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A not-small percentage of proposed edits are from anonymous users. I'm not sure how this works. It's not Community because that would be a high level user setting that name, no? And why do an edit that way?

I suspect these are non-users of the system proposing an edit. There appears to be no minimum rep level required to propose an edit (only to have one go through without approval).

Honestly, I reject these as general principle. Someone who hasn't even taken the time to create an account is trying to edit posts? Even when they're reasonable edits, I just can't get past the source.

For example, here's one that just came up for approval. I don't have a problem with an edit that adds a link to a reference, though I feel that the author should choose which reference to use. My issue is that the user isn't a member of the community.

enter image description here

Am I missing something here? Who are the anonymous users? Could it be, say, the OP who just wasn't logged in properly? Or is it a moderator? Or is it indeed some random passerby?

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    $\begingroup$ It (to my understanding) is someone who is not logged in. Whether that's a regular user who isn't logged in at the moment or a random passerby who doesn't have an account is both unknown and unknowable. $\endgroup$ – Gryphon Mar 27 at 21:22
  • $\begingroup$ Questions about general Stack Exchange mechanics are better asked at Meta Stack Exchange. $\endgroup$ – JBH Mar 27 at 23:07
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    $\begingroup$ @JBH They're pretty savage there. I wanted to ask here first. $\endgroup$ – Cyn Mar 27 at 23:09
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, they are, but on the flip-side, you're more likely to receive a definitive answer. (I'm sure you know that people have violently complained about SE's efforts to calm things down and bring civility back into their sites - which is funny, it's as if those people believe they deserve to act the way they do on somebody else's website.) $\endgroup$ – JBH Mar 27 at 23:17
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH Somehow I missed that discussion. Woe is me. $\endgroup$ – Cyn Mar 27 at 23:23
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    $\begingroup$ It's ok to ask questions on per-site metas even if they would also work on Meta.SE. Requests for changes that would affect the whole network will end up there for visibility, but lots of questions can be asked and answered on other metas and that's fine. (Also, please help those of us who'd like to see main meta be less scary.) $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Mar 28 at 2:47
  • $\begingroup$ I for one wouldn't have seen this question at all if it weren't asked here (my SE activity is pretty limited to WB and a couple other related forums). I do wonder at the down-votes though: what's up with that people? This is a perfectly valid query! $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Apr 1 at 2:06
  • $\begingroup$ @elemtilas Oh it's okay. Votes are different on meta. On the regular sites, a downvote would mean it's a bad question in some way. But on the meta sites that attached to the SE's, downvotes just mean "I disagree" and don't change your rep at all (the main Meta site is the awful combo of votes meaning disagreement but all the rep counting). $\endgroup$ – Cyn Apr 1 at 2:23
  • $\begingroup$ @Cyn -- I see! Thanks for the explanation! $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Apr 1 at 3:26
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Who are the anonymous users? Could it be, say, the OP who just wasn't logged in properly?

Couldn't say, it could be a user that's just not logged in to the system like you suggested.

Or is it a moderator?

Mod edits are automatic and don't require approval.

Or is it indeed some random passerby?

Could be.


More to the point. If an edit is a good edit, approve. If the edit is vandalism, changes the meaning, or otherwise hurts the post then reject.

The source of an edit isn't particularly relevant and as you suggested an anonymous user could well be a member that just isn't logged in...I am not sure why the source of the edit is such a concern, if it helps, good, if not, reject.

Seems pretty straightforward.

