Book about fluid dynamics asked Apr 13 '10 edited 1 hour ago

Are there examples of conjectures supported by heuristic arguments that have been finally disproved? asked 21 hours ago edited 2 hours ago

Division ring on a field asked Jun 14 '16 edited 2 hours ago

Halin Graphs with Highest Number of Hamilton Cycles asked 8 hours ago edited 5 hours ago

Applying a piecewise linear function to vertices of a polytope while remaining in facet representation asked yesterday edited 6 hours ago

Is every metric continuum almost path-connected? asked Aug 14 at 6:49 edited 18 hours ago

and so on..

Revisions made

  • Today 6
  • 1 day ago 7
  • 2 days ago 15
  • 3 days ago 10
  • 4 days ago 8
  • 5 day ago 11
  • 6 days ago 3
  • 7 days ago 9

I have no interest in writing more than this.

Is this kind of participation acceptable?

For me it is little annoying to see the same name on most of the questions/answers as "edited ** ago" (Not just about the person, it is about the no of edits as well. No personal blame is intended here).

Is it compatible with Do we have an unofficial quota on how many old questions one should bump for minor edits in a single day? ??

  • 15
    $\begingroup$ a quick look indicates these are "maintenance" revisions (removing obsolete tags, fixing broken links); I would say this kind of participation is not only acceptable but commendable; editing improves the quality and consistency of the archival content. The "bumping" to the front page may not be necessary, but that is a feature of the SE software that should not be held against the editor. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 15:01
  • $\begingroup$ @CarloBeenakker Let me see what other has to say on this. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 15:12
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Just to clarify the question: Am I right in guessing that the numbers in your question (such as "Today 6", "1 day ago 7") are numbers of edits (revisions) by a specific user in a single day? $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 15:46
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak yes.. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 15:49
  • 11
    $\begingroup$ In my opinion, such maintenance edits to improve the quality of old posts should always be welcomed. The number of bumps to the front page is not much of an issue if you watch particular tags, or if you only look at new questions and then 'favorite' those you want to keep track of. -- Looking at the 'active' tab on the page with all questions is anyway only something for people who do not mind watching a really busy list. $\endgroup$
    – Stefan Kohl Mod
    Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 16:24
  • $\begingroup$ Can someone clarify how many of them are “maintenance” edits? I do not see how much difference it makes.. @StefanKohl I don’t wish to restrict my attention to some tags only.. I feel little uncomfortable to see almost every question is edited for no serious reason.. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 17, 2018 at 17:32
  • $\begingroup$ Just out of curiosity, you got a number of edits (for a specific day) mentioned to your post by manual counting, or can those numbers be found somewhere on the site? (The only thing I was able to do was to use SEDE to count them,) $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 4:32
  • $\begingroup$ @MartinSleziak Manual counting.. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 5:42
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ It seems both rude and inappropriate to me to post a Meta question personally calling out another user whose usage of MO you dislike. It seems hypocritical after having asked a question within the past two weeks about whether your own usage of MO is acceptable, and got a response to the effect of "it takes all kinds". $\endgroup$
    – mme
    Commented Aug 25, 2018 at 16:43
  • $\begingroup$ Issue is closed. See comments in answer. @MikeMiller I do not wish to extend the discussion further.. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 25, 2018 at 17:06

1 Answer 1


I probably should write a few lines about this, since the question was obviously a reaction to my edits. (But it will be certainly nice if some more experienced users share their view.)

I consider improving some posts on MO as a useful form of procrastination. So I hope I will procrastinate less in the future and, as a consequence, my edits will annoy less users around here.

More often than not, when I edit a post MO I tend to leave a brief edit summary. I take it that in these cases the edit summaries were not clear enough to see why I considered the edits useful. (And I hope that at least in some cases, if I hadn't edited those posts, somebody else would.) I will also add that quite often I visit MO editors' lounge, so if there are some issues with my edits, you can also contact me there. (This room was created for discussions related to editing and tagging, it was announced here by quid.)

Let me respond here to some questions asked above and also write a few lines about my views on editing questions on MO (or Stack Exchange sites in general).

In my opinion, it is better to edit questions while they are new or if they were recently active (i.e., they have already been bumped for some other reason) than bumping old questions - the latter should not be done too often. (Meaning of "too often" probably depends on the site's culture, on the amount of traffic the site gets, and many other factors.)

You have linked to an older post here on meta which contains a recommendation not to edit more than three old questions per day.

Is it compatible with Do we have an unofficial quota on how many old questions one should bump for minor edits in a single day?

I am aware of the linked post and I try to limit my edits even more than that (typically not more than one edit to an old unbumped post per day).

The linked examples are mostly questions which were posted recently or were already active for another reason. It is better if a question is edited in such situations than if somebody notices only much later some reason why a post should be edited and bumps it again in several months or in a year or two.

(The first example in the question was an edit to an old question, but it was a post which was recently bumped by adding a new answer. Probably I should have indicated in the edit summary that this post has been bumped so that this fact would be better visible. Here is another example of my edit where I explicitly mentioned in the edit summary that the question had been bumped - in that case it was by adding a new answer, too.)

You can easily check that I am definitely not the only person bumping older posts. And there are certainly many active editors on MathOverflow. (Although the activity of editors may vary with time.)

For me it is little annoying to see the same name on most of the questions/answers as "edited ** ago".

Probably the best solution to this that I can think of is that more MO users help with editing and retagging. (I see that you have already started and I certainly appreciate your efforts.) Although claiming that you see the same name on most of the posts seems to me like diminishing work done by other editors.

There are various types of edits which can be considered useful.

