Editing posts

I don't think you should be allowed to edit your own post, with the possible exception that you can append to it, for example to correct a link.

I've seen two examples now in the past week where people have edited posts to substantially change what they say, instead of fixing minor typos. This really isn't good from a discussion point of view.

I don't agree with all Slashdot decisions, but I do with this one. Here's what they say about the issue in their FAQ:

Will you delete my comment?

No. We believe that discussions in Slashdot are like discussions in real life- you can't change what you say, you only can attempt to clarify by saying more. In other words, you can't delete a comment that you've posted, you only can post a reply to yourself and attempt to clarify what you've said.

In short, you should think twice before you click that 'Submit' button because once you click it, we aren't going to let you Undo it.

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I tend to agree. If you

I tend to agree. If you change your mind, I don't see any problem with posting a reply clarifying your point. If there's s small change, I'd just go ahead and change the original post, of course.

Posting a "I am going to edit this to a reply later" actually looked like a good idea, and I for one didn't find it objectionable.

Any more opinions?


I just wanted to object the OP, with a counter-example of "I am going to edit this to a reply later", but you made it first.
I do not insist on supporting full unification for posts, but at least transparent promises look ok :-)
On the other hand, update-only mode has a benefit of being mechanically enforcable (and also, it helps to avoid some race conditions by being monotonic (at least syntactically), though a natural language is too powerful to imply a semantic monotonicity :-) ).

I want the capability to fix my posts...

Not that I don't always get it right the first time around, but I like having that option just in case.

Have been through this same issue on a number of forii. Here's the solutions I've seen:

  1. No edit after submit
  2. Edit until someone replies to your message
  3. Edit until some arbitrary elapsed time
  4. Edit always, with history trail of the edits
  5. Edit always
Personally, I prefer #4, as it gives the ability to edit your posts always, as well as satisfying those who complain about edits. But short of that, LtU really does need the freedom to edit your own posts because (a) LtU is very link intensive - and links tend to drift over time; and (b) LtU has a lot of code snippets that require care and feedback.

Of course, one alternative is to make edit posts a Contributing Editor Only function - yet another reason for upgrading one's status.

Current setup

I believe LtU is using option 2, i.e. ordinary registered users can only edit their own comments until someone replies to them. (At least that's the intended behavior; I can't swear that configuration drift hasn't changed it...)

I don't believe Drupal has any ability to track comment change history, so #4 is probably not practical.

My impression is that people have usually used the power to change their comments fairly responsibly, so my own inclination is to leave things as they are unless there are serious problems. Perhaps if someone notices a comment change in a questionable way, they could post a polite notice to the commenter mentioning that they've been busted :) That way, we can get an idea for how often it's an issue, and guilty commenters get some feedback. (For all I know, I'm one: I've sometimes made additions or changes to very recently posted comments, although not to change what they're saying in any significant way.)

Editing: My Perspective

I believe LtU is using option 2, i.e. ordinary registered users can only edit their own comments until someone replies to them.

Really? Unless it stops you from actually posting the edit it appears that you can edit comments any time you feel like it and this is the way it has always been as far as I know. I'm not sure what the behaviour is for top-level posts. Personally, I'm in favor of allowing edits at all times. I'd prefer a history (option four), but in LtU's case I don't think it is all that critical (yet...). I say this because in practice I have rarely, if ever, noticed any malicious use of the ability to edit a post. Most significant edits are often marked a la [edit]. I do this as well, and the reason is I figured it was an unspoken convention of LtU. Usually when this is done the changes are appended or the "tag" mentions what changed and why. To sum up, the users of LtU tend to be conscientious about editing.

Freedom to edit

Unless it stops you from actually posting the edit it appears that you can edit comments any time you feel like it

You're right. I checked the code and it turns out that I've actually commented out the check for replies. This would have been in response to a discussion about the issue, although I can't find that right now.

and this is the way it has always been as far as I know.

