7

I'd guess that this user does this kind of edits to gain more points for these very old answers.

They edit one letter or add one tag to the question and so they come up to the top although they did not really change in the last years. Here is a screenshot how this looks like:

Screenshot of senseless mass edits

And here is a list of some of the posts:

Do magical pests only infest Wizard houses and buildings?
Is there any evidence that Alastor Moody taught the Defense Against the Dark Arts (or any other) class?
What makes the Whomping Willow so valuable to Snape?

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    Three of them are not old answers; they in fact were just answered within a day of the edits. – Alex May 15 '20 at 0:54
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    FWIW, given the user's existing reputation, rep hunting seems unlikely in this case. Once you've unlocked all the privileges with a bit more to spare, any extra rep becomes mostly meaningless. (It does have some psychological effect, of course, but one kind of hits diminishing returns there too: the psychological difference between "wow, that's a lot of rep" and "wow, that's a lot of rep" + 10k isn't really all that great.) I suppose they could be trying to hunt for tag badges, but I doubt it. – Ilmari Karonen May 17 '20 at 18:44
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    @IlmariKaronen You're probably right for this specific user, but the general assumption that high-rep users are less likely to be rep hunting isn't really valid in my experience. If anything, maybe the opposite: the people more obsessed with rep might be those most likely to get lots of it. – Rand al'Thor May 17 '20 at 20:39
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    The question title probably should be phrased gender neutrally (instead of "he"). After all, it's not only male users who might engage in these mass-minor-edits. – AJM-Reinstate-Monica May 18 '20 at 17:00
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    Done... sorry: in German the noun „user“ itself is masculine. Therefor the translation into „he“. Didn‘t mean to discrimate anybody. – Torsten Link May 18 '20 at 17:18
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    @TorstenLink: In English, though 'user' is of course genderless, it is acceptable to refer to indefinite persons with the pronoun 'he', and has been for centuries much more common than not. That usage is becoming less common - you just jumped into the middle of a language war. :) Though you can clearly do what you prefer in your own writing, keep it in mind when reading others that they may not at all actually mean a man when using he. Depending on usage, it can be a gender neutral pronoun. – Shamshiel May 25 '20 at 11:49
  • I will admit that very occasionally if I notice an old question that is near 10k views, I will examine the question and see if there are any minor edits I can make that improve it slightly.... which has the side effect bumping it to the front page so it then gets over the 10k view mark. So it is certainly plausible that the user is doing this for .... reasons. – ThePopMachine Jul 24 '20 at 15:52
11

There is possibility of a bit of hunting for badges going on here.

Without checking exactly when the answer was made and when the edit was made...

There are three badges (Explainer, Refiner, and Illuminator) that require an answer and an edit withing twelve (12) hours of each other.

There all are also three badges for editing (Editor, Strunk & White, and Copy Editor) along with two badges for editing older posts (Excavator and Archaeologist)

Finally there are two badges for answering an old question and receiving a certain number of votes (Revival and Necromancer).

HOWEVER!

What is wrong with that? The site is clearly encouraging this behavior! For a network that wants to be a "Q&A repository" it is certainly a good thing to keep questions and answers as up-to-date, free of errors, and tagged properly.

So what do you do about it?

DO NOTHING!

As was mentioned in the other answer we do have an informal policy of only editing 5 of the top 15 posts by the same user. So while in this particular instance our rule was "broken", it is not against site policy.

IF you must do something...

Typically this is just a user getting a little overzealous and/or having ample free time to hone in on a specific set of questions. IF (big if) a pattern emerges that a single user is doing mass edits over and over again, you can do one of three things:

  1. leave a comment gently reminding them of the rule
  2. ping them in chat gently reminding them of rule
  3. flag for moderator attention so they can gently remind them of the rule
    notice the emphasis on gently
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    FWIW, it seems that in this case the user in question already has all the badges you named. – Ilmari Karonen May 17 '20 at 18:40
  • Thank you, I understand: making (even minor) edits to 3 year old posts that bring them to the top page is not against any rule... I don‘t like the fact, but I accept the policy of the site and will not bother with such things anymore. – Torsten Link May 17 '20 at 21:28
8

You have a couple of things to think of here:

  • Are the edits worthwhile? Correcting typos, adding useful tags etc. Think if you saw that edit on a new post would you think twice about it?

    A quick look at the ones you provided and they do seem to be useful, correcting typos and adding relevant tags.

  • Is the user abiding by the informal 5 in 15 policy? This is where one user should only really have 5 edits from the top 15 posts on the home page.

    There’s 7 in the screenshot plus an answer. In this case a small comment to the user reminding them of the policy is in order. If they don’t stop then raise it to the mods.

I don’t see anything problematic with the behaviour except the 5 in 15 policy. As long as the edits are good then there isn’t a problem. We shouldn’t discourage worthwhile edits just because it’s an old post and that user has an answer on it.

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    Thank you for your answer. What made me curious: To most of them he added the "Hogwarts" tag that does not quite add to the (2-3 years old) questions. And only in some of them he corrected a minor spelling error. In addition to the screenshot there are 2 more edits within the same time frame... That makes 9 edits within 2 minutes...Smells "fishy" to me, as he only edited questions where he has the accepted answer... – Torsten Link May 14 '20 at 16:51
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    @TorstenLink as long as the tag makes sense on the question not really a problem. And we shouldn’t discourage fixing typos. Some people regularly go through their old posts and notice things to fix. The rate can be lowered but as long as the edits are useful it isn’t a problem. – TheLethalCarrot May 14 '20 at 16:56

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