In praise of the edit window February 2, 2015 10:45 AM   Subscribe

I just used the edit window to close a parenthetical statement I'd left open by accident, and I was just thinking about how much I have appreciated it since its introduction. Hooray for the edit window! Saving mefites everywhere from the shame of inadvertent typos! Thanks, mods, for having implemented this incredibly useful feature.
posted by ocherdraco to MetaFilter-Related at 10:45 AM (135 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

It's saved me many times, too. Although I have to resist rewriting my comment to make a new! improved! comment..
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 10:51 AM on February 2, 2015


I also love the edit window, so I join you in the cheers!

Plus, thank you to all the members who resist the temptation to re-write. I've been really happy with how good people have mostly been about that.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:54 AM on February 2, 2015 [10 favorites]


Indeed!
posted by wintersweet at 10:55 AM on February 2, 2015


One of the most impressive and inspiring facts about Metafilter/humanity is how rarely the edit window gets misused.

I bet most other creatures, if they had the capacity to use the edit window, wouldn't be able to say the same.
posted by meese at 10:57 AM on February 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


I usually don't notice that I when errors until it's too late anyway
posted by aubilenon at 11:02 AM on February 2, 2015 [29 favorites]


It's good that you've got your hip hip hooray tags covered there, btw. :D
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 11:13 AM on February 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


Fan of the edit window here, too: before it, I had to live with the shame of my gruesome "can't believe I got that wrong" typos, and my "oh dear I forgot to close the italics tag" errors. Now I just have to live with the shame of not noticing my errors before the window closes.

It does rarely get misused, and I think that's mostly due to the care with which it was rolled out by the mod team: with a very clear line of "this is what it's for and this is what it's NOT FOR." Also, it feels to me like the mods were, and still are, diligent about explicitly calling out abuses when they happen.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:13 AM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I use the edit window way too much. I should be ashamed (of what an idiot I am DAMMIT I JUST DID IT AGAIN).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:23 AM on February 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Can the mods see if the edit window has been used on a comment, and if so, how it has been used...?
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:26 AM on February 2, 2015


Yeah, it's pretty grear.
posted by boo_radley at 11:27 AM on February 2, 2015 [16 favorites]


I feel like my typos have gotten worse since the onset of the edit window. There. I said it.
posted by Sara C. at 11:32 AM on February 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


The edit window needs to give you more time if you are provably intoxicated.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:32 AM on February 2, 2015 [10 favorites]


For example within the last week, somewhere on this here website, I wrote "lose wait" instead of "lose weight" and WHO DOES THAT
posted by Sara C. at 11:33 AM on February 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


I wish that posts had an edit window, too!
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:36 AM on February 2, 2015


Can the mods see if the edit window has been used

Yup. In our normal view of the thread, a number appears below each comment indicating if it's been edited and loosely how much the edits changed the original. If we click on the comment we get a view that shows every previous version of that comment.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:39 AM on February 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


I wish that posts had an edit window, too!

Yeah, we get a ton of contact form email for either tiny typos or URL mishaps that this is definitely in the "someday" pile.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 11:40 AM on February 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


The edit window is great but I still see people making substantial changes to their comments pretty regularly. It seems like they don't understand what is for. I'm not talking about adding or changing or fixing one word, I'm talking about deleting or adding phrases or sentences.
posted by Justinian at 11:44 AM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Justinian: "I'm not talking about adding or changing or fixing one word, I'm talking about deleting or adding phrases or sentences."

I'm just a dog on the internet, but that's ok with me, mostly, if it clarifies the initial comment.
posted by boo_radley at 11:45 AM on February 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


If you see someone doing that, particularly if it's changing the tone or significant content, let us know and we'll drop them a note.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:45 AM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Do you have a list of the most substantial editors like the most-flagged list?
posted by michaelh at 11:46 AM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty happy about it (closed parenthesis for the win.
posted by disclaimer at 11:47 AM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


The rationale being - if you need to add a clarifying comment, just make a second one and then people who are loading the thread via the "x new comments" bar at the bottom will realize you've made a correction. If you just change the original, those people will be replying to your first version. You can also just make a second comment with the edited version of your first one, and flag the first one for us to delete.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:47 AM on February 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


The edit window is great but I still see people making substantial changes to their comments pretty regularly. It seems like they don't understand what is for. I'm not talking about adding or changing or fixing one word, I'm talking about deleting or adding phrases or sentences.

I flag each and every one, every time I see it. Sometimes I stick my tongue out at them, too. Mods, I've always wondered if you ever contact people behind the scenes, just with a casual, "Hey, by the way.... "message?

I do always feel bad when I have to ask a mod to fix a typo or link in an FPP. I used to do this as part of QA for a huge web site but it happens in a lot of my posts anyway.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:50 AM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not the edit window, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:51 AM on February 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Do you have a list of the most substantial editors like the most-flagged list?

