Suggested Edits

(Jeremy Banks) #1

Continuing the discussion from Add the Ability to “View Source”:

It’s obviously not as important here as on Stack Exchange, but Discourse could also benefit from “suggested edits” feature that allows users to suggest edits to other’s posts at a lower trust level than is required to edit directly. This would reduce noise that could otherwise be caused by users pointing out typos and other minor mistakes in posts.

Because post ownership is a lot tighter here, edits should probably only be able to be approved by the post owner and moderators. Perhaps we could also allow highly-trusted users, but I want to be careful not to dilute post ownership, so users should be very hesitant to approve edits on others’ posts (i.e. edit approval/rejection votes on regular posts should NOT be incentivized like they have been on Stack Exchange.).

Pull request for Wikis?
Content collaboration tools/reputation system
Community Editing
(Alex R) #2

I, for one, would love to see this feature (low priority, and perhaps as a plugin, but still, :smile:). I’ve wanted to do it a few times now, especially when I noticed minor typos in long-form posts that somewhat detract from the impact.

(Jeff Atwood) #3

To be honest, this is kind of a big feature, and a little bit off mission for a discussion site.

However, we do have plans to support a “community editable” flag on posts that you can opt in to. Once you do, your post can be edited by any basic trust user.

We think an explicit opt-in “this is freely editable by other users we trust a little” flag per post makes a lot more sense than a complex suggested edits feature that isn’t entirely on-mission.

(Alex R) #5

One of the goals of Discourse is to lessen (or at least manage) moderator load for large communities, right?

Some communities may have strict style guidelines in their posts (e.g. the FreeBSD forum, in which many posts I’ve found are edited for style by one of the moderators).

I can see a few ways of enforcing such strict guidelines on Discourse:

  • Moderators check every post for style
  • Users flag posts with poor style for moderators to check
  • Users suggest edits, without involving moderators

The first is clearly work intensive for moderators.

I don’t like the second either, because I feel (possibly wrongly) that flagging is too coarse, in that it says “the post is bad” without distinguishing between “the post is bad and should be removed” and “the post is bad and should be fixed”.

Now that I think about it, though, suggesting edits is unreasonably difficult to get right (what if two people suggest conflicting edits, for example).

Perhaps what I want can be achieved by more nuanced flagging behavior? How hard to implement is an option for style violation that doesn’t remove the post even if many people flag it, but does notify the user and mods?

(Jeff Atwood) #6

You’re right to be wary of this path, you are getting into Stack Exchange territory where the goal is strict utility to the world, not so much satisfying an itch for human discourse. And this requires ongoing, intensive moderation and user education.

That sounds like a great idea, and custom flag reasons is absolutely on the roadmap. I know @frandallfarmer might be nervous about using flags for anything other than critical problems, but I’ve always supported it.

These flags would of course be merely informational and for moderators only, they would not go towards trust level, nor could other users see them in any way.

(Alex R) #7

That almost defeats the purpose; the idea is to lessen the load on the moderators. Also, moderators could just change the text to fit the style requirements, can’t they?

Or did I misunderstand? Did you mean that they would be visible to moderators only?

It seems (to me) like this is something that experienced users should be able to do, and there has been discussion about adding more nuanced user levels, so this seems like a great example of a motivation for that.

(Jeff Atwood) #8

Yet again, the farther you go in this direction (we need strict moderation to guarantee utility to the outside world) the more you are talking about Stack Exchange.

That’s the opposite of what we do with the Discourse engine. There is some utility, for sure, but it’s more a byproduct of the entertaining conversations, not the reason the site exists.

Yes. Flags are always and intentionally only visible to moderators, ever. Never to peers.

(Helder Ribeiro) #9

I think “suggested edits” are useful to forum participants themselves, even without any intention of utility to the outside world. When I author posts and make typos and silly mistakes, it kind of reflects poorly on me, and I would like others to be able to point out those mistakes to me privately in a way that’s easier than a private message. It’s a friendly gesture, like telling a friend they have something on their teeth. I like the way Quora implements this.

(finid) #10

Aside from the admin or mods, giving every user the power to edit posts by others does not sound too good.

How about implementing a “Flag for Edit” feature that will bring it to the attention of admin/mods and the owner of the post.

(Alex R) #11

Isn’t that what I suggested?

I agree, but I’m no longer confident that the amount of work needed to implement the feature is worth it. How does Quora do it?

(Helder Ribeiro) #12

It definitely isn’t something I think is high priority, but something that would be nice to have at some point.

