I would like to apologize because the top questions page is currently overrun by questions I just edited.

I just noticed that Cauchy-Schwarz is often incorrectly spelled Cauchy-Schwartz and so I made a search to find questions where the word Cauchy-Schwartz appears and started editing these to correct the spelling. I now realize that it had the unfortunate side-effect to bump them all at the top of the front page.

So this is clearly not the way to go. I am wondering if mods have the power to make some batch replacement, for example to replace all occurrences of "Cauchy-Schwartz" by "Cauchy-Schwarz" automatically in all posts without disturbing the front page?

Edit (YCor): this is the name of the German mathematician Hermann Amandus Schwarz (1843-1921). It is easy to locate in the phrase "Cauchy-Schwarz" where it mostly occurs. It also occurs in "Schwarzian derivative", "Schwarz reflection principle", "Schwarz lemma"...


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This is basically summarizing what has already been said in comments (and what was said many times in various other places). But perhaps a summary in one place might be useful. (And people who are interested to know more about this can follow the included links to find out additional details.)

I should make clear that this answer concentrates on the question whether the edits of this type are possible — not about the particular misspelling mentioned in the title. (The title and the body of the question was edited a few times since I posted this answer. Looking at the version at the time when I posted this, it seemed to me that the main focus of the question was whether some kind of mass-edits without bumping are possible.)

It seems that the main question is whether it is possible to make edits to posts without bumping those questions to the frontpage. And there are two aspects to it:

  • Is there some possibility to make non-bumping edits manually?
  • Is there a possibility to make mass edits without bumping in batches?

Manual edits

Several times in the past it was suggested that there should be an option to make some minor edit in a way which doesn't bump the question.

It is clear that there are some problems connected with this idea — for example, vandalism or inserting spam links into an old post are more likely to get noticed when the post is bumped. Without bumping, also well-intentioned but incorrect edits could easily fly under the radar. One possible solution to such issues could be that such edits would go through a review queue (similarly as suggested edits). So at least somebody would check whether the edit is correct.

It is difficult to guess whether at some point in future Stack Exchange might decide to implement this. But this feature is not available now.

Mass edits

The community managers have a tool which can do some mass edits without bumping any posts. This tool has some limitations — it can only do simple replacement of one specific string by another, nothing more complex.1

  • This tool was used in the network-wide HTTP to HTTPS conversion — that was an event which hardly could go unnoticed by any active MO/SE user.2
  • There are also some cases when this was used to correct links to some domain — after some website moved or changed its structure.3 In fact, something similar was relatively recently discussed also on this meta — although at the moment this wasn't done.4
  • However, I haven't seen this tool being used to correct misspellings. (Maybe somebody knows about such instance and they will correct me.) As already mentioned, one of the current moderators suggested something along these lines in the comments to this older discussion: Misspelling of Cauchy-Schwarz.
  • Stack Exchange CMs typically do such mass-replacements only if there is a lot of posts which are influenced. If there aren't that many posts, it is preferred that they are edited manually. (The boundary seems to be somewhere around 100 posts.)

Scripts and bots

In this context, it is worth mentioning that sometimes edits which can be automated are done using scripts run by some users rather than by Stack Exchange. This still bumps the questions — but since it is automated, the edits can be reasonably spaced. I am aware of such edits done by Glorfindel. There is also a related discussion on this meta: Are edits performed by external, non-SE robots allowed? Recently there were some edits of arXiv front-end links and PlanetMath links. (Of course, it is possible that other users do similar things — I have mentioned the user I am aware of. And who knows — maybe some users managed to automate also answering questions…?)

To quote from Yes Minister:

Hacker: So, on balance, it is a good idea?
Sir Humphrey: On balance... yes and no.
Hacker: That's not a very clear answer.
Sir Humphrey: It's a balanced answer.

So one could half-jokingly say that the answer to your question asking whether some users "have the power to make some batch replacement … without disturbing the front page" is both yes and no.

Only the CMs can actually run such mass replacements. But any user can propose such thing here on meta — naturally, there is no guarantee that it will actually be implemented. (Of course, the mods are in somewhat better position than regular users — they often communicate with the CMs, there is even a private chatroom for the diamond-bearing users. So it is easier for the mods to discuss things like this with the CMs.)

1Some information on this tool can be found, for example, here: How to find and/or change a set of hyperlinks on a site? and Can the mass-replacement tool also replace and remove?

2See also: Network-wide HTTPS: It's time.

3Some instances I am aware of/I was able to find: Is it possible to mass-update broken URLs to IndianScriptures.com with HinduScriptures.in? on Hinduism, Chakoteya.net links are broken on Science Fiction & Fantasy, Can we fix broken Memory Alpha links? on Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mass-fix broken links from old usages of autocard functionality on Board & Card Games, chabadlibrary.org link structure has changed, and there are now many broken links on Mi Yodeya. There were also some requests to do this which ended up with manual editing, such as: :s/nethack.wikia.com/nethackwiki.com/g ? on Arqade.

4Relatively recently, this proposal was brought up on MathOverflow Meta: Is it time to replace links to the UCDavis arXiv frontend? The short summary is that only the links since April 2007 can be mass-converted - so the response was that this will be done after the rest is edited manually. Quite a lot of those links have been already edited — you can find some stats in the answers to the linked question and also in MO editors' lounge. If you look at Catija's answer and also on some comments she left in chat, you might get some useful information about the mass-replacement tool from there.

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    $\begingroup$ Having made mass corrections of Lebesque to Lebesgue here and on MSE a few months ago (see my comments to the post math.stackexchange.com/questions/1433899/…), I think after making one concentrated set of corrections that might annoy some people by bumping, it's not a big deal to look for new misspellings every few months afterwards. I was pleased to see after checking MO and MSE last weekend, there were 0 new appearances of Lebesque on MO but there were 5 or 6 new ones on MSE, which were easy to fix. $\endgroup$
    – KConrad
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 22:34
  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps the mods could set up some "spell check" file that would automatically remind them about common misspellings like Lebesque, Cauchy-Schwartz, and Cauchy–Schwartz at the start of every month (or every other month) and one of the mods can go on a search and replace mission to fix the errors. That would be better than relying on one non-mod to maintain this task in perpetuity. $\endgroup$
    – KConrad
    Commented Mar 1, 2022 at 22:36
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    $\begingroup$ @KConrad Maybe you mean a list similar to the one on Mathematics Meta: List of commonly misspelled words? I have admit that I do not see what is a difference if this is done by moderators - if a moderator edits a post, it bumps the question exactly in the same way as if it is done by a regular user. BTW the edits Lebesque $\to$ Lebesgue did not go unnoticed. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 5:32
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    $\begingroup$ Moreover, I am not sure to which extent the MO moderators would be willing to participate in such things. Here is a quote from a post by one of the MO mods: "Correcting misspellings more generally is permissible I think, but I would consider it low priority, and you probably have better things to do with your time." (I'd say that on some other sites that I visit, the mods are more active in various tasks related to the maintenance of the site.) $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 2, 2022 at 5:56

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