Please hope me January 29, 2010 5:08 AM   Subscribe

Boy, I'd sure like to edit my comments, and I'd be willing to chip into a development fund to make it happen.

I just screwed up two comments in a row with stupid errors, and it annoys me that I can only apologize for my ineptitude.

Since I can't fix the problem directly, but rather have to sit here and grumble at my poor proofing skills, I thought I'd attack it from another angle: see how many are interested in chipping into a kitty to make comment edits happen. I'm in for $50; I really want this feature.

I'm thinking this thread might be best for just finding out if there's enough interest, whether financial or otherwise, to motivate pb and The Boss into working/paying overtime. If they indicate it's a potential go, then perhaps we could start a second thread for discussing how it would work, or we could just leave it up to them. I suspect that if we mix both issues together in one post, it could get really muddled.

Anyone else interested? Please don't be ashamed of lower commitments... even a buck or two adds up fast when it's split among a lot of people. If you're less annoyed than I am, that's perfectly okay. :)
posted by Malor to Feature Requests at 5:08 AM (247 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

Rather than an edit time window, I'd really like to see edits be unlimited in time, but show up as diffs. No, seriously. The original comment would still be there, but it would have patches applied to it. Readers could choose different formats to view this in: original only, new version only or original + edit history.

However, I am a known nerd.
posted by DU at 5:14 AM on January 29, 2010 [21 favorites]


I think this would be bad.

a) Anything that makes people post in a less considered manner is not good.
b) It's confusing enough when people have responded to deleted posts - what happens when they reply to a comment that is later edited? How do you stop people from using it in bad faith?
posted by zamboni at 5:18 AM on January 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


IF there are edits I would argue for a brief "oops" window only. A lot of weight gets placed on eachother's words in MeFi, and revisionist history is the best way to screw up a discussion.

One of my company's web products is a debating site, and we don't allow editing specifically to avoid arguments and rebuttals getting tangled up by revisions after the fact; if you said it, you must stand by it.
posted by Billegible at 5:20 AM on January 29, 2010


(the diff method makes "revisionist history" problems impossible, even within the time frame of an "oops window")
posted by DU at 5:23 AM on January 29, 2010


As far as I know, it's already coded and was partially tested.

Apparently we just aren't trusted enough to use it.
posted by smackfu at 5:29 AM on January 29, 2010


Ack - I'd chip in a few bucks for this NOT to happen. Everyone has a virtually infinite amount of time to proofread their own comments. There's even a preview button that allows you to see exactly what the thread will look like once you've posted your comment. It's not really about poor proofing skills - it's just about taking the time.

If you feel REALLY strongly about fixing a typo in a comment you've posted, you can ask the mods to change it. It's worked for me once in the past.

I think the immutability of threads is an important aspect of what makes MeFi discussions high-quality - you have to live with what you type, so you have to think before you type. I recognize that typos don't fall under that maxim, which can be frustrating, but I don't think that's worth making such a fundamental change to the way threads happen.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 5:39 AM on January 29, 2010 [28 favorites]


I really really really like the lack of an editing window, and agree exactly with Salvor Hardin's reasoning above, even though I often think back to typos I made months ago and get melancholy about the imperfection of the comment. Such is life.
posted by Greg Nog at 5:45 AM on January 29, 2010


Trust me, the spacetime path with MeFi editing turns out much worse than the one without.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:48 AM on January 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


We don't really need to start this argument from scratch. There is a whole history:

December 17, 2008: Help Us Test Timed Editing
September 27, 2009: Whatever happened to that edit window?

With this quote from pb:
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.
And then more long comments by cortex.

There are some people who are vehemently opposed, and it's easier to do nothing than to rile them up.
posted by smackfu at 5:50 AM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Exactly how would this play out? Would I be able to make outrageous comments A, B, and C, then wait for responses X, Y, and Z, and then delete or edit A, B, and C to make X, Y, and Z look wrong or crazy? Because that would be fun. Would people end up quoting everything they comment on, just to make sure the original text remained visible?
posted by pracowity at 5:51 AM on January 29, 2010


I would like to be able to fix some of the typos and missing words that I never, ever see until I click Submit, after which they glare back at me like angry chihuahuas. Does the button actually randomly delete words? That's got to be it, right?
posted by JHarris at 5:52 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


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

If someone typed "you all go to hell" then waited two minutes to remove it, I'm pretty sure there would be visible repercussions.

Please. Let's have a few weeks to test this feature.
posted by mediareport at 5:53 AM on January 29, 2010


even though I often think back to typos I made months ago and get melancholy

Dude, if you ever need someone to talk to, I am here for you. No one should have to go through that alone.
posted by milarepa at 5:56 AM on January 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


I don't see the problem. This website has a long, cherished history of experimenting with new or changed features.
posted by gerryblog at 5:57 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the only posts we should be able to edit are ones that are at least five years old. That way, when we look back at our history and get embarrassed at how much our world view has changed, and how badly we were at The Internet at the time, we can fix it.

But typos? They're just a fact of liff.
posted by bondcliff at 5:57 AM on January 29, 2010 [8 favorites]


In re: revising posts with no repurcussions:

My comment about diff format is visible, right?
posted by DU at 5:58 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I really like the idea of comment editing.

On another site I use, there seemed to be a disprortionate fear of editing before it was introduced, but it really wasn't a big deal when it was.

Just have the edited comments say "edited" somewhere. It's going to be pretty obvious if someone changes their comment radically, rather than just correcting links and fixing typos.

Adding a new feature isn't going to create as much rage as removing a much-used old feature. Experiment at least!
posted by TheophileEscargot at 6:03 AM on January 29, 2010


Even reddit and SomethingAwful have comment editing, and they are full of dicks and trolls.
posted by smackfu at 6:06 AM on January 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


(Who don't abuse it.)
posted by smackfu at 6:06 AM on January 29, 2010


Yeah, there's no need to pitch in for a development fund. It's already coded, it just needs to be implemented. I think the mods are overworried about the "GO TO HELL" factor. It would only be up for 3 minutes, during which it couldn't do much damage.

The real worry should be the ability to quote comments that are made after your own, thereby subverting the laws of cause and effect and immanentizing the eschaton.
posted by Kattullus at 6:09 AM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


YOU ALL GO TO HELL

  edit +2 minutes: Nah, just kidding
  edit +5 minutes: Except for you, The Whelk
posted by DU at 6:10 AM on January 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


I actually wouldn't be opposed to a week-long test run of this feature, because it would be amusing. But I'm pretty sure I would oppose permanent implementation.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 6:15 AM on January 29, 2010


I'm all for it. It would have to contain three things:
  1. a timer. So, you get three minutes to edit.
  2. a visible marker and viewable history. If you've edited it a comment is asterixed (or whatever), and if you click the asterisk you see the previous iteration(s?).
  3. a clear and enforced framing that this is for typos, broken links and the like. Not for adding or changing content, not for harassment, not for subspace conversations or jokes.
The third one is hardest, and it ain't like the mods are underworked already. Still, I don't think it would be that big of a deal. If it was just a "this is the way this works and that's that" thing from the beginning, with attendant flaggers, I think it would be smooth and easy.

BUT. We've been through this, ad nauseum, already. If it was gonna happen it would've.
posted by dirtdirt at 6:17 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think the mods are overworried about the "GO TO HELL" factor.

What does this mean?
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:17 AM on January 29, 2010


What? The reason this hasn't been implemented has nothing to do with money.
posted by desjardins at 6:18 AM on January 29, 2010


Oh, I see, it's a reference to this. That seems like a pretty esoteric concern.
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:18 AM on January 29, 2010


Go to hell, Jaltcoh.

[edit] I hope you have a nice day, Jaltcoh!
posted by desjardins at 6:19 AM on January 29, 2010


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.

With a site as heavily populated as Mefi, if this happened, surely someone would notice this and call it out, resulting in humiliation for whoever tried to pull that lame stunt.
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:20 AM on January 29, 2010


Hey, desjardins told me to go to hell but you can't see it now.
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:20 AM on January 29, 2010


If. You. Show. The. Edit. History. There. Is. No. Go. To. Hell. Factor.

(when will I stop trying to convince non-nerds that nerds use certain processes for good reasons?)
posted by DU at 6:22 AM on January 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm with JHarris on this -- I will read and reread and rereread and rerereread and re(^n)read a comment and click "Post Comment" and BLAMMO, I forgot a pronoun or a conjunction junction car or something.

A three-minute window would be ideal, and the change tracking on edited comments would be awesome, provided it wouldn't make pb jump out of a window or anything.
posted by shiu mai baby at 6:25 AM on January 29, 2010


Another problem is that someone could make an innocuous comment, then other people could respond, "I really agree with that," then you could go back and edit your comment so it says something outrageous like, "I really love Hitler."

OK, so, to deal with this, how about a strict policy similar to the rule against self-linking. If you use the edit feature as a joke or to substantively change your meaning rather than to correct a typographical or coding error, you may be banned. (Or at least called out.) While I'm sure this would add some burden on the mods, it would improve the overall quality of the site.
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:27 AM on January 29, 2010


Everyone has a virtually infinite amount of time to proofread their own comments. There's even a preview button that allows you to see exactly what the thread will look like once you've posted your comment. It's not really about poor proofing skills - it's just about taking the time.

Maybe true in theory, but not in practice. I re-read my comments. And I consider myself a good editor. But I'm constantly catching typos after I post.
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:28 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Luckily we already have the SELF IMPOSED THREE MINUTE WINDOW feature activated. Type up your comment, wait three minutes, and then hit the Post Comment button. If you want to use the safety feature, hit the Preview button, proof one last time, and the hit the Post Comment button.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:34 AM on January 29, 2010 [6 favorites]


No matter how many times I proofread, preview & correct, once I hit post I'll spot an error immediately. I too light a candle in hope of this feature.
posted by yeti at 6:38 AM on January 29, 2010


The weird obsession with some hypothetical abuse of comment editing — an abuse which I have never, not once, seen take place on any other message forum I've visited (each of which, without exception, supports such editing) — is more than a little paranoid and misanthropic and I really wish the mods would try this as an experiment so that we could have facts in lieu of speculation.
posted by enn at 6:39 AM on January 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


"I just screwed up two comments in a row with stupid errors, and it annoys me that I can only apologize for my ineptitude."

