughs. Additions should just show up normally. A minor grammar error like "wank" becoming "wankt" will look messy, so we can hope folks will learn not to bother, but a missing or extra "not" that dramatically changes a phrase's meaning can be easily and cleanly fixed.

This solves the "show original" problem from the start and avoids the need for "edit: grammar" noise.
posted by mediareport at 8:01 AM on September 28, 2009


I would like this and think it's a great feature.

However, I do not think that you need to flag posts that have been edited. Instead, there should be some indication that a post is still within the two-minute editing window, so that people responding to it know that it might get changed. (Admittedly, you could determine this by looking at the timestamp and then checking your clock, assuming it's synchronized.)

Suggestion: in search results (and maybe threads?) some comments are marked as being "fresh" if they're very new. If you changed the threshold on "fresh" to be the same as the editing window, everyone could know that "fresh" comments were still subject to editing, and thus be a tiny bit more skeptical before jumping right in on one.

Right there, you'd prevent most of the abuses that people are afraid of. The problem isn't really when someone posts a "disregard that, i like cocks", it's when other people respond to that and the troll starts to snowball. (How's that for a mixed metaphor?) If you short-circuit this process and prevent people from responding, you might have something stupid in the thread for a few seconds (until it gets edited), but it doesn't turn into a thread-ending derail. We should still be on the lookout for people abusing the editing facility in that way, but the consequences would be relatively minor.

This avoids cluttering up the interface with Digg/HN-style "edit indicators" (they use asterisks), since once a post had left the editing window it would just look normal. Since at at any given time there are many more non-editable posts than there are editable ones, it makes sense to mark the exceptions to the rule.

Stopping people from marking their edits with "EDIT: [reason]" would be a matter of social convention, not technology. (And I hate that also, to the point where I don't do it on reddit or HN because I think it's stupid.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:02 AM on September 28, 2009


On one hand I would so use an edit feature all the time. I tend to write long rambly comments responding in detail to every little thing, then when I go back and edit I always delete the wrong part and just leave a dangling sentence that makes no sense. I also am an atrocious speller, and Firefox's automated spelling checker has done nothing to curb that.

On the other hand I agree with the idea that Metafilter has a clean and simple commenting interface, and I hate when some people on other systems delete their comments entirely, even a couple minutes after posting. And I like the fact that I have to be responsible for what I wrote, even when I write stupid stuff. So yeah.
posted by muddgirl at 8:05 AM on September 28, 2009


I'd like to see removals in an edited comment automatically show up with strikethroughs. Additions should just show up normally.

Now that I think more about it, additions should be a different color.
posted by mediareport at 8:23 AM on September 28, 2009


If people just want to be able to have their typos fixed, why not allow the "HTML error" flag to include a comment about what is wrong, and then the mods can fix it?
posted by smackfu at 8:34 AM on September 28, 2009


OTOH, people could pretty easily mess with quotes to disrupt the site, but they don't.

Quotes are more transparent and it's not clear if the editing feature would be as transparent.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:37 AM on September 28, 2009


Seriously. You guys are WAY overthinking this, and making it WAY more complex than it needs to be. An optional 3-minute delay before something is published for the public. That's it. That's all you need. It really is that simple.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:40 AM on September 28, 2009


mediareport: "137I'd like to see removals in an edited comment automatically show up with strikethroughs. Additions should just show up normally.

Now that I think more about it, additions should be a different color.
"

I thought the whole point of an editor was to NOT draw attention to corrections for the final output?
posted by iamkimiam at 8:51 AM on September 28, 2009


I just think it works much better for something slow like email conversations.

(That was a response to Afroblanco. Someone else posted in the intervening 3 minutes.)
posted by smackfu at 8:52 AM on September 28, 2009


You know what? Now that we have this three minute wait, we could really use in-line commenting! That way our stuff isn't all messy and out of order. Sheesh!
posted by iamkimiam at 8:56 AM on September 28, 2009


Yeah, being able to transparently edit a typo for three minutes would destroy everything I love about MetaFilter. Sheesh!
posted by dirtdirt at 8:58 AM on September 28, 2009


We have a preview button and we have live preview, if that's not enough, then when does it stop?

Upon reflection, this.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:04 AM on September 28, 2009


I thought the whole point of an editor was to NOT draw attention to corrections for the final output?

Transparency in edits gets to the previous concern about abuse. There are lots of different kinds of editing.
posted by mediareport at 9:21 AM on September 28, 2009


Man, everything time this comes up I end up thinking through it again and every time I come to a different stopping point in how I feel about it. pb has put in a couple of good notes on sort of where we are implementation-wise and why, but since the rest of us have all been AWOL I'm gonna go ahead and throw out some notes. This is my position/thoughts, not canon, Matt and Jess probably feel differently about bits of this.

How I feel about it right now is that I'm not so hot on us implementing it, on the balance.

It's something we've talked about in depth several times, both we as in the community in metatalk and we as in the mod team via email, and to an extent I think we in that smaller sense disagree about pieces of it almost as much as the community does, though we've hashed out a lot of ideas for how we might go about it if it was indeed deployed.

My thoughts on some of the specific points:

1. Will it introduce edit griefing?

I'm not as worried about this as I was when the idea was new to me. There is the possibility of folks behaving overtly abusively, but the folks arguing that that's not something Mefites seem to do a lot are on the right track, I think; an edit griefer would be uncommon and quickly reported and banned, probably.

So that's not a big disincentive by itself, for me, at this point. It's a concern, but not a fundamental showstopper or anything.

2. Will it save the mods work? Will it create more work?

Yes and yes. We do handle edit requests for people, probably a couple little things on any given day. It's not onerous by a long shot, and we're generally able to get those edits handled pretty promptly what with one or more of us on the team being around gmail at any given moment. This feature could reduce the number of those requests, though it's a given that it will only reduce the proportion that are caught inside the quick editing window.

I honestly don't know off hand what proportion of our edit work that represents, but it's certainly not all of it and may not be even the majority of it. Regardless, it would save us work but not much.

