I made 6 minor edits to my latest answers. The last edit (addition of a link to a lecture on the topic) I did 2 days after I gave the answer. I noticed that the question received a lot of new attention after the edit. It seems with each edit the question is bumped up on the main site again.

Don't you find making such minor edits unethical since they are a way to artificially increase attention to an answer and get more reputation? In your opinion, should they be discouraged or not?

This question came to my mind since I felt bad that this answer to an easy non-technical question seems to distract people from more interesting content. (Now that I'm writing this up I realize that asking such question is kinda ironic.)

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    $\begingroup$ I personally am not sure that there's anything ethical or not about earning fake internet points (rep is a somewhat arbitrary measure of how others react to your presence on the site). $\endgroup$
    – Kyle Kanos
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 23:33
  • $\begingroup$ Is it unethical to cheat in a board game? The "fakeness" of points is the same. $\endgroup$
    – Kirk Woll
    Commented Jul 27, 2019 at 19:41
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @KirkWoll a game pits two people here against each other in what is assumed to be fair conditions, so cheating is unethical there. since there isn't a competition between persons here, it is very different cases, regardless of the similarities in arbitrary scoring systems. $\endgroup$
    – Kyle Kanos
    Commented Jul 29, 2019 at 16:07
  • $\begingroup$ @KyleKanos Well, I think it's at least very bad manners if someone is intentionally wasting others attention by bumping up his stuff again and again, just to generate more of these fake internet points. But I get what your saying and I think you have a fair point. $\endgroup$
    – user224659
    Commented Jul 29, 2019 at 19:04
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ It's not unethical because the votes can go either way: if the post is good, then it might get more upvotes, but if the post is bad... incoming downvotes ~~ $\endgroup$
    – Andrew T.
    Commented Jul 31, 2019 at 12:40
  • $\begingroup$ This practice is known as "bumping" a thread. $\endgroup$
    – Nat
    Commented Aug 6, 2019 at 14:22

2 Answers 2


There is nothing unethical about a minor edit, if it improves the post. The practice of bumping posts by edits is only problematic if the edits don't actually improve the post (e.g. only add superfluous whitespace, replace words by synonyms or phrases by equivalent phrases...).

Users are invited to flag posts (with a custom moderator flag) when they think a pattern of such non-improving edits is being performed, and the system in fact raises an automatic flag on posts that accrue an unusual number of edits by the author.


I'm a chronic self-editor. Sometimes I'll make three or four edits to a post in a space of a week or two. The sole reason is to improve the post. I don't always get it as good as it could be first time; what I write might set me thinking, and improvements dawn on me over time.

A year or two ago I'd made five or six small amendments to an answer and someone commented (very fairly) that each of these pushed the question – and my answer – to the top of the list. I hadn't realised this. I now think very carefully before I edit, but I regard the edit facility as crucial to the usefulness of the answers.

Hope I don't need to edit this...


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