Expand the edit window? August 28, 2021 12:38 PM   Subscribe

Would it be possible to expand the edit window? Perhaps leave off the timer entirely?

I've grown accustomed to editing things as many other platforms have introduced the concept. The edit window is fine, but there's a bit of a countdown to it that's annoying. A lot of times I find places editing where I simply copy and pasted wrong, I introduced a new thought and didn't clean up my sentence or autocomplete gets ahead of me. Sometimes my word choice is unintentionally triggering or loaded and it is an honest mistake.

Again, on other platforms, it is pretty common to just fix it. For stating something wrong, I've seen people strike it out and then add a small edit reason at the bottom. It is a little bit easier and less argumentative than apologizing in a comment, having people ignore the apology comment and respond to the first comment, etc. No need to be fancy about it and add a second box for "Edit reason" or instructing people to strike out, I think really everything as is while abolishing the time limit would suffice.

Given that this works on other forums pretty well and more importantly, without noticeable abuse, I don't see this as being a problem here.

posted by geoff. to Feature Requests at 12:38 PM (41 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I don't have any plans to make a change here currently. The current timed edit window strikes a balance between letting people self-edit most typos and such while avoiding the headaches that come with arbitrary retroactive editing, and that has been a good balance in practice I feel. The mod team remains happy to help out with edits outside the five minute window; just drop us a quick note at the contact form and we'll sort it out for you.

All that said, I don't mind talking the idea out some and seeing where folks are on it, and how folks feelings about the edit window itself have changed or evolved over the last few years in practice.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:41 PM on August 28 [15 favorites]

Ooh, yeah, I really wouldn't be a fan of this. I like knowing that comments aren't changing at random; that I can respond to a post knowing that it'll stay the same, and my response will make sense.

If typos, etc. are such a concern, I think it has to be on the poster to take more time to proofread, using Preview or the existing edit window or some other method. I leave words out of comments a surprising amount and only notice it hours later; generally, I just let it go.
posted by sagc at 12:59 PM on August 28 [37 favorites]

Sometimes the chow mein riposte inflicts me an hour or so after one of my heartfelt comments, when I became aware of the sentence I should have written instead of what I posted.

But the problem is usually a technical error that doesn't materially change the thought I was trying to convey. In a long post, five minutes isn't enough time for me to see my error. Or maybe I'm so blinded by the little darlings I create that I need more time to become aware of their faults.

I'm not in favor of increasing the edit window. I sometimes use WORD to write complicated comments. I am still guilty of posting errors, but that's on me. I see no need to make a mod's task harder or create confusion, especially in a thread dealing with sensitive issues.
posted by mule98J at 3:14 PM on August 28 [2 favorites]

If given the voting choice of leave the edit window as is, take off the timer as suggested or eliminate the edit ability altogether, my vote would be to eliminate the edit window. I make msitakes all the time.
posted by AugustWest at 5:43 PM on August 28 [1 favorite]

There is nothing worse than clicking a “previously” link, realizing that you’d commented on the old post, and that your old comment has a typo. Ugh. Ok, maybe some things are worse.
posted by kevinbelt at 5:45 PM on August 28 [4 favorites]

I like the edit window functionality the way it is right now. Having a few minutes to correct a minor mistake is great. But going back and changing stuff people have already had time to respond to is not good for discussions. Maybe some sort of "addendum" functionality would be nice -- there are a few times when I know I've made a factual error and post a follow-up comment with a correction, but wish that correction could be right next to the error to minimize the chances that anyone is misled. Aside from that, though, I don't see a good reason to be able to freely edit comments once they've entered the discussion.

Although... in the case of issuing some sort of erratum like this, would the mods be willing to consider facilitating this via the flag mechanism? Only seems viable if it's likely to be used only rarely.
posted by biogeo at 11:07 PM on August 28 [3 favorites]

a person such as myself might (have to) edit everything they'd ever written, erase each typo, error, misattribution, lapse of grace, tinker at each imperfectly remaining turn of phrase until, well, always; please no. serious tho: no strong preference as to the question.
posted by 20 year lurk at 11:44 PM on August 28 [4 favorites]

Nooooooooo people already DO abuse the edit window here. It's only supposed to be for fixing MINOR typos and MAYBE adding a word or two to clarify a point but people CONSTANTLY remove and/or add entire sentences that change the context of the comment.
posted by cooker girl at 7:59 AM on August 29 [13 favorites]