But it will certainly create some work for us well. With editing comes a clear need for history tracking. There are two main ways to deal with history tracking: public changelogs and admin-only changelogs.

I dislike the public changelog plan for the same reason pb mentioned: it creates an extra layer and domain of metacommentary/metaconversation that adds nothing to mefi as a community while potentially creating distractions and friction in threads themselves.

A private changelog system, with comments just being comments and mefites being trusted in this proposed system to just go about life like normal with the understanding that comments may be gently edited for typos and such, feels more like How Mefi Should Be to me. It's the less disruptive approach, by far, since it doesn't complicate either the UI or the reading process of the site.

The implication of that is that the responsibility for edit tracking becomes squarely a mod thing. Which is not a problem per se, but it's definitely new work—we'd need to put together a toolset, either on the minimalist side to just let us monitor a raw stream of edits or on the more robust side to be able to manage notifications of potentially-questionable edits through some heuristic goodness. All likely manageable stuff, but (a) monitoring the edits will take time and effort and (b) it may require not just that additional eyeball time in general but a fairly quick-response approach to it and (c) there's a lot of implicit "pb will just program this for us, tada!" in here which, while pb is awesome and I have no doubt up to the task, does represent a real investment of time and testing that won't be going elsewhere as a result.

So: likely marginal decrease in edit work, likely less-marginal increase in mod time required to keep up with daily stream of activity in a fairly responsive manner, even assuming nothing really goes wrong in any other sense. I see it as a net increase in our workload, in all likelihood.

3. What's it supposed to do?

People have been sussing out what is and isn't okay use of a proposed edit feature. Things seem to partition out to something like this:

a. Cosmetic repairs (typo corrections, minor changes in word-choice or formatting for clarity's sake)
b. Poster's regret (removing a comment wholesale when a poster immediately regrets having made it)
c. Editing for content (altering significantly* the content of a comment while leaving it in place)

*"significantly" is the damnable qualifier here—what does or doesn't qualify as significant feels like a big Metatalk discussionplex waiting to happen.

Consensus is possibly too strong a word here, but it seems like there's at least general majority agreement in these discussions that (a) is okay and desirable and that (c) is definitely not okay, with (b) being somewhere in the middle on account of how it'd have saved a few people headaches over the years and is more straightforward than (c) in some respects while still offering a maybe troubling variation from the Own Your Words expectations of the community.

For simplicity's sake, let's talk about this in terms of (a) and (c) and leave it at that. A proposed editing feature would allow (a) but not (c), and as proposed it'd involve that allowance being something managed by humans reactively. In other words, someone or some ones will be monitoring edits to decide when they are vs. aren't okay. See above in point 2 for the mod-work implications of that, but aside from the question of workload that's a potential new metadiscursive pain in the ass in general, which doesn't have me excited.

Trying to avoid that by using a system to prevent (c) edits from ever happening seems unrealistic to me—identifying problematic behavior automatically is a hard problem, and I am certain we wouldn't be able to produce a system free from false positives (someone mispastes an extra paragraph, wants to delete it, system thinks that's too big of an edit to be okay) or false negatives (some notional jerk removes a key word or letter or whatever to radically alter the meaning of a comment with very little raw diffing). And I'm basically totally uncomfortable with a system that automatically alters content or account status on mefi for that reason. So, dealing with this pretty much needs to be a human's job.

And so: we're talking about a building a system that gives folks the power to do a very broad scope of editing, along with a new set of social strictures to prevent them from doing almost all of that. The folks talking about using nukes to kill houseflies are basically talking about this, and I am inclined to agree that it seems kind of an overkill approach to cosmetic edits. And I don't see a good way to automatically enforce cosmeticness; swapping out a nuke for a fragile Rube Goldberg device is just shifting the likely points of failure and sources of additional mod work laterally while increasing further the complexity of the system.

4. How will it effect the tone of the site?

Who knows. I have no grand powers of prognostication here. I think it probably wouldn't shift the tone of the site significantly or quickly. But folks' concerns about the introduction of some sort of new bits of let's call it "editing culture" are legitimate and enough to give me some pause: I don't think the added clutter of edit-awareness and metaconversation about that would be a net improvement to the site. It might not have any significant deleterious effect either, but that "might" makes me feel a little uneasy.

The temporal complications of shifting comments is also a potential nest of discursive messiness even granting an enforced expectation of only cosmetic edits—part of how comments work here will have suddenly gone a little wobbly, and I don't really like that. I don't know if it would have any direct effect on the tone of comments themselves, but it has the potential to subtly change site-wise the perceptions and expectations of permanence and that makes me uneasy as well. And it's very hard to make predictions about that.

I sympathize significantly with some of what iamkimiam has said about the actual value of preserved typos and such, though that's more of a personal inclination on my part and not really a huge part of my thinking about this from a policy perspective. But I would chalk up the loss of some of that real-world-usage idiosyncrasy as something to be a little sad about, yeah.

5. NO U

My thinking about this feature has been colored significantly over the last couple years by my Matt-given ability to edit my own comments at will, and I think that goes to some extent at least for the rest of the team as well though I won't try to speak for their personal feelings on the subject.

And I'll say that it's convenient. I use it fairly regularly, and specifically and only for those cosmetic issues that folks have been talking about. I don't always do it when I notice a typo, and when I do do it I don't always do it within three minutes, and I have a hazy set of guidelines for when I should even consider it (I try not to edit anything that's been responded to or favorited, though I've occasionally fucked up the timing on that to usually-discovered effect despite that).

I think to a degree I have been inclined to temper my mostly-inclined-against thinking about the idea of a general edit feature with a concession to the usefulness of the mod edit feature—something like "well, if I get to use it, who am I to say other people can't". It's a hard thing to set aside, because, yeah, that's fair, right?

But at the same time: my use of the feature is constrained by a tremendous amount of responsibility—imagine the noise when a random user does something irresponsible with the editing window, and then imagine the proportional noise if a mod got caught doing something like that—and I know and Matt and Jess know that we're all pretty damned level-headed people and know that we don't have to worry about anyone else's editing behavior. We don't have to support it as a feature; we don't have to monitor it at a thousands-of-users scale.

