What are our site norms around editing other people's posts?

So, this is a little bit inspired by FYI: nifty new site feature, “fast edit”, and by me noticing a typo in someone else’s post, which I just went ahead and edited.

In Discourse, you can edit your own posts (for up to 24 hours for new site users, for up to 30 days for site regulars), and “Trust Level 4” users can edit any posts.

What are your thoughts? What should our cultural expectation be?

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This from the guy that spent three hours obsessing over shruggy?! Will the FPL ever be able to get any real work done again??? :stuck_out_tongue:

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Hi Matthew, don’t be surprised—

I couldn’t resist. :wink:

Overall I think it is a good idea and mirrors what other larger Discourse communities have done. It empowers active community members to help with forum-gardening type of work, which is a type of work that can be onerous for site admins who may not be as focused into different sub-forums of the community.

Over time, documentation will need to be created about how exactly Trust Level 4 is earned and what the understood expectations are of community members who have these privileges… but I think this is a fine starting point.

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Oh, that was bait. :classic_smiley:

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Sorry, but I disagree on this one. Or maybe I consider it to be more nuanced.

I think that there is a valid case for major editing of a top post: when thread is used to collaborate on the content. You put the content in the top post, and then you discuss it in the thread and update the top post to show the latest state of the discussion.

Such posts can be edited by the owner of the topic or by experienced forum members. And it is indeed helpful to have the up to date summary of the conversation. It should be clearly visible though that the post is being updated and when exactly it was updated.

Note that even for such “editable” content there are two very distinct cases: FAQ topics are a collaborative work of the forum community, so it makes sense that they can be edited by any experienced forum user. But Proposal topics should be owned by authors of the proposal. So the author can update the top post with new versions, but everyone else shouldn’t, no matter how senior they are.

Now I also see a lot of value in editing thread titles. If someone posts thread as “I need HELP!!! URGENT!!!” then editing it to something like “I need HELP!!! (with volume settings in pipewire)” is basically required for the forum to be functional.

Now I also see a lot of sense in editing of my own typos. These kind of edits I would do without making big fuss about it.

But editing someone else’s typos in posts during the regular conversation? - No. Personal comments are personal. As a non-native speaker I make a lot of mistakes in grammar, spelling or articles. But whatever typos and mistakes I do - they are mine. This is how (however poorly) I communicate. There is no big value in editing such errors, forum doesn’t get any benefit from it. Thus there is no good reason to violate user’s personal space (and personal comments are such a space) in that case.

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Okay, I can also see that! This is why I wanted to open the discussion. What do others think?

Also notice me carefully refraining from editing in a space between “space(and” in your post. :classic_smiley:

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Oh, also worth noting: there is a special “wiki” status which can be turned on for a post to mark it explicitly as designed for group editing.

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I guess it is too bad this isn’t a per-user setting. I can see a little value in allowing corrections to my posts.

  1. It has some marketing value for the brand. Consciously or unconsciously, people tend to judge appearances. Such errors seem to bother some people more than others. See here for one recent example of how a few typos set off a debate in the comments section of a Fedora Magazine article.
  2. It has some marketing value to the original poster whose typos are corrected. Sometimes potential employers will scour such posts to gauge the talents of the applicant.
  3. It has some value in that it helps to edify the original writer. If I’m making a small mistake in the way I use the language, I think seeing a subtle correction from time to time (e.g. its versus it’s) is a fine way to learn. If I disagree with the change or if I have questions about it, I’d just PM the person who made the change (the person whom made the change?).

All that said, I guess I can also see where someone might consider their personal way of using the language as part of their style and therefore would not want it changed.

So I guess my opinion is that people should feel free to correct my mistakes. :slightly_smiling_face:

Edit: I still find that who versus whom usage difficult to figure out. Unless it is something like “to whom” or “for whom”, “whom” never sounds right to me.

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This is a great point. I think it also demonstrates an intercultural nuance to this, as you said.

Could we kick off a Discourse wiki page for moderator / Trust Level 4 best practices? Not sure where the best place for this would be. Site Feedback?

We could use it as a living document for community etiquette and norms. I remember such guidelines existing once somewhere for mailing lists. Maybe documentation for the Discourse forum would help moderation assumptions to become transparent cultural norms.

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Sure, sounds good to me, and Site Feedback sounds like a fine place, in the interest of transparency. Mark it as “Draft” initially and we can eventually remove that.

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Personally, I am only with editing own post, not editing others’. I’d be much comfortable with someone correcting me with an asterisk/pointing out the mistakes than actually editing my own thoughts. It just doesn’t feel right to me.