I feel like we might have at one point, but I'm not finding it at the moment. (Those lists are on a secondary page we don't look at much.)

We can see in a user's profile how many edits they have ever made (my number is over 700) and how much their average edit changes the comment (mine is around 40 change units, which my impression is, is sort of average). So we can get a quick sense if someone is a habitual over-editer.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:55 AM on February 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


It is really interesting how human psychology works with something like this. I'm typing, and I can see what something looks like as I type. But there's always the well this isn't quite live impression that keeps me from feeling like I am experiencing the final product. But then there's the live preview as I'm typing that I can in theory review as many times as I want to before hitting submit.

But for some reason, I don't always see errors there, either. But I do see them almost as soon as they are posted and committed, where I didn't see them in either of the previous two places. It makes me think that the psychological trigger that suddenly grants me better editing powers is the finality of it being publicly viewable. It's a little adrenaline rush of danger, perhaps, that knows accountability is close behind.

In any case, I love those final minutes that allow me to go from someone who can't notice details to save my life sometimes, to having some sort of laser vision. It's like having a temporary super power.
posted by SpacemanStix at 12:01 PM on February 2, 2015 [15 favorites]


Now that I'm used to the edit window here--for which I join in ocherdraco's thanks--whenever I write an email, send it out, and realize there's a typo, I sort of expect to have an edit window and am sadly disappointed.
posted by ferret branca at 12:23 PM on February 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


It seems like they don't understand what is for.

I think people feel that as long as they are acting in good faith, and not abusing the feature, who cares.
posted by smackfu at 12:25 PM on February 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


Like, in theory, it's against the rules, but does anyone actually get warned for doing it?
posted by smackfu at 12:26 PM on February 2, 2015


If we click on the comment we get a view that shows every previous version of that comment.

Nothing to see here, move along.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 12:27 PM on February 2, 2015


Can't speak for other over-editors, but my main temptation is when I've opened the edit window to fix a typo, and then I think of something else I wanted to add. I know I should make a second comment, but the temptation is strong to just keep typing.
posted by Sara C. at 12:27 PM on February 2, 2015


Johnny Wallflower, you have a fickle heart.

And yeah, smackfu, sometimes people get warned if it seems like they're using it in a way that could cause problems or strike readers as sketchy. This doesn't happen often, though.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:31 PM on February 2, 2015


(For people who missed that, Johnny Wallflower's comment went through a few different edits just now, changing who's his professed favorite mod.)
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:34 PM on February 2, 2015 [14 favorites]


Hey, you were my first choice, LM!
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 12:47 PM on February 2, 2015


So is it possible for a nefarious person to write something then delete it all and post a blank comment?

Will I be spanked if I try? (Just because I'm curious AND nefarious...)
posted by taff at 12:55 PM on February 2, 2015


Huh. Weird. "Select all" and "cut" won't work on my iPad in the edit window. PB, you're an evil and wonderful genius.

-------------------------------------------

Edited to experiment:

I tried and it notices and sends you back to your unedited comment and won't let you paste the message. Or anything.
posted by taff at 12:57 PM on February 2, 2015


Oooh, now I want to create comment-edit easter eggs for the mods!

I went through a brief spate of making fabulously ornate and meta Siri requests, on the off chance engineers would see them in the logs someday and chuckle.
posted by Celsius1414 at 1:00 PM on February 2, 2015 [6 favorites]


I think people feel that as long as they are acting in good faith, and not abusing the feature, who cares.

Without rules what do you have?

Anarchy.
posted by Justinian at 1:01 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, remember how people were all het up as though the edit window was going to bring about the end days? I would like an apology from each of those people, typed on an analog typewriter.
posted by dirtdirt at 1:03 PM on February 2, 2015 [10 favorites]


Yeah, Yay! edit windows!

Though some of my comments remain rife with typos. Ugh. Because my eyesight appears to be at its best the nanosecond the "edit" option disappears. So that's when I notice them: In minute six or whatever.
posted by Michele in California at 1:49 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's like a game of 'beat the clock'.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 2:06 PM on February 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


Those of us who never make a mistake never even noticed there was an edit widow.
posted by HuronBob at 2:25 PM on February 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


I wonder what other lists are on the infrequently used secondary list page.
posted by Quilford at 2:26 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, remember how people were all het up as though the edit window was going to bring about the end days?

