Screenshot from CodeReview Meta "active", click to enlarge

That's a view from the "active" page on the Code Review meta.

The edits are mostly minor. And some of them are coming from quite old questions, even questions with the tag.

Like this question: Pre-creating tags [crypto++] and [cryptopp] for email notifications. It was asked 10 months. It's a relatively specific question and was marked as completed 10 months ago. Before yesterday, the question hadn't been touched in 10 months. Then a simple edit to tidy up grammar/spelling bumps it to the top and makes it appear to be a new issue.

But that's not the only instance.

This question received very minor edits after sitting inactive for 10 months.

This question received relatively insignificant edits after sitting inactive for 2 years (the question itself is 4 years old... it received a new answer 2 years ago, and that was the last activity outside of this edit).

This question was marked status completed back in January (6 months ago), and subsequently received an additional tag and a pretty unnecessary title edit, both bumping a resolved issue.

It is one thing to trawl through the main-site posts and make these clean-up edits and bump stuff to the top. The site's scope has changed over time, but old questions still show up in search results. Leaving main-site questions in bad shape means we're leaving bad examples of how to post questions (that are seemingly well-received).

But isn't the meta a bit different?

The meta is where the majority of the site's issues are being sorted out. Minor edits to old questions (especially resolved issues) are bumping current issues down the page. Even if the meta is relatively slow, an edit to a 4 year old question makes it appear to either be a new issue or an issue with new information. And unless it's an outstanding, unresolved issue, does it really deserve new attention just to make the title a pun?

Would it be possible to limit our meta edits to either relatively fresh questions, or questions that are at least still relevant today.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I personally don't usually care much about the "active" tab on the SE sites, since the top questions are not necessarily recent. I usually look at the "newest" tab when looking for stuff to answer and read, both on meta or main. \$\endgroup\$
    – glampert
    Jul 14, 2015 at 21:12

4 Answers 4


Are minor edits to old meta questions useful?

That depends on the edit. A useful edit is a useful edit, regardless of the age of the question.

If a user was abusing the site and was intentionally bumping questions to crowd out other posts, that would be a problem.

If a user was notoriously making inconsequential edits, even without malicious intent, but causing irrelevant old posts to crowd out relevant discussions, that would be a problem too.

You found some examples of minor edits, but I don't see evidence of harm being done, and relevant posts getting crowded out. If you want to prove that excessive minor edits --- be they intentional abuses or just over-zealous editing, are crowding out relevant discussions, I think you need to bring stronger evidence to make a point.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Define active? How frequently does a user have to check the meta before their considered important enough to not have to scroll through a pile of minor-edit-bumped posts to get to some actually current content? Why is the convenience of someone who visits meta twice a day more important than someone who visits every two days? \$\endgroup\$
    – nhgrif
    Jul 12, 2015 at 15:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nhgrif To be honest, I didn't understand half of your comment. In any case, I realized my answer wasn't very clear, so I rewrote much of it, I hope it makes more sense now. \$\endgroup\$
    – janos
    Jul 12, 2015 at 21:26

Is this useful? Not always, no. But sometimes, yes.

Sometimes I have been quite glad that a (very) old topic resurfaced for new debate. Things have changed in the 3+ years since the site first entered beta. If these things don't get drudged up from time to time, we leave obsolete site "policy" out there, even though it's no longer the accepted practice. Just like questions on the main site that no longer are suitable representations of what's good here, some of these old metas are similar in that the answers there may no longer apply. Bringing them to light from time to time is a good thing IMO.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So, you'd draw no line as far as what ancient meta posts should be bumped for the sake of a minor edit? \$\endgroup\$
    – nhgrif
    Jul 12, 2015 at 14:44
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Essentially yes. It gives visibility to potentially out dated information. I can't see a negative to that. \$\endgroup\$
    – RubberDuck
    Jul 12, 2015 at 14:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Out-dated information should have visibility? At the expense of unresolved or current issues? \$\endgroup\$
    – nhgrif
    Jul 12, 2015 at 14:47
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Oh come on @nhgrif. You know as well as I do that he doesn't flood meta with edits when there are outstanding issues to be addressed by the community. \$\endgroup\$
    – RubberDuck
    Jul 12, 2015 at 14:50
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ "some of these old metas are similar" I agree. Some of them are. Not all of them are though. A lot of them are not. Tag-synonimization, especially once done, has no business being dredged back up. Once its synonymized, isn't the correct approach to redressing the issue opening a new question arguing to break the synonimization? How about question about specific-questions? Some of the questions really don't have anything to do with site policy and have NO relevance today. Bumping it up does nothing but bump down more current or more relevant posts. \$\endgroup\$
    – nhgrif
    Jul 12, 2015 at 14:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'll concede that as a fair point. \$\endgroup\$
    – RubberDuck
    Jul 12, 2015 at 14:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ And please realize, I'm not suggesting there's some time limit and posts older than that time limit should never be edited under any scenario. I'm just suggesting that we should pay extra close attention when editing. Is this edit significant enough or is this topic relevant enough that I'm okay with bumping a 4 year old question whose most recent activity was 2 years ago, to the top of the meta's active page? \$\endgroup\$
    – nhgrif
    Jul 12, 2015 at 14:58

No, minor edits are not useful, but your definition of minor is not consistent with Stack Exchange standards.

An edit which improves the quality of a post is not minor. See the help center (on edit privilege):

When should I edit posts?

Any time you feel you can make the post better, and are inclined to do so. Editing is encouraged!

Some common reasons to edit are:

  • to fix grammatical or spelling mistakes
  • to clarify the meaning of a post without changing it
  • to correct minor mistakes or add addendums / updates as the post ages
  • to add related resources or hyperlinks

Try to make the post substantively better when you edit, not just change a single character. Tiny, trivial edits are discouraged.

Doing a spot check on the same posts you linked, here are some observations:

  • edits also included tag edits.
  • corrected the names of various sites ("StackOverflow" and "CodeReview" to "Stack Overflow" and "Code Review", for example).
  • edits included spelling and grammar fixes

I think the actual issue here, is that your definition of "too-minor" is inconsistent with the site's definition.

The edits were not minor, they improved the posts, and thus they were useful


But isn't the meta a bit different?

Yes, and that's exactly why it's less of a problem on meta than on the regular site.

The regular site is about reviewing code. The OP will want an answer, preferably within a short amount of time. On average we get around 35 of those posts per day. The 'newest' tab shows at most 50 questions a day, so on average questions are 'new' for at least a day (less when it's busy).

Meta is about features, discussion, scope refinement, etcetera. We talk about what should happen and what shouldn't happen on the main site. Questions here are stated because the answer will hopefully help the community as a whole. My 'newest' tab on meta shows the 15 most recent questions and the oldest is 10 days old.

Now we've established meta has way less activity than the main site. Your screenshot shows 7 edits per day. I'd say, given the numbers mentioned before, those numbers are very acceptable.

Just to be clear: this is only one of the reasons it's not a problem. However, I think the other answers have already tackled most other reasons.


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