So the existence of the mod edit feature is a lot different from a proposed userland edit feature, and while I think I've become more sympathetic to the idea of userland editing because of my access to the editing capacity, it seems like kind of a dangerously sentimental (or, uh, guilt-driven?) way to think about it and its something I'm giving a bit less weight now than I was last time we were knee-deep in this.

So there's a ridiculously long comment about all this. Short version is I don't know if we're going to implement it and while I don't think the sky would fall if we did, I don't really think it would be a great idea, for mostly subtle rather than OMG GRIEFING reasons.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:25 AM on September 28, 2009 [5 favorites]


"everything time"? Christ. But I proofread the shit out of that comment, and no meaning is obscured by the error, and god dammit that's just all there is to say about that and I am going to go get some coffee.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:27 AM on September 28, 2009


Maybe do a test run for a couple of weeks in MetaTalk, see how it goes?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:27 AM on September 28, 2009


If people are worried about in-jokery and griefing, then MetaTalk is probably not the place for a test run.
posted by grouse at 9:31 AM on September 28, 2009 [2 favorites]


But cortex -- what about just having a 3-minute window before your comment is published for all to see? This would address all of your concerns, and still give us a safety net. It can be a feature that people can turn on or off in their profile, so nobody has to deal with it if they don't want to.

Do you have any objections to this idea?
posted by Afroblanco at 9:36 AM on September 28, 2009


Afroblanco, here are my concerns:

1) Where do you put the comment in the flow? At the original posting time, in which case you may have comments that popup out of nowhere? Or at 3 minutes later, in which case there may have been interceding comments that make things confusing?

2) Would it really help, or would most people who make mistakes not use it?
posted by smackfu at 9:42 AM on September 28, 2009


1) The comment shows up 3 minutes later, when the window ends. In that three minutes, you could edit the comment, commit it immediately, or delete it entirely. You'll be able to see interceding comments the same way you can now, by hitting "preview." And if your comment is no longer relevant, you can change or abort it.

2) I think it would help. I know that, since I started using the Gmail undo feature, I've used it a number of times. Mostly to catch typos.

Perhaps 3 minutes may be too much -- it might be better to make it shorter, or perhaps even give users the opportunity to set this value themselves (within a pre-defined maximum/minimum).

I mean, really, there's nothing to stop people from doing this now, by using the already-existing preview functionality. It would just provide a sort of safety net for users (like myself) who perhaps aren't so religious about previewing first.

And perhaps it may be confusing to some, but I think the way to go would be to have it off by default, and then people could enable it on their own.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:50 AM on September 28, 2009


But cortex -- what about just having a 3-minute window before your comment is published for all to see?

This is essentially a forced Preview. Or an optional Preview, I guess. In any case, it introduces some of the temporal wobbliness I was talking about above, and in fast-moving threads especially that could be a real headache. Or what smackfu said.

I pretty strongly support the "just carefully preview" platform for this this, really. Magical mod powers or not, that's what I do with basically all of my comments, with edit-worthy fuckups generally only happening when I get lazy or try to work too fast.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:50 AM on September 28, 2009


I'm not a big fan of the editing window. The ability to change what's been said feels more like inorganic record-producing than the natural flux of conversation. I'd rather keep the current lack of edits.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:57 AM on September 28, 2009


> Seriously. You guys are WAY overthinking this, and making it WAY more complex than it needs to be. An optional 3-minute delay before something is published for the public. That's it. That's all you need. It really is that simple.

You know, telling everybody else to shut up and just accept the way you want things done because it's OBVIOUSLY RIGHT is not really a productive way to go. And no, it really isn't that simple, that's why we're assembled here.
posted by languagehat at 10:20 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


For me, this comes back to that age-old dilemma...do we put in measures that 'do something' for the community members, so that they don't have to worry about tending to some aspect of their communication (a stop gap measure that says, "Hey, we've taken care of this for you so that you don't have to" or "Look here, you might want to care about how this looks!") OR, do we NOT take the measure, and instead promote the idea of personal responsibility (an implicit message that says, "Hey, you're on your own to present your material in the way you want it BEFORE you hit 'Post Comment'; there will be no going back after that point."). It reminds me of that problem that that one church was having a while back with cell phone use during service. They put the onus on themselves to correct the situation, and implemented cell-phone-blocking paint. Some complained about not being able to be contacted in church in case of emergency, and people talked about creating new technologies that could override the paint. The simplest solution, IMHO, was for people to be more aware of their cell phone status before they walked in the door.

I realize that I've blown out the two extremes, since either action wouldn't explicitly mean the the things I've stated above. But I think the general idea is there. And we've ALREADY got an optional measure that addresses both to a certain extent, the Preview button.

I don't think MetaFilter will all go to hell with a 3-minute editor, but I do think that it will introduce a subtle shift in the way users will interact with the site. Enough of a shift that will have an effect of the social dynamic and overall output/record of the discourse on the site. Maybe the cumulative effect will be a good one, and I hope it would, but I do feel like this would take us a tiny step away from the posterity and finality that you find in a speech environment, where you can't do any revisionist history, but can only correct what was put out there after the fact, if you feel it necessary to do so. It's a 'can't change the past' model that seems to work just fine in everyday communication.

And I also abhor the idea of being any more self-conscious or aware of my typos, bad grammar or misstatements than I already am. The balance I've got right now is fine for me, and if it needs adjustments, I'll do some self-monitoring with that handy Preview button. I've got enough insecurities going already without any new doubts about whether or not I should go back and immediately fix my last step. And with everybody else producing such Grade-A edited commentary, would the social pressure to not leave my mistakes hanging increase? Maybe I wouldn't notice at all, but if edit-griefing occurs, THEN I would start becoming acutely aware of others' use of the feature, as well as questioning my own.

As far as people commenting immediately after they've commented (to correct or point out an unintended error). Sometimes it's annoying, but sometimes it's really funny! Some of the time I just think, "Ahh, no need for that, I got what you meant." I mean if I really care about all this typo/correction biz, shouldn't I focus on my preventing it at the source (the production), rather than relying on measures that can change it after I've committed my social infraction(s)?
posted by iamkimiam at 10:21 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't understand why people can't just proofread more before posting if they care that much about typos. I get that sometimes you'll read something over and over and miss some little error and to that issue I say, "piffle."