The grim spectre of the menace to the social fabric that was sure to come of edit marriage was one of the funnier site-conservative anxieties here for quite awhile. My favorite parts of the tipping point were lectures on how terribly disappointing everyone who would do such a thing as allow themselves to change a typo, when lo such things things should be owned and embraced and MeFi is a better place than that, verily unto the best of the web as it is written and do not suffer the impiety of--and then every single mod weighed in with "actually, we on the mod team correct our own typos after the fact all the time, so increasingly it feels silly that no one else can, so you know what, edit window will be coming along soon." And there was some grumbling about that being disappointing too, but you could just see the wind taken out of sails of the Neveredit Armada.
posted by Drastic at 2:35 PM on February 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


Among the admin tools, there's a bunch of miscellaneous stuff, some of which is useful and some of which is very rarely useful. The useful ones we're using several times per shift, like checking comments made by new members to see if they're spamming.

The lesser-used tools are things we only need once in a blue moon. There is stuff that's about managing admin tools -- e.g., "recently cleared flags", so if I accidentally clear a flag before fixing the problem, I can go to this page to re-find the link. There are a couple that let us see current activity, like if a given post is getting a lot of comments in a short time -- but we don't really use these much (or I don't) because I have a better sense just by keeping an eye on the flags and on the known-hot threads. There's "recent edits", which was useful when we first implemented the edit window but isn't used as much now. Some things that are just fun or infodumpish, like "most played tracks" in Music. There's a way to see where inbound links are coming from - so if a given AskMe question starts getting a bunch of traffic we can see where it's been linked elsewhere on the web.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:42 PM on February 2, 2015 [7 favorites]


mine is around 40 change units

So a change unit is one keystroke, I take it?

i.e. deleting a letter and replacing it would be two 'change units?'

I was initially hesitant about the edit window, but have found it very useful.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:59 PM on February 2, 2015


I was actually trying to set up for a terrible joke about lists of sinister things but thanks for an actual answer!
posted by Quilford at 3:03 PM on February 2, 2015


Nope, it isn't keystrokes. We're using a very rough Levenshtein distance calculation. Changing one letter is equal to one change unit. The number isn't scientific. It just gives us a quick sense of whether an edit was a minor typo change or something more. We always have humans in the process looking at things to see what really happened.
posted by pb (staff) at 3:04 PM on February 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


It would be cool if we could see our own values for that on the profile page, and maybe some casual shaming if it's too high.
posted by smackfu at 3:11 PM on February 2, 2015


The number doesn't describe reality very well so I don't think it has enough meaning to share. It's definitely not worth basing some casual shame on. For example, it's possible that swapping out one URL for another in a link (or adding a URL that you forgot) can mean a high edit distance number. So the computer records a large edit even though it's just in the fixing-a-typo sort of category.
posted by pb (staff) at 3:18 PM on February 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


"Parenthetical statement"... what a lovely set of words to see in use. It totally tickles me; thank you. That is all.
posted by mightshould at 3:28 PM on February 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Some months ago in an AskMe answer I left an entire intended clause out of my answer; it was one of those parallel construction sentences where you say "X but/and Y, but then also Z" and I left out the Y part. I agonized over whether to fix it or whether that was too substantial for the edit window. I ended up fixing it because it was on a sensitive topic but not a particularly fast moving thread, and left unbalanced, my sentence came across as a lot harsher than I meant it to. But I have literally wondered about that ever since, so now I will ask: mods, OK use of the edit window, or should I have made a new comment?
posted by KathrynT at 3:29 PM on February 2, 2015


As much as I like the editing window (as I mentioned above) and prefer having it, one of the helpful things about the prior system is that I had to learn to be content with errors in my life, knowing everything was still gong to be okay. That is a good life discipline, I think, especially since I have tendencies towards perfectionism.

See? I can do thsi adn now and not woryr about what peeple think.
posted by SpacemanStix at 3:30 PM on February 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


left unbalanced, my sentence came across as a lot harsher than I meant it to

Relatedly, is it a misuse of the edit window if I post something, realise 'oh crap that first sentence is a bit snidely dickish in hindsight', go back in and delete it?? I dont want to be dickish ):
posted by Quilford at 3:34 PM on February 2, 2015


As someone who initially was against the edit window, I must admit that I am a convert now for when I click post and seconds later go "gah! typo!".

Now if pb could just fix autocorrect on my phone, which is the cause of many of my typos, maybe we wouldn't need an edit window.
posted by arcticseal at 3:38 PM on February 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


Quilford, that's the exact case when you don't use the edit window. You flag your own comment instead, and post a new comment that incorporates the changes you want. If someone sees your snide-sounding one, and starts composing an angry riposte, this way they'll get "1 new comment" appearing on their screen and they'll see that you've softened your tone.

