I suggested an edit which was rejected. I would like some input on whether this sort of edit is desired, and what the recommended course of action would be from here on.

The edit: https://scifi.stackexchange.com/review/suggested-edits/39997

(addendum: I am suddenly unsure whether the edit was rejected after all, I just checked it again and it now says "approved" as well as "rejected", apparently the votes are still coming in. Perhaps my question here was premature)

The original answer is a story-identification answer. The answer is very short, listing only story name and author, does not cite any sources, and in my opinion does not meet the quality standards of this site; but (and this is quite and important distinction in my mind) I have no doubt that it is the correct answer to the question.

All it is lacking is some more references that demonstrate why it is the correct answer.

The answer has been left undisturbed for 8 hours, and the author only has this single answer, so it seems unlikely that they will come back to edit it.

I have added the relevant quotes from the novel to demonstrate that this is indeed the novel that the questions was asking for.

I took care to only add direct quotes from the novel, and as little of my own commentary as possible, and I cannot really imagine this being against the intent of the original author.

Is the general consensus that such edits should not be made?

The edit is definitely too long for a comment. I suppose another possibility is to add this edit as yet another answer. I do not like this solution for the following reason.

  • the first answer is the correct one. it seems disrespectful to copy that answer, only adding my quotes, when I alone would not have been able to identify the story.
  • two answers that say essentially the same thing are confusing and unnecessary.
  • adding another answer still leaves the site with a sub-standard answer. Editing the original leaves only a (IMHO) good answer
  • 5
    This has been discussed several times before, for instance in Why do some one line story identification answers get so many upvotes?, and the consensus, I think, is that editing to provide more details is a valid and legitimate edit. Oct 22, 2014 at 10:33
  • 4
    It was rejected by one reviewer, but approved by two others. "Patience you must have, my young padawan."
    – SQB
    Oct 22, 2014 at 10:46
  • 10
    "and the original author seems unlikely to return to this answer after 8 hours." Seriously? A guy goes to bed for the night, and he's declared as likely never to return to the site? Come on.
    – phantom42
    Oct 22, 2014 at 13:11
  • 1
    I never claimed he would never return to the site (although I might, if my first and only answer did correctly answer the question but was then downvoted and subsequently copied into another answer). But in my experience answers are substantially edited by the author within the first few minutes after giving them, and very rarely 8 hours later, especially by new users. Do you consider it at all likely that the answer would have been extended by the original poster? @phantom42
    – HugoRune
    Oct 22, 2014 at 13:37
  • 1
    We have absolutely seen instances where we asked new users to expand their answer, and they've come back and done it, even hours later.
    – phantom42
    Oct 22, 2014 at 13:41
  • 2
    @HugoRune I have edited my answers hours, even days later if I feel the need to expand it/add new info Oct 22, 2014 at 13:50
  • @phantom42 Or is at work, that's ~12 hours where I'm not active. Or is at school, which is ~9 hours where I'm from. Or only visits at one point in the day, so ~24 hours, or only visits on weekends so ~120 hours... ('tho that last one is kinda pushing it)
    – Izkata
    Oct 22, 2014 at 22:36
  • @phantom42 Just out of curiosity, what percentage of first-time posters ever return to the site? For purposes of this question, define "ever" to mean "in the next year".
    – user14111
    Oct 23, 2014 at 0:50
  • There's probably a good data explorer way to count up active users with more than one login. Maybe I'll dig around, but there are a couple of aces with that system here that could probably figure it out way better than I.
    – phantom42
    Oct 23, 2014 at 1:46

3 Answers 3


If you look again, you'll see that the edit was approved.

Approved 8 mins ago:
ash_k29 reviewed this 8 mins ago: Approve
jono reviewed this 40 mins ago: Approve
Shevliaskovic reviewed this 1 hour ago: Reject

It takes 2 votes to reject or approve it, so people vote until one of the two options receive two votes.

I was the one that rejected the edit because it was the original answerer that posted the link to the story, but it was you who added all the details. I feel like you deserve as much credit as the original answerer. You did a lot of work that he didn't.

The original answer was 10 words, but your edit was a fully legitimate answer.