Reddit lets you edit comments and it's pretty obnoxious. People change the meaning of their comments all the time, and I don't buy at all that everyone here is just way above that. (I doubt mods want to watch every edit to make sure people are only using the feature a specific way.)
posted by cj_ at 11:37 AM on September 28, 2009


It really is that simple.

As in ''Midnight At the Oasis would be the greatest song ever except for the lyricss suck so bad that there should be a tribute album to that song where the heavies take a crack at it--you know, folks like Dylan, Simon, Byrne, Carrot Top, 50 cent and Shearer, it really is that simple'' simple ?
posted by y2karl at 11:40 AM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wait a minute--could I edit that ?
posted by y2karl at 11:41 AM on September 28, 2009


"everything time"? Christ. But I proofread the shit out of that comment, and no meaning is obscured by the error, and god dammit that's just all there is to say about that and I am going to go get some coffee.

I'm sorry, cortex, but you have just proven the NEED for this feature. Comments like that derail the flow of commenting, forcing readers who didn't even notice the error to go back to the previous long comment to find its occurrence and figure out if it changes the meaning of anything.

Of course, if you want to Be an Attention Whore, you can plant intentional typos in a long comment and use 'correction comments' to drag a percentage of the readership back to your previous blatherings (which I suspect some people are already doing... yes, the current non-system is being abused too).
posted by wendell at 11:51 AM on September 28, 2009


I would love this feature so much. You do even have to get me anything else for Christmas.
posted by yeti at 11:55 AM on September 28, 2009


If people are worried about in-jokery and griefing, then MetaTalk is probably not the place for a test run.

Actually, it would be the PERFECT place for a test run, since MetaTalk is where the worst abuse of everything that can be abused occurs. If it doesn't go all pear-shaped here, it'll work even better on the Blue. If it can make it here, it'll make it anywhere... yes, MetaTalk is our New York, New York (NO apologies to New Yokers).
posted by wendell at 11:56 AM on September 28, 2009


ummm.... I mean, you "don't". Dammit. And I swear that wasn't intentional.
posted by yeti at 11:57 AM on September 28, 2009


Just don't forget. Put an obvious but not-overwhelming identifier (like the [+] and [!]) on edited comments that links to a saved copy of the PRE-edited comment. I can't think of a better way to make it simple, non-obtrusive and self-policing.
posted by wendell at 12:01 PM on September 28, 2009


wendell: "can plant intentional typos in a long comment and use 'correction comments' to drag a percentage of the readership back to your previous blatherings (which I suspect some people are already doing... yes, the current non-system is being abused too)"

You seriously think people are intentionally doing this? I find that really surprising; that's a level of conniving and scheming that seems like a lot more effort than would be worth a few extra eyeballs on your comment. I know you probably don't want to call anyone out, but do you have an example?
posted by Riki tiki at 12:07 PM on September 28, 2009



I'd like one that automatically checks for inconsistencies from my previous comment history and corrects them.

In thread 57901, you said "George Bush should be tried for warcrimes for authorizing indefinite detention", but in this comment, you seem to be saying that you're fine with Obama's indefinite detention policy. This is a logical inconsistency. Would you like me to retroactively correct your previous comment or are you fine with appearing to be a hypocrite?
posted by empath at 12:14 PM on September 28, 2009


Eh.

Personally, I already put myself under significant pressure to use technically correct writing, and the lack of an edit feature helps me deal with that in a healthier way. I feel for those of you who find your typos severely irritating, but trust me: a small edit window will not help you with that, and is in fact more likely to increase the pressure.

I'm not sure I find typos "charming," but there is definitely something more personal and earnest about that kind of raw writing. It's the kind of writing found in journals, or the kind found in correspondence between close friends, where ideas are more important than words.
posted by zennie at 12:14 PM on September 28, 2009

I'd like one that automatically checks for inconsistencies from my previous comment history and corrects them.

In thread 57901, you said "George Bush should be tried for warcrimes for authorizing indefinite detention", but in this comment, you seem to be saying that you're fine with Obama's indefinite detention policy. This is a logical inconsistency. Would you like me to retroactively correct your previous comment or are you fine with appearing to be a hypocrite?
And if it could be attached to a cutesy animated paperclip, so much the better!
posted by Electric Dragon at 12:23 PM on September 28, 2009


Comments like that derail the flow of commenting, forcing readers who didn't even notice the error to go back to the previous long comment to find its occurrence and figure out if it changes the meaning of anything.

Worse is the people who correct other people, like this, and then the person feels the need to respond like this.

I don't see any way that would be fixed by this feature. I just wish people would not do it. It's not your job to be the MeFi copyeditor, especially since they can't fix it. You can MeMail them if you wish to point out the error of their ways.
posted by smackfu at 12:34 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


smackfu: It's not your job to be the MeFi copyeditor

Ohgodyes! The world would be a tiny bit better place if people realized that quibbling with someone's spelling or grammar is incredibly rude.
posted by Kattullus at 12:44 PM on September 28, 2009


Ohgodyes!

Danger point. This is not a word.
posted by The Whelk at 12:51 PM on September 28, 2009


You can MeMail them if you wish to point out the error of their ways.

Maybe we should open the 3 minute window for ANYONE to edit comments. That way people can correct your spelling and grammar for you without bothering you about it.
posted by empath at 1:08 PM on September 28, 2009


empath wins the "reductio ad absurdium" award, and, no I'm not going to bother checking to see if I got that phrase right.
posted by wendell at 1:14 PM on September 28, 2009


I'm sorry, cortex, but you have just proven the NEED for this feature. Comments like that derail the flow of commenting, forcing readers who didn't even notice the error to go back to the previous long comment to find its occurrence and figure out if it changes the meaning of anything.

