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The following thing has happened to me a couple of times recently:

I come across a question that looks good but has a few minor errors. Someone has suggested an edit which address some of them, so I accept it. It then says that the edit has to be approved by one other person before it will be accepted.

A bit later on I realise that there are some other things that should be improved, so I try to make an edit of my own - but I can't, because when I click on edit I just see the diff of the suggested edit, with a sign saying it needs to be approved by other users before it can be accepted.

This seems a bit strange to me, because

(a) I have enough rep to edit questions without it needing to be reviewed, so if I just rejected the suggested edits and made the same changes myself, they would happen instantly (but that would of course be mean); and

(b) Approving someone else's edit seems to lock me out of being able to make my own edits or even view the edit history until someone else also approves it, which is just weird.

Each of these things seems to create a strange disincentive to approve edits from other users. So my questions are:

  1. What is the rationale for this behaviour? Why do I have the power to make my own edits without needing approval but not the power to approve someone else's edits without further approval?

  2. Am I really completely locked out of editing the post in such a case, or is there some other way I can make my own edit or look at the edit history?

Steps to reproduce

I believe part of the problem is a bug, or at least an unintended consequence of the rep system. Since it's not easy to explain in writing, here is a series of screenshots illustrating the issue.

Here is a question with a suggested edit:

enter image description here

I click on "edit (1)" to see the suggested edit, and I see this:

enter image description here

It's a minor cosmetic change, but the question is only 5 hours old, so this seems appropriate and I press "Approve", which gives me the following message:

enter image description here

I close the message and go back to the question. I refreshed the page at this point, just to make sure that wasn't the issue. The question now looks like this:

enter image description here

i.e. exactly the same as before, because the suggested edit hasn't been approved yet. So far so good. But suppose I now spot a more serious issue with the question that I'd missed before. I want to fix it, so again I click on "edit (1)", but this does not take me to the edit queue. Instead I see this:

enter image description here

I wasn't able to fit the whole dialogue box into the screen shot, but there is no link to the edit queue at the bottom. Clicking "(more)" just reveals some stats but no link to the edit queue.

This is what I mean by being "locked out of editing". The edit queue is replaced by this dialogue, with no option to edit the post in any way, until another user approves the suggested edit. Sklivvz commented that

if there is a pending suggested edit, one can get to the review queue by clicking on the "edit(1)" at the bottom of the post

If that is the intended behaviour then the current behaviour is a bug.

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  • $\begingroup$ Another very strange thing: just now I used the "improve" button on a suggested edit and it went through straight away, without needing further approval - but the edit was credited to me. So it seems I have a strong incentive to make minor changes to suggested edits and claim the credit for them myself, even if I have nothing worthwhile to add to them! $\endgroup$ – Nathaniel Oct 6 '13 at 12:00
  • $\begingroup$ Nah, if you see the revisions of the post, you'll find that the guy who suggested the edit would've revised the post before you. It's just that his edit is being overridden by yours (just as usual) ;-) $\endgroup$ – Waffle's Crazy Peanut Oct 7 '13 at 1:29
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    $\begingroup$ I see. But still, it's completely weird that I can unilaterally approve someone else's edit, but only if I make a trivial edit of my own immediately afterward. $\endgroup$ – Nathaniel Oct 7 '13 at 1:43
  • $\begingroup$ meta.stackexchange.com/questions/90798/… $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Oct 8 '13 at 14:15
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You're not locked. Think of it this way. The SE engine can't just rely on one guy, believing solely on his arbitration. That's why it does this 50% believing on an user's decision on review queues. It varies. For instance, it's 20% for VTC queue, 33% on LQ queue (I've seen that one time, when I've recommended deleting the post, while two reviewers before me, also did the same - fishy), etc. In case of mods, the engine's policy breaks down. They being the arbiters, the system has to put its 100% belief on them.

Okay, now you approve some edit, you fill the 50% belief. And someone rejects it, the 50% belief is gone and now, 2 more persons have to fill it up. If on the contrary, both persons rejected it and the belief goes to -100%, the suggested edit is declined.