I think as long as the 'stupid errors' weren't something along the lines of proposing that Steve Jobs be chemically castrated for trying out music from a torrent before he buys you're in the clear.
I can empathize with your horror at having a mistake on The Permanent Record but I am pretty sure most people forgive you and no apology is necessary.
David Attenborough narrates a 4:30 piece about Sifaka's.
I say the above because I think trying to track which posts are responsive to pre-edit and which are responsive to post-edit versions, with the inevitable cascade of edits, would ultimately confuse more than clarify and make my little brain shape-shift into a rambunctious hedgehog.
posted by vapidave at 6:40 AM on January 29, 2010


And also, to the folks who are worried about the GO TO HELL factor: the thing I love about MetaFilter is that it is populated with intelligent people who know how to handle civil discourse. Yes, we get the occasional dickhead, but they are the exception, not the rule, and I don't think the mere possibility of future dickish behavior by a random dick here and there should automatically preclude implementing this feature. I personally think that folks here are awesome enough to not to get all weaselly and abuse an edit window in that fashion.

Also, I clearly like saying the word dick. Dick dick dick dick dick.


How many dicks is that?

A lot.

posted by shiu mai baby at 6:44 AM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Jaltcoh, if you'd read this thread carefully, and then go read the other two older threads linked above, I think you find that it's all been said before.
posted by nevercalm at 6:45 AM on January 29, 2010


If you're less annoyed than I am, that's perfectly okay.

This. I'm a mellow, non-annoyed kinda guy.
posted by netbros at 6:48 AM on January 29, 2010


DU, I am also a nerd, and do love being able to do easily visible diffs as much as the next guy. The problem there is that when you apply diffs to code, you're deliberately making it as easy as possible to notice what's changed, whereas people are asking for an edit feature that lets you change tiny things like typos - in other words, the things that you don't want to notice. It seems that we'd end up falling into either:
  • Inline diffs that make it painfully obvious that you've (+2 mins)[-]chagned[+]changed something, to the extent that it distracts from your actual content, or
  • Diffs that appear only when you ask for them, which would indeed make it very easy to hide substantive changes click here to see the version of this comment where I call you a doofus
Personally, I'd be willing to try comment editing, but I really don't care too much if I let the odd typo slip through.
posted by ZsigE at 6:48 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


mathowie > We're actually going to be rolling this out mid-February.

Hooray!
posted by explosion at 6:52 AM on January 29, 2010


Oh, looks like he deleted this post while I was quoting it.

*this sort of false-quoting is a danger if people are able to delete posts.
posted by explosion at 6:53 AM on January 29, 2010


If the inline diff is distracting for someone, they go to their prefs and switch to another view. All non-diff-formatted views would note (and link to/be able to expand) the other version(s).
posted by DU at 6:53 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


If. You. Show. The. Edit. History. There. Is. No. Go. To. Hell. Factor.

Jesus christ, contentious threads are hard enough to follow as it is. If someone goes back and changes what they said 50 comments later, you're probably not going to catch it. The ship has already sailed. Whereas, if they change their mind within the current stream of the thread ("you know when I said that Jaltcoh liked to kick puppies 50 comments ago? I'm sorry, I didn't really mean that") it is more likely to be noticed.
posted by desjardins at 6:55 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


All I care about is, if we're going to have an Edit button, it needs to be a kitten, turtle, or hedgehog and incorporate the existing unicorn-narwhal rainbow motif.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:56 AM on January 29, 2010


If. You. Show. The. Edit. History. There. Is. No. Go. To. Hell. Factor.

The Official Answer to the notion of edit histories is that it has potential to be abused as in-jokes, secret subtextual conversations, or other un-foreseen memes/tropes. It could potentially become alienating to those not "in" on the culture, and definitely be a moderator nightmare.
posted by explosion at 6:58 AM on January 29, 2010


At least, that's what I recall being said about it. Damn lack of edit! I didn't mean to sound like I was making Official Proclamations!
posted by explosion at 6:58 AM on January 29, 2010


I don't like this ideap.
posted by ColdChef at 7:04 AM on January 29, 2010


Idea.
posted by ColdChef at 7:04 AM on January 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


*this sort of false-quoting is a danger if people are able to delete posts.

Deleting posts is a bigger issue, since I have seen people "abuse" that by nuking every contribution on a site when they storm off. This IS a problem on sites like reddit.

Luckily, we aren't talking about deleting posts.
posted by smackfu at 7:04 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


If. You. Show. The. Edit. History. There. Is. No. Go. To. Hell. Factor.

While we're at it, why stop at comments? How about a similar feature for posts. A brief, three minute editing window to correct tpyos.
posted by zarq at 7:04 AM on January 29, 2010


*facepalm*
posted by zarq at 7:05 AM on January 29, 2010


explosion: this sort of false-quoting is a danger if people are able to delete posts.

I don't think this would work in a community as large as MetaFilter. There are a lot of "witnesses" so there would be very few instances of word against word without other people being able to corroborate one version.
posted by Kattullus at 7:05 AM on January 29, 2010


If someone goes back and changes what they said 50 comments later, you're probably not going to catch it.

The edit feature isn't meant to allow you to change what you said. It's meant to correct errors such as typos, bad links, accidentally inappropriate language, etc. The viewable edit history exists as a transparent way to make sure that's all it's being used for.
posted by DU at 7:05 AM on January 29, 2010


If someone goes back and changes what they said 50 comments later, you're probably not going to catch it. The ship has already sailed.

Most people wouldn't catch it. But someone probably would, and they'd call it out.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:09 AM on January 29, 2010




I smell a new category in the Frequently Meta'd Posts archive.

Also, I don't typo nor err grammatically, ever. Any perceived errors are intentional, meta-intentional, and probably beyond your full comprehension. Take note. Also also, my farts don't stink.

"There are exactly threee erors in this sentence."
posted by carsonb at 7:12 AM on January 29, 2010


No matter how many times I proofread, preview & correct, once I hit post I'll spot an error immediately. I too light a candle in hope of this feature.

I'm sort of fascinated by this view because it seems like the logical extension is that the typo would not be noticed until the moment the 3-minute window expired. So I'd like to see this feature implemented just to see if it's really true that lots of marginal additional typos are caught. (I guess that raises the question: would info on comment editing be part of the infodump?)
posted by yarrow at 7:12 AM on January 29, 2010


We gave a world without favorites a try for a month, couldn't we do the same with this? I, too, share the concern over trollish Hitler ruels!" "^H^H^H^H^H^H^H I hate socialism." type edits, but couldn't we develop some form of indicator or diff like Malor suggested?

3 minute edit window, 3 hour window, 3 second window, give me a star, give me -5 favorites, give me some way to pretend I'm smarter than I really am!
posted by cavalier at 7:13 AM on January 29, 2010


See? I tried not to make a mistake there and I'm missing a quotation mark. I'm just not wired to proof things until they're on the page! Make the world work better for MY BENEFIT! And yours. Thank you, good night!
posted by cavalier at 7:14 AM on January 29, 2010


So on my Gmail account I have the "Undo Send" feature activated--essentially, it's a forced ten-second delay between the moment I click "Send" and the moment when the message is actually sent. Ten seconds is enough for me to see that I have a typo and click "Undo," giving me a chance to revise the message.* Something like that for MeFi would be perfect, I think--it would allow you to correct errors, or rethink posting that 1,000-word rant in the first place, while avoiding the problems that would be created by allowing edits after the fact.

*Yes, I realize that this is entirely psychological, and I could also just wait ten seconds before clicking Send in the first place. But "Undo Send" works better for me. Can't say why.
posted by Prospero at 7:14 AM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I really wish the mods would try this as an experiment

Don't say that. There well may be a test or trial, but there will be no more experiments.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:16 AM on January 29, 2010


explosion: "*this sort of false-quoting is a danger if people are able to delete posts."

To be fair, if we're playing the 'people are dicks' card then they can do this at the moment, since posts can already be deleted by mods. This seems to have happened very recently.
posted by Static Vagabond at 7:20 AM on January 29, 2010


We could just go back to forced previews. That wouldn't be a new feature, that would be the return of an old feature.
posted by smackfu at 7:20 AM on January 29, 2010


So on my Gmail account I have the "Undo Send" feature activated--essentially, it's a forced ten-second delay between the moment I click "Send" and the moment when the message is actually sent.

I have something vaguely similar set up on Outlook, except that it scans the message for the words "attach", "attached" or "attachment". If it finds any, and the message has no attachments, it puts a 2-minute delay on sending it. That's been very handy before.
posted by ZsigE at 7:22 AM on January 29, 2010


Prospero: Ten seconds is enough for me to see that I have a typo and click "Undo," giving me a chance to revise the message.* Something like that for MeFi would be perfect, I think--

Allow me to introduce you to the Preview button, featured in yellow and our newest fashion, Narwhal. (Though not, as mentioned above, providing an exact representation of the Current Thread + Your Comment, good enough.)
posted by carsonb at 7:23 AM on January 29, 2010


Having somehow missed previous discussions on this, I just want to weigh in and say I'd support this feature. There seems to be much more clamoring for this on the site than there was for changes to the favoriting system. Heck, if we learned anything from that it might be that sometimes the answer is multiple flavors of metafilter. You could turn the ability to edit comments off by default and let users turn it on, which might cut down on the jerky-but-quickly-edited away kind of comments.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:24 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Allow me to introduce you to the Preview button, featured in yellow and our newest fashion, Narwhal. (Though not, as mentioned above, providing an exact representation of the Current Thread + Your Comment, good enough.)

I think the preview button would work better if it was forced on everyone. I know that there's a setting for it, but I prefer not to use it so as to participate as quickly as possible. I try to be *good* and remember to use it, but being good is no fun at all.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:25 AM on January 29, 2010


I think the negatives outweigh the positives. I have typos in the titles of several of my AskMes that drive me nuts, but they're my own damn fault and really, nobody minds. And I've answered AskMes in stupid ways that failed to fully understand the question. Nobody's going to MeMail me and ask if I'm illiterate.

Well, they haven't yet.

People just screw up sometimes. Way of the world.

So it'd be nice to fix it, but people wouldn't use it for typos but to distort what they'd originally said, and while the notion of having a history of changes might throttle that a little, it'd be adding a layer of complexity to discussion when the discussions, because they're not threaded (and I'm not complaining, I like that) already require attention and reading comprehension to keep up with.