You are describing a need where I see a mild peevish want, and one that I am not convinced an edit feature would reduce so much as transmogrify. Eliminate the instinct to (a) self-correct needlessly (and yes, that was an intensely self-aware correction up there) and to (b) be annoyed by others' self-corrections and we'll be in business, but that'll be a hell of a project in its own right and an edit feature won't address it.

Of course, if you want to Be an Attention Whore, you can plant intentional typos in a long comment and use 'correction comments' to drag a percentage of the readership back to your previous blatherings (which I suspect some people are already doing... yes, the current non-system is being abused too).

I believe you are significantly overestimating the willingness of people to use self-correction followups tactically. Really, really significantly so. But, regardless, see previous paragraph—that's not an edit-feature thing, that's a human nature thing, on both sides of the interaction.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:25 PM on September 28, 2009


cortex: This is essentially a forced Preview. Or an optional Preview, I guess. In any case, it introduces some of the temporal wobbliness I was talking about above, and in fast-moving threads especially that could be a real headache. Or what smackfu said."

I'm not sure I agree with you about the wobbliness, Cortex. If someone has gone in and turned on a not-on-by-default "delay comment for editing" feature, then they are at that point making the decision *knowing* that they are delaying their message by 180 seconds. And although we have fast-moving threads, I don't think there are *tons* that operate so lightening-quick that a three-minute delay would make things temporally wobbly. In fact, the only ones I remember firing that quickly were the multi-thousand-comment MetaTalk threads we've had on various subjects, which do happen, but not incredibly frequently.

And, to add mental weight to the point that the Mefite themselves are imposing a delay upon themselves, you could even allow the Mefite to set the number of their delay. (Perhaps have the value be "0" when the input box first comes up, so there's no prompting.)

That way, for those people who just want a quick typo-catch window, they could set it for 30 seconds and not effect much temporal wobbliness to their contributions.

And for those who purposefully chose to set multi-minute delays, they'd then know the consequences of their action.
posted by WCityMike at 1:29 PM on September 28, 2009


Another thing to consider is the effect this will have on AskMe. Call me cynical, but I can definitely see people doing the fav-whoring thing where they post a quick answer as soon as possible so that their response is early in the thread and then go do a little research and come back later and edit the answer into a more fleshed out response (cf stackoverflow.) I really don't want to see that on Ask. If you have an sincere answer you should post it, if you don't you should wait until you do. Editing is not a "take a number" thing at the DMV to let you get your shit in at the top of the thread. (This applies more to the unlimited time window style of editing than the 3 minute window kind.)
posted by Rhomboid at 1:31 PM on September 28, 2009


It seems fairly clear, judging by Cortex' ambivalence combined with the general (healthy!) state of feature-inertia here, that this is a no go. Oh well.

I think, though, that the repeated claims of "People will do it wrong and the world will explode!" are misguided. If this was framed right, and enforced, there would be no issue with people changing meanings, holding subspace conversations, making funny, holding their place in line, etc.

It's like, to use an over-simple example, self-links. We don't allow self links here. If something shows up that looks like one, people flag it and if upon inspection it is determined to be a self-link it is eradicated. And yet, anyone could try to self-link at any time!

This would be like that, but much, much, much less volatile. With clear instructions that state "this is for typos, not for content change", the already robust flagging system, obvious ways to be caught, and little or nothing to gain, I reeeeeeeeeeeally doubt it would be an issue.

As to whether a brief window of ability to change one's "to" to "too", or whatever, would have deleterious effects on MeFi as a whole, well, I guess there are differing opinions.
posted by dirtdirt at 1:56 PM on September 28, 2009


> not-on-by-default "delay comment for editing" feature

I still don't get this, it strikes me similar in spirit to setting your clock forward 10 minutes so you won't be late, and then subtracting 10 every time you look at it.
posted by cj_ at 1:56 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


What if it wasn't a timed edit window, but you could instead only edit your comment if no one has yet commented after you? It seems currently the majority of self-corrections are the very next comment. There would be very little room for horseplay, because you never know how long you have, and the comment could be stuck almost immediately. It would only be useful for the quick "Oh shit, I just noticed that typo". There would be no threat of altering the conversational history, because you can't change anything once someone has responded. It would be a very minor change, culturally. People would still need to be careful, but would also have a brief chance of fixing any errors if they do miss them on preview.
posted by team lowkey at 1:58 PM on September 28, 2009


And although we have fast-moving threads, I don't think there are *tons* that operate so lightening-quick that a three-minute delay would make things temporally wobbly.

OTOH, if there aren't many threads where a three minute delay matters, there really aren't that many opportunities for people to game the original "edit my comment" feature.
posted by smackfu at 1:58 PM on September 28, 2009


> I think, though, that the repeated claims of "People will do it wrong and the world will explode!" are misguided. If this was framed right, and enforced, there would be no issue with people changing meanings, holding subspace conversations, making funny, holding their place in line, etc.

I don't think anyone's saying it'll be a disaster so much as it'll introduce a bunch of minor problems to solve one non-problem. Some of them are edge-casey for sure, but I think you're wrong that none of those things will happen. Nearly every forum has this, as does reddit (which is pretty similar to mefi in purpose), and in my experience all it adds is confusion. People absolutely go back and change what they said, sometimes subtly, sometimes drastically. Not for nefarious purposes, just that people get worked up about a subject and want to keep revising their comment as things play out, or they have regrets about tone, or realized they left something out, or whatever.

The solution to this is to have mods .. what, revert edits that "change a comment too much"? Adding a technical feature and then having some hazy open-to-interpretation guidelines about how it's acceptable to use will be nothing but trouble. I can just see the daily metatalks along the lines of "why did my edit get reverted?!" and such. Ugh. Not to mention the sheer amount of work policing that would be. If you're going to allow editing, the only sane thing to do is let people use it as they see fit.

(If I could edit my comments, I totally would've added this to the above post)
posted by cj_ at 2:21 PM on September 28, 2009


Whenever I hear people say that we shouldn't introduce Fantastic New Feature X because it's open to abuse, I groan.

This is Metafilter, where we by and large pride ourselves on being better than other communities on the net because we ARE better than every other community on the net.


