With great power comes great ... etiquette.

The new system whereby people without enough reputation to edit stuff can still do so if someone with enough reputation approves it is intended, I suppose, to encourage polishing of entries. I find I'm broadly in favour, providing people stick to the editing etiquette that we've already established (in brief, that the edits should be polish and not substance), as it can only improve the site and also by increasing the number of edits ought to get people over the "Hey! Someone's just edited my stuff!" barrier a lot sooner.

But there are some new etiquette issues brought up by the new system. The one that I've just encountered - and there may be more - is what to do if I see an edit suggestion that is a definite improvement on what went before, but which I can see how to improve it even further. There is an "Improve" link on the panel so clearly I'm supposed to be able to do this.

Here's an example: Martin's answer to Yossi Gil's question " Checking whether a file is empty? ". Yossi suggested an improvement, but I could see some further improvements, so I did them.

Looking at the history of this question, I see that one of my worries is allayed: Yossi's edit is in the history with mine on top, so it would appear as though "edit - improve" is the same as "edit - approve, re-edit". Looking at Yossi's reputation, I think that he has also gained the 2 points for the edit (which is as it should be).

But still something feels not quite right, and I'm not sure that I can put my finger on it. I feel as though I'm stealing something ... intangible ... from Yossi here since he was the one who spotted the need for an edit in the first place but my name is the one that ends up on the question. Also, it seems easier to reach the "automatically convert to CW" threshold this way so perhaps improvers shouldn't be so ready to improve.

I don't know. So, questions: does anyone else feel that there is something in this, or am I being over sensitive? If the former, does anyone have any suggestions? Also, is there any aspect of the new system that we would like changed?

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    This "Improve" link is a very recent introduction (about a week I think), and as much as I understand your sentiments, I fear that the behaviour is "status-bydesign". I also don't like that we have 2 steps toward CW here, but the situation is not quite as bad as I had thought. Feb 28, 2011 at 8:20
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    @Hendrik: I would hope that with any new feature then the SO team would be looking at how it is being used and whether or not it can be tweaked a little. So providing some feedback may not be a bad idea. Feb 28, 2011 at 8:24
  • @Andrew: Yes, it's still great that you do that. Sorry if I influenced this with expressing my apprehensions. Feb 28, 2011 at 8:32
  • @Hendrik: I just asked for clarification on meta.SO: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/80963/… (and don't worry about undue influence!) Feb 28, 2011 at 8:35
  • @Andrew: Please follow my link above; this answers "what counts towards making a question CW", so you can delete that part of your question (making it less likely to be a duplicate). Feb 28, 2011 at 8:42
  • @Hendrik: I did follow it, and I didn't think that it fully addressed the issues that I was concerned with, also it was dated from before the new feature was implemented so may not be relevant (throw in the number of "I'm not sure but ..."s and I think you'll agree that it isn't a reliable answer!). Feb 28, 2011 at 8:53
  • I don't think that you are “stealing” anything from the original editor. The same way you are not stealing anything from the original poster. Otherwise I would have “stolen” a lot of edits by retagging immediately afterwards. The CW issue, on the other hand, is more serious. I'd be happy if the number of necessary edits was higher.
    – Caramdir
    Feb 28, 2011 at 17:36

1 Answer 1


This is a partial answer to the "automatically convert to CW" issue. Citing Geoff Dalgas' answer from meta.math.sx:

We have added a feature that can be invoked by moderators to transform a question or an answer from community wiki back to personal ownership. Once this is done the post will become immune from the automatic wiki assignment due to edits.

This function is moderator only; when you feel a post should be immune from automatic community wikification, use the "flag for moderator attention" function on a post to let your community moderators know about it.

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    It's only a partial answer as it only applies after the fact, and then also goes over the top by protecting the question from further CWing. Mar 16, 2011 at 9:51
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    @Andrew: Quite right. I just wanted to post this somewhere, and I didn't find any other place. Mar 16, 2011 at 9:54

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