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If I ask a question, and someone edits it changing it's meaning to something way different to what I meant, what should I do? Should I assume I'm being disciplined somehow and leave it as it was changed? May I just edit it back to the way it was? Will I get in trouble for undoing someone else's edits?

I can understand if I use certain potentially offensive words but here I'm mostly talking about the basic meaning of my query.

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  • Can you include a link to the question you're talking about? And maybe some quotes on where you think the edit deviated from your original intent? It will help us figure out what you're talking about... – Tinkeringbell Nov 5 '17 at 15:20
  • Since OP has asked only 1 question so far on the main site interpersonal.stackexchange.com/questions/5954/… this is probably what she is referring to @Tinkeringbell. – English Student Nov 5 '17 at 15:59
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    Well, a link to that in this question is still welcome in the main question body (since this is about unwanted editing, I would like to ask the OP to so themselves), just as some information as to what parts OP thinks do change the original intent ;-) Then, we can provide some counterarguments. Now, the basic answer would be "You can revert the edit if you feel it needs to be done, but then leave a comment so you don't start an edit war." – Tinkeringbell Nov 5 '17 at 16:03
  • Very true @Tinkeringbell. I seem to recall that OP expressed in a comment under her (now closed) question that certain edits made by well-meaning members ended up somewhat distorting the meaning of her question: interpersonal.stackexchange.com/questions/5954/… – English Student Nov 5 '17 at 16:13
  • @Tinkeringbell I also think OP's this meta question has the potential to be made a useful page for new users to learn about why people may edit your posts, the process and etiquette of rolling back edits, and when it would be much better to accept an edit made by another member. – English Student Nov 5 '17 at 16:21
  • @EnglishStudent interpersonal.stackexchange.com/help/editing We already have a page ;) If things should be updated, give a shout on meta I think? – Tinkeringbell Nov 5 '17 at 16:28
  • Thanks for linking that useful page @Tinkeringbell. This question addresses some subjective issues not covered by those objective statements of information, such as issues of etiquette __ "Should I assume I'm being disciplined somehow and leave it as it was changed? May I just edit it back to the way it was? Will I get in trouble for undoing someone else's edits?" __ some of which I tried to address in my answer. Since this is Interpersonal.SE, I curiously await better answers giving more insight into how the community interpersonally interprets members rejecting useful and helpful edits. – English Student Nov 5 '17 at 16:33
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The answer is absolutely simple: users make edits with constructive intentions and it is often better to accept their edits because they really tend to improve our posts in my experience, and clarifying edits are often necessary to enable our questions to get better answers, but Stack Exchange calls you the 'owner' of your post, and in most cases you can cancel any editing made by another member.

The help topic page on editing provides full details:

https://interpersonal.stackexchange.com/help/editing

Addressing some of your valid subjective concerns not covered in those pages:

Should I assume I'm being disciplined somehow and leave it as it was changed? May I just edit it back to the way it was? Will I get in trouble for undoing someone else's edits?

You are allowed to roll back other users' edits to your own post. Just use the 'rollback' button in the edit history page to revert to the best version of your question or answer, in your opinion. It is your right as a member and you don't need anybody's permission to do so, nor need to reveal your reasons if you don't want to.

There is also usually no need to interpret editing as 'disciplining' or be afraid of getting into trouble for cancelling somebody's edits.

However it is good etiquette to explain to the community (usually in the form of a comment addressed to the helpful member) why you decided to roll back the edit. This also has the practical benefit of preventing 'edit wars', as noted by @Tinkeringbell in comments.


Exceptions:

In these situations, although you can roll back to the previous version, it would be better to accept the edit --

  1. If another user edited your question to correct an obvious error of language or a factual mistake, or if your post was edited to correct incorrect application of tags, then it is just good common sense not to roll back to the error.

  2. If somebody edited your question to resolve some major defect that had led to its being closed, and if the question was reopened as a result of that edit then it is better to retain the edit in order to keep your question open.

  3. If somebody edits another user's post, whether question or answer, to correct objectionable language or remove inflammatory statements (and makes that reason clear somewhere) then allowing the edit to stand may be necessary to avoid the post being deleted.

  4. If a moderator edits your post leaving a valid reason either in the edit history, the comments or the question itself then you are generally advised to trust their discretion and accept the edit. In the rare case that a moderator specifically instructs you not to cancel a user's edit, you are supposed to accept the edit @Jennifer442.

Note too that although Stack Exchange calls you the 'owner' of your post, any content written and submitted here by any user actually belongs materially to Stack Exchange the company and intellectually to the SE community, as far as I could understand by reading the terms of use of this network. In the context of this question that means a moderator can overrule any member's decision to reject an edit made by any other member, but of course a moderator will overrule the 'owner of the post' only in a truly exceptional situation.

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As EnglishStudent rightly pointed out, you only have 1 question on this site: What can I do about people lightly touching me on the back to get my attention on subways? So, I'm assuming we're talking about this and it's edit history.

If I ask a question, and someone edits it changing it's meaning to something way different to what I meant, what should I do?

You can do 2 things.