I've seen retroactive editing in bad faith be a big problem elsewhere, and I think the solution here works well in general. I too notice mistakes in my comments after the edit window is closed and just live with not appearing as well spoken/written as I would like.
posted by plonkee at 8:19 AM on August 29 [4 favorites]

Long edit windows are definitely abused at other sites, and it screws with the continuity of a thread. Comments at Ars Technica, for example, are often a mess because people make stupid comments that get quoted or responded to, and then the original commenters edit or delete those stupid comments, so the responses make a lot less sense. I'm in favor of leaving the five minute window alone. I often make myself sit on comments for a while before posting them, because I might come up with a change or just decide my whole comment is better left unposted. If you're not sure about a comment's content or form, not posting it is never a mistake in my experience.
posted by fedward at 8:21 AM on August 29 [4 favorites]

If we're voting on leaving it as is, taking off the timer, or getting rid of the edit function, I'd favor leaving it as is.

I feel like someone could make a case for extending the timer to ten minutes or fifteen or something, but I'm probably not that person.
posted by box at 10:31 AM on August 29

I like the edit window the way it is. Catching typos or insane autocorrect nonsense, but substantial change should probably be in a new comment.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:09 AM on August 29 [2 favorites]

Nthing that the edit window is fine as is. I appreciate having the few moments to fix a typo or formatting issue or fix a small word-choice or clarity problem, but I've seen several discussions where a long edit window would mean that people couldn't be sure what version of a comment they'd be responding to and I think in general it's more useful to have a follow-up comment that expands on a previous one instead. A longer edit window would likely also mean that people would feel obligated to quote the text of the comment they're responding to just in case it changed later on, which would add a lot of bloat to the discussion I'd think. The Ars Technica comment threads mentioned above are a good counter-example of long edit windows being a significantly bad thing, prone to abuse, and the comment-quoting bloat there is significant.

We all make mistakes or don't show our best sides and I think it's more important to foster a culture where mistakes are allowed and that human imperfection is just something we all have to deal with. For anything egregious enough to warrant something more substantial than what the edit window provides, I feel like mods are the best people to handle that.
posted by Aleyn at 12:59 PM on August 29 [6 favorites]

Can someone please edit the post to to change expand to extend? I am pretty sure the poster is requesting an edit window of longer duration rather than greater physical (virtual?) size.
posted by snofoam at 5:22 PM on August 29 [3 favorites]

I don't know, time and space are interchangeable.
posted by geoff. at 5:36 PM on August 29 [5 favorites]

I use the edit window regularly. I think it’s fine as is. It was meant for typos and grammar correction, not altering the content of a comment. That’s asking for a whole different set of issues. Leave the timer on too. It gives plenty of time to do whatever we need to do.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:43 PM on August 29 [1 favorite]

I never notice any typos until roughly edit window time + 2 minutes.

That said, the edit window does offer an interesting view, even if it is only out onto the past
posted by From Bklyn at 12:47 AM on August 30 [1 favorite]

Unlimited editing seems like a bad idea for site integrity. I think it’s fine as it is.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 1:52 AM on August 30 [2 favorites]

From Bklyn: "I never notice any typos until roughly edit window time + 2 minutes. "

And this will remain true for however long the edit window time is!

I think it's fine as-is, a happy medium.
posted by chavenet at 1:58 AM on August 30 [5 favorites]

I would love it if the edit window was a bit longer, just because I tend to notice the typo only once I see the post on Recent Activity and not on the page itself, and that tends to be a few minutes to half an hour later, but there's not like there's a set time where I'm going to see it so that there's a solid deadline. 5 minutes is just as arbitrary as 10 minutes and offers less likelihood that someone has seen and responded to the comment if someone's going to do more than edit typos.

My most favourited comment of all time has a grammar error in it (Clueless White Guy is not AN oppressed class) and it pains me so much every time I see it, so I'd love to be able to edit typos forever. I edit typos in 10 year old Facebook posts when they come up in my Facebook Memories. But I realize it would be programmatically difficult to distinguish between someone editing typos and someone editing meaning.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:09 AM on August 30 [1 favorite]

I don't really have a strong opinion on this—initially I was strongly in favour of extending, because I do use that function often on other sites and (I like to think anyways) not for trying to "gotcha" other people by changing the content of the comment in order to make someone look bad, which I feel is the primary reason the policy here exists. But then I looked at the comments I've made over the past few months and it turns out none of them are much longer than a paragraph, which means the kinds of editing I'd normally do (oops I should've refined this argument/added more links/phrased something better to be clearer about intent) just wasn't necessary, and the way I'd probably handle it here (posting a second comment) didn't happen at all.

