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My several weeks old answer was edited today: the only change was italicization of all three occurences of "robots.txt". I’d consider this a "too minor" edit.

3 seconds after the edit, the answer was unupvoted:

unupvote: -10 reputation

Looks to me as if the only reason for the edit was to be able to remove the vote that was done weeks ago.

This is aggravated by the fact that this edit was done by the only other person that answered the question.

I have no objections against removing votes that were done some time ago, but it’s my understanding that the current system doesn’t allow it unless the question was edited after voting. Although I don’t understand why this is necesary, editing a question just to be able to change/remove votes seems to misuse the system. What do you think?

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The user referred to consistently edits a large number of posts on a daily basis (with 1/3 more total edits than any other member), helping to improve spelling, grammar, and standardize formatting for the site.

Since the edits are consistent with other edits by this user (and similarly approved for other members), if indeed they changed their vote, it's more likely they changed their mind after closely reviewing the answer, which is required when editing them. So the supposition that they edited the question just to change their vote seems unlikely. In any case, they did comment the answer, which is suggested should a user downvote or unvote one.

In short, I don't think this is intentional "misuse" of the system. The question of whether an editor should be permitted to change their votes after editing a question is a fair one, though perhaps should be directed to the community managers since members and moderators are unable to make changes to the way Stack Exchange sites operate.

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Zistoloen is by far our most prolific post editor. Overall, I find his edits appropriate and appreciated.

"Too minor" edits are most problematic when they don't fix all the problems in a post. In the case of your post, there are no other problems to fix. They could also be problematic when they are done by new users for some easy reputation points. Zistolen doesn't get reputation for editing as he is past 2000.

Zistolen has made minor edits to several of my posts and I appreciate those. Sometimes he fixes issues as minor as changing "Google webmaster tools" to "Google Webmaster Tools". Edits that slightly improve an already good post in this way are appropriate from experienced users of this site in my opinion.

As for "robots.txt", maybe we should have a sitewide guideline for how it should be formatted. I usually like to see file names with some sort of special formatting compared to the rest of the text. Myself, I tend to use code formatting.

As for removal of the upvote, you are assuming that it was Zistolen, but that is just an assumption. His edit opened the door for anybody who previously upvoted to remove the vote and any one of them may have done so. Even as a moderator, I have no way to verify who votes on what (or who removes votes.)

Using a minor edit as an excuse to remove a down vote is certainly not keeping in the spirit of this site. Zistolen, if you are in the habit of doing that, please stop. As you can see, it looks bad and can make other editors unhappy.

Unor, I want to say to you that I find your answers to be insightful and helpful. If I encounter a question that you have answered, I almost always feel relieved that I can upvote your answer rather than try to come up with an answer myself.

The voting and reputation on this site is very addictive and it is one of the things that gets me coming back to the site. Every once in a while I need to remind myself that these are imaginary internet points and my real goal on this site is to provide help to those who need it in an area in which I have a great deal of expertise. It is tempting to let the competition for points get in the way of that.

I would hate to see bad feelings about 10 reputation points and who has the higher scored answer on a single question alienate either one of two of the best contributors we have to this site.

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Attributing anything to malice by default in a collaborative setting is the path to insanity; try to always assume the best in folks. A quick look through history shows that a large number of similar edits were made, which means:

  • Someone changed their mind after reading the post again
  • Someone accidentally clicked on the up-vote button again
  • Someone owns a cat and walked away from their desk for a while

... any number of things other than someone specifically targeting old posts to un-upvote in order to have their answers rank higher make more sense than it actually happening.

Now, if this were to happen to maybe five or more of your posts, it would border on community-hostile activity and might be worthy of intervention by the moderators. But one post? That's not much to consider.

1

I'm not sure it's a good idea to accuse:

  • someone with no proof
  • someone who has authority on this site (especially for editing)
  • someone who gave you many reputation points for your good questions and answers

I'm trying to standardize formatting on this site and I used to italicizing file names like for robots.txt or .htaccess because I think it's a good idea to highlight these terms compared to the rest of the text. I did it for many posts in the past and I agree this is my way of thinking. That's why I totally agree with Stephen to try to create some guidelines for posts editing.

Otherwise, I understand it can be unpleasant to lose some reputation points but it's less than 0.006% of yours (time of writing). If I were you, I wouldn't pay attention to it and I would try to focus on helping people on webmastering issues like all good users of this community (we) do.

Regarding minor edits, for me it takes into account only for users under 2000 reputation points. After 2000 reputation points you get the privilege to edit questions and answers because the system trust you for editing. In that case, I think even a minor edit as you said can be useful because the goal is not to get reputation points anymore (+2 per edit) but improving quality of all posts of the site, this is not the same scope.

  • Thank you for starting the style guide. I find your last paragraph with advice for Unor about about reputation to be insensitive. Unor clearly felt wronged in this instance and that advice isn't going to make him feel any better. Omitting it, or a simple "I'm sorry" would be more appropriate. – Stephen Ostermiller Nov 28 '13 at 11:36
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    For me, it’s not about the reputation (as I explained in my post, for all I care it should always be allowed to change votes), but about the edit. I wasn’t aware that you are actively editing such "minor" things resp. that such edits are welcome here (from my experience on SO, such edits would be rejected as "too minor"). If this is a valid edit (and personally I doubt it, as I don’t think my answer is now "substantively better"), there is of course no misuse of any kind involved -- I’m sorry for implying it in that case. – unor Nov 28 '13 at 13:34
  • We have tended to allow minor edits that make a good post slightly better here when it comes from a user that isn't doing it for cheap reputation, it doesn't flood the front page, and doesn't require a second look from somebody in the review queue. We don't have the volume that StackOverflow does, so it probably less of a problem here. – Stephen Ostermiller Nov 28 '13 at 14:04
  • @unor: I have edited my answer to give you my point of view about minor edits. – Zistoloen Nov 28 '13 at 14:27

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