KathrynT, borderline. To me that would be one of those 'don't make a habit of it' things, where if your change doesn't change the tone or content substantially, and is unlikely to cause confusion because the thread is slow, it would be more ok. But if you think it will change the tone or content, just flag the old comment, make a second comment and put your changes in that one.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:45 PM on February 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


"Parenthetical statement"... what a lovely set of words to see in use. It totally tickles me; thank you. That is all.
posted by mightshould at 6:28 PM on February 2


On the back-of-the-book Internet map, MetaFilter is likely Language Isle. Or The Word Coast. In some editions The Blue Pepsi Steppe.
posted by four panels at 3:46 PM on February 2, 2015


Also, remember how people were all het up as though the edit window was going to bring about the end days? I would like an apology from each of those people, typed on an analog typewriter.

I think this might have been me. I'm grateful we have the edit window for typos, but my initial worry was that people would use it for substantial changes without any sort of repercussion. That's definitely happening now, in this very thread even. On balance we're probably better off with the window, but I'm still a bit annoyed about the whole thing sometimes.
posted by ODiV at 3:48 PM on February 2, 2015


You flag your own comment instead, and post a new comment that incorporates the changes you want.

Ahhh okay. So a commenter flagging their own comment basically signals 'delete please' to a mod?
posted by Quilford at 3:50 PM on February 2, 2015


That's how I interpret it.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:50 PM on February 2, 2015


Aarrrgh i've been editing wrong all along
posted by Quilford at 3:51 PM on February 2, 2015 [2 favorites]


The REAL story of the "edit" window is that it is, in fact, a typo that pb made when he was trying to code an "edict window". The edict window would have allowed quidnunc kid, as supreme ruler of MeFi, to issue his edicts to individual users, based on how ideologically correct their comments were. For example, LobsterMitten's comments in this thread do not show sufficient deference to our glorious leader, qomrade quidnunc. As such, my edict would be, "Twenty years' hard labour in the re-education hole, and no television privileges". So vote #1 quidnunc kid in the next 5 minutes to correct the misspelled "edit window" once and for all.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 3:56 PM on February 2, 2015 [29 favorites]


KathrynT, borderline.

That's how I felt about it at the time; I came down on the side of "make the edit" but only just. Making an identical comment but for the change and flagging the first one didn't occur to me, I'll keep that in my pocket for next time.
posted by KathrynT at 4:14 PM on February 2, 2015


Have we never shown you the exit window, quidnunc? We keep that on the secondary page too.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 4:40 PM on February 2, 2015 [23 favorites]


I feel like people shouldn't get in trouble for abusing edits, but that any edit that changes anything other than a spelling mistake or a small grammatical error should just get a "view original comment" button.

If you edit in, or edit out something offensive it should be there forever that you said that. I can remember at least one instance of someone editing in(and honestly, i think editing out is worse) something really heinous then a mod reverting it, and it only existed in the memories of people who had happened to refresh the thread at the right time to go "wow, that was FUCKED".

I don't think it serves the community well to hide evidence of dickery on someones part, most of the time. It's one thing to just delete a shitpost, but reverting it to a non-shitty version is pretty bad unless no one could have ever have seen the bad version.
posted by emptythought at 4:41 PM on February 2, 2015


Edit window fuck yeah
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 5:08 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't think it serves the community well to hide evidence of dickery on someones part, most of the time.

I tend to agree with this, especially if it means maybe people will take a breath before hitting post knowing they can't shouldn't change it.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:46 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I WANT TO KNOW HOW MANY UNITS OF CHANGE I RATED.
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:58 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


If you edit in, or edit out something offensive it should be there forever that you said that.

People make mistakes, and many people here have often been generous in understanding that. I think we're overall a better community when we can forgive an occasional lapse in judgement or a weak moment or a bad hair day that takes a few seconds after hitting Post Comment for the commenter to recognize.

(Everyone needs a hug.)
posted by mochapickle at 5:59 PM on February 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


I remember when the edit window came out and I was like THIS IS A REALLY BAD IDEA EVERYONES GOING TO ABUSE IT. Well I was wrong because on the whole people here are smart and honest enough to follow directions. Good job everybody even tho that makes me grumpy.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:16 PM on February 2, 2015 [4 favorites]


ETA Dirt dirt: I am very sorry
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:23 PM on February 2, 2015


So a commenter flagging their own comment basically signals 'delete please' to a mod?

It's my understanding that mods don't see who flagged a comment unless they click a second time, so when I need one deleted, I add "please delete" to the comment if it's within the edit window. If not, I make another comment that says "please delete this and my other one" and flag that. Man, I should make a keyboard macro for that.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:42 PM on February 2, 2015


Have we never shown you the exit window, quidnunc? We keep that on the secondary page too.

Uh oh. About to be defenestrated ... uh ... commencing operation "shut up quidnunc".

Current status: shutted up.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 6:58 PM on February 2, 2015 [7 favorites]


^ please delete comment above ^
posted by aydeejones at 7:07 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, remember how people were all het up as though the edit window was going to bring about the end days? I would like an apology from each of those people, typed on an analog typewriter.