I don't see the advantage, really.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 7:26 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm in for $50; I really want this feature.

If we weren't going to roll it out, you wouldn't be able to pay us to.

I think the mods are overworried about the "GO TO HELL" factor. It would only be up for 3 minutes, during which it couldn't do much damage.

I've gone back and forth a lot on my thinking about the edit feature (and have traveled from Firmly Against to Cautiously Okay With). As much a anything, my worries at this point are a fairly concrete but minor This May Increase Our Workload concern and a more abstract I Hope This Doesn't Somehow Subtly Fuck Up Mefi Culture concern.

Addressing the "go to hell" factor in a way that makes it possible to catch abuse and deal with it (via a strongly stated No Fucking Around Or Else policy) without making a mess of the public view of the site is definitely possible. Like a couple people noted, we've talked about the details of this a lot before in previous thread (and even more as a mod team via email etc).

Rolling out the feature is, itself, a big job, which is the main reason it hasn't happened yet. As far as I know, we're planning to give it a go at some point, but I can't say exactly when. I know folks who want to see it happen are excited about the idea, and I can appreciate that, but you're just going to have to be patient in the mean time. It's fair to say that there is nothing time-sensitive about the implementation of this, and in the mean time you're welcome to continue dropping us occasional edit requests about the typos you just can't let go of.

If. You. Show. The. Edit. History. There. Is. No. Go. To. Hell. Factor.

Wonky and noisy. It's an excellent solution for, as you acknowledge, the nerd-first perspective, but it suddenly makes the UI more complicated and adds a new layer of selected interaction to threads. We'd rather keep all of the edit details behind the scenes and just make sure that no one fucks around with the feature, such that the results of the feature being in place is behavior within the intended good-fatih edit bounds. That way people don't need to even know about the edit history.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:26 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Some think the potential for abuse is a liability. I like to think of it as an opportunity.

Roll out the editing window. State explicitly that it is not to be misused. Ban anyone who uses it for nefarious purposes.

We get an edit window and as a bonus we also get fewer users who like to fuck with the site.
posted by ODiV at 7:26 AM on January 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


I guess that raises the question: would info on comment editing be part of the infodump?

We haven't discussed that, but I'm inclined to say that it would not be added, no.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:28 AM on January 29, 2010


So it'd be nice to fix it, but people wouldn't use it for typos but to distort what they'd originally said, and while the notion of having a history of changes might throttle that a little, it'd be adding a layer of complexity to discussion when the discussions, because they're not threaded (and I'm not complaining, I like that) already require attention and reading comprehension to keep up with.

See, and I think that people here are generally a) above those kind of dishonest distortions and b) smart enough to make the connection when something is edited.
posted by shiu mai baby at 7:30 AM on January 29, 2010


I vote for DU's idea.
posted by TomMelee at 7:31 AM on January 29, 2010


Prediction: No matter how long the edit window is, once a week there will be a Metatalk thread suggesting it should be one minute longer.
posted by bondcliff at 7:31 AM on January 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


We're actually going to be rolling this out mid-February.

You ruined my morning.

I'm cautiously in favor of the edit window with the caveat that there would be some stiff penalties for bad behavior which I'm sure would lead to some grousing Meta threads about how it's not fair to get a timeout for making a perfectly good joke via the editing feature.

And I'm up there with cortex, for a lot of people the thing the edit window would solve, the AAUUUUGGHH IT'S problem, is not saved if we show edits, so that's really not likely to be a path we go down. For now, flag them and include a follow up as far as what needs to be changed and we'll fix them.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:34 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


jessamyn: the AAUUUUGGHH IT'S problem

Seeing a possessive it's stare at you tauntingly from the computer screen builds character.

Y'know, like being told by one's parents that one wouldn't exist if not for a burst condom.

Good for the soul, that sort of thing.
posted by Kattullus at 7:41 AM on January 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


What about having 3 minute before a comment actually gets posted for the world to see, but you can still edit it during those 3 minutes. That way the original version never shows up officially.
posted by jmd82 at 7:44 AM on January 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


mathowie > We're actually going to be rolling this out mid-February.
*this sort of false-quoting is a danger if people are able to delete posts.


The heads up tipped me off.
posted by gman at 7:45 AM on January 29, 2010


I Hope This Doesn't Somehow Subtly Fuck Up Mefi Culture

Spoiler alert: this is what happens
posted by Meatbomb at 7:45 AM on January 29, 2010 [4 favorites]


Prediction: No matter how long the edit window is, once a week there will be a Metatalk thread suggesting it should be one minute longer.

I don't know... remember when there used to be a lot of threads in Meta about changing the frequency limits on AskMe questions? Haven't seen one of those in a long time.
posted by smackfu at 7:49 AM on January 29, 2010


O NOES TYPOWZ!!!1!

Does anyone really care, really? If it embarrasses you that much, what's so horrible about just posting a correction?

Sheesh.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:55 AM on January 29, 2010


Why couldn't the edit just be a strike-through in the offending text and the correction? That way it is clear to all what has happened.

I throw my two cents into the "for it" pile. And definitely into the "try it for a month" pile.
posted by From Bklyn at 7:59 AM on January 29, 2010


As someone who makes an absurd number of typos, I say we don't implement timed editing. As frustrating as they are, they lend a kind of charm and honesty to the site; and there is something awesome about seeing an unbelievably well written comment, one that's thoughtful, on topic, funny, and perfectly addresses the subject at hand have a possessive "it's" or "their" instead of "they're".

Because it's a reminder that as talented as some of the writers here are, everyone (for the most part) is human and capable of the same mistakes as me.
posted by quin at 8:01 AM on January 29, 2010 [12 favorites]


Does anyone really care, really? If it embarrasses you that much, what's so horrible about just posting a correction?

Sheesh.


I'm happy MetaFilter is a site where people get upset about their typos.
posted by smackfu at 8:03 AM on January 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


mathowie > We're actually going to be rolling this out mid-February.
*this sort of false-quoting is a danger if people are able to delete posts.

posted by explosion

The heads up tipped me off.
posted by gman


and this is why I would love an edit window. Looking back on my comment now, it would appear I meant explosion's heads up. I did not.
posted by gman at 8:05 AM on January 29, 2010


I'm in for $50; I really want this feature.

Enough to pay fifty bucks, but not enough to pause a moment and proofread?

It's not an 'evil' request and it doesn't hurt anybody, so I guess it's not a big deal. It just seems incredibly silly. You can have a two-minute edit window any time you want—write your comment, flip an egg timer, and don't click "post" until it's expired. If two minutes would help you catch your errors, then take the two minutes. Heck, you can have ten minutes, or 24 hours. Threads are open for 30 days.

I get that you're annoyed by your own typos. Everybody is annoyed by their moments of carelessness. I just don't get the next step, where you conclude that the solution is to retool the website to enable your impatience. And the idea that you'd offer to throw $50 instead of just being a bit more careful? I don't mean to be fighty; like I said, it doesn't hurt anybody, so okay. It just seems...absurd.
posted by cribcage at 8:06 AM on January 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


quin: everyone (for the most part) is human and capable of the same mistakes as me.

Not just capable of, but subject to the inevitable tragedy of...

Go buy wrinkle cream if you want something to placate a fear of the inevitable. Leave my MetaFilter alone.
posted by carsonb at 8:06 AM on January 29, 2010


Why couldn't the edit just be a strike-through in the offending text and the correction? That way it is clear to all what has happened.

The overwhelming motivation for implementing an edit feature has been so that people can neaten up the small errors in their own writing in a way that's currently only possible by (a) writing to a mod to ask for direct intervention or (b) leaving an addendum with corrections in a following comment.

Some folks find (a) intimidating; a lot of folks find (b) kind of noisy. So neither of those really serves as perfectly as they could the thing people want the edit feature for.

Tracking the history of changes is important to be able to identify an adjudicate possibly-abusive uses of the system. That tracking and adjudication itself does not need to be done publicly, and in fact keeping it from being a public thing as much as possible is I think the ideal goal since it creates the least apparent change and hence the least disruption and added distraction to the existing, long standing commenting culture and experience on the site.

Public history, whether as a wiki-style diff view or an automated strikeout function or anything else, gets in the way of that bump-free Business As Usual goal.

The ideal experience with a rolled-out edit feature is Metafilter Basically Exactly How It Was, But With Fewer Typos. If it works and works well and doesn't cause specific problems of the sort we're worried about, the only apparent change would be a net reduction in typos and misspellings and inverted logical clauses and whatnot. I'm really, really hoping that's exactly what will happen when this eventually hits the scene (accepting of course that the rollout itself will inevitably be bumpy and rife with the mefi navelgazing that I love).
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:06 AM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


From Bklyn: Why couldn't the edit just be a strike-through in the offending text and the correction?

That's a bit too close to public shaming for comfort. Also, it would kill the "I just said a bad thing and now I regret it" comment deletion.

My biggest concern is that MetaFilter now has too many people reading it to make the "said a bad thing" deletion possible. That somebody notices the bad thing and brings it up even though it's gone. Those would be positively Borgesian flamewars
posted by Kattullus at 8:07 AM on January 29, 2010


I'm with DU; it's how real journalism sites do it except better, because you can see the mend right there alongside the original fuckup, along with the time factor, so the context is preserved.

but otherwise, no editing please.
posted by toodleydoodley at 8:17 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


What about having 3 minute before a comment actually gets posted for the world to see, but you can still edit it during those 3 minutes. That way the original version never shows up officially.

This sounds remarkably similar to the preview button system.
posted by kingbenny at 8:17 AM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


There is only one way I could see this working, and nobody would be really happy with it: Preview is forced for all, no ability to skip it, with a countdown timer before the Post button shows up. If you make a change during this time, the countdown re-starts. This would slow down discussion, even if it were reduced to a 1-min delay. But it wouldn't allow anyone to thread-shit and then edit the comment after the fact.

I personally think that having a Preview option works fine as-is. The number of comments I see that are essentially "Oh hell I meant to type X not Y" are not annoyingly high, and in some ways adds to the flavor of the site a bit: You can tell a little about the personality of folks involved simply by noticing who really cares enough about a minor typo to make a follow-up comment correcting it. Also kind of tells you who uses preview and who doesn't bother.

