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I'll start by saying that I probably should've asked this question earlier, and that due to that I did not most likely handle the situation very well.

There's an edit war going on here. The OP is reverting an edit, that simply removed a few fluff-words and added paragraph breaks to the question body, plus improved the title.

It makes zero sense to me the revert the edit, and hence OP's removal of the said edit has been rolled back three times as of writing this post, two times by me. I see no point in devaluing the question by dumping all the content into one single paragraph, and that's why I've felt the need to revert those edits.

There's also an comment added to the question by a reverter before me explaining to OP why reverting a question-improving edit is not deemed as an okay thing to do.

What would be the proper course of actions for me to take in a situation like this? Is there anything that can be done?

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    \$\begingroup\$ From what I remember of a chat with Josh, if the OP wants to have a less than optimal quality question, that's up to them: if they don't get it, downvote the question for poor quality and forget about it. If the OP is messing with inappropriate tags, that's another story, and should be flagged for a moderator so that they can handle the situation. \$\endgroup\$ – Alexandre Vaillancourt Oct 20 '17 at 10:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ That's my takeaway after getting into a few of these fights too. Now I try editing/reverting once, leaving a comment or edit description explaining my action, and if they choose not to heed it, then it's not our job to make their question better. ;) If it languishes without answers / attracting downvotes, they can deal with that, and they have the advice they need waiting for them if they choose to take it. \$\endgroup\$ – DMGregory Oct 20 '17 at 16:33
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In general, getting into a fight isn't productive.

If you see an edit war going on, the right thing to do is generally to disengage. Flag a moderator or raise the issue on meta if you think that the challenged edits are important enough. If the lack of the edits makes, in your eyes, the question worthy of a down vote or a close vote, then do so and move on.

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Coming from the worldbuilding stack, I've been judge to these things over there too - from both perspectives.

To give a simple answer:

Edits are meant to improve a question. This most often means formatting the text or fixing orthographic & grammatical mistakes. Thus generally okay and desirable from the point of views of the site and the author are:

  • fixing the wrong spelling of words
  • replacing complex words with simpler words (to some extent)
  • structuring a block of text into paragraphs
  • indenting code so it is displayed with the code formatting
  • indenting quotes so they are displayed as such
  • fixing links to other sites (and optionally quoting their contents if necessary for the question)
  • correctly linking images or even uploading them to imgur and linking to the original source

The above things strive to improve readability of the question. They also aim to improve consistency between questions on the stack and making sure that questions are still viable even if e.g. a link goes down.


The edits that seem to have triggered your war at first appear to be about improving the wording in the question, yet looking closer at them they also remove whole parts of sentences.

While this might be helping the question you now also start changing it - no matter if intently or inadvertently. At this point the OP steps in and tells you that your changes do modify the question into something they did not originally ask.

Now you start to insist on your changes making the question better and clearer. The OP insists on them making it worse. Looking at the revision history, this has continued for 6 revisions of back and forth. While your changes might be for the better of the question the OP clearly tells you that they do not with you to change it in revision 8:

Rollback to Revision 2 - Stop reverting edits. They are not approriate edits. No means no.

At this point it is time to take a step back. No matter your intentions, the OP does not wish for your help. Even if they would like your help, the back and forth degraded this attempt into, as you called it already, a war, a show of strength & determination.

It is not your question. It is their question. And if they wanted to or not, they started getting protective - again this is a sign for you to step down.


How can you go on?:

  1. Stop fighting. The rolling back and forth of edits is indirect, there is no proper channel for any of you both to communicate your intents - thus it is happening in the first place
  2. Now you can either continue your quest to improve the question or accept it and move on. If you choose the latter then you can stop reading here, otherwise:
  3. Get on even ground: The OP has less than 200 rep, you have more than 3.5k rep. This means you have different privileges and powers on this site. Thus the OP might even feel oppressed by you.

    • start a chat between you and the OP, discuss your intentions there and find out why they won't see it the way you do. Discussion opens doors. Action closes them.
    • flag the question for Mod Attention to get a third party involved. Mods exist to moderate the community, they are here to reconcile between warring parties - always for the best of the site though, not necessarily for the best of you or the OP.

Well, that ended up less simple than I intended. It's also by no means an absolute guide but more of a list of things to think about.

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    \$\begingroup\$ It may be their question but it's very important that everybody understand that that doesn't mean they get to be the final authority on everything. SE is a collaboratively-edited community, and if that fact is off-putting to a user, a user should ask their question elsewhere. \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Oct 20 '17 at 16:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree with the advice to step back, but I see the scope of valid edits as much broader than what's suggested here. On the Gamedev SE, we get a lot of questions that are downright confused, and talk around the issue a lot instead of describing it in a way that will be meaningful to other devs, or use minimal/broken English that demands a lot of interpretation. In those cases I sometimes edit an almost complete re-write of the question, preserving the topic and relevant details, but often removing whole sections that turn out to be distracting from the real issue. \$\endgroup\$ – DMGregory Oct 20 '17 at 16:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DMGregory that's why I've added the preamble. I see what you say and understand these things to be different here from where I usually fare. Yet I think my experience from the other world can still help, so I tried to keep it general and stay on the safe side. Thank you for this addition ! \$\endgroup\$ – dot_Sp0T Oct 20 '17 at 16:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @JoshPetrie and that's why you eventually should flag such cases for mod attention. I tried to emphasize on this a bit with the for the best of the site part. But is somewhat drowned out by everything else.. \$\endgroup\$ – dot_Sp0T Oct 20 '17 at 16:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ (I don't disagree with anything your saying and think your answer is great, I just wanted to emphasis that point because I see it misunderstood so often by people rolling back good-faith edits.) \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Oct 20 '17 at 16:50

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