3 weeks following this discussion, the question has been closed, is sitting at -2 score, and has two answers with a combined +1 score. This is not to say "I told you so", but rather to say that if the community disagrees with an aggressive edit, I would strongly invite those who disagree with aggressive edits to find another way (be it supporting the poster through comments, or making less aggressive edits, or even just casting reopen votes if they think the original post is correct).

As-is, this post has fallen in to limbo, the asker hasn't been seen since asking the question, hasn't contributed anything else, and hasn't accepted an answer. Not the best outcome we could have hoped for.


Today I aggressively edited this question:


When I made the edit, it had no answers, a downvote, and a close vote. Had I not edited, I would have added another close vote and downvote.

Here is my edit. After my edit, it managed to increase its score to +1, prior to this rollback by Simon. Prior to the rollback, I had received this comment from Meredith Poor which read:

@jmac - my feeling is that the edit was too aggressive, however I agree that the original post shows quite a bit of drift.

Two hours later the question was put on hold by the community.

Community Reception of Aggressive Edits

I have a long history of aggressive edits.

I tried to be as fair and accurate collecting the data as I could to give an honest picture of what sorts of edits I have been making, not to try to make me look good.

Based on those stats, I have 30 aggressive edits. Of those 30, 4 were received poorly:

  1. One for being a duplicate
  2. Two with negative score and closed
  3. One where the asker strongly disagreed with my edit (though didn't roll it back, may be due to unfamiliarity, happy to take the hit on this one)

Of the remaining 27, almost half (13) of the askers thanked me or otherwise commented that they agreed with my edit in some way (at any rate, were not being negative). Two were mixed message comments. The other 12 had no comment.

This is not to toot my own horn. I believe that our responsibility as volunteers on this site is to do our best to help people. I try to do that through aggressive edits. Many questions we get quickly collect a few close votes and downvotes and are gaining the wrong kind of momentum early. When I can see a core question that I think will help the person asking, I make those edits, because I think a question that benefits the asker will be good for them, and good for The Workplace.


Many people have experienced confusion about these aggressive edits, so I am putting my experience out there for the community. Do we want these sorts of edits? And when are they appropriate?


Here are the questions I used for stats for your review:

I left out the two questions I edited today. You can take a look at my revision history here if you want to check to see if I left any big edits out.

  • A lot of these should be edited - overall I'm in agreement with your rationale. This particular one lost too much in translation. My perspective from the original post is that the poster was not merely confused about how to compose a question, but not sure what they wanted to do with their life - some of the complaints are basically just part of the human condition - you don't always get to work with people you're comfortable with. This is what 'disappeared' in the edit. Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 7:43
  • @Meredith, as I tried to explain below, a closed question doesn't help the person who asked, or future visitors. It doesn't get answers. Since asking 'what should I do with my life?' is off-topic, it is hard to keep the same context while keeping it within site guidelines. Bearing in mind that closed questions provide no help to anyone, how can we keep questions like this open, and with all their context if not to edit out some of the off-topic material?
    – jmac
    Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 8:09
  • 3
    Excellent question. As an editor, you want to maintain the author's voice. But as a site maintainer, you need to make sure the questions are high quality which means you may mute some of the author. My vote would be to prioritize site quality over an individual's voice.
    – user1209
    Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 14:51
  • @Glen, exactly! Thanks for stating what I wanted to say so clearly. That is spot on.
    – jmac
    Commented Nov 16, 2013 at 3:01

3 Answers 3


I think the end result was exactly what should have happened here. In the end the question was deleted. If you think that a version of the question would be worth having on the site that is different from the original question asked, then write your own question. But completely reworking a question that eliminates the original question nearly completely is not the way to handle it.


I rolled it back because the edit basically removed a large amount of context of what the person was saying.

For example:

Your edit:

I am a new female employee in a mostly male office environment, with an unsatisfying job scope. I brought this up with my manager


Due to those facts I recently had a talk with my boss (I initiated it) on the advice of the team lead to discuss my career so far and the future prospects for me at my company.

Your edit appears to imply that she is complaining about the lack of job scope and that there are too many men in her work environment, when her meeting was to discuss her career.

Also "male office environment" was further expanded on by her with:

Also, I work in a predominantly male team where the concept of manners and the kind of polite behaviour I am accustomed to is mostly absent.

So you left it out that she is dealing with a male team that do not act professionally.

That said, the question certainly needs to be cleaned up, but not at the expense of removing the context of the question, as it just leads to answers which don't help the OP. (TBH it looks like two questions)


Just to clarify. I have no issue at all with your aggressive edits (I even up voted your link just now). However I felt that your edit did not convey what the OP was asking, so any answers to the edit would have been off topic and not have helped the OP.

Reversion was not a perfect solution but at least others reading the question would see the proper context and possibly clean up the question better. Feel free to edit again with the proper context.