I was against it because I knew I'd be tempted to use it too broadly, and I do. I'm a compulsive editor (here and in real life) - the way I write is to write something down, then go back and gradually elaborate it. It is super hard to rein that in, especially because there is a real psychological difference between seeing your writing before publication (or posting) and after.So I'm still against it, but I use and appreciate it.
posted by Miko at 7:38 PM on February 2, 2015 [10 favorites]


I feel like my typos have gotten worse since the onset of the edit window. There. I said it.

I think my typos are a bit worse for the first 5 minutes after my comments are posted, but my comments are ultimately much better written on the whole. And you get to see them a little sooner.
posted by John Cohen at 8:11 PM on February 2, 2015


pb:The number doesn't describe reality very well so I don't think it has enough meaning to share.

I can see why you wouldn’t want to share it more widely, but it might be useful feedback for the editor if it were displayed, ideally in real time, as you edited, though I could see that that might be technically challenging. Even if only displayed in the live preview, it would be a rough guide as to whether you were likely to be overstepping; the number could even change color from green to yellow to red as you crossed the various rules of thumb thresholds you guys use.

I can see that the fact that it is imprecise and subject to the vagaries of editing URLs etc. might cause confusion, but as it wouldn’t stop the changes and would only demonstrate when an edit was more likely to cause mod concern, such as in KathrynT’s borderline case, it shouldn’t cause harm.

Providing realtime feedback helps people self regulate.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 9:30 PM on February 2, 2015


There is one use outside of the prescribed uses for the edit window which I find entirely harmless and have used maybe twice. Ever had a few windows of MeTa open at once and posted the comment in the wrong damned thread and didn't realize it until you clicked post and saw it on the page?

It's a lifesaver to be able to edit, cut that text and type something else that's either on topic or is an apology for goofing. Then you can paste the other text in the right thread and post it there.

I hope that's cool, but can't imagine it wouldn't be.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:36 PM on February 2, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm sorry, dirtdirt.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:46 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am also an proponent from way back of this window-feature.

I am also glad that the whole puppies to hitler thing hasn't been an issue, at least not so far as I've heard. I knew it could be done, and our mods are wise, smart, and benevolent enough to do it if anyone is.

At least that thread kinda-sorta generated five bucks with near zero overhead for the site due to that sockpuppet's creation (and subsequent hibernation) anyway.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:48 PM on February 2, 2015


I argued against it, though not too vociferously. Mainly I thought it would be abused and lead to chaos, confusion etc. I was wrong. It seems an overall improvement to my experience of the site.
posted by philip-random at 10:20 PM on February 2, 2015


There is nothing about the edit window that cannot be solved with the future. Temporarily, the pasts future is this made present and
I hate screwing up a link and trying to fix it in edit, it is like final jeopardy and scrabble with ASMQ.
posted by clavdivs at 10:33 PM on February 2, 2015


I know I should make a second comment, but the temptation is strong to just keep typing.

Fight...
posted by hal_c_on at 10:58 PM on February 2, 2015


...the temptation.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:58 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


There is nothing about the edit window that cannot be solved with the future.

The edit window is just a workaround. Once we have our iTimeMachines, we'll be able to go back and make the comments perfect from the beginning.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:03 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have argued against it when the topic rolls around since at least 2008 and I still stand by that comment. But that's a philosophical position on my part and and any negative practical effect is subtle.

The view that is accommodated is "Fixing my typos is incredibly important but I can't be bothered to reread what I wrote and copyedit myself before I post it. But also I really will go back and do it in the five minutes after I post it." It continues to surprise me that this is a majority view but I have grown to enjoy being surprised. I have even edited three or four comments myself! I think. But it would be better for me and everyone if they had stood as signposts: look out fellow humans, this comment was underbaked and beware the ideas expressed within! So I say from the perspective of trying to get it right in an big ideas way.

I also said some pouty stuff about brand new daying it over this issue at one point that now seems hilarious, I apologize for being a drama llama. I was attached to the idea of Metafilter being all things at all times, clinging to it really.

By now I have come to value kindness more than big ideas and Metafilter at its best is a place where kindness flourishes. Hopefully when I'm reviewing this comment in the context of considering the edit window in 2018 or whatever it won't seem hilarious. Hello, future me! Everyone needs a hug.
posted by Kwine at 11:30 PM on February 2, 2015 [5 favorites]


By now I have come to value kindness more than big ideas

I couldn't agree more, and I wish I had more of it. I generally also fail at gracious, but at least occasionally I recognise where I fucked up.
posted by Wolof at 11:37 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


This thread probably will set the record for most uses of the edit window.

Am I... oh, nevermind.
posted by evilmidnightbomberwhatbombsatmidnight at 11:47 PM on February 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


The view that is accommodated is "Fixing my typos is incredibly important but I can't be bothered to reread what I wrote and copyedit myself before I post it.