  • Reverse the edit, and keep the original question. This is generally the best way to go if a question doesn't have any questions for clarification in the comments, or when it isn't on-hold and has been received very positively by the community.
  • Take a close look at the edit. What has been done? Is there anything from the edit that you can salvage? Maybe some extra information was edited in as well, can you re-edit the edit to make your original intent/meaning clearer?

Usually, when an edit is done that changes your intent of the question, this means the intent wasn't very clear to begin with. Another user misinterpreted your question or your goal for something else, and edited accordingly. This is a clear sign that the original question was open to misinterpretation, so take a good look at the edit and see where the editor went wrong. Then, correct that, provide as many information as you can, be as explicit as you can to prevent misunderstanding.

Should I assume I'm being disciplined somehow and leave it as it was changed?

Editing is never done to 'discipline' somebody. In fact, it is usually done for several reasons:

  • To edit in additional information provided in comments, if we see the OP doesn't do this themselves.
  • To encourage an OP to partake in editing their question to be a good fit for IPS. Sometimes, a first edit done by someone else can be the little nudge an OP needs to answer other questions in the comments and edit this in themselves.
  • To remove bad/rude language. Even then, when we're editing, we're not disciplining. By editing, we acknowledge that there is something that's salvageable from an answer/question, and we want to help other users see that instead of them being distracted by the rude language.

You are never obliged to keep an edit. Just remember to not start an edit war. If we remove bad language and you reverse it, we will flag for moderator attention. For the other two, if you reverse an edit and don't provide a better one yourselves, be prepared to have your question closed or answer deleted for not meeting guidelines.

May I just edit it back to the way it was?

Although not recommendable, yes, you may. It is your question, and we can't read your mind. So, we can't guess what your question was supposed to mean. We can only edit based on an educated guess.

Will I get in trouble for undoing someone else's edits?

Generally, if we're not talking offensive language, no you won't. A question may be put on-hold, an answer may be deleted because it doesn't meet the expectations this community has of a good answer. But in both cases, it's up to the OP to edit their question/answer accordingly to the feedback they get, and then these posts can be reopened/undeleted by the community.

If you start an edit war about offensive language, then yes, you will be flagged for moderator attention and you may turn out to be in serious trouble.


Lets take a look at the edit history of your question.

First of all, the original title read:

When did it become acceptable to touch someone lightly on the back to get them to move aside? I think it's rude

As was pointed out in the comments, your original question reads more like a rant in disguise about how rude you find this experience, than a genuine question about what you can do so people don't do this to you.

What would we have to do to get people to stop doing this?

That's also not a good question to ask here. As pointed out in the comments, we may be able to provide you some advice on how you can avoid being touched, but you can't change the behavior of other people in general. We can't give you a mind-control machine to make them all do your bidding.

The person that pointed this out to you in the comments, edited the question header to:

How can I prevent people from touching me to get my attention?

And it changed the question in the body to:

What would I have to do to get people to stop touching my back ?

After that, the title was edited yet again, to:

What can I do about people lightly touching me on the back to get my attention on subways?

And a final, fourth edit edited in the only comment you provided on this post:

Perhaps I should clarify this. I'm not talking about shoving or touching in general, just lightly touching me on my back, not enough to move me forcibly, just enough to let me know "I want you to move". This is a fairly recent phenomenon; it started about 5 to 10 years ago. I don't mind other forms of touching, but this is manipulative and rude -- demanding without being demanding. I don't think it's acceptable behavior.

I agree that the questions in the title and body now differ a lot from the original question. I personally also don't see it improving the question to a point where it can be reopened. So, feel free to reverse to your first edit and work from there, if that is what you prefer.

Please make sure to address and answer all the questions/remarks in the comments. It's the first thing I look to when a question pops up for reopening.

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    I appreciate your addressing all aspects of the matter in this comprehensive answer. Your most notable point is that closing a question or deleting an answer is not at all a final and irreversible action by the community voters or moderators: __"in both cases, it's up to the OP to edit their question/answer accordingly to the feedback they get, and then these posts can be reopened/undeleted by the community." – English Student Nov 6 '17 at 12:37
  • @English Student -- yes, the question you linked to was the question I was referring to. To emphasize by restating: I was not talking about being touched in general, only the style of touching which is a fairly recent phenomenon. In retrospect, I should have rolled back the edits immediately as the underlying meaning was changed. – Jennifer 442 Nov 8 '17 at 1:39
  • Again, a user may make an edit with a good intention but you are the best judge of how it affects your meaning and you are fully entitled to roll back the edit. I think many members were outraged that you took offense at that woman's 'light touch'.You have every right! Your question got some good answers even though it is now closed; and I did vote to reopen -- I now see it has collected 4 reopen votes so you can reopen it yourself if you have not already voted to do so, or else wait for the 5th voter, and just keep these things in mind for when you post your next question @Jennifer 442! – English Student Nov 8 '17 at 2:00
  • Note: I looked at the review history and think you have not yet voted to reopen that question after it got closed. So you are in a position to directly reopen your question right now. Simply click the 'reopen' option in light grey type seen along with 'share' 'flag' and 'edit' at the end of your question near your username. It is better to hurry and reopen @Jennifer 442 because your question has collected 1 delete vote. – English Student Nov 8 '17 at 2:17

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