  • 8
    I see your point, and I considered answering myself, but I don't particularly care about the rep, and I would feel bad for scaring away a new user that after all took the time to register and give the correct answer (which may have been totally sufficient for the asker). Adding my own answer would probably have increased the downvotes on the existing answer, and I don't think it deserves that. I greatly prefer the current solution.
    – HugoRune
    Oct 22, 2014 at 11:22
  • A small factual correction. The original answerer did not post a link to the story. I was the culprit. I found the link after some trouble (not knowing it was a web-only story, I first search the ISFDB in vain), and then edited in the link, in an act of minor (I hope) vandalism.
    – user14111
    Oct 23, 2014 at 0:41
  • 7
    That's a terrible reason to reject an edit! If someone wants to help another answer even though they won't get the rep for it, let them! (Note I'm not saying the edit should or should not have been approved. The other answers here are good. But your reason for rejecting it is wrong.) Oct 23, 2014 at 2:41

I would have rejected this, had I been around. I was gone for over 8 hours, though. I hope no one declared me as having abandoned the site.

  • Yes, all questions and answers are CC licensed. You are within your rights to edit the answer. However, the accepted policy is to not "substantially" (yes, a subjective term) edit other people's posts. You added 2109 characters to a post that was 164. That's over 1200%. I don't judge the edits based solely on character count, but it is indicative of just how substantial of an edit we're talking about.
  • At first blush, your edits seem valid. To validate them and ensure that they were correct edits, I would have had to go check and do research. To me, that's too radical of a change.

To me, edits to answers or questions by other people should be restricted to things like spelling, grammar, formatting, and things like additions of links to sources/references that were already mentioned but not actually linked, or reasonably helpful images.

  • I wholly agree. A 1200% revision isn't a revision. It's an entirely new answer that happens to be in the same spot.
    – Valorum
    Oct 22, 2014 at 13:37
  • I feel like this "abandoning the site after 8 hours" stuff is really misrepresenting what I said. I never claimed that someone who has not visited the site for 8 hours has abandoned it, merely that someone who has posted an answer 8 hours ago is probably finished with editing it. Or in other words, the likelihood that the answer would improve without a third-party edit is much lower after 8 hours than it would be after 30 minutes. In addition to this, a new user may not even know how to edit their own answer, and may be less inclined to do so after a negative initial feedback
    – HugoRune
    Oct 22, 2014 at 13:50
  • I'm still editing an answer I wrote 7 months ago. Not coming back to edit an answer after a day, I could get behind if you catch me in the right/wrong mood - but a time period spanning a person going to work or to bed is way too short to make that assumption.
    – phantom42
    Oct 22, 2014 at 13:53
  • 1
    But in the end, when you made the edits make no difference - the fact that they are effectively writing a whole new answer on top of theirs is the only thing that matters to me.
    – phantom42
    Oct 22, 2014 at 13:54
  • "You are within your rights to edit the answer. However, the accepted policy is to not "substantially" (yes, a subjective term) edit other people's posts." [citation needed]
    – Braiam
    Jun 26, 2017 at 14:30

My opinion is that an edit that changes the answer substantively should be rejected. A good rule of thumb would be where where you've added or subtracted more than 50% of the original content.

In this case your edit amounts to extreme vandalism. Good vandalism, admittedly but vandalism nonetheless.

Additionally, your hard work should be rewarded. In this case you've put a lot of effort into locating quotes to back up the answer. Other users would no doubt wish to show their appreciation to you.

  • 2
    But is it fair then for him to post an answer that basically offers the same information, but with more breadth? Wouldn't that make the answers duplicate? (I was under the impression that duplicate answers were frowned upon. Correct me if I'm wrong)
    – Zibbobz
    Oct 22, 2014 at 13:22
  • 3
    Surely a substantively edit is not defined by the number of characters, but by the way it changes the intent of the answer? If I had changed the answer to include a second possible novel, or claimed that this probably was not the right answer for reasons a, b and c, or added my own commentary about the quality of the story, that would be an inappropriate edit, no matter how many words I used to express it. But just adding quotes and sources that affirm the original claim does not modify any of the intent.
    – HugoRune
    Oct 22, 2014 at 13:29
  • @Zibbobz - I'd say no. A duplicate is where the answers are substantially the same. In this case, the book-ident might be the same book but if he's offering new information (in this case a run-down of why the answer is the right one) then it should be a new answer.
    – Valorum
    Oct 22, 2014 at 13:32
  • 6
    @Zibbobz Often times, there are just essentially race conditions. Just a few days ago, Richard and I posted the same answer within about a minute of each other. It happens. We do, however, tend to frown upon on identical answers or answers with less information if they are made at a significantly later date.
    – phantom42
    Oct 22, 2014 at 13:35

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