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Which is most appropriate for minor fixes to posts by moderators?
Poll ended at Thu Jun 02, 2016 4:52 am
Editing in a public notice that the post has been edited 37%  37%  [ 10 ]
Sending a private message to the author every time a post is edited 4%  4%  [ 1 ]
Neither; let it be 59%  59%  [ 16 ]
Total votes : 27
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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 4:52 am 
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In this post, calima wrote:
I wonder whether the admins could mark their edits of users' posts - rude to find out your post was edited without any indication as to who did so or why.

I have sometimes silently made corrections to spelling, grammar, or mechanics in other users' posts for the benefit of others reading the posts. Though some users consider it rude to silently edit a post, it is also rude to a post's author to put him or her down for having made errors that need to be corrected, and public indications that a post has been edited might be misinterpreted as a passive-aggressive way of doing that. It may also be rude to readers to disrupt the flow of reading a conversation with detailed "commit logs" on each post, especially if it is not the first in a topic. (This is why Stack Overflow encourages users to suggest edits to other users' questions and answers and puts each post's revision history on a separate page, though phpBB does not support either feature.)

I edited this post to add attribution for the image. Some operators of websites consider it rude to hotlink for a couple reasons. One is possibly outdated perceptions of the cost of long-haul Internet bandwidth, which may have dropped dramatically in the years since someone first started to operate his first site. Another is that authors of photos and illustrations feel they deserve credit for having created those copyrighted images, and the law agrees with them (as codified in attribution laws such as 17 USC 1202). A fair use defense requires having acted in good faith, and I feel attribution is one of the elements of establishing clean hands.

So when a site operator reads server logs and finds people hotlinking too often, he will try one of three things. One is to add a rule to the web server's configuration to produce a 403 Forbidden status when the value of the Referer header isn't an approved site. The other is to replace the image with disturbing pornography, as textfiles did to a bunch of MySpace users (NSFW: Goatse). And even if the image is on a site that explicitly tolerates hotlinking, such as Imgur, the author could do a third thing: sue for infringement. So I silently edited in an attribution to deter the website from taking measures against hotlinking because at least the site has a possibility of getting visits out of the deal.

After the complaint, I edited calima's post again to provide a notice that I had edited the post. I've put up a poll about what to do in the future, especially until such time as phpBB supports revision history for each post.


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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 5:29 am 
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I was wrong for not including attribution, however tepples's edit significantly changed the meaning of my post, making it look like I endorse a store. As such, not finding any indication for who did the edit or for what cause was rather disconcerting.


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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 10:09 am 
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tepples wrote:
I have sometimes silently made corrections to spelling, grammar, or mechanics in other users' posts for the benefit of others reading the posts.

Count me among those that think this is extremely rude to make any kind of silent edit to anyone's post but your own.

It is absolutely not your job as a moderator to decide what people mean. It is acceptable to make an edit to someone's post to resolve a matter of policy, abuse, violation of rules, etc. It is not acceptable to correct something you think is a spelling or logical or other mistake. If you think it needs to be corrected, mention it to them, either in the thread, or in PM if you want. It is up to them to correct themselves. DO NOT PUT YOUR OWN WORDS IN THEIR MOUTH, EVEN IF YOU THINK IT'S WHAT THEY MEANT. If they don't want to change it, or are absent, leave it. Again, don't put your words in someone else's mouth.

tepples wrote:
It may also be rude to readers to disrupt the flow of reading a conversation with detailed "commit logs" on each post.

If you have made ANY edit to a post not your own I think it is very rude NOT to leave a note explaining it. If you make a non-trivial edit to your own posts, you should still mark it so that people who have already read the thread aren't confused when they come back.


All of this is also part of the reason I find thread splits very offensive. While you don't seem to change people's words when you do it, you certainly change the context of them, which does alter their meaning as well.


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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 10:41 am 
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tepples wrote:
Stack Overflow

Stack Overflow is a question and answer reference site, not a forum for discussion. Please do not use it as a model for how to moderate this forum. People do ask questions and give answers here, but this place is much more importantly a public place to talk and share ideas.

We have a separate place for collaboratively edited reference material. Forum posts might be used as reference, if relevant, but they should never be modified to become reference, unless by their original author.


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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 11:17 am 
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rainwarrior wrote:
It is acceptable to make an edit to someone's post to resolve a matter of policy, abuse, violation of rules, etc.

That encourages the expansion of definition of "policy" and "abuse".