If someone corrects, it appears a colored pencil on title/topic/request, it is clickable to see who made it and what has changed.

Might be a good idea if it would be like a pull request, where we get a proposal, if we want to accept it, it can be changed by a click and rejected with a small comment.

Especially on ask.fdp.o when I see requests like

“I need HELP!!! URGENT!!!”

  • Then i remove this part strait away.
  • use keywords form the request like brand, model, software-name, version etc. and build a new meaningful title (search-engine friendly) and put tags on it.
  • if it is a new user I explain that on a place like ask.fdp.o people com to find and offer help. So no need to ask and beg for it (in title). Especially not in CAPITAL and !!! ??? (no need for being loud or scream; according to netiquette )

I would also appreciate it if ask.fdp.o would get it too.

I do speak German (mother tongue), Portuguese and English. If someone corrects me I’m happy. I see it as a chance to get better, to improve.

Especially when we use technical terms ore use script snippets and commands. I think testing and correcting makes a part of readability of the forum. Wrong written expressions not get found by search engine etc.

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If someone corrects, it appears a colored pencil on title/topic/request, it is clickable to see who made it and what has changed.

I still feel like it is a violation. I could be crazy, but that is how I feel about it. lol

Might be a good idea if it would be like a pull request, where we get a proposal, if we want to accept it, it can be changed by a click and rejected with a small comment

Yeah, I like that one, actually. Asking my permission before altering my comment seems reasonable.

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Okay, this is out of order, but for the record:

My proposal original proposal here was:

I think we should make it cultural expectation that we will advantage of this. This isn’t a mailing list, and we should use the features to our advantage. Edits have a history (except for a tiny “grace period” for small, immediate typo corrections), so there’s not bunch of room for abuse (or any abuse is easily caught and dealt with).

Specifically, definitely feel free to fix your own posts. Don’t go back and change the meaning after someone has replied, because that’s confusing – but fix typos, missing words, grammar errors, and even rephrase or expand if necessary. (This goes double for first posts in a topic where no one has responded yet.)

Second, feel free to fix other people’s posts if you have moderator privs or tl4. Of course, here you should be even more careful about not changing meaning. You shouldn’t re-write or rephrase, but if there’s an obvious misspelling or typo, select it and fix it with the fast-edit feature. This can even extend to fixing markdown formatting or paragraph breaks.

And finally, don’t be surprised if someone makes these small changes to your posts. It’s for the better! If you disagree with an edit, you can revert it. Of course, if it becomes an edit war, or someone is changing things they really shouldn’t, flag for attention.

Thoughts?

Based on the conversation we’ve had, I take back that proposal. We should aim for a more light touch and let people speak in their own voices, mistakes and all.

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Hiya folks! :wave:

I wanted to share my experience as a TL4 on many technical (and a few non-technical) Discourse instances.

I share a lot of reservations about editing other folks’ content. I was surprised to find that most of my “edits” were:

  • changing the category or tag to a more appropriate one (for instance, for the product or team in question, so the correct people read their messages)
  • fixing code snippets, which means tracking down and closing the code brackets
  • I’m the first to notice someone asks their content be edited for a reason (sharing file paths in a code snippet, where they’d rather not, for instance)
  • broken links because of extra characters (example.com,)

All these communities I was on teams with other volunteers, and we are all present and aware of each other’s edits; it’s a nice practice to double-check. And what I noticed is no one edited to fix language, per se. Rather than copywriting, it is a kind of standard to “quote and clarify”.

I believe it’s standard because that’s what all of us can do, for our entire “career” in Discourse, if we see something amiss: quote and clarify. And if the conversation is contemporaneous, the original poster is normally able to edit their topic (per site configuration, so it’s different for diff sites). That’s a great feature of Discourse, and takes off a lot of potential work for TL4s.

Finally, I wanted to share a tip that I think kinda speaks to a few concerns expressed here, but indirectly: the Discourse Solved plugin.

It may be configured for trust levels to be able to mark any topic as solved, and useful for TL4. For really long discussions, decisions get made, great arguments are had, and possibly more conversations have spun off. So rather than creating a digest with links and all and editing the topic, a TL4 may post a reply (or choose a suitable one) and mark it as the “solution” for that topic, which will show prominently at the top of the discussion. You get the benefit of annotation, with all the history intact. :slight_smile:

(I’m not sure how a lot of this site is configured, as I mostly read it via RSS.)

We do have the Solved plugin enabled, and it’s active on this category, but not the main discussion category. Maybe it’d be useful there as well!

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