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A specific user has recently edited a lot of years-old posts in which, as far as I can tell, he is just TeXifying titles. While I assume that this is being done with good intentions, it seems likely that he does not realise that he is bumping these, in many cases long-dormant, posts to the front page, and that this is generally counter to community norms. Am I correct about this? Is there anything that can or should be done to communicate the situation to him?

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  • $\begingroup$ meta.mathoverflow.net/questions/591/… $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Feb 28 '18 at 16:32
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila, thanks. My question was only incidentally about whether this is in accord with community norms (which the linked question says that it is not), and more about whether there is any way to suggest to this particular user that he stop. $\endgroup$ – LSpice Feb 28 '18 at 16:51
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    $\begingroup$ You can ping the editor, for example @Martin will be notified on this comment despite not leaving any comment of his own. And you can direct their attention to this thread. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Feb 28 '18 at 16:52
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    $\begingroup$ I assume you are aware that simply writing @username in a post does not notify the user. I have pinged the user you mentioned to make him aware of your post on meta. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Feb 28 '18 at 16:52
  • $\begingroup$ Real nice, @Martin, way to ruin my demonstration! :) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Feb 28 '18 at 16:53
  • $\begingroup$ I have added some tags which are, in my opinion, relevant for your question. I hesitated a bit whether to add also (suggested-edits), but I do not think that it matters for the question whether the edits in question were added by a user with full edit privileges or after review. I did not add (specific-user) either, since I assume you are interested in the general issue rather than in this particular instance. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Feb 28 '18 at 17:43
  • $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila, I didn't know that; thanks! (Has the behaviour always been this way? I thought I remembered reading explicitly that it didn't happen.) $\endgroup$ – LSpice Feb 28 '18 at 18:09
  • $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak, I do know that @ing a user in the post doesn't ping him (I just treat it as punctuation to indicate that I am directly or indirectly addressing a user rather than simply mentioning his or her name), but I didn't know how to ping him; now @‍AsafKaragila has cleared that up. Since @‍AsafKaragila also mentions that the general question has already been asked and addressed, I think that specific-user is appropriate. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – LSpice Feb 28 '18 at 18:10
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    $\begingroup$ If that what I did breaks the rules of community I can stop it with easy :D I just Do not like the ugly title lines with not texifying content :D It is true that @ did not ping me. Martin left comment on my question, only after that I found out of that. $\endgroup$ – Evgeny Kuznetsov Feb 28 '18 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ You can't ping two users in one comment, LSpice. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Feb 28 '18 at 22:04
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    $\begingroup$ Anyway, in similar cases, I have flagged a post by the runaway editor for moderator attention, and used that flag to notify the moderator that the individual has gone on an editing spree. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Feb 28 '18 at 22:07
  • $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson, indeed; I was demonstrating my commitment to using @ as a punctuation mark. (One has to fight the software even to type a message that appears to @-notify two users.) $\endgroup$ – LSpice Feb 28 '18 at 22:31
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson, I think that may be a bit harsher than necessary. $\endgroup$ – LSpice Feb 28 '18 at 22:48
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    $\begingroup$ Since these two things came up in the comments: The issue about @username in places where the user is not pinged was discussed before: Is it good practice to write “@someone” in a question? And since this might probably also be useful, I have posted a new question on meta about: How to contact a MathOverflow user? $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Mar 3 '18 at 18:44
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    $\begingroup$ @EvgenyKuznetsov I have deleted the comment which I made just to attract your attention to this meta thread. If some of the links mentioned there are useful for you, the comment is still archived here in chat. And you can find a few more links to related discussion in my answer below. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Mar 9 '18 at 11:36
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The user has been contacted by a moderator. Please advise if the behavior persists.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. It was obviously well intentioned, so I don't want to leave any black mark against the user; I just didn't know how else to contact him (since I hadn't seen @AsafKaragila's @ing tip). Would it be appropriate for me to delete this question, since the general case has already been addressed, and I was asking about this specific user? $\endgroup$ – LSpice Feb 28 '18 at 18:12
  • $\begingroup$ There's no black mark. In as much as other people might be tempted to ask a meta question about this situation, I think let's leave the post up at least for a while, leaving the option of deleting it later. $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Feb 28 '18 at 19:47
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Maybe it could be useful to spell out explicitly why the edits in question were problematic. (Both for the benefit of the user referenced in the question and also for other users who want to help editing.) I do not claim that this represents the majority opinion - after all the opinions on this vary and it's probably impossible to write down something with which everybody would agree. I will add the disclaimer that my participation on MathOverflow is rather minor and mostly consists of helping with edits and some stuff here on meta - where my experience from other sites in Stack Exchange network is sometimes useful. So if some more seniors users write something here, you should definitely listen to them. Still, I hope that at least to some extent the advice given below and the links collected there might be useful.

