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Considering this Meta Stack Overflow question about the same subject, are edits to include Amazon links to books appropriate on Programmers?

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I'm gonna say pretty much the same thing here as I said on MSO, but directed at you as the editor instead of someone else as the person approving edits:

There's nothing inherently wrong with editing to add links to book posts. Indeed, it can be quite helpful... But before you do, make sure you're not wasting your time and the time of everyone reviewing the edit. There are loads of lousy questions asking for book recommendations that should probably just be closed and deleted, and many times more lousy answers (even on good questions) that make no effort to explain why the book being recommended is a good choice. Editing these is maybe slightly more useful than copy-editing bathroom-wall graffiti...

And as Mark notes, you're not just wasting your time: you're wasting the time of the folks rejecting these edits and you're wasting the time of the folks reading the front page who see these popping up instead of something useful. Don't do that.

Since you're going through these posts anyway, why not do something productive: when you come across a poor question or a lazy answer, something no amount of hyperlinking will salvage, don't edit it... flag it. Ask a moderator to delete it. Instead of seeing these things pop up in the queue knowing they're on their way to making the front page of the site look like Amazon Rejects, they can send them on their way to that Great Booklist in the Sky.

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The issue isn't adding the links: it's adding the links to 50 posts in the span of an hour.

When you suggest 50 edits in a short period, you clog up the suggested edit queue and should those edits be approved, you completely hose the front page, pushing new questions and questions with legitimate activity out of the way.

I provided more detail on Meta Stack Overflow:

[...]one issue for sites that are not Stack Overflow is that the front page—the site's advertisement to the world—doesn't change all that often over the course of the day. You'll get a mix of new questions, older questions that haven't been resolved yet, and a sprinkling of questions risen from the dead by people who finally found that awesome answer to that niche question.

This type of activity is a great sign: it shows the site has life and many different people are actively engaged. It's like the forest at the beginning of Bambi: questions young and old get a safe haven to play and frolic while waiting for an answer from passers by.

Well, when someone gets the idea to edit all the things for some minor issue, they inevitably disrupt the quiet serenity of the front page. They're the hunter from Bambi that comes in and starts shooting up the place, and no question is safe. "Ended your post with 'thanks'? Edited. Oh, you did it to all 75 of your questions over the last year? Edit. all. of. them."

After a short period of time, the front page stops looking like a peaceful forest full of life. It becomes a wasteland of:

edited by Mark Trapp 2m ago
edited by Mark Trapp 2m ago
edited by Mark Trapp 2m ago
edited by Mark Trapp 2m ago
edited by Mark Trapp 2m ago
edited by Mark Trapp 2m ago
edited by Mark Trapp 2m ago
edited by Mark Trapp 2m ago
edited by Mark Trapp 2m ago
edited by Mark Trapp 2m ago

And that new question I mentioned before learns a hard fact of life: the forest is forever ruined and the chances of getting answered have been significantly reduced all because someone thought "thanks" needed to be removed.

If you want to suggest edits, please do two things:

  1. Do it in short spurts: 5 at a time, not 50.
  2. Make substantial improvements to the posts. You were suggesting edits to posts that were terrible: one line answers, answers with spelling and grammar mistakes, answers that provided no context to their recommendations, etc. Adding Amazon links to those posts did not significantly improve them.

If there is something that needs to be changed on a huge number of posts, please don't do this on your own: bring it up here on meta first. This way we as a community can figure out the best way to go about it and ensure the front page doesn't get hosed in the process.

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    5 at a times sounds good. A personal counter, like the flag limit might as well be a good feature to add, at least for people who have less than 2k rep. – Matthieu Nov 22 '11 at 17:55
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    @Matthieu The idea behind the suggested edit queue was that it's supposed to act like training wheels before you get the ability to edit on your own, but it's just way too easy to approve en masse. In the future, if there's a mass editing you think is important, bring it up here on meta before doing it, so this way we can figure out the best way to go about it. – user8 Nov 22 '11 at 18:00
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    Are edits to include Amazon links OK or not? The SO.Meta post seems to suggest that they are. It doesn't seem to me that the quantity of such edits should affect the veracity of individual edits. – Robert Harvey Nov 22 '11 at 18:20
  • @Mark Trapp : My main motivation was to unlock the Strunk & White badge (80 edits) to unlock the review tools ( blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/11/review-early-review-often ) and editing seems to be encouraged without much restrictions except those described in the privilege page. I'll just be patient :) – Matthieu Nov 22 '11 at 18:25
  • @RobertHarvey I'm not sure how you got that from the linked post: the accepted answer says they're likely not worth the attention if the post is bad, and the other answer says Amazon's probably not in need of the free advertising. Adding the links to a post is neither good nor bad: adding links to 50 posts, most of which are junk to begin with, is too minor a change and harmful to the front page. – user8 Nov 22 '11 at 18:27
  • @Matthieu Editing posts is a worthwhile endeavor, and I don't mean to dissuade you from it, but you ignored all the other problems in the posts just to add links. Make substantial edits, don't just add links to Amazon. If the post sucks, adding a link doesn't automatically make it better. – user8 Nov 22 '11 at 18:29
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    If they're OK, they should be approved. If they're not OK, they should be rejected. I don't see how volume has any relevance, although I do see how they obtain unwarranted visibility. But that's [by-design], as Rebecca Chernoff and others have strongly attested. – Robert Harvey Nov 22 '11 at 18:29
  • @RobertHarvey I encourage you to read my answer, which goes into that issue. If you have a different answer, I suggest you leave it and provide some justification behind why you believe it's so black and white. – user8 Nov 22 '11 at 18:31
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    Read it already. :) Are you seriously proposing that edit approvers must weight the number of edits made by any one editor in their decision to approve edits? I just don't think it's a factor. – Robert Harvey Nov 22 '11 at 18:32
  • @RobertHarvey I'm saying as an editor, one should be mindful of the front page when editing, including not editing en masse, particularly to add minor links to a ton of crappy posts. It's just common sense: substantially improve a post when making edits. – user8 Nov 22 '11 at 18:35
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    Perhaps a throttle should be added to suggested edits, to provide for the "five at a time" metric you proposed. – Robert Harvey Nov 22 '11 at 18:38
  • @RobertHarvey If proposed, I'd support such a change. – user8 Nov 22 '11 at 18:45
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    @Mark Trapp : Change proposed : meta.stackexchange.com/questions/113244/… – Matthieu Nov 22 '11 at 18:48

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