The behavior I was remembering (edits allowed until replied to) is the default Drupal behavior in current versions, but I think we changed that quite early.

To sum up, the users of LtU tend to be conscientious about editing.

I agree, and that's the intended model. Again, I think any questionable edits could be replied to politely just so the original commenter knows that their edits are affecting people.

pseudonyms for safety?

What if someone says something giving you a nice fight or flight reaction? Does the opinion reflect a desire for fights that resolve problems? Because fights would preserve all the words. Or might withdrawal be an acceptable solution? What's the right etiquette? I always thought going for the eyes was a poor social reaction that loses dignity. Also, if you know how to use words to cause serious injury, defending yourself can be morally questionable. And why would you start a bar fight in the establishment of a friend?

Slashdot is also well known for anonymous posts under pseudonyms. If it was only safe to make interesting remarks on LtU under a pseudonym, then that would be the way to go when otherwise you might fear loss of your job. Perhaps your boss Moe has no sense of humor since as CEO of the company he doesn't need to have any. One moment you think you're having a bit of fun to blow off steam, and the next you see someone has committed you to an indiscretion by recasting your remarks into a bit of propaganda against your employer.

I wouldn't feel honest posting under a pseudonym, but that would be my choice in the future to write anything funny that can whiplash, for fear of loss of employment. Maybe you would not work for someone who scares the wits out of you at times. But some of us might no longer have much choice in the matter. I'd like to leave that up to Ehud: is it wrong or sleazy or otherwise inappropriate for me to use a pseudonym? You'd have little trouble seeing it was me, and I wouldn't have to sweat bullets any more over close calls.


I don't like pseudonyms, and we noticed that people with pseudonyms often post less civil posts, but I was always outnumbered in this debate by people who climed there are good honest real world reasons for pseudonyms so we decided to let people decide for themselves about such things.

It seems to me that techincal discussions, of the sort LtU encourges, shouldn't (and wouldn't) offend emplyers. Humour is more dangerous, of course. So the real question is: How much humour do we really want (or need) here on LtU? ;-)

i think you may be missing

i think you may be missing the issue by focussing on pseudonyms. i believe (to the extent that i'm writing a system based on the idea) that what is important is "persistence of identity". it really doesn't matter if you're called "haskellpimpolicious", "shapr" or "shae erisson" - what does matter is that the name is permanent over time, so that it accumulates a reputation of its own.

or, more exactly, "real names" give you that (to a limited extent) from the start, which is significant for people who are only passing through, but, for long-term members, pseudonyms work just as well.

the same goes for edits - anyone who makes major revisions to posts for "unacceptable" reasons will soon be called out and acquire a reputation. or rather, they won't do it because they don't want the bad rep. the danger is new/temporary members who abuse the system and move on (or, if you are unlucky, a crazy who sticks around and abuses the system while ignoring peer pressure).

and, finally, i think lambda is a pretty "sticky" site with a low turnover - people tend to stay here for a long time - so these issues are probably not that pressing (in fact, my impression is that this place has plateaued somewhat - has traffic levelled off?)

I agree that persistence of

I agree that persistence of identity is the main thing. I also think using your name is helpful.

No persistence of identity is totally unacceptable for a site like LtU, while pseudonyms are ok, even if I don't really like them for the reasons I already gave.

I thin, by the way, that almost everyone in this thread basically have the same feeling about these issues.

I often edit my posts many

I often edit my posts many times after the first submission and often I substantially change what I say. This is part of the editing process for me: some problems I see in the text box, others become obvious in the cold light of the discussion page, and the most valuable ones I don't recognise until someone else points them out to me. I do make the edits (such as this sentence) soon after the original post and try to be thoughtful if there are replies.

Just like problems in programs: some you will notice in Emacs, others become obvious on paper, and the rest you catch in the field. :-)

less humor, more technical

Ehud Lamm: So the real question is: How much humour do we really want (or need) here on LtU?

