2

https://ell.stackexchange.com/questions/37644/withhold-something-from-somebody

This question was closed as a duplicate, the user made an insubstantial edit (in fact, an edit which renders the question ungrammatical,) which has triggered a reopen vote. Obviously, I can't see if the user that has made the edit was the one who voted on it, but they seem determined to keep this question open instead of using the answers from the original - hey have asked a follow up question, which I am abstaining from answering until I see what others think here. (He has asked the same question to every other answer, including those on the original post. It's cross-posting at its worst.)

This is not the first time that this user has displayed this pattern of behaviour (Is it okay for users to delete questions and re-ask them verbatim?) and is, I believe, editing in bad faith.

Do we just continue to answer and moderate in good faith, with a user that is so obviously inconsiderate of others' time and effort? (Apologies if this is emotionally-loaded.)

| |
  • 1
    I think if I hadn't been soured by past experience with this user, I wouldn't have thought much of it. But the cumulative time-wasting effect of this, I think warrants a discussion. This isn't a user who's doing this in ignorance, this is a user who has, time and time again, chosen to willfully flout and skirt the rules, with no object other than to waste peoples' time. – jimsug Oct 26 '14 at 13:09
  • 2
    I didn't mean to be dismissive - I agree it should be discussed. The person in question has got up my nose also and I honestly don't understand what they're trying to accomplish with their behavior. I think the unique format of Stack Exchange causes some strange behavior when folks try to interact with it as if it were a discussion forum. Thread bumping, conversing instead of answering, et. al. I'm guilty of slipping into forum mode sometimes. – ColleenV Oct 26 '14 at 15:04
  • 2
    There is a better way to get a question reopened. Come to meta and ask, as was done just recently. It's better to explain why it should be reopened than force a recount and hope you get reviewers who aren't paying attention. meta.ell.stackexchange.com/q/1238/9161 – ColleenV Oct 26 '14 at 19:23
  • @ColleenV: Because ELL is still in beta, you don't need that much rep to review. Even so, I'm not keen on the implications from both you and jimsug here that the review process is dominated by thoughtless idiots. Looked at from a more optimistic perspective, bad questions that (for whatever reason) get "bumped" into higher visibility might actually run the risk of being permanently deleted by discerning users who simply never noticed them first time around. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Oct 26 '14 at 22:04
  • 1
    @ColleenV: I've occasionally made meaningless edits myself to "tickle" a dormant question (whether closed or not). I don't think that's inherently a bad thing. People disagree for other reasons than that one of them is an idiot, and "non-edits" seem like a reasonable low-key way to get others to (re-)evaluate a closevote. Raising the matter on meta seems like a sledgehammer to crack a nut, unless there's some more general principle in play (which we need to thrash out in meta because it'll matter to many other questions in the future). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Oct 26 '14 at 22:20
  • 1
    @FumbleFingers No draconian changes are being proposed. We're just discussing something that's bothersome. Meaningless edits aren't the right way to tickle a dormant question. There's already a mechanism in place to increase the visibility of a question - put a bounty on it. Five reviewers thoughtfully looked over a question and decided it should be closed. If a mistake was made, there should be some explanation of why the question shouldn't have been closed. I'm not advocating changing the way things work, but I don't think meaningless edits to force a review should be encouraged behavior. – ColleenV Oct 26 '14 at 22:35
  • And I think saying that we have to "get used to" a user trying to get a rise out of other users simply because the system allows it, is quite frankly (I'm sorry) a ridiculous standpoint. It assumes that we must all abide by the lower common denominator in our community. If you really believe that we should wait for all problems to become an issue, then I think we will just have to agree that we have different theories on moderation. I think it's unfair to let someone do something repeatedly, then tell them afterward that it's unacceptable. But maybe I'm wrong, and it's the right way to do it. – jimsug Oct 26 '14 at 23:54
  • Back to the matter at hand: the help center clearly states that if a question is closed as a duplicate, and those answers do not fully address your question, edit this question to explain how it is different or ask a new question. It does not say "edit this question to bump it into the reopen queue", or "make a trivial edit because the reviewers were probably wrong". If you're saying that you do this, I don't see it as evidence that it's an acceptable practice, but rather that you're just bending the rules. – jimsug Oct 26 '14 at 23:55
  • 1
    When I say which has triggered a reopen vote I mean to say that questions that are edited within five days of being placed on hold are sent into the reopen queue. That's all there is to it. My argument is very surely with the user who makes trivial edits for this purpose, as they're essentially saying the five users who decided that this question was off-topic were wrong, and my question should stand as it is - which is not the right attitude. Meta is the way to address users who are being careless, or a moderator flag. – jimsug Oct 26 '14 at 23:56
  • 1
    @Fumble I think it's a serious problem because it's the latest in a long line of questions that seem pre-formulated to waste time. And I apologise if I lost composure in that last post, it's been a long day. Essentially, I would not have posted this if it were a user with 1 rep doing it, let's put it that way. – jimsug Oct 27 '14 at 0:22
  • When the the original poster edits the body of their question within 5 days of it being closed, the system automatically casts a reopen vote. – snailplane Oct 27 '14 at 18:17
  • @snailboat does it actually cast a vote, or does it bump it into the queue without a vote? – jimsug Oct 27 '14 at 19:58
  • As far as I'm aware it casts a real vote, unless one is already in the queue. It's documented somewhere on meta.se. – snailplane Oct 27 '14 at 20:00
  • @snail ah, fair enough. I suppose it allows all users, regardless of reputation, to vote to reopen their questions once they've improved it. – jimsug Oct 27 '14 at 20:02
  • When you see this kind of behavior – particularly when done by users who are known to behave this way often – please flag the questions. Thank you. (And remember, feeding the bears – or trolls, as it may be – only encourages them to forage for more food.) – J.R. Oct 27 '14 at 23:40
2