As someone who posts mostly on my phone I love the edit window. No matter how many times I reread my comments the combination of small screen, sausage fingers and (damn you to hell) autocorrect means that there are typos I don't see until it's too late. Having an extra few minutes to nip back in and fix the glaring ones stops me constantly smacking myself in the face in embarrassment. (Though it still happens)
posted by billiebee at 11:53 PM on February 2, 2015 [8 favorites]


SpacemanStix and Miko have something - for whatever reason, there's a difference between the posted comment and the preview comment. I check and recheck my comments, rearranging words and trying to make them say what I want them to say without error, and reread them before hitting post, and after all that when the comment comes up I usually see at least one spelling error, or incorrect homonym, or the wrong qualifier or, or, or...

Hell, if I were to go back through all my comments I'm sure there's errors still present, and I've made frequent use of the edit window.

I'm with the person who approximately said a couple of years ago that you could make the edit window a million years long, and you'd still spot a mistake at a million years and five minutes. Knowing that there will always be errors doesn't prevent me from loving that I can catch a few within the five minutes, though.
posted by gadge emeritus at 12:07 AM on February 3, 2015 [4 favorites]


Maybe I'm old fashioned, but I also find the edit window terrific for when I've fucked up my tags and not closed them, use the wrong close etc etc. This happens so often on my phone, I LOVE U EDIT WINDOW NEVER CHANGE.
posted by smoke at 12:08 AM on February 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


true

I did use it a few times within this comment. but only t prove a poin
posted by philip-random at 12:09 AM on February 3, 2015


This thread probably will set the record for most uses of the edit window.

oops.
posted by evilmidnightbomberwhatbombsatmidnight at 12:12 AM on February 3, 2015


One of the most impressive and inspiring facts about Metafilter/humanity is how rarely the edit window gets misused.

I thought I was a misanthrope, but my hat's off to you.
posted by Segundus at 1:24 AM on February 3, 2015


Also, remember how people were all het up as though the edit window was going to bring about the end days? I would like an apology from each of those people, typed on an analog typewriter.
I was one of those people, but I was wrong. I'm not sorry though, just pleasantly surprised. I would be pleased to type a formal apology for being wrong on an analog typewriter if someone could send me one.
posted by dg at 2:49 AM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


If everything I owned including my typewriter were not in boxes at the moment I would type an apology for you!
posted by winna at 3:06 AM on February 3, 2015


Mostly for commas and things my iPad thinks it knows better than me, eternal punner that I am. So yeah! Evict window!
posted by Namlit at 3:29 AM on February 3, 2015


The fact that nobody commented on (or favorited) what I did way up there tells us that the edit widow really isn't necessary, nobody's paying attention, your typo won't be noticed anyway... sheesh...

(or, I guess it is conceivable that you ALL noticed it and didn't think it was that clever or funny.... :-\ )
posted by HuronBob at 4:24 AM on February 3, 2015


I just did what I normally do when I see a typo which is politely ignore it while silently judging you.

(I keed. I didn't notice it which does make me feel better about my own) :)
posted by billiebee at 4:28 AM on February 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


This comment has always been in praise of the edit window.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:23 AM on February 3, 2015


SpacemanStix and Miko have something - for whatever reason, there's a difference between the posted comment and the preview comment

It's a real thing - you are in a different perceptual state before a comment goes live. Have the conversation with journalists and regular bloggers - until you are detached from the creative moment and able to read as if encountering it for the first time, you can be functionally blind to mistakes and typos. Neurologically, writing and reading (and especially proofreading) are very different activities, and many people do not task-switch mentally until the "writing" phase is over as signaled by hitting a button and closing the editing activity.
posted by Miko at 6:15 AM on February 3, 2015 [7 favorites]


I most often use the edit window in AskMe to add the additional examples of whatever's being asked about that I inevitably remember the moment I hit 'Post'. Occasional typos in MeFi too, but mostly it's 'oh and that thing' additions.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:28 AM on February 3, 2015


"SpacemanStix and Miko have something - for whatever reason, there's a difference between the posted comment and the preview comment. "

For those who use the live preview and not the server preview, I think there's two distinct kinds of psychological difference happening when you've posted something. My sense is that it's pretty easy to miss typos in the live preview because it's always just been sitting there and even when you read it, it's still kind of familiar. But when you actually post something for real, you get a whole new page load, with new comments and your words against a different background and some different line-breaks (probably). It looks much different and that makes it easier to see what you actually wrote and not what you think that you wrote.