Quote:
It is not acceptable to correct something you think is a spelling or logical or other mistake. If you think it needs to be corrected, mention it to them, either in the thread, or in PM if you want.

If editing others' posts is unacceptable, and a post's author fails to apply a diff sent by another user through a private message in a reasonable time, should I take this as meaning that you believe it is acceptable for another user to post a public reply containing a spelling-nazi diff seven days later?

Quote:
DO NOT PUT YOUR OWN WORDS IN THEIR MOUTH, EVEN IF YOU THINK IT'S WHAT THEY MEANT.

Should I take this as implying that it's polite to reply publicly to what a user said, even if I know it is not what the user meant?

Quote:
All of this is also part of the reason I find thread splits very offensive. While you don't seem to change people's words when you do it, you certainly change the context of them, which does alter their meaning as well.

What means of correcting the derailment of a topic is not "very offensive" to you? If you answer to the effect "none", then I plan to describe an extreme case.


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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 11:20 am 
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One issue with moderator edits as that you lose the ability to edit your own posts after a moderator has done it.

_________________
Here come the fortune cookies! Here come the fortune cookies! They're wearing paper hats!


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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 11:22 am 
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Dwedit wrote:
One issue with moderator edits as that you lose the ability to edit your own posts after a moderator has done it.

Is this documented anywhere?


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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 11:23 am 
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While I'm not a mod any longer (by choice/unrelated to this subject), I will give my two cents (esp. given my background):

Editing a users' post, no matter how positive the intentions (and I think everyone here would universally agree that tepples, you're a great guy and always have positive intentions!) is considered inappropriate, or bare minimum considered "bad form". Most people I know of would NOT be participating on a forum where this happens, even if done in good faith.

There is no way I'd consider editing actual words/sentences of someone though (this includes "attribution for fair use") -- if I had issues with it, I'd send them a PM asking if they could edit it themselves. I believe I edited users post at one point to fix a URL that was wrong (I think it was a sticky? I forget), but even doing that made me feel awkward.

A person's words (including mistakes, bad decisions, etc.) are his/hers alone. Positive or inflammatory, accurate or inaccurate, references provided or lack thereof, they need to remain *their* (unedited) words. Anything else starts to breed a Ministry of Truth scenario, and the direct effect of this is that the community will bail (or riot). For the moderators, the repercussions (even if their intentions were 100% positive 100% of the time) weigh heavily on the psyche.

This isn't about transparency either -- transparency isn't needed when by not editing posts the entire issue become moot.

Also, consider volatile situations (there has been an example lately, re: people showing up to bother psychopathicteen), where in situations like that possibly the thread content could become reference material in legal matters. If mods have edited things (for whatever reason), this becomes precarious at best (expect a subpoena, etc.).

My point is that the ramifications of editing people's posts go a lot deeper than one initially might think. I don't want to sit around pontificating them for days -- I'm a person with high enough stress levels as is! -- but sometimes even the most innocuous good faith efforts can have dire consequences unconsidered at the time.


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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 11:32 am 
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I reverted my own edits to calima's post and instead offered my correction as a reply, as a sample of what sort of posts this policy is likely to encourage. While doing so, I noticed that the checkbox "Lock post [Prevent editing]" below the edit was unchecked. If all edits by a moderator blocked further edits by the author, then why would there be a checkbox to do so? I'm seriously not understanding the mechanism through which this behavior happens.

Do I need to leave for a while?


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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 11:35 am 
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I pretty much agree with rainwarrior on every point he made.

tepples wrote:
Quote:
DO NOT PUT YOUR OWN WORDS IN THEIR MOUTH, EVEN IF YOU THINK IT'S WHAT THEY MEANT.

Should I take this as implying that it's polite to reply publicly to what a user said, even if I know it is not what the user meant?

As far as I can tell, that's called being a smart-ass, and many people don't appreciate that. If you think something is ambiguous, the polite thing to do would probably be to ask the poster what he meant, possibly offering reworded alternatives for HIM to choose whether to make your words his.

Quote:
Do I need to leave for a while?

Why? Just don't go editing people's posts based on OCD rather than actual necessity. :wink:


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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 11:57 am 
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A forum is different from a wiki.

Moderator edits to user posts should be reserved for urgent problems, like inappropriate conduct (doxxing, malicious links, etc), things that go out of control, or anything that would make everything explode.