I mean, really. We have "Preview" and we have "Live Preview" and we have the ability to flag a post and ask a mod to fix something like a borked link or whatnot. Do we really need anything on top of that?
posted by caution live frogs at 8:18 AM on January 29, 2010 [5 favorites]


What about having 3 minute before a comment actually gets posted for the world to see, but you can still edit it during those 3 minutes.

Yeah, that's almost exactly what I said... Gosh I sure wish there had been some way for me to see that before posting my own comment.

posted by caution live frogs at 8:20 AM on January 29, 2010


Maybe a compromise would be a retooled Preview button? I always thought the preview was a bit clunky, especially since the Live Preview was disabled after you hit preview. Perhaps if the Preview feature was a little more streamlined, this would be less of an issue for people? Dunno.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 8:21 AM on January 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


They've had an edit button on digg forever, and i've never seen anyone misuse it there.

I think we're better than digg..
posted by empath at 8:25 AM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


If Metafilter was started today, no one would trusted to post to the front page because of possible abuse.
posted by smackfu at 8:27 AM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


It just seems incredibly silly. You can have a two-minute edit window any time you want—write your comment, flip an egg timer, and don't click "post" until it's expired. If two minutes would help you catch your errors, then take the two minutes. Heck, you can have ten minutes, or 24 hours. Threads are open for 30 days.

Suggesting that people sit around proof-reading each comment for 30 days (!) before posting is absurd. Suggesting that they do it for even 10 minutes is unrealistic unless it's a particularly lengthy or elaborate comment.

Some people are making it sound like those of us who want this feature have just forgotten about the ability to preview and proofread, or are to lazy to do these things. I assure you, I'm aware of previewing and proofreading. There are still going to be errors after posting, and that -- not laziness or ignorance of the preview function -- is why we want an edit feature.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:36 AM on January 29, 2010


I'm on record as hating this feature from the last few discussions we've had about it, and I continue to hate it, just in case anyone's taking the temperature of the overly devoted Metatalk crowd.
posted by Kwine at 8:37 AM on January 29, 2010


Enough to pay fifty bucks, but not enough to pause a moment and proofread?

I read those comments at least five times each. On the second one, it might have been ten preview/edit/preview cycles. And I still missed the typos.
posted by Malor at 8:38 AM on January 29, 2010


What makes you think your proofreading skills will be improved by an editing window, then?
posted by carsonb at 8:39 AM on January 29, 2010


It just is. I can't explain it.
posted by smackfu at 8:44 AM on January 29, 2010


I assure you, I'm aware of previewing and proofreading. There are still going to be errors after posting, and that -- not laziness or ignorance of the preview function -- is why we want an edit feature.

One of the problems that comes with this whole plan—and I don't see this as a decisive factor but I think it's also irresponsible to ignore it—is that there will absolutely be comments with these same didn't-catch-it-on-preview errors that don't get caught in three minutes. At which point, we will have devoted a lot of implementation effort and ongoing daily mod attention to a system that changes the point of failure for comments people made errors in that they can't fix.

It's hard to say what percentage of didn't-catch-it-on-preview errors will turn into didn't-catch-it-in-the-edit-window errors. The argument for the edit feature—that editing blindness does happen even if you do carefully preview—is pretty clearly an argument that some errors will live past the window. There's nothing magical about this new feature, just as there's nothing magical about the existing preview button.

It may be that the percentage of errors that live past the window as well will be very small. It may be that with an edit feature explicitly available folks who notice an error after the window will feel extra social pressure to just suck it up and let it go when an error does live past that extra step. I can't predict these things, and again I don't think it's a decisive (and it's certainly not an unconsidered) factor in whether to roll the edit system out. But the "why don't you just preview better?" argument, as chafing as it might be, is in a lot of respects on point.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:45 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Forced preview is a nightmare if you're on a mobile device with a poor connection. It's especially frustrating if you're posting in a large thread, the connection fails on preview, and then you've got to load the whole thing painfully slowly if you want to try again.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 8:54 AM on January 29, 2010


> Does anyone really care, really? If it embarrasses you that much, what's so horrible about just posting a correction?

Sheesh.


I used to feel like this, but it seems a lot of people really do care, and really don't see their typos until they've hit Post Comment. But:

> What makes you think your proofreading skills will be improved by an editing window, then?

Exactly.

Anyway, if there is to be a window, I personally think it should be shorter than three minutes.
posted by languagehat at 8:54 AM on January 29, 2010


THIS IS A SOLVED PROBLEM.
posted by blue_beetle at 8:55 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


How about if you make use of the edit feature it randomly transposes two adjacent letters somewhere else in the same post? I'm a genius!

More seriously, I think we're fine without an edit feature. It's just something else we'd argue about in MeTa.
posted by ODiV at 8:55 AM on January 29, 2010


desjardins: "What? The reason this hasn't been implemented has nothing to do with money"

"Not all missions can be solved with finance, Deep Malor. Someday, you'll understand that."
posted by Rhaomi at 8:56 AM on January 29, 2010


I read a forum that has a forever-open edit option on posts and comments, and it is not a good thing. People make posts and delete them if they don't get the response they want, or change the original post to angry words, which just causes more drama.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:58 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Suggesting that people sit around proof-reading each comment for 30 days (!) before posting is absurd.

That's not what she* meant. Threads are open for 30 days, so you have PLENTY of time to proofread. It's not that you have to take 30 days, it's that there's no hurry to post.

*too lazy to look up original commenter's gender
posted by desjardins at 8:59 AM on January 29, 2010


btw, doesn't everyone use Firefox or some other browser with spellcheck built in?
posted by desjardins at 9:01 AM on January 29, 2010


One of the problems that comes with this whole plan—and I don't see this as a decisive factor but I think it's also irresponsible to ignore it—is that there will absolutely be comments with these same didn't-catch-it-on-preview errors that don't get caught in three minutes.

I agree. I think 3 minutes is too short a window.

For instance, this happens all the time: I make a comment early on in an AskMetafilter thread. I preview and proofread and I don't think there are any errors. Later on, I'll check back on the thread to see how it turned out -- was there a follow-up from the OP? Was the problem solved? What was the best answer? But, of course, when I do this, an error in my comment will suddenly jump out at me. I'd like to be able to fix it. There's no telling whether this will happen 10 minutes or an hour or a day later. As far as I'm concerned, the longer the edit window, the better.

Admittedly, this isn't the most important thing. As cortex said, it's just a matter of reducing the overall incidence of errors on the site. The site hasn't been unreadable without an edit feature. But it'd be a little more readable with an edit feature.
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:03 AM on January 29, 2010


I'm with DU; it's how real journalism sites do it except better...

You just earned yourself a(nother) postcard!
posted by DU at 9:04 AM on January 29, 2010


Think before you hit psot.
posted by Eideteker at 9:06 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I used to feel like this, but it seems a lot of people really do care, and really don't see their typos until they've hit Post Comment.

It's hard not to be judgmental about what people care about, especially when it's such a vainglorious issue. Makes you wanna say, "Get over it! Get over yourself!"

As it stand, though, y'all are awesome, unique, wonderful people the every last one of ya, even in spite of your inconsistencies, mistakes, misrepresentations, lies, and other various personal and/or procedural flaws. Malor, for instance, the content of your contributions is excellent! and I do not hold your chubby fingers and proofreading abilities against your enthusiastic and talented mind.
posted by carsonb at 9:07 AM on January 29, 2010


I agree. I think 3 minutes is too short a window.

It's too short and it's too long. There are competing factors that make a perfect choice impossible; 3 minutes is a decent compromise for folks who really need the one-more-chance option and are going to be diligent about it.

As far as I'm concerned, the longer the edit window, the better.

Having hashed it out at great length, we pretty much disagree. I can see the angle on it, and sympathize, but keeping the window tight is about the only way that we're okay doing this; it's on folks who intend to get some use of this last-chance edit dance to be diligent about checking their own work promptly, basically.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:10 AM on January 29, 2010


Desjardins: for me it's not sonmuch spelling errors as it is in one of my 5,000 passes through a comment I'll rephrase something to make it clearer, but some grammatical artifact will get left behind, in spite of my best efforts.
posted by shiu mai baby at 9:10 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


(although clearly the misspellings do occur. Goddamnit.)
posted by shiu mai baby at 9:11 AM on January 29, 2010


Hey Jaltcoh, what do you do about the user's comment below you that quoted your typo/error/wev before you fixed it?
posted by carsonb at 9:11 AM on January 29, 2010


I'm not really too concerned about abuse, but I do think that we don't really need this, and as such, it's a risk to implement it.

Basically, as described, it's a vanity feature, something to assuage those slight cringes one gets from reading typos or dropped words in one's own comments. But I don't think those things harm the site as a whole. I don't even really think they even really harm the experience of most users. Malor seems to be getting along fine, that is, participating frequently and freely, on MetaFilter. However, one of the things I like about MeFi is the simplicity of the interface and the presentation. There are no avatar pictures, no threaded conversations, and the posting conventions are easy and neat. This is not to say that there isn't a learning curve associated with the site (hell, even newspapers are something you need to learn how to read), but I think the straighforward nature of the presentation works in the site's favor. I am not convinced that comment editing wouldn't subtly change this, resulting in a bit less WYSIWYG, and a bit more parsing necessary to understand a conversation.

Were the problem that would be solved here one that damaged the site, I would feel differently, but no one has argued that yet.
posted by OmieWise at 9:14 AM on January 29, 2010


I really don't like this idea.
posted by kaibutsu at 9:20 AM on January 29, 2010


Would it be feasible to keep the edited out part in the edited comments, but with strike-through tags around it. So for instance if I posted "I like you're shoes" I could edit it to correct my spelling, and end up with "I like you're your shoes".

You'd get to correct annoying errors, but still see edited out bits. And it would still force you to check your text before posting because no one likes their comments to be ugly.
posted by bjrn at 9:20 AM on January 29, 2010


Or rather, I "do" like this idea.
posted by kaibutsu at 9:20 AM on January 29, 2010


Why not limit it so that people can only edit <10 characters, or something, if you're really that worried about changing whole arguments? That way it can be used solely for typos.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 9:21 AM on January 29, 2010


As much as I would love it, I think it would just Make More Work for the mods.
posted by The Whelk at 9:23 AM on January 29, 2010


Why not limit it so that people can only edit <10 characters, or something, if you're really that worried about changing whole arguments? That way it can be used solely for typos.