Maybe there's some commentary here about my comments gradually getting shorter and less complex with time, but if so I don't think it's an issue that would be solely limited to Metafilter but probably more generally indicates an unwillingness on my part to get involved in big, potentially messy internet discussions anywhere. It's just easier to not talk than to really hash out your position on something and make sure you haven't said something stupid, and this is true whether it's here, on Twitter or Reddit, or on some random other forum.

I would say that the lack of robust quoting/replying options does make it more difficult to know what statement(s) a person is replying to, and thus makes the integrity of a specific comment more important to maintain over time. Finding other technical solutions to that is probably a whole other kettle of fish that's not worth getting into, though.
posted by chrominance at 9:55 AM on August 30

From Bklyn: "I never notice any typos until roughly edit window time + 2 minutes. "

And this will remain true for however long the edit window time is!

Yeah, nothing like trying to remember the name of a book, recalling that I mentioned it once in a comment on the blue, searching my own history, and feeling mortified (again) over a name I misspelled in my comment. In 2009.

For myself, I think I am okay with the five-minute window. I'd probably do better if it were ten, but anything substantial -- 24 hours, 30 days, all time -- seems to invite more potential for abuse than it offers in utility.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:00 PM on August 30 [2 favorites]

Another vote for keeping as is. Most of my mistakes happen when I'm trying to fix a small error, and it ends up worse than how I started. The longer the window stays open, the closer I get to sheer gobbledygook. People seem pretty understanding about typos anyway.
posted by mochapickle at 12:49 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]

it pains me so much every time I see it, so I'd love to be able to edit typos forever.

Totally feel you about that, but just nthing what cortex said: mods will edit even old comments if you have made a mortifying typo or even a typo that isn't very embarassing. But yeah I've also seen people abusing the edit window here, often with what I'm pretty sure is good faith, but it's still destabilizing to other people who reply to a comment and then see it change after they've replied. Doesn't happen often, does happen occasionally.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:43 PM on August 30 [2 favorites]

I'd like to restate my previous question a bit more clearly: in the event that a comment genuinely calls out for an "erratum," would the mods consider this a good use case for the flag-with-note mechanism? (If the answer is "I dunno, we need to think on it," or just not having time to give an answer, that's totally fine, this is neither urgent nor particularly important. I just wanted to clarify that I mean this as a real question.)

For example, this recent comment by mumimor, in which they made an arithmetic error leading to dramatically overstating how much better Denmark has been than the United States at controlling covid. They quickly realized the mistake and very admirably owned up to it, but for someone quickly reading the thread, it may be easy to miss the correction since it's several comments down, and the original comment with the incorrect figure currently has 20 favorites (whatever that might mean). I don't mean to call out mumimor with this at all, far from it: these sorts of errors happen, and acknowledging them quickly is admirable. This is just a very recent example of something that's also happened to me, and the thought about it that bothers me when it happens is less that I will look foolish (though let's be real, of course that bothers me too) but more that someone quickly reading the thread will come away from it believing something wrong because of my error.

In cases like this, would the mods be willing to use flag-with-note to request an erratum be appended to the comment? Maybe something vaguely standardized, like "[Note: the author now believes their claim here is factually incorrect, see below.]" I assume it would be impractical and undesirable to have people asking the mods to fix typos and such, but while it's probably not a good idea for people to rely on Metafilter as a source of factual information, for better or worse many of us do, so I'd think that corrections of this sort might be more valuable for the community and the health of the discussions. That said, if the answer is "No, we won't do that," I'm not going to be too exercised about it, just a thought.
posted by biogeo at 10:45 PM on August 30 [1 favorite]

And this will remain true for however long the edit window time is!