Other edits, such as spelling corrections, URL corrections, etc, may be in good faith, but aren't a moderator's job. Same with incorrect information, a reply with the corrected information is preferred, since that's just normal discussion.

Finally, all moderator edits need to be disclosed in the edited post, because the edits are not the user's intent, but winds up attributed to them anyway, which is always a bad thing everywhere.

Edit: "Things that go out of control" can apply to rampant offtopic discussion in a thread, but a split (or other action) isn't really necessary unless the OP requests it, or several posters agree on it. It's only "off topic" when everyone agrees that it adds nothing to the discussion. :P


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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 12:04 pm 
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tepples wrote:
Do I need to leave for a while?

Absolutely not! tokumaru's advice is the same as my own; just don't do it (edit posts) and I think all will be well. :-) You deserve kudos in discussing it all openly and with the community; a lot of forums I frequent wouldn't have done that.


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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 12:16 pm 
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tepples wrote:
Should I take this as implying that it's polite to reply publicly to what a user said, even if I know it is not what the user meant?

No, not at all. If you respond to what someone said knowing they meant something else, you're being a pedantic ass.

tepples wrote:
rainwarrior wrote:
It is acceptable to make an edit to someone's post to resolve a matter of policy, abuse, violation of rules, etc.

That encourages the expansion of definition of "policy" and "abuse".

The whole point of having a moderator is so that someone can make a call about whether something is abuse or not.

tepples wrote:
If editing others' posts is unacceptable, and a post's author fails to apply a diff sent by another user through a private message in a reasonable time, should I take this as meaning that you believe it is acceptable for another user to post a public reply containing a spelling-nazi diff seven days later?

You're making a false comparison here. Part of it is that you want to use the word "rude" to evaluate administrative action vs. someone's honest comment, or maybe part of it is an assumption that all rudeness is equal, or that you can do anything practical at all without being at least a little rude to somebody in the process.

It is, in general, rude to correct someone's spelling if it's not affecting comprehension in a significant way; unless you think they would appreciate spelling instruction. Given that this is not a forum about learning the English language, it's probably off-topic in most cases. It's still acceptable to leave a reply about it. It's also acceptable to reply to that reply criticizing them for being a pedantic ass. (There are, in fact, polite/tactful ways to correct someone's spelling subtly, too. Also, sometimes being a little bit rude is amusing. This is a whole topic of its own. Please do not split the thread for this.)

tepples wrote:
What means of correcting the derailment of a topic is not "very offensive" to you? If you answer to the effect "none", then I plan to describe an extreme case.

My answer is that I wish splits were not a feature the forum had, but that's not the point. The purpose of moderators is to have a human evaluate when something has gone too far. In my opinion, not changing the meaning of what people are saying is far more important than keeping threads on topic. Again, forum threads are a historical record of a dialogue, they are not collaborative reference material. If it has gone too far, I'd prefer a locked thread to a split, as a lock preserves meaning, but that's me.

Again, perfectly acceptable to post a "stay on topic" reply too, long before we reach an "extreme case".

koitsu wrote:
Editing a users' post, no matter how positive the intentions (and I think everyone here would universally agree that tepples, you're a great guy and always have positive intentions!) is considered inappropriate, or bare minimum considered "bad form". Most people I know of would NOT be participating on a forum where this happens, even if done in good faith.

Yes, I'd leave forever, in a heartbeat, if I knew it was happening.


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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 5:38 pm 
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As far as I can remember, most splits that I have performed have been requested and/or seconded by another user. Often the exact point was PM'd to me.

So were these "fairy was here" edits inappropriate?


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PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 5:48 pm 
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tepples wrote:
As far as I can remember, most splits that I have performed have been requested and/or seconded by another user. Often the exact point was PM'd to me.

I brought up splits because they were relevant to the issue at hand of loss of authenticity/context/meaning for the original authors involved. (Even when I'm not the author I find them confusing, though, as a reader, as they inhibit my ability to remember the course of the conversation.)

If you think they're warranted, I'll abide by them, but I'll probably never agree that a thread split is a good idea. It never fails to disorient me, and I've posted to the wrong thread on many occasions because of it.

I've complained about specific splits in the past, but every time I've done so it's because I had just suffered some kind of confusion because of it. (I get similar confusion when posts change their subjects, or move across forums long after creation, etc.)

tepples wrote:
So were these "fairy was here" edits inappropriate?

Absolutely inappropriate, though doing it silently would be even worse.


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