My summary of the discussion in the comments

  • Editing a question should trigger a review so that a question that was previously closed and has been improved in a way that would make it on-topic, less broad, clearer what is being asked, etc. can be reopened. The entire purpose of the close reasons being visible and the question not being deleted immediately is to give the asker the opportunity to bring their question in line with the site's guidelines.

  • It's frustrating for the reviewers to be asked to reconsider whether a question was correctly closed simply because an insignificant change has been made, particularly when the tactic has been tried repeatedly. It is even more frustrating when the question was closed as an obvious duplicate of a question already asked by the same poster and there is no way to discourage them from wasting the reviewers' time.

  • Trivial edits triggering a review isn't a significant issue currently, although the lack of a mechanism to discourage it troubles me. There isn't any impact to reputation if you repeatedly post essentially identical questions, or repeatedly make insignificant edits to trigger reopen reviews that are consistently rejected, and I'm not sure there should be, but I think behavior like that should be discouraged in some way. I'm not comfortable flagging the copy and paste comments and questions for moderation, which does have a reputation impact, but I'm at a loss to come up with other disincentives. I tend to ignore questions from users that seem to be gaming the system, but I'm conflicted about it because that's not a great plan for a site that's in beta.

  • It's not necessary to make trivial edits to increase the visibility of a question. A bounty can be offered, and I have seen several questions pushed up to the front page by the Community bot. If a question has been mistakenly closed and should be reopened without any (or minor) edits, I think explaining why here in meta works well. I haven't been around that long, but I haven't bumped into anyone in the community that seems intractable.

My summary of the question at hand

Is there a way to discourage abuse of the automatic reopen vote triggered when a poster makes any edit to a question within 5 days of it being closed without drastically changing a system that is currently working well?

My opinion

I don't like the behavior, but I can't think of any way to discourage it that wouldn't be cutting off our nose to spite our face. Even disallowing trivial edits is problematic, because only a human can tell if changing two or three letters really makes a difference to the content. Heck I just changed a quote from code to a block quote to make the quote easier to read (it was in a scrolling window) and even though it was only a couple characters, it improved the readability of the question quite a bit. That was on a question that hadn't been closed however.

| |
  • Thanks for this. I've had quite a full plate today and was going to summarise things. I guess it's only fair to add that the volume of these occurrences isn't cause for concern, but that we should nonetheless discourage it. – jimsug Oct 27 '14 at 2:40

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .