# Cascade of mostly trivial edits by a user

Example today . Many times I cannot see any real changes between the left and right side, but it might be my browser or his/her browser.

Are people increasing their reputation by corrections? It kicks the question and my answers to the top of the queue, and I get a long list of comments. I have only rejected one edit because I could see no difference at all between the two sets. (and it is a waste of time)

I am bringing this up because maybe I am not the only target.

• It’s even more annoying when a “grammar fix” introduces a grammatical error. Anyone who thinks “carbon dioxide poisoning starts to happen” is wrong and “carbon dioxide poisoning start to happen” is right should not be making any English grammar edits. – G. Smith Apr 1 at 18:56
• @G.Smith that's a little unfair; perhaps they were experiencing the onset of the symptoms of carbon dioxide poisoning... – uhoh Apr 13 at 6:20

I also assume that member decided to go on an edit spree of old high scoring posts to earn a few points. When I noticed the front page getting flooded, I sent them this comment, which I also posted in The h Bar.

@xray0 Your edits are helpful, but please do them in small batches so you don't flood the front page with old questions. See Should I not edit my old questions on a spree?

They appeared to stop shortly after my comment, so I deleted it.

FWIW, you can send comments to an editor of any post. It doesn't work on suggested edits until the edit has been accepted. The auto-complete mechanism doesn't work, you have to type the @UserName manually (of course auto-complete will work if that user has posted a comment themself).

• I think that a lot of that user's edits weren't actually helpful; they even used to make blank ("______") edit descriptions. – user191954 Apr 1 at 10:28
• @Chair Ah, ok. I only quickly checked a few of them, and didn't look at the edit comments. My main concern was to make them stop ASAP, not to give them a full education on best practice re editing. And I wanted my comment to be friendly & welcoming. Hopefully, they followed my meta link, and perhaps educated themself via the links there & the relevant Help pages... – PM 2Ring Apr 1 at 10:33
• Yeah most of the edits didn't add much if anything useful. Clearly a scam to get some rep. – ZeroTheHero Apr 1 at 13:31

The edit you linked to was (rightly) rejected in review, so nobody will have gained any reputation from it.

I'm not sure what else there is to say about this. It looks like your question is "Are people increasing their reputation by corrections?", which they do, but only when the edits are accepted.

• It baffles me that so many of that user's edits did get approval in such a short time span, but I guess they got approved by different people... – PM 2Ring Apr 1 at 6:23
• @PM2Ring I get a list of four or five at a time, I see the triviality, but if it is a real grammar or format correction I approved. I rejected one because I could not see a real change, just an erasure and rewriting, But I am getting fed up so will no longer check edits by him/her – anna v Apr 1 at 7:45
• @annav What seems annoying to me is that several of the ones done actually seem to introduce as many grammatical errors as they fix. – JMac Apr 3 at 14:40

I think small changes are very valuable!

It is not obvious why. The change shown in the example corrects some minor spelling or typographic errors, and does no semantic changes. It is of minimal value, it practically does not change anything about the question and its answers.

That is true if we had only the goal of giving good answers to questions that fit in terms of topic and quality. Which is not the case - we want also build a collection of good questions and answers. Now, the change is just as irrelevant as in the case above.

But the goal is a high quality collection in the long term. On the order of centuries (*). I see no reason to limit our optimism much further.

And on this time scale, many little changes, tens or hundreds of them to some questions, will add up to increase the overall quality significantly. Exactly what is called polishing, to make it shine. Making something much more valuable by not only shaping it, but correcting every minor flaw on its surface.

It's easy to see that the basic idea makes sense when applying it to Wikipedia, where I often apply this kind of minimal polishing. There, the long term integration of it is just natural.

(*) There are good reasons to expect English to become the global language, as opposed to Chinese (which is spoken by the same number of people currently). And it becomes even more valuable to humans if we go only almost extinct by rouge AI.

• I think the basic problem is the cascade, not the corrections. If one gets ten comments to check edits, true comments get lost in the row. Also one has to remember which comments were checked. Maybe there should be a limit to the number of edits a non-author can make in a day. – anna v Apr 27 at 3:26
• Which cascade do you mean? Not sure I can access the view you describe. – Volker Siegel Apr 27 at 3:40
• on the day I entered this question I had been alerted in the comments with about 8 edits of old questions, most of them trivial, interspersed with regular comments, and had to wade through them, and after checking the first few lost track of which were checked and which not, because the checking a comment is not checked:). I do not think this history is kept. – anna v Apr 27 at 3:47
• That sounds like the problem may be on the UI level, right? (Which was possibly what you meant anyway). To me, it does sound like the question criticizes the kind of change as much as the interaction, though. – Volker Siegel Apr 27 at 3:55
• Sorry, I do not know what "UI level" is... some edits were so trivial that it looked to me, my browser is firefox, as if he/she was picking a word and rewriting it. – anna v Apr 27 at 8:32