It's the chicken and the egg. A good deal of why Metafilter is a nice place is because of the carefully considered technical decisions attractiing certain people and types of discourse. (Of course, it's a false dichotomy. Some of it is in fact the nice people suggesting technical ideas).

Downsides: Comments to legitimately edited posts, possible abuse (griefing, backchannel conversations), additional development overhead, and painful user interface accommodations (every new feature is visual noise).

Upsides: Less "oops" posts, probably less typos, mods don't have to edit the rare post.

Personally, I don't think the juice is worth the squeeze. If I had to guess, I'd say neither does Matt. But every time I get all hot and bothered because Metafilter doesn't do X, I remember that A) it seems to be doing pretty well regardless, and B) It's not my site, so outside of humble suggestions I'm not going to start acting like I own the place.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 2:47 PM on September 28, 2009


I don't know. You get small window of time, one chance to fix your mistake, the collective eyes of the community backed up by the mods (maybe even sprinkle in some auto-flag goodness), and I have hard time seeing what mischief could be made that is materially different than your garden variety grabbassing that is dealt with here all the time.
posted by dirtdirt at 2:50 PM on September 28, 2009


dirtdirt, it would be one more thing the mods would have to monitor, one more thing users could complain about or ant changed. Look at Mefimail and how regularly it get feature requests.

To me, as a person who tends to make typos and transpose words or leave them out all together, the addition of this feature doesn't fix anything that the user can't fix themselves with more careful attention. I want members to be carefully scrutinize their comments, not just wing knowing that they have three minutes to change or expound on their point. And it sounds like a needless use of limited admin resources.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:01 PM on September 28, 2009


If it's already coded, why don't we just flip the switch and see how it goes? If it sucks, we can just turn it back off.
posted by empath at 3:08 PM on September 28, 2009


fwiw, I think 3 minutes is too long. 3 minutes is an eternity. 60 seconds is plenty of time to go, woops i misspelled "lederhosen", but not enough time to add too much additional verbiage.
posted by empath at 3:10 PM on September 28, 2009


What if it wasn't a timed edit window, but you could instead only edit your comment if no one has yet commented after you?

Race condition:

1. I post a comment.
2. You see my comment and quote it as you write a reply.
3. While you're composing, before anyone has posted, I edit my comment and it no longer reflects what you're quoting.
4. You post your comment, which has the original version of my comment.

Not only is this confusing, but the purpose of the edit is now defeated.
posted by Mikey-San at 3:43 PM on September 28, 2009


I really can't see the marginal utility of this feature outweighing the negative aspects.

If you make a typo, it happens. If it really bothers you, proofread more carefully next time. If it really really bothers you, contact form a mod and beg for absolution.

If you say something you regret, well, that happens. If it really bothers you, think more carefully next time. If it really really bothers others, you will be called out for it, which will definitely make you think more carefully next time.
posted by lazaruslong at 3:46 PM on September 28, 2009


I don't think the juice is worth the squeeze

Well put. I prefer the status quo. I catch a lot of typos using preview, and the ones I don't catch, I shrug at, secure in the knowledge that Mefites can figure out what I meant and most won't judge me harshly for it. Any who would judge harshly, I couldn't be bothered to care about.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 3:49 PM on September 28, 2009


A head-scratching, in-depth analysis of possible temporal wobbliness and meta-griefing seems a long row to hoe for fixing a few typos or saving someone from being rightly called out for being a jackass, while at the same time incentivizing sloppy proofreading and hothead comment posting because you can always "fix it" after you post it.
posted by lazaruslong at 3:50 PM on September 28, 2009


It's like, to use an over-simple example, self-links. We don't allow self links here. If something shows up that looks like one, people flag it and if upon inspection it is determined to be a self-link it is eradicated.

Again, I'm more or less agreed with the notion that the site would not end up collapsing under the weight of a thousand out-of-the-woodwork maleditors, but to be clear, self-linking is one of those things that represents a frustrating recurring pile of work for us—I spend probably a lot more effort researching possible/likely self-links than the average web person, so far as I can tell, which I do because I feel really strongly about the issue and care about keeping mefi free from that particular brand of BS.

Self-links, as far as the analogy goes, are not fended off for free. It just happens to be something we're inclined to throw those kinds of mod resources at. I don't know that I really feel the same way about the editing thing, milder though the stakes may be in any case.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:25 PM on September 28, 2009


I just got bored.
posted by cashman at 4:34 PM on September 28, 2009


I'd rather have excessive typos than excessive self-links.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 4:48 PM on September 28, 2009


Mikey-San: "Race condition:

1. I post a comment.
2. You see my comment and quote it as you write a reply.
3. While you're composing, before anyone has posted, I edit my comment and it no longer reflects what you're quoting.
4. You post your comment, which has the original version of my comment.

Not only is this confusing, but the purpose of the edit is now defeated.
"

Well, if the purpose my edits is to correct typos and misspellings, which seems to be what people mostly want, then that purpose hasn't been defeated. My comment is corrected. Your quote may be slightly off, but that seems like a pretty minor issue. Subsequent readers won't quote the errors. The only time it could be problematic is if I change the meaning of what I said or if you're commenting directly about my mistakes. Those seem like rare conditions to try to engineer around. If I significantly change the meaning, I'm going to get called out on it. If you're commenting on my errors, I don't care if they're corrected before you get a chance to snark. The most prominent situation will be that very few people will see the uncorrected statement, and those that do will understand that minor errors may disappear.

If you post your reply before I finish my edit, I've missed my chance at correcting it. If I edit my comment before you complete your comment, you'll see that when you preview, and can choose to alter your reply or not. This is of course assuming good faith by the majority of players, which I hope we can do.
posted by team lowkey at 6:16 PM on September 28, 2009


I'd rather have excessive typos than excessive self-links.

