# Is there any way to detect / prevent user repeatedly performing minor edits to bring the post into top pages?

A new user (including me) may want more reputation from not so good question and answers. A way to make the post popular is making it to the top page. The trick I discovered is repeatedly doing minor edits. whuber discovered that and asked me not to do so....

The frequent occurrence of tiny edits suggests you are no longer improving the post, but only attempting to draw attention to it. Your attention to detail and dedication to getting it right are admirable, but there is a cost: the entire thread keeps popping up in the queue. People will tire of reviewing it. Please limit edits to important changes that are clear improvements--such as fixing errors or clarifying the post. A better way to bring attention to a well-crafted answer is to post comments (or substantial answers) in related threads and provide links back here.

But, is there any way to automatically detect / prevent user repeatedly performing minor edits to bring the post into top pages?

• The "Community" bot posts a warning to mods whenever the number of edits made by a user exceeds a certain threshold. It's sufficiently high that few people exceed it unless they are working on lengthy and controversial posts.
– whuber Mod
Sep 21, 2016 at 20:18
• I didn't have the foggiest that editing changed anything but what was being worked on. I frankly would not use that to get attention, and, I edit things sometimes intensively not because I know what I doing, but when I do not, which is when I am making mistakes. The one good question that I do for teaching has gotten the most attention, and there is not necessarily a healthy relationship between editing and getting scores, and most of the stuff I edit intensely gets unsympathetic attention. So, maybe the attention for editing is what needs looking at, not the editing itself.
– Carl
Sep 23, 2016 at 3:36
• I have added some relevant tags. Sep 23, 2016 at 12:41
• Improvement of one's posts is something to encourage and not to ban, even if the improvement is small. If small edits draw too much visibility to posts and it's seen as unfair to contributors working harder, then we should change the system not to put minor edited posts on top of the main page, but we shouldn't prevent people to improve posts.
– Pere
Sep 26, 2016 at 16:48
• I just noticed that when an answer gets edited, it gets moved to top of answers with the same number of votes in the question page. I think thins behaviour should be changed because it only encourages the kind of spam editing we are talking about here.
– Pere
Sep 27, 2016 at 9:45
• @Pere: Good point, & it's been much discussed on SE Meta, e.g Is there a way to edit a question without bumping it to the front page?. If there were a way to detect automatically that a small edit had not or barely changed the meaning of a sentence, I daresay something of the sort would've already been implemented. But as it is we do encourage improvements; while imploring people to try & make them in as few edits as they can, & moaning sometimes at those who seem to be making rather more than necessary. It doesn't work too badly in practice. Sep 28, 2016 at 11:08

(To make sure this gets an answer)

As whuber mentions, there's an automatic mechanism to detect large numbers of edits and flag the moderators (the community bot is a source of a variety of flags of unusual/noteworthy behavior ... including this issue).

We can then take a look and see if the behaviour is a problem or not. For example, someone may tend to post lengthy posts and come back later and edit in diagrams, links and references in a sequence edits -- it's possible to trigger the warning to mods while making largely substantive edits -- but the mods will be able to see that. (Even then it's best to try to make more changes per edit and fewer edits; but I know as well as anyone that if you're not very careful it's easy to go over with long posts. Even when I try to compose them off-line, I still think of a series of improvements after the fact, and then followup issues/questions in comments will lead to more edits and then I'll remember a similar answer with a useful insight that I want to link to or use an image from, and so on ... and then after I think it's finally finished, I'll see a stray sentence-fragment I somehow missed, and think "Oh, I have to fix that". Next thing you know you have triggered the bot.)

(Personally I would like to be able to turn off the bumping if I make an edit on my own post within say an hour of the last bump - and if it has already bumped a few times I think for people with full edit privileges on their own posts it should stop bumping up the queue altogether)

[Edit: Silverfish explains in comments why the last part is too general. I may modify it later to take account of the objection raised.]

• I generally concur but I'd personally disagree with the last paragraph: from the point of view of a reader, the activity page is meant to show us activity. Many edits (including by users with privileges) are quite substantial. I think I'd be happy with minor edits being filtered out from the queue (below a certain number of characters?) but not more than that - I've often clicked on a thread due to an edit, even one I've seen before, and been glad I did. Sep 22, 2016 at 0:07
• @Silverfish Yeah, fair enough - with a sufficiently substantive change it should still be there. I think users with full edit privileges ought to be able to judge when it's large enough to make an edit (e.g. one thing I think is important to fix even if it's the only change is fixing spelling of keywords in titles) but minor enough not to bother the queue with ("yes, I changed autoregersive modles to autoregressive models ... will anyone care to see that?"). Perhaps a button would serve. But anyway I don't expect any such thing to happen, I believe similar ideas have already been suggested Sep 22, 2016 at 0:35
• @amoeba funnily, I'd want to keep it when editing other people's posts -- and not just because even tag edits to other people's posts may still need review -- but because the original author might get some upvotes out of it. I think you and Silverfish have given some reasons why it's probably just me that would want it this way. Sep 22, 2016 at 1:12
• One device to screen out edits "unworthy" of a bump could be those where the user has not bothered to explain the edits in the designated field. I, for example, often edit my own posts when I spot a typo because I am too vain to have my posts to contain these, but I would totally support that this does not bump them to the top of the queue. Sep 28, 2016 at 11:56