Exactly, not much humor is needed, except as grease within and between technical points. I basically broke format (having a blog flashback) and wrote a post that was all humor, instead of having a technical focus. Which made it possible for a passing visitor from Barsoom to retroactively put a banana peel under my foot. Which told me I'd made a mistake best fixed by removing my format error, rather than making a fuss. I try to make my sons follow a no hitting rule, and I try to follow it myself.

On the topic of what gives employers offense, it varies on company size and personality quirks of individuals. In very small companies, it's very individual. For some people, they can take offense by any result they don't like even if you didn't do it, and the rap is yours if you're closest. Freedom of speech might not even be nominal. Best to stick to programming language discussions (which have no relation to the real world :-) and avoid actual comments about products and companies, even in jest.

I don't like pseudonyms either, but I'd have a civil tongue and a name you'd have to recognize as the real name of someone no longer around.

re pseudonyms: Like I said,

re pseudonyms: Like I said, you be the judge. If you feel you should use one, the go ahead.

second use of this pseudonym

[Edit: this post is entirely frivolous, and inappriate everywhere on LtU in my opinion. It's only useful function is to state that I'm not contributing to recent strange traffic under another name. I don't know what's causing the traffic, though I worry I might be encouraging it by being funny. So no more humor after this.]

This Dukenfield user is my only pseudonym, for folks who care. None other is me. I'm posting this here because I didn't want to disturb the serious Curry-Howard thread with a long joke, just because it was prompted by a funny three stooges remark. But I thought someone might enjoy it.

Coincidentally during a gym workout today, a new dialog ran through my mind as I mulled a silly piece on why many languages are low level; the following is just a portion of it. I rarely commit such things to written form as a waste of time. But the mention of Curly Howard and the three stooges made this too tempting. :-) I hope folks forgive me for this nonsense.

[Cur is a character I've had in the wings for a while. Cur works for optimistic Moe as tame dog lackey. Poe is Moe's self-aggrandizing, fork-tongued expert. And as usual, Vex is a loose cannon associate of Poe -- a dead medieval gravedigger who looks just like Betelgeuse. Ged is the ironically ineffective good guy. Everyone is wearing hard hats in a deep foundation dig for some building.]

Ged: (shakes head) They pay you to dig this deep?
Poe: (grins) Yeah, you should see my budget... What?
Ged: Horns are showing. (to Vex) Gravedigging skills help any?
Vex: (snorts) Course not. But I can keep the cool stuff I find.
Ged: (points) Guy with the bowl cut there. He pays the bills?
Poe: (softly) Yeah, he's a riot. (louder) Moe, meet my nemesis.
Moe: (sidles) Here take these oxygen masks; you'll need'em later.
Ged: (frowns) Gas leak?
Moe: (shouts) No, for the altitude! 3700 floors going up today.
Poe: (nods) Probably, chief.  Unless your idiot drops the ball.
Moe: (laughs) Never! Cur, where are you boy? We're running late.
Cur: (eyes scrunched up, closed) Hey, Moe! Help, I can't see!
Moe: (furious) Open your eyes, you moron.
Ged: (awed) Damn, where did you find these guys?
Poe: (shrugs) Reruns. Neither are coders--just play one on tv.
Vex: (runs off) Come on, Cur!  It's lunch, let's play fetch.
Ged: (points finger) No. No, I'm not getting you out of this.
Poe: (palm up) You flinch too easy. Just hang around a while.

no problem with editing

I have no problem with people editing previous posts, most of the time edits add content and aren't revisionist. IMO its also make a thread easier to read. Also, I agree with Ehud and Rys that pseudonyms are a bad thing.


I just edited a post because I accidentally replied to the top-level rather than one of the threads and it got duplicated... Actually, it gives me the "Reply" page when I hit "Edit" for that one (although I've been able to edit other posts). Intended behavior?