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  • $\begingroup$ 1) Curiosity; 2) Because source matters when it's a link or a product involved (this link is to Wikipedia, which isn't going to be spam, but others may be to other sites); 3) Because I don't think random passerbys should be editing posts. It takes a couple minutes to set up an account. $\endgroup$ – Cyn Mar 27 at 21:21
  • $\begingroup$ 4) There's no accountability. If a user does anything (including proposing edits) that is malicious or spammy, they get suspended or banned, and anything else they've done can get scrutinized. But if an anon user can do stuff, there's no way to ban them or track it. I'd like to think that everyone working in a review queue is carefully checking every word, but that's not the case. Someone might get an edit through that is 5 good changes with a spam link buried in the middle. Why is there not a, say, 10 point rep requirement for proposing edits? $\endgroup$ – Cyn Mar 27 at 21:26
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    $\begingroup$ @Cyn you might be interested in reading the FAQ about suggested edits, particularly on What about abuse or bad edits? and Special note for anonymous edits (yes, they can get automatically IP banned for suggesting inappropriate edits and getting rejected) $\endgroup$ – Andrew T. Mar 28 at 9:02
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While I second James' answer, I just want to share my personal experience: I lurk most of the SE communities here, and I am registered only in a small subset of them.

However, when I stumble into a post which can clearly benefit from an edit (think of the usual they're/their/there misuse) I don't really feel compelled to register and edit.

Since I can use the "improve this question" feature, I do it (screenshot below taken from a HNT).

example of feature: improve this question

Of course I am aware that I will never receive any feedback nor reputation for my edit, I just want to do my little part to improve this place.

It would be really odd if, while I am on vacation in a foreign country, I would be scolded for collecting an empty soda can thrown on the grass to dispose of it in the garbage bin.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for that explanation. No scolding intended. Just trying to figure out an oddity. $\endgroup$ – Cyn Mar 28 at 14:05
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    $\begingroup$ You should have recycled that can, Dutch. Now it will spend eternity in a landfill. Mother Earth weeps at your cruel, cruel, cruelosity. $\endgroup$ – Willk Mar 29 at 1:01
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I saw the same edit that you saw. It was on a post of mine and I approved it.

Like James said in his answer, don't judge edits by the user. Judge them by content. Same as with any judgement on any post, as a general principle.

I saw your comment on his answer:

There's no accountability. If a user does anything (including proposing edits) that is malicious or spammy, they get suspended or banned, and anything else they've done can get scrutinized. But if an anon user can do stuff, there's no way to ban them or track it.

If you think that banning someone from a Stack Exchange site is a punishment, you have really low standards for punishments.

I make no money out of answering questions here. SE is not a social network, so there isn't socialization either. Contrary to the belief of so many SE users, specially some from Stack Overflow, genital sizes do not increase in proportion to the silly virtual score attributed to each account. What do you lose by being banished from the site? Like Eric Idle put on his best song:

I mean, what have you got to lose? You know, you come from nothing, you're going back to nothing. What have you lost? Nothing!

If I ever managed to get banned from here at the very least I might be eased from my addiction to SE's gaming mechanics. Might enjoy the free time and maybe plant a kid, have a book and write a tree.

And banning doesn't go very far anyway. We have a guy who has been banned once or twice and still managed to name themself a candidate for mod in the last election.

If an anonymous user wrecks too much chaos, I think SE can block them by IP or something. But really, with the speed we clear revisions on World Building, that is not an issue. I mean come on, I could have a handful more silver medals if people let posts stays for more than 30 seconds in each queue!

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    $\begingroup$ Are you absolutely sure my, er... tool doesn't get larger with my rep score? Are you absolutely sure? You're about to cause me psychological distress! I've read articles about college students who demand passing grades when that happens during a semester. At the very least I should get some nonsensical answer accepted - and upvoted to legendary status, too! Are you absolutely sure, Renan?!?!?! 😆 $\endgroup$ – JBH Mar 27 at 23:04
  • $\begingroup$ If you approve or reject an edit on your own post, as far as I'm concerned, that's your right. I did not feel that I should be approving a potential content change to your post (you a highly experienced user) (what if that def wasn't one you wanted?). Anyway, it's not a big deal if I said yea or nay to the edit. It was something I've seen before and wondered about. So I asked. $\endgroup$ – Cyn Mar 27 at 23:13
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    $\begingroup$ And ohmygod I am sooo glad not to belong to a group that values the size of my errr tools (nor anyone else's). :-D $\endgroup$ – Cyn Mar 27 at 23:15
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Honestly, I reject these as general principle. Someone who hasn't even taken the time to create an account is trying to edit posts? Even when they're reasonable edits, I just can't get past the source.