This is the way it is, because (sometimes) a >2k user might think that some edit is good, while the next guy (and the following guys) may think that it isn't (maybe too minor or something).

But, that's not the end of story. You have an IMPROVE button sandwiched between Reject & Skip.

Improve

You click it, and you'll get into editing the suggested users' revision. If you wanna clear some stuff, or improve it more (being an enthusiast), you do that. There's also a check box, asking you whether that guy has helped you in editing or, he messed things up. You check it, and he gets the "+2" he's been waiting for. You deselect it (it's selected as default), he has to wait forever...

Helpful

But, I've done some naughty things. You know this immortal guy, the community user. Don't you? He has helped me a lot of times. I'm always fond of decoding users' writings. Sometimes, I get the chance to review a too minor suggested edit. It's less likely that I get transformed into a fool (blind). But if that happens, I click Approve. Then, I blame myself for doing it accidentally. One day, I sneaked into the post (which I had approved by then) and edited it (just replace the "questions" in the hyperlink to "posts" and after that ID, you put "edit"). Now that you've gone into the post (which was the tricky part), make your revision and save it. You're done...

Now, get into the revisions of the post and you'll see that the immortal guy has rejected the edit. What you've done is normal. This is what you do when you're reviewing. If you deselect the "helpful" check box, this is what's gonna happen. The "-1" guy rejects it. There's a difference in both cases. In the first case, it's registered as Improve near your name, while in the second case, it's registered as Approve. And below it, the community user and near that name, it's Reject. This is where some1 users struggle to understand what's going on, where they think...

"A >2k user has approved the edit and the "Community" mod bot has rejected it? When did it start to think? How dare the thing reject it?", etc. all that kinds of of problematic thoughts.


1: We do have some reviewer-spies, who shadow reviewers all time (no offense) and IMHO, it's a good habit. We can't blame people for their curiosity (in that way, our room can be active all the time). And also, the smarty guys (who've suggested the edit), who peek into the queue and check whether their edits get approved or not..!!! (so that they can have an argument with the reviewer when time comes, which is a good way to subject the reviewer into test)

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the work-around for getting into the edit dialogue - that's helpful, but surely I shouldn't have to edit the URL to do that. I know about the "improve" button, but the problem is that it only works if you think of an improvement before you approve the edit. Finally, my point was that the SE engine does rely solely on the arbitration of one guy (me) if I make my own edit. If my judgement is enough to approve my own edits, why isn't it enough to approve someone else's? That last one's not necessarily a problem, it just seems a bit odd. $\endgroup$ – Nathaniel Oct 5 '13 at 12:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Nathaniel: Well, it's possible for a reviewer to get angry looking at a specific user's edit. He can reject it, thereby losing the user's involvement in editing (not to mention the losing of his "+2" score) and also increasing his bad editor count (which can happen often, if the decision is made only by you. Yes, you can do this, after he has made his edit. But, when you're doing with your own privileges, you're not making him appear bad. And, if his edit is good, sooner or later it will get roll-backed. I suspect that maybe a reason ;-) $\endgroup$ – Waffle's Crazy Peanut Oct 5 '13 at 12:28
  • $\begingroup$ if there is a pending suggested edit, one can get to the review queue by clicking on the "edit(1)" at the bottom of the post. $\endgroup$ – Sklivvz Oct 8 '13 at 16:15
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    $\begingroup$ @Sklivvz that is not correct. If you've accepted the suggested edit but another user has not, that button does not lead to the edit queue. Instead it just presents the message saying another user needs to approve the edit, with no option to take any further actions. This is what I consider to be a bug. I tried to describe it in the question, but perhaps it was not clear. $\endgroup$ – Nathaniel Oct 9 '13 at 1:18
  • $\begingroup$ @Sklivvz I've updated the post with a series of screen shots illustrating what I mean. $\endgroup$ – Nathaniel Oct 9 '13 at 1:43

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