But that's why when I write anything substantial -- where I re-read my whole comment from start to finish, and maybe more than once -- I'm using the actual server preview. In fact, I don't pay much attention to the live preview, usually. I find it easier and more reliable to proofread with the server preview. Granted, the live preview is better than not proofing with a preview at all and only using what you've typed into the text box. It's very difficult to see typos right there in the exact interface that you've been writing within. I sort of wonder if that isn't a big part of what's happening with many people -- they're proofing only in the text box and not with the live preview or the server preview and so they're especially likely to notice typos only after they've posted the comment.

Additionally, of course there is the psychological change that happens when something is really published or "done". I'm sort of baffled that anyone wouldn't think this change could or would affect people's ability to proofread -- I mean, proofreading is really weird and surprisingly difficult in general. A lot of what we see is what we expect to see and that means that our ability to proofread something we're familiar with (because we wrote it or we've already read it) is quite sensitive to our state of mind when we proofread something. I think it's more complex than this, but merely the higher stakes of "it's already out there for people to see" is more than enough to get most people to read something with "new" eyes.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:46 AM on February 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


I think it's more complex than this, but merely the higher stakes of "it's already out there for people to see" is more than enough to get most people to read something with "new" eyes.

I am a professional editor and I this is how I think about it. You basically have to get to a point where you imagine yourself as another to proofread your own work. Server preview helps: it's a prosthetic for that effect. But the key here is that "theory of mind" is a super-power: you and I and everyone here can actually imagine what it means to look out of someone else's eyes, and in the doing of that, when we achieve it, we can do all sorts of awesome stuff. This is why it's so great having smart friends: I just ask myself what my friend would do or think in a situation, and it's like I'M BORROWING HIS BRAIN FOR A SECOND.

It's hyperbolic and kind of crazy, but it works. Try it!
posted by anotherpanacea at 7:16 AM on February 3, 2015 [7 favorites]


gadge emeritus: I'm sure there's there are errors still present

Je suis gadge emeritus
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:30 AM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I agree. The edit window has been a real boon.

EDIT: boy, this really blew up

EDIT 2: thanks for the favorite, kind stranger!
posted by Tanizaki at 7:32 AM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


I was really someone had ponied up $5 to register "kind stranger" to favorite that.
posted by SpiffyRob at 9:51 AM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


A lot of what we see is what we expect to see and that means that our ability to proofread something we're familiar with (because we wrote it or we've already read it) is quite sensitive to our state of mind when we proofread something.

A classic demonstration of this principle: I love Paris in the springtime!
posted by Miko at 10:13 AM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


If we click on the comment we get a view that shows every previous version of that comment

Why not let everyone have that ability? If a comment has been edited it could have a little automatic note at the bottom ("Edited at timestamp") and if we're curious to know what changed we can click and check. That seems a easy way to prevent most potential forms of edit-window-abuse.
posted by yoink at 10:16 AM on February 3, 2015


Why not let everyone have that ability?

Because (a) abuse is very rare as far as we've been able to see and (b) we don't want mucking through comment editing history to become an ongoing distracting feature of parallel conversation in discussion threads, basically.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:22 AM on February 3, 2015 [3 favorites]


We're using a very rough Levenshtein distance calculation.

Man, string similarity stuff pops up in a lot more places than you might imagine. For my thesis, I wound up going through about five different measures before settling on the kind of n-gram distance thing that they use in Lucene...for looking at Elizabethan drama, of all things.

/nerd derail
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 10:34 AM on February 3, 2015


Because (a) abuse is very rare as far as we've been able to see and (b) we don't want mucking through comment editing history to become an ongoing distracting feature of parallel conversation in discussion threads, basically.

On sites I've participated on that allowed this (b) was a rare problem--and it only happened when (a) didn't apply. I.e., you only got people saying "hang on, your comment originally said X" if the edit window had been used to radically change someone's argument. I think if (a) is true then (b) isn't a problem (who is going to care that some typos got fixed?), and the potential threat of (b) is a good way of ensuring that (a) remains true.
posted by yoink at 10:36 AM on February 3, 2015


I think if (a) is true then (b) isn't a problem (who is going to care that some typos got fixed?), and the potential threat of (b) is a good way of ensuring that (a) remains true.

I think (b) is potentially a problem regardless of the rarity of (a), because we have a detail-oriented and occasionally rules-lawyerish userbase that gets kind of persnickety about all kinds of things here. And that's the core thing: the distraction of adding public-edit-discussion to the conversation is something we've explicitly wanted to avoid, and barring something that makes it functionally necessary to go in the other direction on that for the system to work, it's something we're sticking with.

