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Recently an edit was proposed to one of my answers but before I got chance to review it, the edit was rejected by two moderators.

This is the first time this has happened and the first time I have heard about anything like this happening on any stackexchange site. I can understand moderators having auto-approved edits in cases of fixing spelling but I find it very strange that moderators can approve or reject major edits to an answer without the author's consent.

So my questions are:

  1. When did this become a thing?
  2. Why is this a thing?
  3. Do any other stackexchange sites do it?
  4. Can I contest this if I want to or is it a case of "the moderators' word is law"?
  • Can we have a link to the answer in question? – Robotnik Apr 16 '17 at 2:19
  • @Robotnik Does it matter? None of my questions are about the specific anwer that got edited, they are about the system itself. (Barring maybe the last one, in which the reason for rejection/acceptance may have bearing on whether or not the rejection/acceptance is contestable. Assuming there are cases where it can be constested.) – Pharap Apr 16 '17 at 2:30
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    It matters because there's an audit trail attached to the review and suggested edit system, so we can get some context as to what exactly has gone down. – Robotnik Apr 16 '17 at 2:31
  • This appears to be the edit in question from the suggested edit history – Unionhawk Apr 16 '17 at 3:15
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First, I think we should clear some things up:

Moderators

Recently an edit was proposed to one of my answers but before I got chance to review it, the edit was rejected by two moderators.

Firstly, it wasn't an action taken by Moderators, just regular users with the Review Suggested Edits Privilege, or >= 2000 rep. Moderators are users with a diamond (♦) next to their name, and are elected by the community.

As @Ash states in comments, Mods can automatically approve/reject edits without any other user input, which is not what happened here.

Suggested Edits and Review

...I find it very strange that moderators can approve or reject major edits to an answer without the author's consent.

This is a collaboratively edited site, and any content you provide here is posted under a Creative Commons license, meaning other users can alter and change parts of it at will. This does not require the author's consent, although we try to stick as close to the original author's intent as possible.


So what actually happened?

Checking the Review History logs, I can see this suggested edit on your post was rejected. Both users gave the same reason:

This edit deviates from the original intent of the post. Even edits that must make drastic changes should strive to preserve the goals of the post's owner.

This is a canned response but the reasoning is sound: both reviewers thought that the additions added too much new information to your post. And it really did: as I mentioned above, we try to stick to what the author intended the post to be (or what they originally said): clarifying meaning without adding additional info or 'putting words in their mouth'.


To answer your questions directly

1.When did this become a thing?
When Stack Overflow (and later, Stack Exchange) was initially created.

2. Why is this a thing?
Stack Exchange was built on the premise of community edited and vetted content. As I explained above.

3. Do any other Stack Exchange sites do it?
Yes, most do. (I'd say 'all do' but with so many sites in existence now I bet there's an exception that I'm not aware of).

4. Can I contest this if I want to?

You Can!

There has been an addition just this week allowing authors to override community decisions on their own posts (and diamond moderators can override on any post):

  • Any suggested edit to a question or answer that hasn't been edited after the edit was approved or rejected may be overridden.
  • Only the author of the post that was edited and diamond moderators can override suggested edits.
  • A suggested edit can only be overridden once.

When viewing a suggested edit that you can override, the "Next" button will be replaced with either "Approve" (if it was previously declined) or "Reject" (if it was previously approved):

Just shows what was described in the paragraph above

Clicking this button will confirm the action, and then...

  • ...if the edit was previously rejected, it will be marked Approved and the edit will be applied to the post.
  • ...if the edit was previously approved, it will be marked Rejected and the previously-applied edit will be rolled back (complete with a comment in the revision history that describes what happened). If the editor earned +2 reputation for the edit, that will be retracted.

Once overridden, the edit affects the editor's suggested-edit stats accordingly. This allows moderators a tool to deal with the occasional bizarre form of abuse.

