What is the proper thing to do when you consistently encounter a user submitting edits that add value (correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, formatting) but occasionally and consistently apply personal bias to questions and answers?

By this I mean adding "clarification" that isn't warranted from the question, or even adding suggestions or questions that are not part of the original author's thoughts.

I have rejected one or two of these as clearly "changing intent", and deferred a couple of others, but I can see a pattern of questionable editing. Is there anything to do besides reject the edits? I am concerned* that once a user like that has enough rep, it may be a free-for-all...

*ok, not THAT concerned

  • \$\begingroup\$ Posting the link to the edit in question would have been helpful. \$\endgroup\$ – Ricardo Dec 13 '15 at 13:55

Anything that looks like a suspicious behavior pattern should be brought to the attention of the moderators by flagging the post(s) involved. Explain in the flag exactly what you think is wrong.

We have access to additional tools that can confirm or deny the pattern, and then we can take appropriate action.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Do you mean flag during the review process, or flag the question separately with the 'flag' button as in 'share edit flag' just above this comment? --if you mean during review, how specifically? \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel Dec 12 '15 at 21:46

It always help to have concrete examples of the issue being discussed in a meta question, if that doesn't put any of the users involved in a difficult situation. Since I don't think this is the case, I'll go out on a limb and hazard a guess. Are you talking about these edits that came out today?

If so, I happened to come across a few of these myself as well. I approved most of them, but skipped this one that I was unsure of. I would have rejected it, but I now think 4 times before putting down decent contributions. In the end, two other reviewers rejected the edits, so we are now very much certain that the rejection was indeed needed.

In this particular case, the user is really just trying to be helpful and the change in meaning are actual improvements, and are harmless. In any case, the edits can always be ultimately checked by the OP anyway, so I don't this particular case is cause for concern at all.

In general, as an editor, feel free to reject the edits you think change the original meaning too much, making sure you select the correct reject reason. If needed, choose the custom reason and explain very well why the edit is being rejected. That has a very good didactic effect on the editor and will probably fix any behavioral issues. If it doesn't, flag the question for moderation action or bring the issue to meta, just like you did.

Just be careful not to scare the editor away. These contributions are valued here and we want these sort of people around. Over time I learned that the best way to correct minor problems is being gentle. Being too hands-on usually provokes unwanted commotion.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I'm guessing that's not what the OP is talking about. Someone recently tried to edit one of my answers to change it in a substantial way, even deleting a whole paragraph or two at the end. Fortunately, others rejected the edit before I even knew it happened. The three edits you show above that you approved seem like ordinary cleanup of badly written text, not changes to the original author's intent. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Dec 13 '15 at 13:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ Uhm, OK. That's good to know. That's why these meta questions must mention the concrete cases in discussion. Otherwise, they are just wasting our time. \$\endgroup\$ – Ricardo Dec 13 '15 at 13:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @OlinLathrop No, Ricardo's right. There are other items as well. I just didn't want to call anybody out in public. These aren't big edits, but IMO it's a pattern of putting words in mouths. Sometimes changing the question in ways that are not appropriate for the skill level of the original question... which would then lead to answers that are not suitable for the asker. Once or twice random information has been added and I can't determine where it came from... that sort of thing \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel Dec 13 '15 at 17:41

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