A couple days ago, I ran across this question. As you can see, it makes unusual use of spoilers and has a section marked off for "extra tags" because apparently the author didn't feel they were allowed to add enough. I edited it to remove the extraneous tags and changed the spoilers to just regular quotes (not that that's much better as formatting goes, I guess). It appears the author has rolled back my changes and added back their odd formatting and extra tags. I don't want to get into an edit war, so I'm just curious, is this considered OK? It seems really weird that part of the question is hidden for no good reason, and that the author had to add extra instructions on how to read it. It seems like it makes the site less useable.

Looking at the related Meta question Should Use Of Quote Blocks Be Restricted To Quotations, it seems like it was valid to edit the question, but that I should have used headers instead of block quotes. Should I just flag the question? Or should I just let it go?


1 Answer 1


There isn't a "prohibition" as such. The point of formatting posts correctly is to make posts more valuable to the site, and to help them achieve their goal. When a visitor to the site posts a question, they want to get answers. Formatting the question to be readable and understandable makes it more likely it will get answered, fulfilling the OP's goal. When a visitor posts an answer, they want to help others and share knowledge. Formatting the answer to be readable and understandable makes the answer accessible to more people, fulfilling the OP's goal.

For these reasons, editing the post in cases like the one you describe is strongly encouraged. Half-thought-through streams of consciousness don't make good posts. Some people - especially newer users who are used to a web forum where your posts are yours alone - are quite hostile to this, and we need to educate them about how SE sites work, and how editing helps them to achieve their goals and makes the site more useful for everyone.

If there are enough rollbacks to constitute an edit war, moderators are automatically notified of this, but it's also good to use a custom mod flag before it gets to that point. Moderators are empowered to lock posts when people are fighting over them, to reach out to individual users who don't understand how editing works on our site, and as a last resort, to suspend uesrs who are hostile or who vandalise posts.

  • $\begingroup$ That's what I had assumed. Thank you for the clarification! $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 22, 2017 at 14:34

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