A user with a much higher reputation just edited my answer. That's okay, a lot of others have changed posts from me e.g. to correct spelling/grammar (I'm no English native speaker).

But now MrMeritology has changed the content of my answer in a way that it reflects the inverse of my original answer. Why are such major edits that delete whole paragraphs from an answer possible without the review and agreement of the original author?

The help pages list the reasons for editing and explicitly say "without changing the meaning" but this is exactly what this user did.

I accept when people not agree with my answer... they can vote them down, or answer with another post reflecting another view. But this really pisses me off. Is this behavior common in this community?

  • 6
    Your question shows that it might be a good practice to briefly explain major edits in the comments to the edited question and to invite the OP to roll back the edit if it disfigures the original intention. Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 11:21
  • @henning I typically do exactly this myself --- it would likely be good to codify it as part of site best practices somewhere.
    – jakebeal
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 11:31
  • @jakebeal i noticed. and followed your example. Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 12:36
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    I suggest being a bit more charitable. I don't think I'd characterize MrMeritology's edit as "reflect[ing] the inverse of your answer". The edit leaves your original suggestion, and adds at the end an alternative if the journal prohibits your main suggestion. That's probably not a great edit to make (I would not make that edit myself, and I would not approve such an edit, if I were reviewing it), but I wouldn't characterize it as inverting your answer. The edit has other problems, but I think it's good to be careful about how we characterize things we disagree with.
    – D.W.
    Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 0:22

1 Answer 1


Let's distinguish between "can" and "should."

Another user can edit your answer to a completely different answer because there is no automated system that clearly distinguish between a complex but sense-preserving edit and a sense-modifying edit.

On this site, where there is a great deal of personal "voice" expected in answers, there is generally a strong conservatism against significant modification of content generated by others (see, e.g., these meta questions).

The problem, of course, is that "significant modification" is a subjective judgement. What you feel to be significant, another may think is minor. As the original poster of content, however, you are the ultimate judge of what you feel is too far a change of your words. If you are unhappy with an edit, just roll it back. If the editor disagrees and you can't sort things out peaceably in comments, then bringing it here to meta is entirely appropriate.

Bottom line, the ethos that I have observed on this site is: sense-preserving edits are OK, but be conservative and the OP's judgement generally trumps that of the editor.

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    "just roll it back" deserves to be emphasized. Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 11:12
  • 4
    @henning Please feel free to make that edit. :-)
    – jakebeal
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 11:13
  • Another moderator rolled back the post for me (as I didn't understand how this works before). I'd suggest a button or link next to the several versions of a post that works like "roll back to this version". In my opinion this would be easier to understand. Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 11:14
  • @AndréKleinschmidt That's a fine example of a feature request to propose on Meta.SE, where the overall site developers can consider it.
    – jakebeal
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 11:17
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    Maybe I was a little blind before or someone changed this instantly O_o .. But looking to the revisions-history of my answer I now can see a link names "rollback" ... It's only missing at the latest version, what seems logical due rolling back to current version makes no sense. I'm confused. But actually now I know what to do if I feel my post's intentions got destroyed by other's edits. Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 11:30
  • 6
    Correct. The latest version does not have a "rollback" link. Instead, you click on the "rollback" link of the version to which you wish to return.
    – aeismail
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 11:42
  • 1
    Well put! I'll have to remember this so that I can point to it in future meta discussions.
    – Pops
    Commented Jul 8, 2015 at 22:43
  • Yeah, people should not be editing for content except in rare cases where removing the content does not affect the message, and usually that's only with the go-ahead from a mod to do so (i.e. carve the rant out of a question)
    – Compass
    Commented Jul 9, 2015 at 18:47
  • @Compass can you post that as a new question. As a mod, I do not feel like I need to pre-approve edits. In my mind high rep users are perfectly capable of moderating themsleves, especially with the help of the review queues nd the abiIity to rollback edits. There have really only been a few cases where issues have been brought up in meta or a mod has had to step in and lock a post.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Jul 29, 2015 at 13:48

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