How can I know whether my edits were well-received

In this case, the user in question only found out that the edits were in some way problematic after he was directed to this meta thread and also by receiving a moderator message.

How can a user find out that there are problems with some of the edits before receiving such notification?

Look at the reviews. You can see all your suggested edits on the corresponding tab in your profile. There you can see whether they were rejected and even if they were approved whether somebody voted to reject. The fact that the edit was rejected or that the edits were approved but not unanimously suggests that some users did not like those edits. When voting to reject, the user reviewing the edit can either choose one of the predefined reason or type they own custom message - reading the reason they chose can give you the idea why the reviewer disagreed with the edit. I will list here two recent examples, here is suggested edit review with custom message and here is another one where one of predefined reasons was chosen. (I have included them merely as examples to make clear where the results of suggested review can be find and what you can read there. I do not link them to attract attention to specific users. Still, I chose examples that are related to TeXifying titles, since this was what prompted this discussion.)

After you gain full edit privileges, your edits are no longer reviewed. But probably at that stage it is expected that you're experienced enough to judge whether the edit is useful enough and whether it is worth bumping the question for this change.

If you are not sure whether your edits are ok you can also ask in chat, specifically the room named MO editor's lounge seems to be a reasonable place. (Admittedly, the room is currently not visited by many users, so it is possible that you end up without any response. But there were a few discussions related to this in that room. You can find some of them among bookmarked conversations.) I will also add a link to the post announcing creation of this room.

What kind of edits should I do and in which way?

While the intention to improve the site by editing posts is certainly nice, it is good to be aware of adverse effects. The main problem is that any edit bumps the question to the front page. If old posts are moved there, that pushes the most recent post from the front page and they receive less attention.

Do not edit many old posts a once. For these reasons, it is better not to bump too many old posts at the same time. Recommendation given here in meta is to restrict yourself to editing at most 3 edits of old posts per day. But probably it is better to go a bit lower that this in the case of less experienced users just to be on the safe side.

You can also check whether some old posts has been recently bumped by other users by searching for posts and limiting the date range. So, for example, if you see that several old posts have been bumped during last hour or two, maybe you can leave your edit for later - so that you do not bump even more old posts.

Of course, the situation is different for posts that are new and posts the were recently bumped for other reasons. (If several edits cause bumping of a question, it is definitely better if they are made at approximately the same time than to see the question bumped several times, each time month or two apart.)

If possible, improve more things. If you want to edit a post, try to look whether you can make also other improvements to the question and the answers. The reasoning is the same as above - in this way several edits/improvements will bump the question only once.

An it's quite natural that there is a difference between a minor edit which makes only cosmetic changes and the edit which, for example, corrects completely broken MathJax or replaces dead link to an image included in the post. Edits like this are definitely more important than correcting spelling/grammar or something similar.

Where can I find more about this issue?

There were several discussions about this here on meta (and before that on tea). Having a look at those discussion could help you get the feeling what users of this site think about various types of edits:

Of course, there is much more about this on meta. I have included a few threads which seemed rather relevant.

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