I'd rather not have straw man arguments than have typos,

As far as double checking your work before posting, I agree and disagree with that particular sentiment. I agree with the idea that you should take your time and double check over what you have posted. It's something I had to learn, but I absolutely don't think two or three minutes is all of a sudden going to negate that learning process for people. I disagree with it because I think it is really a lame response at this point to prop up a counter argument with the claim of double checking; it should be obvious we have a bunch of people here who say they look over their work, take their time with it and still end up with typos.
Look, everyone here can say it over and over again about taking more time before you post, but the idea will remain implicit unless there is a blinking DOUBLE CHECK YOUR WORK on the submit button.
In response to Preview, oddly we have that but still have the problem of typos. Weird huh? As if there is an assumption that no one uses it, and people are requesting this because of a lack of use of that feature.
Back channel talking? Come on. We haven't even been floated a working conceptual idea of whether that's even possible.
Griefing? *shrug* Like that doesn't exist now? Would it be a bigger problem? Maybe. Certainly at the expense of the ever looming banhammer.
I think cortex laid out a couple of fine points on why this may be a bad idea that no one else has really touched on. Mainly that it would take up mod time, and that means time taken away from other duties. That means a possible degradation in the quality of the mod work, which I don't think anybody would want to see.

I still say we try it out for a limited time, like in Metatalk as someone suggested.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:22 PM on September 28, 2009


the purpose of my edits
posted by team lowkey at 6:27 PM on September 28, 2009


I can see why this idea is compelling, and have certainly had my share of DAMMMMMMN IT (where's that edit?!) moments.

But in the grand scheme of things? Eh. We already have preview. No-one and nothing can force us to proofread and think if we're determined to do otherwise.

If this were to be implemented, I'd want it seriously, seriously limited. Like crazy NO FAIR limited. Like "you may only change x many characters in your comment" limited.
posted by desuetude at 6:31 PM on September 28, 2009



I'd rather have excessive typos than excessive self-links.
...
I'd rather not have straw man arguments than have typos,



My intent was not to point out that the universe is collapsed to only two choices. Rather that--and I'll quote you again:

...why this may be a bad idea that no one else has really touched on. Mainly that it would take up mod time, and that means time taken away from other duties.

There are a lot of things I would rather have mods do than having to deal with threads that have gone wacky because of outdated references. One of those things is continuing the fine work they do in preventing self-linking. I appreciate that their time is a finite resource, and I was making a statement on how I would personally prefer that this resource be allocated. Disclaimer: there are many other fine points of view that are not mine.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 6:54 PM on September 28, 2009


Agreed. This definitely isn't a make or break thing, it's just that I'm surprised at the resistance to this idea. An idea that I think, at this point, is at least worthwhile in some small way and at worst untested.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:27 PM on September 28, 2009


In response to Preview, oddly we have that but still have the problem of typos. Weird huh?

Well, that depends on whether you think typos are a problem. And as for the implication that New Feature will prevent typos, I highly doubt it.

Timed editing is not an untested idea. I've participated in plenty of sites that allow editing-- even nearly open-ended editing. I know the benefits, but I also know the frustrations and the temptations to otherwise upstanding users. For a community the size of Metafilter, dependent upon trust and fairy dust to maintain order and quality, I firmly believe this is far more trouble than it's worth.

Adding mod work is not something to be taken lightly. Honestly, the first thing I thought when I saw Timed Editing on the verge of debut was, 'that's gonna be a pile o' work for little compensation.' Needless bureaucratic babysitting duties.
posted by zennie at 7:49 PM on September 28, 2009


I'm a member of a pretty large vbulletin board that allows unlimited open ended editing and in 9 years, it's never been a problem -- and the half the users of that board are juvenile twits. There have been cases of people retroactively editing posts and making them completely nonsensical, but usually those are the kinds of flame-war threads that would have been nipped in the bud to begin with. Usually if someone does a quick ninja edit, nobody even notices.
posted by empath at 8:02 PM on September 28, 2009


Well, that depends on whether you think typos are a problem. And as for the implication that New Feature will prevent typos, I highly doubt it.

There are plenty of enough people who do think they are a problem, thus there have been plenty of request for this app in the first place.
Of course it won't prevent all typos, especially with a timed edit window.
The idea is untested on Metafilter though, and as far as I can tell people have mixed ideas on the problems it will create or has created on other forums.

Adding mod work is not something to be taken lightly.

No one has taken it lightly, and I'm sure that's first and foremost the reason for the non-debut so far.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:43 PM on September 28, 2009


P.o.B.: it's just that I'm surprised at the resistance to this idea.

Me too. I sometimes think that if a feature called "every time you click the 'Post Comment' button, God saves a bunny" was proposed, about 95% of the MeTa thread about the idea would contain people saying it wasn't necessary: bunnies can save themselves, God doesn't exist anyway, God saving bunnies will lead to overpopulation of the species and thus a lot more suffering than otherwise, what if people abuse the God-saves-a-bunny feature to overinfluence their karmic balance, bunnies suck, there hasn't been a problem with Mefites' lapine attitudes thus far and tinkering with Mefites' lapine attitudes would mean endangering what makes has made the site good for a while, what does a save-a-mammal button have to do with the posting process, why is the button land-centric anyways – we should have a 'God saves a dolphin' button, they're being more actively wiped out anyway, and furthermore ...
posted by WCityMike at 10:07 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


Or, maybe, people would point out how other sites have implemented that very same God-saves-a-bunny button and how it has resulted in threads filling up with a bunch of useless, distracting noise that caused the site to be significantly less enjoyable.
posted by Rhomboid at 10:40 PM on September 28, 2009


WCityMike: "P.o.B.: it's just that I'm surprised at the resistance to this idea.

Me too. I sometimes think that if a feature called "every time you click the 'Post Comment' button, God saves a bunny" was proposed, about 95% of the MeTa thread about the idea would contain people saying it wasn't necessary
"

Maybe folks are resistant because innocuous design decisions can actually have a pretty big impact on the user experience. Personally, I don't feel the site should add features unless there's a clear and worthwhile benefit. In this case, the benefit of fixing typos isn't clear (some people think typos add personality to a user's writing style) or worthwhile.

