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I see a bunch of very old questions being edited for minor grammatical and phraseology changes.

Just tidying up?

It's getting rather tedious to see all these old questions dredged up and pop up to the top, only to find the reason is a very minor edit. Nothing new or interesting is ever added to improve the question.

Would it be better to block edits for very old questions?

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I don't think we should categorically block edits to old questions; if someone comes across an old, unanswered, little-viewed question and that's because it's badly written, I want that person to improve it if possible.

However, I ask people to be mindful of the effects of editing: an edit bumps the post, which is right and proper, but bumping old posts 20 at a time pushes 20 newer posts off the front page, depriving them of attention. So, try to be polite -- edit things that are already on the front page or do older ones in smaller batches so that we can help people who had great questions just yesterday, too.

Also, in the current case many of the edits were done by people without enough reputation to edit directly. That means people needed to approve those edits. When going through the suggested-edits queue, it's a good idea to be mindful of the cumulative effect of your approvals. Maybe some suggestions should just wait in the queue a while longer. (Or if they're too minor, you can reject them.) If we all try to do our part we can improve the posts on the site without pushing new posts off the front page too quickly.

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  • What about blocking edits to very old questions that already have an accepted answer? – Joe Strazzere Dec 21 '14 at 23:47
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    @JoeStrazzere then what should we do when accepted answers cease to be correct (or maybe were never correct in the first place)? Acceptance just means the OP liked it; it doesn't mean the question was fully or correctly answered, which is why we also don't auto-close questions with accepted answers. There's always room for improvement. – Monica Cellio Dec 21 '14 at 23:52
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    I understand. Sounds like we can always have edits to very old questions, although for me, the recent "improvements" added no value at all. – Joe Strazzere Dec 22 '14 at 0:02
  • Alternatively, we could suggest something like this to the SE people: editing a question only bumps it if it is less than x days old. Or: you get a tick box when editing, saying "bump this question", which is unticked by default. Would this make sense? – Stephan Kolassa Dec 22 '14 at 19:48
  • There have been various requests to be able to edit without bumping (e.g. if you only changed tags, if you only made minor formatting changes, etc). They have always been declined AFAIK, and for good reason: the opportunity for community review is important and wouldn't happen otherwise. You may say your change is minor and doesn't change anything, but you could be wrong. Or you could be a lying spammer (not you personally, you understand, but some generic "you"). – Monica Cellio Dec 22 '14 at 19:51
  • So we'll have folks decide to "clean up" very old posts, and they will always bump up to the top. Ok by me. It's annoying, and tends to crowd out the new stuff, but so be it. – Joe Strazzere Dec 23 '14 at 16:15
  • @JoeStrazzere well, that's why I'd like everybody to try to be more careful about how much of this we do (or approve, in reviews). I don't think we're going to change the underlying system and there are some good reasons for it being set up the way it is, and unfortunately that allows people to go wild and mess up the site. So let's try to reduce that. Not an ideal answer, I know, but it's the best I can offer. – Monica Cellio Dec 23 '14 at 16:18
  • @MonicaCellio - got it, thanks. – Joe Strazzere Dec 23 '14 at 16:26
  • @MonicaCellio How about adding a new review queue to handle edits of old posts? If I edit an old post to make any correction, put it in the review queue where users with sufficient reputation can choose to A. reject the edit B. accept the edit, without bumping C. accept the edit with bumping. If 5 users choose option C, then bump it. I don't know if this has already been suggested (and declined) on SE. – Masked Man Dec 30 '14 at 3:35
  • @Happy I don't think I've seen such a feature request, though I haven't searched Meta.SE (which would be the place to look). Please feel free to write that up as a feature request, either here or there. – Monica Cellio Dec 30 '14 at 3:37
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I have nothing against somebody else volunteering to do the tidying up. Most of those who do the tidying up seem to be newcomers or occasional participants to the site and I personally welcome their efforts to contribute in a positive capacity. Neatness counts.

I am not crazy about edits to old questions that do something substantial by redirecting the thrust of the question and thus introduce a misalignment between the newly edited question and the answers that were provided for the original question.

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This is probably a result of users trying to unlock the time lord hat for winterbash, which involves editing 5 questions that are at least one year old.

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  • Ah, I see. I think it's mostly one person. – Joe Strazzere Dec 17 '14 at 22:17
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    @JoeStrazzere Yes, I've seen a string of 20 edits at once from one particular user. They almost never add anything substantial to the question. – David K Dec 18 '14 at 18:32

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