I don't believe that such a system would do an adequate job of either serving legitimate needs or preventing abuse, and it'd be an extra layer of complexity on the whole thing besides.

More generally (and with more detail on that specific point) I wrote a very long comment in the thread from September that covers a lot of specific ground on my thinking on the subject. Not to be like "don't brainstorm" or anything, but I'm not sure there's anything that's come up in this thread that's new, so it might be a decent place to start to put any given "what if" in context.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:27 AM on January 29, 2010


Sigh. Not this again. I'm still 100% against any form of editing. I'll just quote a comment I wrote the previous time this came up:
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.
I've also experienced the kind of forum that ThePinkSuperhero spoke of and it's truly infuriating. I know that the mods have said that their goal is for it to be used only to correct typos and to be otherwise transparent, such that these scenarios would not happen or would be punished if they do. But I just don't think that's a realistic world view at all. Favorites were originally invented to mark things to come back to later, and transformed into some kind of twisted site currency.
posted by Rhomboid at 9:38 AM on January 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


Live with your mistakes.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:45 AM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Can I just download a copy of the MeFi db transaction log? I can reconstruct the whole thing from that.
posted by GuyZero at 9:49 AM on January 29, 2010


The weird obsession with some hypothetical abuse of comment editing — an abuse which I have never, not once, seen take place on any other message forum I've visited (each of which, without exception, supports such editing) — is more than a little paranoid and misanthropic

I'm on another forum that does allow for editing, and usually it's used in good faith, but there are a few people who are constantly editing things directly after they post them, and it's elicited a fair amount of annoyance. An example: Estelle writes "I love bananas, especially in cereal! Too bad the liberals hate bananas and want to tax them until decent families can't afford them!" And then someone responds, and Estelle edits, so that the final exchange looks like:

Estelle:
I love bananas, especially in cereal!

Barbarella:
What? Where the hell did you get that idea? Liberals don't hate bananas.

Barbarella:
God DAMN it Estelle why do always do this FUCKING STOP IT
posted by Greg Nog at 9:51 AM on January 29, 2010


Anyone else imagining Estelle and Barbarella as an aging vaudeville act in big floppy hats.?
posted by The Whelk at 9:55 AM on January 29, 2010


Is that your Boca Raton-based Jane Fonda fan forum, Greg?
posted by shiu mai baby at 10:03 AM on January 29, 2010


nothin' like sippin' a mimosa, shootin' the shit about the Fond
posted by Greg Nog at 10:04 AM on January 29, 2010


My initial inclination is to be emphatically against the EDIT idea, but given the fact that there seems to be serious consideration going on ...

Addressing the "go to hell" factor in a way that makes it possible to catch abuse and deal with it

Is it possible that the instant a comment is flagged, it is frozen? That is, it cannot be edited by the commenter, at least until a mod has signed off on it.
posted by philip-random at 10:15 AM on January 29, 2010


I would suggest that once editing is activated, a flag be added for 'Abuse of edit feature' (or similar) to mitigate the go-to-hell factor.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:39 AM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


If we're taking a poll, count me among the no-edit-window-crowd. I have a theory that people who feel like they don't see typos until things are posted (and despite not wanting an edit feature, I'm one of them) are suffering from another common MeFi malady: confirmation bias. You may not recall the hundreds of typos you catch while composing, or previewing, or live previewing, because they don't shame/rankle/embarrass you. But you do recall, in vivid and excruciating detail, the few that make it to the page, and come to believe that you only see them after they're posted.

Also, I see cortex has resolved it, but I'd also like to emphatically state that I believe pay-for-ponies is a really bad idea.
posted by donnagirl at 10:44 AM on January 29, 2010


and the main thing that brought me from no-edit to maybe-edit opinion is the sheer number of times I edit my own comments. I do it a lot, mostly typo fixes, but it seems unfair to not want to offer a feature that we not only have but use heavily.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:46 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, I'll chip in .50 US for the capability to edit Malor's posts.
posted by theora55 at 10:58 AM on January 29, 2010


If. You. Show. The. Edit. History. There. Is. No. Go. To. Hell. Factor.

I disagree, if only because its hard enough to track a single thread with a single timeline without having to figure out whether following comments were made before or after the previous edits.
posted by davejay at 11:15 AM on January 29, 2010


All of my comments are written in TextEdit, then converted to Word, then uploaded as Google documents, then copied and pasted into the Metafilter comment window. And I never have any problms.
posted by The Deej at 11:24 AM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


All of my comments are written in TextEdit, then converted to Word, then uploaded as Google documents, then copied and pasted into the Metafilter comment window. And I never have any problms.

Should have started in SimpleText.

THAT'S RIGHT SIMPLETEXT MOTHERFUCKER I PULLED THAT ONE OUT
posted by shakespeherian at 11:27 AM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm against it, and I say this as someone capable of really bad typos.
posted by Bookhouse at 11:35 AM on January 29, 2010


If someone can't use a feature like this responsibly, they ought not to be on here. I believe the mods have a method for editing the user base.

Having said that, if the pattern of general acting out that happened with the favourites experiment repeats itself, you'd have to have a period of tolerance so that some subset of (otherwise valuable) users could wilfully abuse it to make a point. After a month start autobanhammering, like with self-links.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 11:43 AM on January 29, 2010


I belong to another active site that has supported editing with a 15 minute window for about a year. I've never, ever seen the abuses suggested here occur. In fact I'm kind of horrified at the deviousness involved in laying a trap like that. I would have expected that editing for troll purposes would result in instant banning. Very rarely it's caused a little confusion as someone edits out a para that they see as redundant which someone else has meanwhile quoted, and this has always been sorted out within a few comments -- in the kind of active discussion where this can happen, it can also be figured out easily.

Anyway having seen it work ok in practice, I would be in favour.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 11:51 AM on January 29, 2010


Perhaps a compromise would be the implantation of the Typo Buddy System. It would be simple and sure to avoid all of the concerns addressed above. Assign each MeFite a Typo Buddy, which would be a neutral member vetted by cross referencing each person's posting history to make sure that there is not a preexisting issue that could cause Typo Buddy Abuse of Power. When you a make a post, it is emailed to your Typo Buddy, who then reviews it, corrects and errors, and submits it to the Typo Buddy Holding Pattern using the Typo Buddy Pre Posting System. The original person then has seven minutes to review their corrected post in the Typo Buddy Holding Pattern queue to verify that the Typo Buddy has not compromised the integrity of the original post. Once both parties agree on the final post, both simultaneously hit the Typo Buddy Submit button and the post goes live on the site. If there is a dispute in regards to the correction, either party can approach their Typo Buddy Reconciliation Committee (I see each Typo Buddy Reconciliation Committee overseeing between 40 and 50 Typo Buddy teams). Ideally each Committee would be made up of between fifteen to eighteen Super Typo Buddies that would be elected bi-annually. They would discuss and rule on the posting within 270 minutes. All decisions by the Typo Buddy Reconciliation Committee would be final unless three other Typo Buddy Reconciliation Committees intervene and call a Reverse Typo Monkey Strut, which voids the post, wipes it from the thread, and they would take away both original poster's use of capital letters and punctuation for four days from the original posting.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 11:58 AM on January 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


and the main thing that brought me from no-edit to maybe-edit opinion is the sheer number of times I edit my own comments. I do it a lot, mostly typo fixes, but it seems unfair to not want to offer a feature that we not only have but use heavily.

Whoa, the mods edit their own comments? This is almost as unjust as members of Congress giving themselves health insurance but not enacting universal health care for the whole country.
posted by Jaltcoh at 12:10 PM on January 29, 2010


A feature like this would put a lot of pressure on us folks who have been living comfortably with our fallibility. Without it, I could nurture the "oops, I penned that off so quickly" excuse, but how will that fly if this feature is adopted?

I can live with making one-time mistakes, but can I live with my bloopers after having been given a second chance? Oh, the stress! Horribile dictu.
posted by madamjujujive at 12:11 PM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Whoa, the mods edit their own comments?

For what its worth, we always email ourselves first to get our own permission.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:12 PM on January 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


My usual trick is getting confused about exactly what kind of site I'm posting on, and short-circuiting between using vbulletin-style [url], etc. tags where I should be using HTML instead. (And vice versa when I'm writing elsewhere.)

I do think the edit-shenanigans worry is overblown, but to the extent that it's a concern, I'd suggest something like this:

- N minute edit window.

- N edits per customer. (I'd say two, because in forums with post-edit permissions I usually see an unclosed tag, or the wrong type of tag, or a garbled sentence or typo or whatnot, edit and fix that, and then a minute later see another one I'd missed; but two passes usually gets me as coherent as I'm going to get in a forum setting).

- Addition of "edit shenanigans!" as a flag category.

- A diff that the mods can see; doesn't matter so much if the rest of us can or not. To verify and judgment-call any edit-shenanigans flags.

- Coming down like a ton of bricks on the minority who might abuse the edit feature to shit up the site, without the usual forgiveness and working-with. It'd be a feature that the vast majority of the users would make responsible use of, literally to improve the site, and those who would abuse that trust are terrorists. Don't let the terrorists win by negotiating with them!

The last point probably isn't as necessary.
posted by Drastic at 12:16 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


For what its worth, we always email ourselves first to get our own permission.

If I was a mod I would constantly use the contact form to send myself reminders about what groceries to pick up and shit like that.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:17 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


God this thread has gotten long already.

In regards to the diff idea: there are three possible ways for a comment to be changed. Material can be added, deleted, or changed. Additions could be made a subtly different color, deletions can be left in but grayed out or made small or both, and modifications can be handled with strikethrough.

Viewing changes this way could be done using AJAX by clicking on a comment's # link, or turned on automatically as an option for the paranoid.

Also, I demand the addition of an add typo button!
posted by JHarris at 12:46 PM on January 29, 2010


I don't care either way about the edit feature. If it's there I'll use it, without it I've learnt to love my typos. But seriously trying to bribe the mods into making the change? Ug, that I really don't like. Mathowie et al run this place based on what they think it best the community, someone having the idea that they'll make a change in return for money really bugs me. Think more of the mods and less of the almighty dollar.
posted by shelleycat at 1:16 PM on January 29, 2010


I used to wish for the power to edit here, now I like the edit-free status. The only downside I see is having to bug the mods to clean up after me periodically.