For me, pushing "Post Comment" on Metafilter carries a lot more weight than making a post on any other website. That's the real feature.
posted by yaymukund at 10:41 PM on September 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


The thing about MeFi is that the mod-to-user ratio is very, very low for the quality of conversation and ability of mods to serve individual user needs. The ratio is typically more on the order of 1 to 500-1000. Even if there are only 10K active users out of the 70K, that means we'd have more like 10 mods rather than 3.5 [who have lives], and even then I wouldn't expect the same quality or mod interaction. The admins here are much more active in vetting posts and other activities than you'd see on a normal forum, and our ratio is more like 1 to 3000 active users across three extremely active sites and more than one less active (but not insignificantly active) site. Yet they still manage to handle everything in addition to blow-ups and occasional PR. MeFi is quite aberrant in the world of web forums because of careful decisions by Matt et al. I suspect that's why some users feel the need to tell people to get off the lawn.
posted by zennie at 3:02 AM on September 29, 2009


what about just having a 3-minute window before your comment is published for all to see?
Been said already, but have a look at the timestamps in some fast-moving threads. A whole shitload of things can happen in three minutes.

...60 seconds is plenty of time to go, woops i misspelled "lederhosen", but not enough time to add too much additional verbiage.

1. Write out intended final comment in your favourite word processor, copy to clipboard
2. Make troll bait comment
3. Edit, paste, post
4. Profit?
posted by dg at 5:40 AM on September 29, 2009


> it's just that I'm surprised at the resistance to this idea.

And I'm surprised that people keep proposing it. We'll both just have to learn to live with constant surprise.
posted by languagehat at 6:18 AM on September 29, 2009


Not that anyone but me cares, but I'm also now convinced it's not necessary to have an edit window. Things are fine without it.

And please stop correcting your minor grammar mistakes that are obvious errors from the context of what you wrote.
posted by mediareport at 6:27 AM on September 29, 2009


Revisiting the misunderstanding in the 'soldier wears a dress to fellow soldier's funeral', I was thinking if there was some way edits could have helped emperor.seamus's comment. The reaction is loved but the clarification seems to have been walked right by. Obviously the 3-minute thing wouldn't help here. I started thinking that perhaps a tiny area after the [!] could be used as some kind of clarification area (open for a good while - at least 30 minutes). "The oops area." A small area where you could put "Oops - correct link http://example.com". Html would not be enabled. Corrections like "teh = the" or "your = you're" could appear there. It can be in the color of the date and 'posted by' text.

This probably has been suggested before, hasn't it. It seems ripe for injokery. I think for those who really want it - allow people to remove their post comment button from the main screen of any page, so that it is a forced preview (sure this has been suggested too) every time.

Or perhaps for those who want it, they can hit "preview" and have the comment appear without a page reload - more like an image pop-up. I don't know - I just don't know how this isn't more trouble than its worth without even really providing assurance that the errors won't still continue in some form or other.
posted by cashman at 7:25 AM on September 29, 2009


cashman: Revisiting the misunderstanding in the 'soldier wears a dress to fellow soldier's funeral', I was thinking if there was some way edits could have helped emperor.seamus's comment. The reaction is loved but the clarification seems to have been walked right by.

Wow that's a weird exchange. I can sort of see how EmpressCallypigos understood the comment in that way but I understood it as emperor.seamus meant it. The first time I read her comment I had a really weird feeling of "what the what now?!" and it took a couple of rereadings of emperor.seamus' comment before I understood where she came from. Either way, it's especially strange to me that at least 178 people read emperor.seamus' comment the same way as EmpressCallypigos.
posted by Kattullus at 7:55 AM on September 29, 2009


"The oops area."

Everyone, please stop trying to apply technical solutions to social problems. I don't want to have to have to to an "oops area" to figure what's wrong, I want to talk to a live person be it in real life or on a website.

Just because we have the potential power to edit conversations here doesn't mean we should. If you keep making typos, work harder on typing and proofing or forget about it. If you said something stupid or wrong or unclear, then apologize, correct or clarify in the conversation, don't to go back in time and fix shit. There are no-overs in real life, that's what makes interesting.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:00 AM on September 29, 2009 [1 favorite]


Revisiting the misunderstanding in the 'soldier wears a dress to fellow soldier's funeral', I was thinking if there was some way edits could have helped emperor.seamus's comment. The reaction is loved but the clarification seems to have been walked right by.

That was kind of infuriating. A knee-jerk response was rewarded with a ton of favourites for, effectively, angrily misreading a post. And then the original poster apologized for not being clear enough and the rager accepted the apology. I shut my browser at that point.

But no 3-minute edit window is going to fix half-reading hair-trigger emotional responses on the blue.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:09 AM on September 29, 2009


The ratio is typically more on the order of 1 to 500-1000. Even if there are only 10K active users out of the 70K, that means we'd have more like 10 mods rather than 3.5

zennie, are you trying to somehow make a point about mod time that someone here has disagreed with? And if so, could you do it without the use of "fuzzy" numbers?

Anyway, I think I'll be folding my hands on this one.

EDIT: Took out plenty of snark in my reply here, also took out the "I like cocks" part
posted by P.o.B. at 11:55 AM on September 29, 2009


1. Write out intended final comment in your favourite word processor, copy to clipboard
2. Make troll bait comment
3. Edit, paste, post
4. Profit?


5. Get banned?
posted by empath at 11:58 AM on September 29, 2009


zennie, are you trying to somehow make a point about mod time that someone here has disagreed with? And if so, could you do it without the use of "fuzzy" numbers?

No. My point is that from a conventional admin point of view, MeFi is like an amazing highwire act.

And seriously? Your 'fuzzy number' is simply my 'rule of thumb', and I'm sorry if that makes you uncomfortable.
posted by zennie at 1:14 PM on September 29, 2009


Wendell's too stupid to figure out how to use it

Bob Dole wants this feature. Bob Dole is too stupid to figure out how to use it. Bob Dole. Bob Dole! BOB DOLE! Bob Dole... bob dole... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...
posted by davejay at 2:02 PM on September 29, 2009


There are no do-overs in real life, that's what makes it interesting.

FTFY. YW. HAND.
posted by flabdablet at 4:42 PM on September 29, 2009


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