Discourse feature: Suggested Edit


#1

In addition to my medium level involvement in this forum, I’ve recently become a fairly heavy user of Quora (please don’t judge me!). One of the features of Quora that I find highly useful is the ability to suggest edits to Answers.

It’s really simple. When looking at an Answer, you can (on my UI - Chrome on the web) simply click on their “three dot” icon on an answer and choose “Suggest Edit”.

When you do so, you are presented with their standard “Edit” interface where you go ahead and make whatever edits you want to suggest. Once you finish, you click the appropriate button (I think it’s labeled “Suggest”) and the author receives notification of your suggested edit, upon which they can act with simple “Accept” and “Reject” buttons. Until and unless they accept your suggestion, their answer continues to be presented as it was written.

I would find a similar Discourse feature useful in this forum. I occasionally PM the author of a post or reply with a suggestion that they correct a typo, use a more precise word, and other such relative minor things that really shouldn’t appear as a reply in the topic. So far, in all such cases, the author has made my suggested edit and thanked me in the PM thread.

Would you find such a feature useful?

And before you suggest I address this on the Discourse forum, I’ve already searched to see if such a feature exists (unsuccessfully) or if it’s been discussed earlier (Most recent I found is 2013 as a feature request - apparently never fulfilled). And my previous experience on the Discourse forum - as a lowly user of Discourse hosted forums - leads me to frankly not want to interact there! But I will … if there is enough interest in such a feature expressed here, on this forum.

It’s possible that the feature already exists, but is disabled on our Discourse instance, but I missed evidence of it when I searched the Discourse forum. For that reason, I’m pinging @moderators and @administration so they can answer the question: Does this already exist in our instance of Discourse?


#2

Looks like that feature has been a topic on Discourse


#3

Yep. That’s the thread I found. With the bulk of the discussion in 2013, 2 replies in 2014 before it was closed in 2015 after a year of inactivity.

As I said, despite my aversion to the Discourse forum, I’d be willing to raise the issue again if sufficient interest is expressed here. But if there’s no interest, I’m not going to expose myself to the disdain I sense on the part of the Discourse programmers towards mere users.


#4

We would until it became a distraction. For example, members not knowing English well suggesting poor edits.

The feature should allow enough time for the OP to correct their own mistakes. Maybe kicking in only after an hour or so.

In the Discourse meta thread, they spoke about only higher trust level members being able to suggest (or edit) posts by lower level members.)

I would find it most useful in the development categories where coding or syntax errors have more detrimental effect.

I have had the opposite experience several times here. I’ve been royally cussed out and abused. Or the other person just started an argument, often demanding to know whether I was an admin or not. And I was sorry I even tried.

So I no longer suggest any grammatical or spelling corrections. In fact, this is the standard course of action suggested by moderation when they’ve had to get involved. Ie, they gave me half the blame for correcting in the first place.

I think it is Wikipedia that has as one of their first listed rules, not to correct other writers as it is expected to upset them.


#5

As with many things in life, your mileage may vary.

Am I correct in reading your long answer as a “no” vote towards pursuing this feature?


#6

Thanks for the feedback. At this time, I know of no such feature but I’m happy to check with Discourse to see if it’s even an option.


#7

Not necessarily. It would help with coding errors in the development categories.

If it was limited to incorrect spelling (ie, incorrect homophones used,) and if sages or 3 normal members agreed the correction could be accepted. (Ie, many people get their answer and don’t come back for months. They’d never see the suggested edits.)

But I’ve found that suggesting people use different words or other grammar causes bad reactions and sometimes the “suggestor” to be abused by the OP.

In fact I’ve been told by admin not to correct people even publicly, especially with quoted mistakes.

Instead to just state my opinion or fact without mentioning the other member’s mistake (as if I hadn’t seen it.) This allows the other person to withdraw their previous post as if they never offered it.


#8

@Caroline, that would be much appreciated - especially if it is an option as that would mean this discussion can focus only on whether or not you should enable it on our Discourse instance.

As I’ve already said twice, I really don’t want to suffer (what I perceive to be) the derision I’m likely to encounter should I re-raise this as a Feature Request on the Discourse forum.


#9

As @ChrisDizon mentioned, it looks like this topic has come up to Discourse before but it was nearly five years ago at this point. I’ll let you know what I find out!


#10

I went through this with the LogOut feature. The founder hates the idea that people actually logout.
He finally got sick of saying no, and locking thread after FR thread for it. So when he implemented it, he purposely put it in the most hard to reach place, at the wee bottom of the avatar menu.
(But there is a keyboard shortcut for it, which I never remember. [double SHIFT+Z])

I find it a strange way to treat customers.


#11

Hi @sjdorst: I spoke with Discourse, and this is still not an available feature. They didn’t provide any additional reasoning; they simply stated it wasn’t something slated to be added.


#12

@Caroline: Sigh. Frankly, based on my own reading of the forum, I was 90% sure that was indeed the current state of the feature in Discourse, but I’d retained a small hope that to 10% chance would win out.

Frankly, since the only comment from another user in the thread (@DanRathbun) was (I think) “No, I don’t want it”, unless a bunch of users now chip in with a “Yes! We’d like that” in the next few days, I’m just going to drop it.