The pasts presence is but a window into the futures time stamp.
5:00 is no longer an eternity if it's entirety supercedes the duration of the average Motown song, 2:40.
posted by clavdivs at 10:45 PM on August 30 [3 favorites]

Not a fan of extending the window, as I too have seen questionable edits that feel like abuse of the tool. It's rare enough, but also annoying enough. We don't thread comments or use the @ convention here either, not sure why we'd need to copy other (shittier imo) sites that do the same for the sake of "typos".
posted by Ten Cold Hot Dogs at 3:32 AM on August 31 [1 favorite]

the duration of the average Motown song, 2:40

Here comes Rare Earth and the Norman-Whitfield-era Temptations to mess with the curve.
posted by box at 12:45 PM on August 31

I'm glad that people have found the edit window to be useful and don't want it to go for that reason but really why can't you just post another comment correcting/clarifying whatever was wrong in your previous comment? That being said I'd be for extending the window just because we tend to think that any change to the site will result in the sky falling and so far that hasn't happened.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 3:13 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]

I'd like to restate my previous question a bit more clearly: in the event that a comment genuinely calls out for an "erratum," would the mods consider this a good use case for the flag-with-note mechanism?

That sort of in-comment addendum is really rare; we'd have to consider the specific situation vs. the normal practice of the mefite (or possibly a mod) leaving a followup comment downthread, which suffices for almost everything.

But it's fine to ask us to look, in any case, yep. Using flag-with-note to let us know about it is an okay approach but better to use the contact form for something where we might naturally want to respond with our thinking/plan on it.
posted by cortex (staff) at 3:25 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]

posted by biogeo at 4:01 PM on August 31

I'd also like a longer edit window. Across the rest of the web it's pretty much standard.

When it was originally discussed, there was a lot of worry over edit window abuse where people would somehow troll by writing insults and removing them, but that didn't really prove to be a problem.

I don't think it would make the threads more confusing given the confusion that already happens over comment deleting.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 9:55 PM on August 31 [1 favorite]

A bit related - I'm fairly certain MeFi is the only platform I use that doesn't indicate if content was edited. Facebook will allow you (the reader, not just the original commenter) to see all revisions of a post or comment if you click on the little edited flag. Slack shows a little (edited) message at the end of a comment with a timestamp on mouseover but doesn't show you revisions as far as I know.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 7:56 AM on September 1 [6 favorites]

and I should explain my point from my previous statement. MeFi is also unique in platforms I'm familiar with in having a time limit for editing. If the limit with removed or dramatically extended, I think it would be important to indicate that edits had occurred. With only 2 minutes of editing I think it's ok to not indicate.

Reddit, now that I think of it, allows unlimited edits but only shows an asterisk to indicate edits when those changes have occurred after one minute.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 7:26 PM on September 1


(Your comment is currently being previewed, hit post to commit it or continue editing below.)

I feel like someone could make a case for extending the timer to ten minutes

An option to extend one's own window to ten minutes rather then five, say if someone where writing a long comment, the edit window gives two options: Five or Ten minutes but that would suggest alot of coding and the whole temporal thing.

It would be interesting to know the average time of every Motown song, make a cool project.
posted by clavdivs at 8:33 PM on September 1

I never notice any typos until roughly edit window time + 2 minutes.

Me either. That's why I'm making heavier use of the old Preview button these days instead of relying on live preview and the edit window.
posted by flabdablet at 9:29 PM on September 1

I've definitely run out of time trying to fix some mangled prose that I didn't notice at first, so I wouldn't mind a somewhat longer window.
posted by tavella at 9:17 AM on September 2

I edit my own comments constantly, but if I had to vote I would say remove the edit window entirely. It would remove a lot of stress about getting comments perfectly right, in my opinion. Also zero chance for abusing edit in bad faith. And honestly, I know we all beat ourselves up over minor errors in our comments, but oddly I only rarely notice them in others' and when I do I never think twice about them.
posted by Literaryhero at 7:35 AM on September 4 [1 favorite]

What if posts were shown to the poster, but not to anyone else until the edit window has passed? Then the edit window could be made as long as desired, AND commenters could be confident that the post won't be changed after they comment. Of course, the post then doesn't really technically "exist" until the edit window elapses, meaning it probably shouldn't be longer than 10 minutes or so. But it gives posters time to view their post in the same context that commenters will view it, and realize any mistakes they've made.
posted by commander_fancypants at 2:29 AM on September 5

There is a "Preview" button that achieves what you're looking for, I think.
posted by biogeo at 5:17 PM on September 5 [3 favorites]

Eye wood lick a logger reddit whindough. ?Pour favour?
posted by sylvanshine at 6:17 PM on September 6

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