On Quora the edit suggestion is an exchange between the reader who’s giving it and the author of the post, it doesn’t involve moderators. As a reader, you click on “Suggest Edit” (shows up by hovering over the text), edit the part you want and hit “Submit”. The author gets notified that there’s a pending edit suggestion, sees what has been changed and approves or ignores it. If approved, it goes live.

(finid) #13

I think the Quora system is more than enough. Admins and mods have enough to do anyway.

(Alex R) #14

Does it do anything sophisticated if two people suggest changes?

(Helder Ribeiro) #15

Edit suggestions are public, so if there’s something pending approval when you go make your own suggestion, you edit on top of what the other person has suggested.

I’m not sure, but I think that the author can’t pick which edits they want to approve once they’ve piled up, it’s all or nothing. (Of course the author can always edit their post directly to add/remove specific things after approving/ignoring the edit suggestion.) They probably do this to encourage edits to be processed faster by the author, and to avoid having to deal with conflicting edits.

(badp) #16

in the one hand reading other peoples posts realy doez make me wish i can edit them and stuff, in the other hand i realize that not everypony is cool with it lol and at the best case it can seem like passive agreessive behaviour

its very much a cultural thing if your been using se for a while your wanting for ALL the edit buttons but most people would of not like it and just abuse it so, i think i dont know

but srsly :slight_smile: the first step towards addrexing this iz the pencil icon o__O bcz there should be a different when a post owner edits and a modrater with a gun in there hand mod-abuses it ;Þ

Peer editing features in discussion platforms must be carefully weighed, because of the potential unintended consequences
(Alex R) #17

In my conception of the idea, at least, only mods can edit others’ posts, and when a mod edits your post instead of you, there should probably be some sort of notice for readers (e.g. "Last edited by name); it’s also the case that the ability to suggest edits, while not being restricted to mods, should not be available to untrusted users.

Every community has its own style, and uniformity of that style makes reading and understanding easier, facilitating civilized discourse.


(Jeff Lunt) #18

Can I just ask the obvious question?

Who thinks that the #1 use of any “suggested edits” tool that might be built would be suggesting typo and word usage fixes? While some of us may have a little grumpy grammarian in us, I understand that sort of feedback is largely unwelcome in discussion forums where you’re suggesting it’s a good idea to edit someone else’s voice.

I’m pretty sure “suggested edits” in discussion forms is doomed to become the #1 hated feature, and completely useless in a practical sense.

I for one am much more in favor of an opt-in, “Please, anyone who is at least a little trusted, feel free to edit this,” option, because it addresses a type of common forum post that doesn’t need to exist - the sticky post that tries to serve as a canonical list of some collection of things, but which the OP must forever take on the burden of maintenance, and inevitably results in a long list of, “Please add the following,” or “Please make the following correction,” follow up posts, ad infinitum.

Also, what exactly is the case for mods needing to edit other people’s posts? I don’t understand when this would be necessary - to edit rather than flag or delete.

(Jeremy Banks) #19

A post may be good overall and worth preserving, but have some small points that moderators take issue with. The most common example I’ve seen is removing obscenities from posts on forums where they’re not permitted.

Is there any widely-used forum software that does not allow moderators to edit users’ posts? My impression is that this is a standard feature.

(Jeff Lunt) #20

Okay, I suppose that’s a possible use. That seems a little obnoxious, but I suppose that’s more about moderation choices than suggested edits.

Any other uses you’re aware of? I’ve never run into this, but my mod time only applies to the last year or so, I may just not have run into the full range of mod problems that I will at some point. Is this a common problem and not sufficiently handled by the flagging capability?

(Alex R) #21

I do. That’s my use-case. I’ve noticed several posts here where the authors had something amazing to say, and the typos distracted me from the point, so I wanted to notify the author of this; on one occasion, I did send a PM.

It seems like this is planned (link), but that’s another use case.[quote=“normalocity, post:18, topic:1762”]
Also, what exactly is the case for mods needing to edit other people’s posts?

As @Jeremy said, removing obscenities is one case. It’s a more specific case of enforcing style guidelines, which different fora may take different attitudes to. The idea is that the content of the post isn’t bad, but the style needs fixing. Most fora will be lax about this, so they may either disable this feature or have a very small number of people who aren’t moderators that can suggest edits.

There’s also the idea that abuse of the feature can be reported and flagged, just like abuse of PMs.

The only reason I don’t see an extended flagging behavior as a solution to this problem is that it increases moderator load, making fora with strict style policies hard to run once they get large.

Peer editing features in discussion platforms must be carefully weighed, because of the potential unintended consequences