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There are badges awarded ("excavator" and "archaeologist") for editing old posts; it is clear that encouraging this can improve the site by ensuring that as many posts as possible are written to a high standard. However, making a large number of edits to old questions in a short space of time bumps them all to the front page, which may not always be desired. This effect is especially pronounced if someone performs a large number of small or very similar edits.

Is making a large number of edits to old questions in a short time frame encouraged, particularly if all these edits are similar and near-trivial?

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Is making a large number of edits to old questions in a short time frame encouraged,

NO.

Editing old questions is indeed encouraged, in the understanding that

  • if the thread was inactive and editing bumps it to the front page, the edit is expected to be comprehensive and fix all the stuff there is to fix, in both the question and the answers; and
  • mass edits over a short time frame are not appropriate.

If you want to edit a large number of old posts, do so slowly over several days so that they do not drown out other activity on the front page.

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    $\begingroup$ Editing slowly over a period of time in order to avoid a queue feels very "hacky" $\endgroup$ – ghosts_in_the_code Jun 27 '20 at 6:00
  • $\begingroup$ How are people supposed to acquire this understanding? Wouldn't it make more sense for the system to enforce it by limiting edits to some number of questions within some number of days? $\endgroup$ – krubo Jun 29 '20 at 10:18
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    $\begingroup$ @krubo We have a good track record of politely pointing this out to people who are unaware of this and go on editing sprees. It's not a big deal when people do it once - it's only a problem with continued behaviour after they've been asked to stop. There are rate limits for <2k-rep users, but this is a social problem and it is solved socially, not technologically. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jun 29 '20 at 11:18
  • $\begingroup$ @ghosts I suppose it can. But I don't think this is a priority area for the devs to invest in. There's plenty of other features of the software that are much more impactful. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jun 29 '20 at 11:19
  • $\begingroup$ Agreed, but it's also fairly easy to implement. It could be as simple as not letting any edits reach the activity queue, or letting only major edits (defined by characters changed) hit the queue. Most edits are minor anyways, unless it's about improving a question that will otherwise be closed (which can be put in the activity queue based on other parameters). $\endgroup$ – ghosts_in_the_code Jun 29 '20 at 11:27
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    $\begingroup$ @ghosts_in_the_code It's always easy to say X is easy to implement when you don't have to write the code or indeed have access to the codebase, and you don't feel the need to worry about the impact of any changes to the usage of the site or how they might enable abuse. The features you're talking about have been proposed (and their drawbacks have been explained in depth) multiple times on Meta Stack Exchange. It's fairly easy to do one's due diligence and research that corpus before insisting on this type of feature. $\endgroup$ – Emilio Pisanty Jun 29 '20 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty Thanks, I'll check it up. I haven't given it sufficient thought for sure $\endgroup$ – ghosts_in_the_code Jun 29 '20 at 17:53
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Personally I am inclined to reject edits to old posts if they only make trivial improvements, precisely because it is not encouraged to bump them to the front page without good reason. I think it would be better if trivial edits to old posts were actively discouraged so that we did not have the bother of voting on them.

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