One option to consider is mandatory preview before you get to hit the post button.
posted by serazin at 1:36 PM on January 29, 2010


ODiV: “Some think the potential for abuse is a liability. I like to think of it as an opportunity. Roll out the editing window. State explicitly that it is not to be misused. Ban anyone who uses it for nefarious purposes. We get an edit window and as a bonus we also get fewer users who like to fuck with the site.”

From what I can tell, this is exactly our policy here right now about almost every aspect of the site. Of course, if you're looking for a forum where the moderators relish banning people, and do it happily and without any hesitation, then I can recommend a few.
posted by koeselitz at 1:40 PM on January 29, 2010


If the thing is already (mostly) implemented, why don't we try it for a month and see?

I'm actually serious about this. I don't know if I like the idea or not, but it would be interesting to try it.
posted by bonehead at 2:19 PM on January 29, 2010


You missed November, right?
posted by The Whelk at 2:20 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


If the thing is already (mostly) implemented, why don't we try it for a month and see?

Where we're at is pretty much "we're planning to do this eventually". But we'll do it when it seems like a good time, and I don't know exactly when that will be.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:27 PM on January 29, 2010


but you will tell us first?
posted by gman at 2:31 PM on January 29, 2010


I'm happy MetaFilter is a site where people get upset about their typos.
...and that it's a place where they nonetheless can't pretend they're so perfect they don't occasionally make them.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:44 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Could having a mod OK each edit be an option, or would that be way too much work?
posted by Solomon at 2:55 PM on January 29, 2010


Oh, I'm sure they'd love that.
posted by Jaltcoh at 3:00 PM on January 29, 2010


Too much work and too time sensitive to boot. If we can't trust people to use this feature responsibly of their own accord the vast majority of the time, it's not something that's getting rolled out in the first place.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:01 PM on January 29, 2010


One option to consider is mandatory preview before you get to hit the post button.

I believe that was removed when the live preview was added. But I think most people just ignore the live preview unless they are doing HTML or such. (I don't remember if we looked at the real preview back when it was forced though.)
posted by smackfu at 3:11 PM on January 29, 2010


The last time this came up I put some thought into why I sometimes; write a comment, read through it, preview, make some changes, re-read. skim one last time, and still come up with typos. Something I've found upon self-reflection and why it's not an issue of HURF DURF LAZY PROOFREADERS is because there is a shift in my thinking after the fact. The shift goes from 1st person while writing and editing to 3rd person, after I've posted, of what I'm actively reading. Those two modes of thought inherently have different perception levels of what I notice.

Does anyone really care, really? If it embarrasses you that much, what's so horrible about just posting a correction?

It annoys me a bit when I make a typo, and I can live with it, but what really chaps my ass is when someone drops a "this is how you use then/than" comment to correct you. There may be good intentions by correcting someone personally, but calling them out in a thread is just plain douchetastic.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:11 PM on January 29, 2010


Something Awful has had a two-minute ninja edit window for years.

Give people a minute to edit any typos and have all edit history visible to the mods, just in case people do fuck around with editing. It's the best way to do it IMHO.

(why, no, I'm not staunchly for it just because two of my most favorited comments both have glaring typos)
posted by flatluigi at 3:23 PM on January 29, 2010


I've never been that sure why Metafilter members seem to think so negatively about other members. I really don't think an edit window would cause the problems mentioned here, and I really don't think we'd have more than one or two bad eggs who attempted to misuse it.
posted by graventy at 3:46 PM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


cortex: “Where we're at is pretty much "we're planning to do this eventually". But we'll do it when it seems like a good time, and I don't know exactly when that will be.”

I'm imagining this'll happen after a very unfortunate and incendiary typo, right? For example, after someone slips up in a heated thread about sexism, and then cun't go back and fix their error before it starts a whole new argument.
posted by koeselitz at 4:22 PM on January 29, 2010


I could nazi that happening.
posted by smackfu at 4:30 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


the mods edit their own comments?

More like "fix our own typos" but yeah.

And typos are the sort of thing that don't bother me much, you'll notice I don't fix all of them, but they bother other people a lot. So much so that they'll leave some sort of AAAUUUGGHHH comment and then the typo fix [which we'll fix if we see it]. Sometimes, however, the poor bastards make a typo in their typo fix comment and then all hell breaks loose [I am assuming]. By this time the thread now has one browkn comment and two agitated fixit comments and it's distracting. We have a lot of socially twitchy people here and typos make them ootchy. If we could ease their worried minds, we'd like to.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:33 PM on January 29, 2010


By this time the thread now has one browkn comment and two agitated fixit comments and it's distracting
posted by smackfu at 4:34 PM on January 29, 2010


My point exactly. It's like fuckers who are like "You mean nauseated. Nauseous means you make other people sick. Ha ha."
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 4:36 PM on January 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


In your face!
posted by smackfu at 4:37 PM on January 29, 2010


jessamyn: It's like fuckers who are like "You mean nauseated. Nauseous means you make other people sick. Ha ha."

Don't worry, they're all on my list and the revolution draws ever nearer.
posted by Kattullus at 5:18 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ha ha.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:45 PM on January 29, 2010


I'm so glad you're back.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:50 PM on January 29, 2010


So you make a hard-and-fast no fucking with the site rule. That makes a little more work for mods--not because a million people will do it, but because there will be conflicts about what qualifies.

But I don't think that's the real danger. The real danger is the continuity problem--a lot of threads move fast and grow wild, and if I write something, then go edit it, a lot can happen in a ten-second window, especially if other users haven't refreshed.

Steadfastly against this.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:56 PM on January 29, 2010


Plus, this is teaching learned helplessness.

If people are such morans that they can't preview, then they're also such morans that they'll screw up with edits. This isn't that complimacated.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:57 PM on January 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


the mods edit their own comments?

More like "fix our own typos" but yeah.


OK, so, all references in this discussion to "editing comments" should be changed to "fixing typos," since that would be the point of this proposal.
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:19 PM on January 29, 2010


Plus, this is teaching learned helplessness.

I read through Seligman's book and...yeah, this isn't even close to learned helplessness.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:32 PM on January 29, 2010


I think it would be less likely to lead to overt fucking around, and more likely to lead to arguing over what constitutes a change in content, and what's just cosmetic. There's a lot of real estate between fixing typos on the one hand and editing out "to hell with you" on the other, and there will likely be arguments about (a) how to define the line separating acceptable cosmetic changes from unacceptable substantive changes, and (b) whether any given change falls on one side of the line or the other.

So I don't think I have to think of fellow MeFites as jerks in order not to like this idea. Just as a lot of people with a lot of opinions.
posted by palliser at 7:04 PM on January 29, 2010


P.o.B.

It's colloquial use, sure, but it's an extension of the notion that expecting the worst ("I'll never remember to hit 'preview' and check my comments!") and having that expectation catered to leads to an erosion of ability.

You may find that extension untenable, but it clearly is at least "close to" learned helplessness.

But thanks so much for missing the point!
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:13 PM on January 29, 2010


I didn't miss your point, and, no, it it is not "close to" the definition.

but it's an extension of the notion that expecting the worst ("I'll never remember to hit 'preview' and check my comments!") and having that expectation catered to leads to an erosion of ability.

It's stoopid and moranic to believe the edit option will lead to a decline in someone's ability to edit.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:33 PM on January 29, 2010


One thing you can do, if you often make typos, is to use greasemonkey to make preview mandatory (for you).
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 9:31 PM on January 29, 2010


It's stoopid and moranic to believe the edit option will lead to a decline in someone's ability to edit.

Right, because we never learn to take conveniences for granted and turn them into crutches.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 9:33 PM on January 29, 2010


God knows I make enough typos that this will be a great thing for me, but really it's only going to work if you mods go all Yngwie and UNLEASH THE FUCKING FURY on anybody who does anything more than fix typos with it.

Made a brilliant, witty, genius-of-comedy level joke with the edit feature? BANNED! Seriously.

Frankly, I suggest you pick the first couple of people who use the feature and ban them no matter what just to set an example. Nobody will mess with you then! Or is that jail? I get confused sometimes.
posted by Justinian at 10:03 PM on January 29, 2010


Right, because we never learn to take conveniences for granted and turn them into crutches.

So you are saying that people will use the edit feature as a crutch. How exactly will they do that?
posted by P.o.B. at 10:34 PM on January 29, 2010


Let me ask a more realistic question, because I have a feeling "how" is just going to keep this circler logic spinning. Why would someone use it as a crutch?
posted by P.o.B. at 10:41 PM on January 29, 2010


For example, if my students know I'll drop their lowest quiz score for the term, they'll get at least one crappy quiz score per term.

It's not out of line, therefore, to suspect that if people can go back and edit their posts, they'll be less likely to spend the time and energy to compose the posts properly in the first place. Like how I don't compose my photos that carefully since I can do all that stuff in Photoshop--with my old film camera I'd spend time on each frame I shot.

Not sure how this could be unimaginable.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 11:57 PM on January 29, 2010


P.o.B. - Why would someone use it as a crutch?

Malor - I just screwed up two comments in a row with stupid errors, and it annoys me that I can only apologize for my ineptitude.

Instead of an apology (in my opinion not really necessary) why not just acknowledge, learn, and move on? Everyone makes mistakes. Flaw is an integral part of the world we live in, chance the only way we're all unique, and sometimes that's scary. Especially those times when what we represent is flawed, even superficially. But hey, if a POTUS can nullify ineptitude with a big fat grin and heaping spoonfuls of denial then can't we all feast alike from the trough? If Wall Street can cover its gape in more of the same, plug its ears against economic klaxons, and hide behind lying eyes then why can't Malor and I and everyone else who's ever there'd their they're pledge to stay the course too and rely on the world around us to account for everything about ourselves that is not perfect and pristine and precious? Not that there ever was any of that, mind you. Anyway, there's a question for ya. Riddle me that, Batman.
posted by carsonb at 12:05 AM on January 30, 2010


I type faster when I'm drunk. Fewer typos, too.
posted by carsonb at 12:06 AM on January 30, 2010


Not sure how this could be unimaginable.

It's a three minute edit window, not a mulligan, redo, or do-over. It's for people who notice, within that time frame, that they made a screw-up. Look, you're saying people have the full intent to edit and proofread their post, but only after they post. Yeah, that's kind of hard to imagine.

to stay the course too and rely on the world around us to account for everything about ourselves that is not perfect and pristine and precious?

