8 of 10
added some data from SEDE
Martin Sleziak
  • 4.4k
  • 2
  • 47
  • 98

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.) Note that the numbers in Data Explorer will be a bit higher than manual count, since [the database stores separately tag edits, body edits and title edits separately, even if they are made in the same edit - but it would be much more complicated to make a query which counts something like that as a single edit. Using these counts, highest numbers of edits per day by a single user are above 30 with joint record of 67 edits held by two users: 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 12 edits on August 7 include five edits to a question and also to the answers there (40178, 40227, 40280, 40183), so even 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 10 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 19 edits on August 14.

Martin Sleziak
  • 4.4k
  • 2
  • 47
  • 98