#13

FWIW @sjdorst, I agree with @DanRathbun. I think implementing this feature would ultimately generate more issues that it would resolve. So it appears based on the response obtained by @Caroline, this idea may be best left to die on the vine, so to speak.


#14

I’ve been reading the earlier replies, and withholding comment myself until now. In the spirit of bludgeoning a deceased equine specimen, the proposed feature strikes me as slightly alarming. I could imagine abuse problems that would be worse than the benefits. I’m quite surprised that @sjdorst’s experience with such a feature on Quora (with which I am unfamiliar) has been positive. Even discounting outright abuse, I can imagine forum uses easily taking offense at “suggested improvements.”


#15

@TDahl,

When I first started using Quora, I didn’t even realize that the “suggest edit” feature existed - until it was directed at me with a suggestion that was basically a typo fix. Pleasantly surprised (I hate it when I don’t notice a typo I made, and my eye lingers on the typos of others - occasionally distracting me from the point the writer is attempting to convey), I immediately accepted the suggestion with a single button click on the email notice.

By the time I received this first correction, I’d already discovered that any user can see the “edits” that have been applied to a question or answer, so I checked the timeline of the recently corrected answer of mine - the edit was in the timeline with no mention of the person who suggested the edit. Edits do have attributions (because almost any user can edit any question), this edit was attributed to me only.

So the suggest edit process appears to me to be a private conversation between the suggester and the suggestee. I have no way of knowing if this activity is visible to moderators or administrators.

It is my perception of the privacy process that leads me to believe that abuse isn’t likely to be a problem either here (should it appear) or on Quora - unless you somehow acquire a forum “enemy” who dislikes you so intensely that they’re willing to bombard you with pointless suggestions.

One thing I failed to include in my description so far of the Quora feature: In addition to the suggested edit, you given the chance (optional) to add a note. I don’t use it when I’m suggesting something simple, like correcting a typo. For more substantive changes, I’ll include a note.

The most frequent of these types of corrections is when the authors chain of thought is clear, but the conclusion is marred by a single bad choice of word use, such that the conclusion contradicts the argument. And every time I’ve felt the need to correct such a word, the word badly chosen appeared frequently, used correctly in the preceding argument. I’ve done this myself on occasion! The word was used enough times during the argument that I didn’t recognize that I misused it in the conclusion. My note will be short, something like “I think you meant to say X - at least that’s how I read the rest of your answer.”

Only once have I suggested a major set of changes. I was reviewing all answers to a question I had a strong urge to answer, but I often resist the urge until I see the other answers. If someone else has made my point well, instead of answering, I’ll comment on their answer with something like “You made a point I wanted to raise well - so well that I don’t need to add my own answer!”

Quora often “collapses” answers - and gives users the ability to click on an a button to expose the answers - and the reasons Quora decided to collapse them. The answer to which I suggested changes was collapsed, with Quora stating “This answer needs improvement”. I read the answer, the wording was convoluted, but if you forced your way through it, the reasoning was clear. And while I disagreed with the authors conclusion, it was a legitimate, non harassing, non idiotic, non offensive, and thoughtful point of view. I felt it deserved inclusion in the visible answers. So I rewrote about half of it. I added structure, converted run on sentences to bullet points, and changed (slightly) the order of the author’s line of reasoning. My note there was something like: “While I disagree with you, I think your point of view is worth considering among the other, non-collapsed answers. I’ve noticed that Quora frequently says an answer needs improvement - and my suggested edit is my best guess at how to get your ideas back into the non-collapsed discussion. I’ve tried hard to adhere to the ideas you present and not change their meaning, nor inject my own opinions.”

The author accepted my edit - and their answer quickly appeared with the other, non-collapsed answers. To my surprise, the author found one of my answers and made a “suggested edit” consisting of a single changed character. They also wrote a note which I paraphrase:

“Thank you! I don’t write or speak English well. Your rewrite of my answer is much appreciated and does a far better job of making my case than I did. Are you a professional editor? Please REJECT this suggested edit, I did it because it’s the only way I know of to send you this private thanks!”


#16

Here’s an example - from this forum - of a case where I wish we had the feature I’m suggesting:

I’d like to suggest that @Eneroth3 remove the word “either” in the last sentence. Rather than alert her through a PM (or through a post quoting her and suggesting a correction - as this post does as a byproduct of the point I’m making), I’d like to just be able to “edit” her post, make a single change deleting the word, then have it sent to her as a suggested edit. I’m 98% sure she would have no problem with my making the suggestion in that matter - and it would remain a private matter between her and me.

If she only had one suggestion, she would likely simply accept my suggestion and the edit would happen. Or, if she indeed had more than one suggestion in mind, she’d realize that she only gave one suggestion, rejects my edit, and goes back and adds her other suggestion(s).


#17

I don’t mind correcting errors that are pointed out but frankly I find it a bit introsive when other people can just edit my texts. This is actually one of the reasons why I more or less stopped posting at Stack Overflow; the admins edited my posts as they saw fit, removing whole sentences of background info, that perhaps weren’t absolutely necessary for the question but still provided some kind of context to it.

I think designing and implementing a feature for suggested edits would be overdoing and making this much more complex than it needs to be. It’s simpler just to reply in the thread or by PM.


#18

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