Well, everyone who is enlightened and accepting of the imperfections of the world don't need to use the edit option then. Problem solved, Riddler.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:44 AM on January 30, 2010




Wat we need is widespred adopshun of the Simpul Spelling Sistum.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:18 AM on January 30, 2010


(I realize this post speaks of aggregate donations, but I thought it was a good article to link here even though it doesn't speak directly to that.)
posted by Mikey-San at 3:20 AM on January 30, 2010


The only bad part about lacking an edit feature is that I have to get a new computer every few months when I can no longer read the screen through all the (professional) White-Out.
posted by FelliniBlank at 3:43 AM on January 30, 2010


P.o.B., Joseph Gurl, I think a better term is "moral hazard" -- that the edit window could act as a form of insurance that encourages people to take a riskier practice (declining to preview, e.g.) knowing that they are insured against it.
posted by palliser at 5:55 AM on January 30, 2010


(I'm not endorsing the theory, just suggesting that there's a more relevant framework for discussion than "learned helplessness.")
posted by palliser at 5:56 AM on January 30, 2010


Just want to restate that this problem has been solved multiple times on other sites with what looks like little or no abuse trouble to many of us who visit those sites. I'm not sure I've seen Matt or the mods address that point, which has been made multiple times in the multiple threads about this.
posted by mediareport at 6:26 AM on January 30, 2010


Just want to restate that this problem has been solved multiple times on other sites with what looks like little or no abuse trouble to many of us who visit those sites.

...and to restate, again: some of us do see this problem, unsolved, on other sites.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:33 AM on January 30, 2010


And yet, at the same time, myself and others have pointed out multiple examples of how other sites have suffered from having this feature.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:35 AM on January 30, 2010


...and to restate, again: some of us do see this problem, unsolved, on other sites.

But if it happens on Metafilter, would our users call it out? I think they would. It might be more accepted on other sites that happen to have less diligence and more lax community standards.
posted by Jaltcoh at 6:36 AM on January 30, 2010


You mean like how more and more people are using that @username bullshit from twitter on this site despite it being an accepted site custom that it's not welcome and looks like ass. How we used to politely inform users not to do that when it popped up, but more and more it's going unaddressed and unchallenged as it grows in number?
posted by Rhomboid at 6:43 AM on January 30, 2010


Rhomboid: ThePinkSuperhero was talking about a "forever-open edit option," which no one here is advocating. What you say you hate about Reddit's system - the microscopic "edit: fixed comma" idiocy - is also something no one's advocating here. No one is also advocating giving users the ability to delete all their own comments and posts, in a fit of anger or otherwise.

If there are other objections to editing as it works on other sites, I'd love to hear about them, so we can avoid those things here.

However, what we're talking about here is a brief edit window that falls short of the ability to entirely nuke any of your own comments, which edit history is transparent to the mods but not necessarily to the users (though I'm definitely in favor of a small check mark or something next to any edited comment). I'm still waiting for a decent objection to that based on experiences at other sites.

cortex implies pb's ready to go on this, but there are vague hesitations to announcing the trial run that have never been adequately described, to my mind, by any of the mods. Let's do it already. I'm certain The MeFi Experience will survive a short edit window for comments, but will happily change my mind if the trial run demonstrates an ongoing increase in mod work, rather than the minor decrease in mod work I think is what we'll actually see.
posted by mediareport at 6:56 AM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, and if I could edit that, I'd add:

My comment was specifically about "abuse trouble," which none of the previous comments have mentioned as their problem with editing at other sites.
posted by mediareport at 7:01 AM on January 30, 2010


If it embarrasses you that much, what's so horrible about just posting a correction?

Jessamyn has specifically said in the past that she doesn't like when people do this. Also, do you really not see how a seamless edit to correct a typo is better than leaving the typo and posting a follow-up comment to point out what it should have said?
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:19 AM on January 30, 2010


Hey Jaltcoh, what do you do about the user's comment below you that quoted your typo/error/wev before you fixed it?

What would I do? I wouldn't do anything!

No one's claiming that this will make every single character on Metafilter absolutely 100% super-perfect. We just think it'd be an improvement.

In fact, what you're describing would be a feature, not a bug. It would dissuade people from posting X and then changing it to radically different statement Y. There'd be a reasonable chance that someone else would quote X for posterity. The fact that the prankster wouldn't be able to do anything about someone else's quote of X would be a good thing. It would function as an inadvertent callout, which would deter people from pulling those stunts in the first place.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:26 AM on January 30, 2010


(Of course, if I make a typo, then someone quotes the original version, then I fix my typo, the person who quoted me would be free to change it themselves if they want to. But if they don't feel like it or don't notice the error, that's fine -- they're not required to tracking my editing of my comment just because they quoted it.)
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:29 AM on January 30, 2010


And yet, at the same time, myself and others have pointed out multiple examples of how other sites have suffered from having this feature.

To be honest, some of the examples given seem like cases of weak moderation. The one where Estelle constantly revises would get a stern warning here.
posted by smackfu at 7:33 AM on January 30, 2010


What you say you hate about Reddit's system - the microscopic "edit: fixed comma" idiocy - is also something no one's advocating here.

No, but what people are advocating is an open-ended system with only community mores and mod intervention to keep it from being used as intended. And what I've tried to convey is that no matter what the intentions are of a thing when it is created, they are subject to erosion or evolution over time by the community base. The examples I already gave are favorites and @username. It's particularly an issue when the practice in question comes from other sites -- in that case people from those sites bring the behavior here without even thinking about it as being wrong.
posted by Rhomboid at 7:35 AM on January 30, 2010


cortex implies pb's ready to go on this, but there are vague hesitations to announcing the trial run that have never been adequately described, to my mind, by any of the mods.

This may be a difference of opinion. I feel that we've explained what our concerns are plenty of times. In short: we like this idea. That said, this site has a lot more community oversight than other sites and a skeleton crew of moderators. Our moderation policies so far are mostly built around those ideas. I appreciate that some people are in favor of this idea. It's also clear when this subject comes up that other people aren't, like really aren't. We try not to run this site by fiat [i.e. here's the new game-changing feature, please learn to live with it] as much as possible. Edit-window supporters and detractors part of the community and our jobs are partly to try to balance the concerns of other people who are not ourselves.

So part of rolling this out will mean policy changes [which will get debated] and moderation changes [which will get debated] and administrative actions [which will get debated] and probably an adjustment period. After we did the edit window test, it became clear that there were multiple perspectives on how to best roll out such a feature if we did in fact have it. It also became clear that the problem it was mainly trying to solve from our perspective [the "oh shit, I made a typo that is driving me CRAZY I wish I could fix it"] is only going to be partially mitigated by this. If we could say "okay there is now a three minute edit window, please never email us to fix a typo again" we'd be more psyched about it, but as it is there's a preview function that is not already managing this problem.

The abuse thing is sort of minor, honestly. The things we have to do as mods here revolve a lot less around abuse issues as what I'd have to call "twitchy user can't rest until we fix something" issues. Sometimes this is a typo fix, sometimes it's a CSS change, sometimes it's "doing something about that other user who is CLEARLY out of line" sometimes it's adjusting policies or apologizing for something. And mediareport, I'm feeling like you're in that camp. I feel like we've raised valid concerns not "Oh the users will fuck with it" that is what is informing our caution and carefulness on this.

The site is now huge. We have to take more time and thought before rolling things out than we used to, the sort of "hey here's a trial balloon, let's see how it goes" days are more or less behind us. Also, a lot of us are travelling this week [hello from coastal Florida] and I suspect when we get home we'll talk about this again.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:46 AM on January 30, 2010


cortex implies pb's ready to go on this, but there are vague hesitations to announcing the trial run that have never been adequately described, to my mind, by any of the mods.

Everything else set aside, rolling out a new significant feature is a pain in the ass. Our hesitations aren't about an announcement for its own sake as much as they are about finding a time when everything else is chill enough that we can hope to roll it out and ably deal with concomitant mess. I'm not sure how much more adequately that concern can be described.

I've had my reservations about the edit idea and was probably the mod most strongly against it for most of the discussions we've had, but I'm shruggingly okay with it now. At this point I expect us to take what pb has built (which he'd never have built in the first place if we thought this was a feature mefites couldn't use responsibly or one which would really destroy the site) and roll it out at some point. We don't know when that will be. It certainly won't be this weekend.

And, on preview, what jessamyn said.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:07 AM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


BTW, if I flag someone else's comment for a typo (HTML/display error), do the mods fix it?
posted by smackfu at 8:14 AM on January 30, 2010


It'd have to be an eye-catching typo for us to know what's going on. HTML/display error + no obvious formatting problem (e.g. unclosed tag, borked entity, broken link, busted whitespace, etc) usually just means I'm going to shrug and go on with my day.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:20 AM on January 30, 2010


> Look, you're saying people have the full intent to edit and proofread their post, but only after they post. Yeah, that's kind of hard to imagine.

Yeah, unless you realize that it's the case with looking at your post after you've written it and with preview. There is no reason why the edit window would magically alter this odd form of blindness. You have walked way off the cliff edge in your argumentativeness; I suggest you not look down.
posted by languagehat at 8:35 AM on January 30, 2010


I'm surprised by how strongly I feel about this and how little my opinion is swayed by contrary arguments in this thread. I like the fact that the site gives you training wheels but does not enforce their use.

My opinion is that once a comment has been posted and is publicly visible it should not be editable.

Several suggestions that split the difference appeal to me:
  1. Add a "N-minute preview-then-post" button for new comments. This could trivially be done with javascript/greasemonkey and require zero backend changes.
  2. A server-side "pending" queue which would accommodate mobile/old browsers. This could even act like "preview" and display your comment as 'posted' to you until the timer runs out.
  3. Simple enforced Preview.

posted by Skorgu at 8:36 AM on January 30, 2010


But if they don't feel like it or don't notice the error, that's fine -- they're not required to tracking my editing of my comment just because they quoted it.)

See, I wrote this and previewed it and proofread it, and it contains an error that makes it slightly less pleasant to read. At the time, it looked right to me because I have this very common reflex where I'm reading what I just wrote, and I think "Gee, this must be correct since I just wrote it." But when I happened to read it later, the error jumped out at me because I was more distanced from it. Now I'm posting a whole other comment to correct the error. This isn't a terrible calamity. But my original comment would be a tad more pleasant to read if I could go back and change "tracking" to "track."