"I would like to see the edit history on comments" is a totally reasonable preference/desire, but it's not something that rises to that level of functional necessity. In the rare cases of actual outright weirdness, people are welcome to drop us a line to ask/alert via the contact form, same as everything else on the site; barring those rare cases, it should be just left alone and people can get on with conversation on the site the way they always have.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:02 AM on February 3, 2015


we have a detail-oriented and occasionally rules-lawyerish userbase that gets kind of persnickety about all kinds of things here

The hell you say!
posted by yoink at 11:05 AM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Mmmmm. Lawyerish allsorts.
posted by flabdablet at 11:09 AM on February 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's a lifesaver to be able to edit, cut that text and type something else that's either on topic or is an apology for goofing. Then you can paste the other text in the right thread and post it there.

I hope that's cool, but can't imagine it wouldn't be.


Isn't this pretty explicitly against the rules?
posted by ODiV at 11:16 AM on February 3, 2015


Yep, first bullet point right on the edit page says:

"Please don't add/change/delete the content of a comment. This is for typos and small fixes only. Write an additional comment or contact the mods if there's a bigger issue."

we have a detail-oriented and occasionally rules-lawyerish userbase

I don't know what you're talking about.
posted by ODiV at 11:17 AM on February 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


For me, I think part of the difference is that the (live) preview is on a different colored background than all the comments. If it live previewed above the box and in the same color as the thread, I might be able to convince myself that it were really real before hitting post. As it is, I am ever grateful for the edit window.
posted by stoneweaver at 11:30 AM on February 3, 2015


we have a detail-oriented and occasionally rules-lawyerish userbase

Can you explain to the members of the jury what exactly you mean by that comment?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:35 AM on February 3, 2015 [6 favorites]


we have a detail-oriented and occasionally rules-lawyerish userbase

The moderator does not have the floor. Or the speaking shell. Out of order.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 1:31 PM on February 3, 2015


Quilford, that's the exact case when you don't use the edit window. You flag your own comment instead, and post a new comment that incorporates the changes you want.

I flagged myself once. It was deleted really quickly, then replied to, then returned, then I took a break from MetaFilter for a day or so. >.>
posted by Deoridhe at 2:34 PM on February 3, 2015


I sometimes add harmless parentheticals to clarify what I mean. I get that they're not really harmless, though. I'll try to stop it. I'm no rules lawyer, but I am a lawyer, and these habits are hard to break.
posted by naju at 2:50 PM on February 3, 2015


Lawyerish allsorts.

Now that is a great name.
posted by Room 641-A at 3:06 PM on February 3, 2015


The edit window is great but I still see people making substantial changes to their comments pretty regularly. It seems like they don't understand what is for. I'm not talking about adding or changing or fixing one word, I'm talking about deleting or adding phrases or sentences.

I usually just fix typos (only some, not all, alas) with the edit window, but I actually used the edit function to take out a parenthetical in a comment moments after I posted it the other day.

While I was composing the comment, I looked at the parenthetical and decided that even though I meant it as a comment on myself, it potentially looked like a dig at other people.

So I deleted it before I submitted the comment -- except that it wasn't actually deleted. (Maybe I highlighted the preview text instead of the editable text, then hit delete without looking at the screen after that?) Given that it was a parenthetical that could have been read as fighty in a charged and fast-moving thread, and since I did not intend to post it and actually thought it had been deleted at the moment I hit post, I felt this was one of the edge cases where taking it out myself was a fair decision.
posted by maudlin at 3:28 PM on February 3, 2015


Personally, I'm a fan of harmless parentheticals (also, I am not a lawyer, but I am a parenthesist none-the-less).
posted by Deoridhe at 3:40 PM on February 3, 2015


I flagged myself once

I flagged myself once. It just wasn't as satisfying as being flagged by someone else.
posted by octobersurprise at 3:45 PM on February 3, 2015


I flagged myself once

Did it make you happy? Did you experience auto flag-elation?
posted by Miss Otis' Egrets at 6:42 PM on February 3, 2015 [2 favorites]


The flaggings will continue until morale improves.
posted by flabdablet at 8:12 PM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Did it make you happy? Did you experience auto flag-elation?

I grew hair on my palms. 8(
posted by Deoridhe at 8:40 PM on February 3, 2015 [1 favorite]


Flag 'em if they can't take a joke.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:07 PM on February 3, 2015


I am a professional editor and I this is how I think about it.

GODDAMNIT. Well, doing things for a living is not necessarily doing them well.
posted by anotherpanacea at 6:18 AM on February 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


"GODDAMNIT. Well, doing things for a living is not necessarily doing them well."

Heh.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:39 AM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Heeeeyyyy I heard you can get some free change points from this thread, how do I get into the deal?

...too late am I?

ok
posted by Pyrogenesis at 5:02 PM on February 4, 2015


we have a detail-oriented and occasionally rules-lawyerish userbase that gets kind of persnickety about all kinds of things here
You know better than to make an accusation like that without evidence to back it up.
posted by dg at 8:04 PM on February 4, 2015


One parent, two parentheticals.
posted by Omnomnom at 2:28 PM on February 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


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