Personally I would consider even grammar corrections and correcting typos beneficial. The sentence "there are various reasons why I edit posts" is easier to read than "there are various reason why i edit pots". Although such a minor edit would not be a sufficient reason to edit an old post.

Similarly, I think that improving MathJax/MarkDown in the posts can be useful. (Especially for users that are not really experienced with them.)

There was a separate discussion about adding links to the material referenced in MO posts, and judging by the response to that question, such edits are also considered useful: Is it worth editing old posts to add links for references?

I consider also retagging questions which do not have correct tags rather useful.

Correct tags are useful for several reasons. They help when searching the site. (I think that at least some of the questions and answers might be useful also to users other than the asker.) And they help also the poster of the question - since people following the added tags are more likely to notice the question. I don't think I will summarize it better than what is already written here: What are the advantages of proper tagging?

One of the specific features of the tagging system on this site, is that every question is supposed to have one of the top-level tags, see also: What are top level tags, and why should I try to use them? and Why are MO tags formatted as they are?. (Again, one of the edits mentioned in the question is of this type, I have explicitly mentioned this in the edit summary.) Although at least in some cases finding top-level tags might be problematic (see, for example: On the top-level tag ra.rings-and-algebras and Which “non-arxiv” tags are de facto top-level tags?). Regarding top-level tags, I will quote one of the MathOverflow moderators:

Yes, the tag management on MO is very different than on Mathematics. There are several reasons for that. For example, the systematic use of broad area tags borrowed from the arxiv on day one brought a lot of stability to the general tagging system here.

The top-level tags have been also mentioned to you recently in the Homotopy Theory chatroom:

You don't need to put only one tag, you can put up to five. In general it is recommended to put a very general tag (usually an "arxiv" tag) to indicate broadly which sector of math your question is in, and then more specific tags.

With respect to tags, MathOverflow has one more unresolved issue, which is deprecated tags. There are several tags which should be eliminated, which cannot be done without some amount of manual editing. It seems that several edits mentioned here were of this type - and also the edit mentioned in this recent post on meta: Restriction on editing closed questions. When I do such edits, I usually mention this in the edit summary (as I did in those cases - 107989, 242173). Considering the fact that the number of the questions with deprecated tags decreases at the rate about 10 questions per month, it does not seem very likely that they are going to be removed anytime soon. But perhaps at least something could be done to prevent this number from increasing so that these tags cannot be added to new questions as I suggested elsewhere.

Personally, I consider use of tags especially important on meta - since many issues mentioned there tend to come up repeatedly and tags help a lot when searching and also when populating the related question lists. To include an example, I will use something from another site that I am more familiar with. One of the issues that repeatedly come up on meta is that comments containing long MathJax expressions tend to be jumbled sometimes. On Mathematics Meta, I can simply use the search using combination of the two relevant tags, and I can easily find several past discussions about this issue. (And if needed, I can restrict this search further, for example by adding some keywords or if I remember a user who posted an answer to such question, I can restrict the search to their posts. For comparison, on this meta I was able to find two posts about this issue, both of them are now tagged mathjax+comments: The math! It's overflowing! and Long MathJax in comment breaks linewrapping throughout the comment thread.)

Even though some of them are mentioned above, let me go through examples mentioned in the question one by one.

The question also includes the number of edits per day. In case you're interested, here is a data explorer query where you can check number: Edits by a specific user per day. (And you can even experiment and compare the numbers for other users.) Highest numbers of edits per day by a single user are above 20, record being 67 edits: Most edits per day. (Here it a version of the same query with displayname - since for deleted users the userid is not stored.)

The number of edits can be bigger than the number of actual questions that have been bumped. For example, they include edit on tag-wikis, multiple edits on the same posts. They also include edits both to a question and some of the answer - which only bump one question. (As I have already mentioned, if a question is already bumped and there is something else worth editing, it is suitable to do so soon after the bump.) So even if this is a problem, the numbers might make it look slightly exaggerated.

For example, if I look at my counts from SEDE, the 8 edits on August 7 include five edits to a question and also to the answers there (40178, 40227, 40280, 40183), so even though this counted as five edits, only one question was bumped. Similarly on August 10 those were five edits to a question and answers on that question (52708, 52756, 52786, 52789, 68858). The 8 edits on August 16 include five edits to tag-wikis (arithmetic-topology, birational-geometry, higher-category-theory, continuum theory tag-excerpt and tag-wiki), so no post was bumped by these five edits. (Three of them are related to the problem mentioned in this thread: Recent suggested tag wiki edits. The other two were edits to the tag-info of a recently created tag where the link in the tag-excerpt was not working.) Similarly there are five tag-wiki edits among the 16 edits on August 14.

  • 8
    $\begingroup$ More than once, I have complained here, or on m.se, about one user or another going on an editing spree. I have never seen any reason to complain about Martin's work. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 1:27
  • $\begingroup$ “as a consequence, my edits will annoy less users around here.” Ok. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 18, 2018 at 4:16
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks to rene for help with the SEDE queries. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 19, 2018 at 9:41
  • $\begingroup$ I have mentioned a few SEDE queries with various data concerning editing - here is one more, which user with more edits pre day for each individual day: Top editors per day. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 2, 2018 at 13:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Martin, so, I was the leading editor on about half-a-dozen occasions. Cool. What does it mean when the "User link" box is empty? Someone who has been removed from the system? $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 16, 2018 at 1:31
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson Most likely a deleted account. Here is a version of the query which includes UserDisplayName, which should be available in such cases. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 16, 2018 at 5:30
  • $\begingroup$ And since we are playing with SEDE, it might be interesting to check also number of days when a user was the most active editor: How often is somebody the top editor? $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 20, 2018 at 6:19

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