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Background:

I would like to ask the community to consider doing a large cleanup of Star Wars content to account for new Post-Disney reality.

As part of my proposals, I would like for any mention of C-canon (or S-canon, or G-canon) in answers to to be appended with "(Legends canon)" string, unless that post already has answers that have "Legends" string.

This would be extremely infeasible to do as a community (too many posts to edit; AND would totally throw recent posts list out of whack).

As such, assuming the community agrees, I would like to request this to be done on the backend, in the database, by SE team.


Question

Leaving aside whether the specific edits I have in mind are a good or a bad idea, How realistic is it to request SE team to do a global search-and-replace in all the posts?

If there is acknowledgement that this is indeed something SE would agree to do, I will post an actual proposal of the edits for the community to judge.

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  • I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess probably not. I don't know all the ins and outs of how the site works, though. – Slytherincess Dec 20 '14 at 15:08
  • I really like this idea. Devil's advocate: What would stop people requesting a whole bunch of changes like this? – Möoz Dec 21 '14 at 21:46
  • @Mooz - Well, I suspect that if this got the support of a bunch of high-rep users and site moderators, then it would have a chance. That's not something that'll happen a lot. – Valorum Dec 21 '14 at 22:58
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    Personally, I'd rather such powers be used to update the incorrect instances of "Wookie" and "Wookiepedia" to their correct spellings. – phantom42 Dec 22 '14 at 3:15
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Leaving aside whether the specific edits I have in mind are a good or a bad idea, How realistic is it to request SE team to do a global search-and-replace in all the posts?

Honestly... not very realistic. Mass replacement is tricky, but even setting that aside, you can't divorce the merit of the changes from the feasibility of requesting for them.

The two go hand in hand. If something is super easy but a bad idea, we're still not going to do it. On the other hand, if something is a great idea but currently impossible, we may be more inclined to put effort into it.

However, having said that...

If there is acknowledgement that this is indeed something SE would agree to do, I will post an actual proposal of the edits for the community to judge.

Come up with a proposal, convince us of the need, and we will consider putting some dev time behind it. No promises, but I also don't see this as any different from any other feature request.

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  • Ah. If this requires heavy development (I'm a bit surprised - as a developer, this sounds like a 20 line Perl script to me {10 if you don't need to batch}, but I of course don't know your system's complexity), I would probably opt for discretion. The problem isn't life-and-death enough to warrant serious dev effort - or at least, I'm not up to the task of selling the idea that it is. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 23 '14 at 1:46
  • @DVK "Heavy development" is relative. I have no idea what you're actually proposing (and I'm not a big enough Star Wars fan to even know what you're talking about, to be honest), so I'm assuming it's not a straight up phrase replacement... and I don't want to make the clbuttic mistake. – Adam Lear Dec 23 '14 at 1:49
  • There were several ideas on exact changes, but 100% of them were basically a s/// regex on post IDs identified by a single query. That was why I was hoping it's a trivial thing that SE already has in place as a generic tool. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 23 '14 at 1:54
  • ... (the assumption being that both the query and the regex are produced by the people asking, not by SE team) – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 23 '14 at 1:57
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    @DVK So we're back to "write up your actual proposal, not a 'should I write up a proposal?' question." Let the community vet it, contribute, etc. Then we can talk specifics. – Adam Lear Dec 23 '14 at 1:58
  • E.g. s/\B(C-canon)\B/$1 (Legends brand)/g; – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 23 '14 at 1:58
  • I know where you're coming from (and it's a fair point), but the cost of writing up a proposal on SFF.SE Meta is pretty high for me, both in terms of time/effort, and in terms of nervous energy I have to expend to fend off moderator opposition. I am somewhat reluctant to do that if there's no realistic chance of getting the proposal executed in the first place. Catch-22. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 23 '14 at 2:00
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    @DVK - you have my full support on this. I think this needs addressing, certainly before the new film comes out and lots of people descend on the site asking questions that cover both canon and non-canon properties. – Valorum Dec 23 '14 at 10:17
  • @DVK - I'm also tempted to write up a "canon-guide" to answering Star Wars questions that covers what should and shouldn't be included in a good answer – Valorum Dec 23 '14 at 10:20
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Probably extremely unlikely.

I don’t think they already have this capability, and I doubt they’d write it just for this.

Stack Overflow titan Jon Skeet was asking about the possibility of mass editing dead blog links back in July, and was told by SE Dev Nick Craver:

We don't have a way to do this, but as luck happens we're software developers.

It sounds like it’s been done, but it also sounds like this was a special one-off just for Jon. A comment from Nick makes it sound like this isn’t a tool they have routinely:

this would be a developer route I deploy, run, and nuke one time in our code base

I think it’s very unlikely that the SE Devs would want to spend time on this feature, for what is a relatively inconsequential change. Old Star Wars posts don’t lose value because they don’t include these edits, whereas losing hundreds of Jon Skeet links probably would lose some value.

Especially because it sounds like your edits are more than just simple URL replacements: it would need to know which posts included content about legends canon, and which just happened to mention it in passing.

(And that’s putting aside the question of whether this is even something we should do, to which my answer is firmly “No”.)

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  • Given that DVK is asking for a one-time thing, perhaps it might be do-able and worth asking? We can leave it to the staff to decide whether it's worth it for them to keep it as an ongoing tool. But as developers we know that this is possible in the DB back-end. – Möoz Dec 21 '14 at 21:45
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    @Mooz I’m not saying it isn’t possible, but it clearly isn’t something they can do right now, and I don’t think we could convince them that this is worth spending time on. – alexwlchan Dec 22 '14 at 6:21

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