(I should add that this would not have been fixed by a 3-minute window, since I noticed it a couple hours later. Frankly, I wouldn't consider a mere 3-minute window to be much of an improvement over the status quo.)
posted by Jaltcoh at 9:19 AM on January 30, 2010


Yeah, unless you realize that it's the case with looking at your post after you've written it and with preview. There is no reason why the edit window would magically alter this odd form of blindness. You have walked way off the cliff edge in your argumentativeness; I suggest you not look down.

What blindness? How would it would it be a crutch at that point? The intent would clearly fall into the area of someone who tried to fix something in the first place, not rely on anything, and not some kind of moral hazard (really?) or learned helplessness. Nobody is trying to fool someone else.
This argument was framed out in cartoon land with the coyote running it off the cliff. I suggest you realize IT"S NOT A CONTEST!
posted by P.o.B. at 10:18 AM on January 30, 2010


At the time, it looked right to me because I have this very common reflex where I'm reading what I just wrote, and I think "Gee, this must be correct since I just wrote it." But when I happened to read it later, the error jumped out at me because I was more distanced from it.

This has nothing to do with the website or forum for your comment and everything to do with your abilities to type well and proofread well. Why ask the site to change?
posted by carsonb at 10:22 AM on January 30, 2010


You know how when people get older, they turn conservative?

That's happening to Metafilter.
posted by smackfu at 11:08 AM on January 30, 2010


You know how when people get older, they turn conservative?

Sorta ironic, huh? Changing into someone who doesn't want it. Life is full of surprises.
posted by carsonb at 11:11 AM on January 30, 2010


I look at this like a continuum. Over on the left, there's 'not-posting-on-the-site'. On the right, there's 'posting-on-the-site' (with the far right being, I guess, archived and/or Google cached or whatever). Then there's all the frets (steps or stops) in between. Right now, the very last stop/step/fret where you can edit your post is called 'Preview'. It occurs BEFORE the content ends up on the site for public consumption. All of the steps to the left of Preview also allow you to edit your content before it can be seen by others.

What we are talking about here is a fundamental shift in the site design, where there is now one step/fret located AFTER public posting. The new 'last stop' before your typo is preserved for all humanity is now located one very significant stop down the line.

I know this is obvious, because that's what we're talking about here, but think about what this means conceptually. I believe that this will NOT change users' site behavior, in so much as people will continue to 'get off the train' (read their post using a proofreader's or third person's perspective) at the new 'last stop'. It will significantly change the overall behavior of the site, as all the stuff on the train has been pushed further down the line. The correction process will now be publicly indexed MORE OFTEN than before. Isn't this what we are trying to cut down on in the first place?

In other words, I don't think doing this will prompt any behavior changes in its users, which is exactly the thing we're aiming for. However, there will be changes. We kind of don't want those ones. You just can't fix a social/behavior problem with a technical solution in this case. There are already steps in place to combat this. I really think we should encourage and promote the use of Preview, rather than layer another step for correction into the system.

Sorry about all the metaphors.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:10 PM on January 30, 2010


I'm trying to imagine what my initial experience of Metafilter would have been were this kind of EDIT feature already part of the site functionality. I probably wouldn't even have noticed at first (ie: no great turmoil caused by the odd typo-correction etc). But every now and then, something weird would happen. Maybe the odd snarky comment about something that hadn't been said (or so it would seem to one who came to the thread later on); maybe just occasional side references made by people who had, in fact, gone back and fixed a little something and wanted other people to know they had.

One thing is certain, its use and mis-use would give us one more thing to take to META.
posted by philip-random at 12:21 PM on January 30, 2010


It would be like if you were reading Ask Metafilter, and some snarky comment disappeared. Crazy!
posted by smackfu at 12:22 PM on January 30, 2010


The abuse thing is sort of minor, honestly.

Thanks, I appreciate that clarification. It seemed to me the weakest of the reasons against testing an edit window, and I'm glad to know it's not the major concern. I apologize if I seem impatient. Take your time; it's nice to know we'll probably at least get the chance to see how editing might work here.
posted by mediareport at 12:30 PM on January 30, 2010


I would like someone to come up with one single example anywhere on any site which allows comments where it negatively impacts the experience of reading the site. It's not like this is a crazy new idea that was just invented last week.

I mean, I spend a lot of time on a vbulletin boards which allow UNLIMITED editing any time of previous posts, and it's not a problem.

You people are inventing shadows.
posted by empath at 12:53 PM on January 30, 2010


Earlier. I've also seen shenanigans on srforums.prosoundweb.com
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 1:37 PM on January 30, 2010


Monday, I think the reply is that Estelle wouldn't last a week here if she kept doing that; obviously, the forum Greg Nog is talking doesn't have the same kind of moderation that we have here.
posted by mediareport at 1:56 PM on January 30, 2010


I think so too. But it's a problem on these forums, and they exist.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 2:01 PM on January 30, 2010


Would there be a problem with allowing moderators to see edit history and adding a flag that said 'check edit history for fuckery?'

I mean, I still doubt many people would actually exploit it in that way, but it seems like a way to cover the cases most people are bringing up without cluttering the public interface.
posted by flatluigi at 2:34 PM on January 30, 2010


As far as keeping a lid on abuse goes, calculate the edit distance (there are a number of different easily googled algorithms for this) between the original comment and the edited comment and automatically flag those with a large value for review. This will let people correcting typos slide but catch people making substantial changes. It's not perfect and won't catch everything but it's a good and automated first line of defense, assuming the general rule for comment editing is "don't make substantial changes." You could even use something like this to bar substantial edits altogether.
posted by feloniousmonk at 4:38 PM on January 30, 2010


You just can't fix a social/behavior problem with a technical solution

I think this is almost at the top of my list of annoying handwavy arguments that pop up around here. Beyond twisting up what I said a little bit, iamkimiam, you have the wrong idea. I don't see anybody trying to change a behavior, they are trying to ameliorate them.
Honestly, I'm pretty whevs about the whole thing and I think it would be nice to have an edit feature but could just as easily live without one.
posted by P.o.B. at 6:31 PM on January 30, 2010


I can't remember exactly where, but once I said a really GRARy thing that I regretted as soon as I posted it. I immediately sent an email asking mods to delete it, and it was gone within 3 or 4 minutes.

Then there was a big shitstorm in the thread with people GRARing back at me, and then wondering where the comment went, and me coming back to explain and apologize, etc etc.

So what if that happens to someone, and they immediately delete? They weren't trying to be trolls or gamers, they just genuinely regretted saying something not nice and wanted to avoid the derail and shitstorm, had second thoughts? So they edit to say soemthing like "redacted, apologies, I do not want to be an asshole".

So that would be a bannable thing?
posted by Meatbomb at 6:34 PM on January 30, 2010


So that would be a bannable thing?

I'm guessing yes, if you made a habit of it.
posted by philip-random at 7:06 PM on January 30, 2010


A habit of thinking better of bad behavior and apologizing for it?
posted by flatluigi at 7:29 PM on January 30, 2010


A habit of thinking better of bad behavior and apologizing for it?

You're a complete fucking Republican for saying that.
posted by philip-random at 7:31 PM on January 30, 2010


Oh, sorry. I was out of line there. Can I take that back?



umm, seriously. I was just trying to make a point.
posted by philip-random at 7:32 PM on January 30, 2010


No worries, I understand.
posted by flatluigi at 7:35 PM on January 30, 2010


I'm guessing yes, if you made a habit of it.

Well, but there would be some people who would think it should result in insta-banning as an abuse of the non-substantive-typo-editing window feature; and those who would think the rule should be loosened a bit to give a popular, longtime user a second chance; and those who would think it's a dumb reason to ban anybody, because in the end, deleting or substantively editing your own ill-advised comment is just thinking better of bad behavior and removing the offense. And thus a whole new category of contentious MeTas would be born.
posted by palliser at 7:42 PM on January 30, 2010


Earlier. I've also seen shenanigans on srforums.prosoundweb.com

That's such an absurd, over the top example. And anybody who did that would get MeTa'd in five seconds.

I mean, you all must have in mind particular users here who would do this? It's not like MeFi is anonymous here.
posted by empath at 8:04 PM on January 30, 2010


And, btw, the 'use preview' reply is just absurd.

For most people, most of the times that they post, they don't make typos or forget to add something, etc. Let's say you make a typo on the average of one out of 20 posts. Why on earth would you preview EVERY SINGLE POST in order to catch the typo on the one out of 20? The only time I ever use preview is when I've written something lengthy or I'm doing something unusual with HTML.
posted by empath at 8:06 PM on January 30, 2010


WHY ON EARTH INDEED.

I suppose you'd have to really care about typos to use the resources available for avoiding it. You'd probably care enough to spend money on not making more typos (even if that's ridiculous on its face). Sort of like how I really care about my teeth and even though I don't get a cavity every day I damn sure brush those teeth on a daily basis. Not a 1 to 1 analogy there, I'm sure you'll have no trouble perceiving, but brushing your teeth and previewing your posts are both good habits that help keep Bad Things from happening. Now, aside from spouting absurdities and espousing your special snowflake preview button usage patterns, do you have anything useful to add to the discussion?


Jeebus, I can't believe I'm still making an ass of myself in this thread. They're gonna do it. It'll be a hiccup in the grand happening of MetaFilter, life will go on, and fuck, and procreate, and stop, and edit, and somehow still go on, and it's not like it's a huge deal. But this place has a bar set at a convenient height, and it's worth it to me to rail against seeing it lowered. And for that reason, little pink unicorn, I click you.
posted by carsonb at 9:49 PM on January 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can't believe I'm still making an ass of myself in this thread.

i can't believe it either.
posted by empath at 10:33 PM on January 30, 2010


If we had editing, someone couldn't use the first comment to correct "less" to "fewer" and show how smart they are.
posted by smackfu at 5:56 AM on February 1, 2010


And then I wouldn't be able to delete it!
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:24 AM on February 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Whoa!
posted by Nabubrush at 1:47 PM on February 1, 2010


few minutes of quick editing would be happiness and joy. 1x deal w/in first 3min would be yay.
posted by batmonkey at 10:28 PM on February 28, 2010


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