  • I'm accepting this because this definately answers my questions. Some of it is unsettling, but I guess all I can do is hope that this doesn't happen again. The one flaw with editing in the information myself is that the person who proposed the original edit won't get any extra rep points as they would have if I had accepted their edit in the first place. Either way my question was about the system behind the incident not the incident itself, hence I didn't feel any need to add any information about it. (i.e. I specifically did not want answers specific to the incident.) – Pharap Apr 16 '17 at 4:56
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    @Pharap - Think of it this way - edits exist to clarify posts, comments exist to suggest new info that the author can then choose to incorporate or not. The editor was putting words in your mouth - if it had been bad info and had gotten approved, you may have logged in tomorrow with a whole bunch of downvotes. Or, if we solely relied on the author to review edits and you never logged in again, who would then approve the edit? – Robotnik Apr 16 '17 at 5:28
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    The former is mostly understandable (though in this case I actually asked the commenter to suggest an edit), but in regards to the latter point - 2 hours is hardly much time to assume that the author has vanished off the face of the planet. A day or two and I would have found it easier to understand, but to be gone 6 hours and come back to find a proposed edit quashed without consult was somewhat jarring. – Pharap Apr 16 '17 at 5:37
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    @Pharap - That makes more sense (which is why I initially asked for the link to the answer, there's always more going on then what is shared). Again, in future you should just incorporate the info yourself, thank the commenter, and attribute them if you wish. As for approvals, again, you're notified of edits, but ultimately it's up to the community to review them - if you get to it first your vote will automatically approve or reject the edit, but otherwise we don't rely on waiting for OPs. – Robotnik Apr 16 '17 at 5:58
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    You can always rollback an edit you disagree with (go to the revision history, find the revision you prefer and click 'rollback') or incorporate info that was previously rejected as we've covered already. It's ultimately up to you but for the review process the community gets their say. – Robotnik Apr 16 '17 at 5:59
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    @Pharap see the updated last paragraph, you can now override community decisions on your own posts :) – Robotnik Apr 23 '17 at 3:51
  • "original author's intent as possible." You mean "meaning" instead of intent. The author intent is most likely to either answer the question or ask a question. – Braiam Apr 25 '17 at 1:38
  • @Braiam - They're interchangeable in this context - the answer you link uses 'intent' and 'intention' in the same way I am - whether it's a question or an answer a suggested edit has to be reviewed by the community and the authors original intent - or meaning - has to be taken into consideration. – Robotnik Apr 25 '17 at 1:59
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Editing and reviewing edits has been a thing for a very long time. Anyone can propose edits, and if you have over 2,000 reputation or are a moderator, your edit will be automatically applied for everyone to see. If you have under 2,000 reputation, your suggested edit will be put in a review queue for people with over 2,000 reputation to review. Note: it takes 2 non moderators to accept or reject an edit.

This is a thing because it is a community moderated site, so all members help moderate it in some way or another, and all of the stack exchange sites do it.

If you think something from the edit should be included, you can edit it yourself. Your edits to your posts are not reviewed.

After doing a bit of research, it seems you are talking about this post and this review. I rejected this edit as it changed a significant portion of the post and changed the meaning of several parts and the terminology of others. This clearly conflicts with the author's (you in this case) intent. We have a reject reason for that. If you think what the author has written is wrong or needs a major improvement, feel free to leave a comment about it, but we don't want you trying to change what the author said. Now if the author agrees with the suggested change in the comment, they can edit the question themself.

So, to answer your specific question if you can do anything in this case, yes, you can evaluate the proposed edit as if it was a comment saying what they think should be changed, and if you agree, you can make edits to your post yourself. We are just here to make sure your stuff doesn't get changed from what you said without your permission.

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    I'm not asking about editing and reviewing in general, or edits that are automatically applied, I'm asking about moderators jumping in and accepting/rejecting edits before the author of an answer has had chance to look at them. The only part of your answer that is pertinent to that is the part about "if you have under 200 reputation" (I assume the comma was a mistake). – Pharap Apr 16 '17 at 2:08
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    No, i meant 2,000 rep. And editing and reviewing edits go hand in hand. If you have over 2k rep, you can review other edits. It doesn't matter whose post is being edited. The author doesnt have to give in put – Dragonrage Apr 16 '17 at 2:09
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    To maybe clarify - if it is a queued edit, it needs 2 people to approve it, or 1 mod. Mods always can do things without input from, well, anyone. It's part of the inherent trust that goes along with having the diamond. – Ash Apr 16 '17 at 2:23
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    Also, taking a look at all your posts I only see one case that might match what you mean, and that edit is actually attributed to Community, which is a bot account of sorts that takes ownership of things like community approved edits by anonymous users and the like - see this post for more details: meta.stackexchange.com/q/19738/168476 – Ash Apr 16 '17 at 2:28

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