  • 1
    You should take a look at some of my other edits. That one was actually quite mild. Take a look at this for instance. Relevant context is critical, but if the context doesn't provide context for the question, usually it gets closed in a heartbeat. Hence the edit. Hence the close post-rollback. I am not disagreeing I changed it, but I think I changed it for the right reasons (and think it would have had a positive effect). Now that the question is closed, it can't get any answers at all -- context or not.
    – jmac
    Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 14:47
  • 5
    I wouldn't use someones posting history to determine if the edit is valid or not, only that the context of the original question is still there. Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 14:50
  • 2
    What does posting history have to do with it? If a question is closed, the author needs to fix it well enough to get it reopened, and to overcome the downvotes it receives on the way to [On Hold]. If it gets edited earlier (before getting fully closed) it can become a successful question, like the ones above. What did the rollback accomplish? The context is there, but it is now sitting with no reopen votes, and the only remaining upvote is the one I placed after my edit... How is the current situation better than it was after my edit?
    – jmac
    Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 14:58
  • 4
    You were the one asking me to look at your posting history as a reason to say your edits on this question were justified. As for your last point, again your edit removed most of the actual context of the question(s). Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 14:59
  • 3
    I am pointing out that despite removal of context, I am getting many thanks from the people whose questions I edited, and the community is rewarding those edited questions with upvotes and answers for the asker. That context is also important. I am not just removing information for the sake of removing information, rather I am focusing questions to get them attention and quality answers for the asker and future visitors. Rolling back my edit only accomplished getting a potentially useful question closed.
    – jmac
    Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 15:02
  • 4
    as far as I can tell, your rollback did more harm than good, because of recovering unsubstantiated rant "team where the concept of manners and the kind of polite behaviour I am accustomed to is mostly absent"
    – gnat
    Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 15:06
  • Edited question. Last I have to say on it. The reversion wasn't personal against you, so don't it as such. Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 15:09
  • 1
    @gnat I don't associate "male office environment" with people who work unprofessionally. Unsubstantiated or not, it was something she was asking about. Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 15:18
  • 2
    not anything asker asks about, fits the SE Q&A model. Unsubstantiated rants don't
    – gnat
    Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 15:24
  • 4
    Rather than rolling back I think it would have been better to improve the edited version. Rolling back to an unacceptable version (with out the request of the OP) is something that should be done when the edit is invalid not when it needs improvement. Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 16:23
  • 5
    @Chad " I think it would have been better to improve the edited version" (in hindsight). I think so too, but the edit was invalid IMHO. Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 17:27
  • 2
    Then VTC And take it to chat or meta. Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 17:29
  • 2
    @SimonO'Doherty "edit was invalid IMHO" -- that IMHO is a road to rollback wars. If you are positive, if you believe you can prove that, roll it back (no more than once). If there's IMHO, do something else - comments, chat, meta, flag - something, anything else
    – gnat
    Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 20:19
  • 1
    @Simon, I'm not taking the rollback personally. This ain't about me, it's about helping the folks who come here with questions get answers, and helping people in the future who have a similar issue and can be helped by the answers we provide. A closed question with no answers won't serve either of those purposes. That is why I am confused by your stance and want to understand what the objection is. That way we, as a community, can find a way to improve the quality of the site.
    – jmac
    Commented Nov 15, 2013 at 1:59

Example: 'How does a programmer change programming languages, professionally?'. Someone offered up an edit to strip out the C#/MVC/ROR specific nature of the question to make it 'generic'. One of the comments was that this belongs in 'Programmers' due to the specific nature of the question. If someone puts in a response to the programmer question then it gets converted to 'generic', then the person answering the question is going to be asked to make the answer 'generic'.

Perhaps a named programming language is too specific, but if made 'generic', it should be left at the 'generic' programming level - not 'across the board to any given professional skill'. Software development has it's respective quirks, they might not interest anyone in chemical engineering or orthopedics.

People migrate 'long distance' in software development - what this means is that there are millions of developers that shift abruptly into areas of specialization they're not familiar with. Engineers in other disciplines tend to have a limited set of employers and limited variety in their work, in comparison - there aren't 10 million businesses drilling oil wells. If you build bridges on contract in New Jersey, the bridges there aren't likely to be much different from the ones in Illinois. In comparison, someone could be writing C++ for 'gaming machines' in 2007 and SPSS for a state insurance board in 2009. It's a stretch, but it does happen.

  • 1
    I'm a bit confused Meredith, are we talking about the same question? The only bit of the question referring to the software industry was, "I am a female IT dev, mostly php experience and I have just one year of professional dev experience." It isn't a skills question, it is a question about human relations. Do you really think this question somehow wouldn't apply to any predominately male profession/male office with similar colleagues? I also fail to see any comment about moving this to programmers... Could you explain your reasoning a bit more please?
    – jmac
    Commented Nov 28, 2013 at 9:39
  • @jmac - we have a whole list of questions that are quoted as examples. The one I'm referring to right now is one that has just had a proposed edit. That edit removes the 'programming' specific details. This isn't necessarily 'your' edit - it's an edit one of the moderators that is making that 'goes too far'. Commented Nov 28, 2013 at 9:53
  • 1
    Ah, I see, you may want to post it in this meta post instead with a link to the question, since that one was made in response to this to discuss how to prevent going too far.
    – jmac
    Commented Nov 28, 2013 at 11:33

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