I get where you're coming from. But I wouldn't recommend rejecting an edit out of hand this way. Because someone else is just going to have to come along and clean up the mess that Anonymous already addressed.

I'd suggest using the "improve this edit" function in stead. Especially for grammatical, lexical or clarity edits -- things that don't change the question and don't alter or add potentially dubious factuality (links, etc).

When you do this, the edit will become yours. (I accidentally did this to a new user once, editing their edit, and learned that the edit was credited to me.) I see no issue with doing it this way, as what you're really doing is simply endorsing a suggestion, and lending whatever name credibility a Known User has to the changes.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. Note that if you choose "improve" the other person still gets editing credit and their 2 points. Your name is on the post because you're the most recent editor. If you choose "reject and edit" then the first person doesn't get any credit or points. $\endgroup$ – Cyn Apr 1 at 2:21
  • $\begingroup$ Gotcha. I still think this is better that flat out rejecting a reasonable edit! $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Apr 1 at 3:27
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It appears to be the Community

I have had one of these edits on one of my answers. It was from Anonymous correcting my misspelling of “Silver”, i wrote both Sliver and Silver in the answer.

I accepted the edit and, as i was the author of the question, it was automatically accepted. I went to check the answer i wrote and it said “Edited by Community”, meaning the Community User.

However, the Community left me a message

In the edit, i had a message that seemed personalised towards my answer. Normally when making an edit to a post, you put in a description of what you have edited, such as “improved formatting” or “corrected spelling”.

The edit description i got was “Silver not sliver ;)”. This seems like a very strange message for a bot to put in. Either someone has had to program the Community User to write that specific message or whoever wrote that was not a bot. Yet the edit still says it was from the Community user when accepted but said it was from Anonymous when it was suggested.

Look at these images below and see for your self. Take note of the date and time the Community User’s post was approved (Apr 9 at 17:24) and when i approved the Anonymous edit (Apr 9 at 17:24).

This seems to be definitive evidence that the Community User is the Anonymous editor. The personalised message concerns me though, either the Community User is smarter than we give it credit for... or there is a puppeteer behind those strings...

enter image description here

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ Yeah, Community is a real user, not a fly-by. $\endgroup$ – Cyn Apr 22 at 14:16
  • $\begingroup$ @Cyn If that is true, and if the Community user is also the Anonymous editor (evidenced by my answer), then your statement in the question about the Anonymous edits being from users who aren’t logged in contradicts your comment. $\endgroup$ – Liam Morris Apr 22 at 14:54
  • $\begingroup$ How so? Anonymous users can be anyone from a mod or power user who just didn't bother to log in to a random person who found the question on an internet search and decided to suggest an edit. I'm pretty sure (not positive) you need to be logged into to set something to Community Wiki. $\endgroup$ – Cyn Apr 22 at 15:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Cyn I’m not sure why you’ve brought up Community Wiki but yes, you need 10 rep minimum to set an answer as CW. In regards to your comment, perhaps then any non-user suggested edit is branded under the Community User’s name when accepted? I would have assumed that it was the bot behind the CU suggesting the edits (although, saying that, the CU is a moderator which should mean it can make edits without needing approval). $\endgroup$ – Liam Morris Apr 22 at 15:13
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    $\begingroup$ When the edit is proposed it doesn't have a user yet; it just says anon. When the edit is accepted it enters the post's history, which requires an actual user. All such things that have no other owner are attributed to Community - same as things done by users who are later deleted. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Apr 23 at 0:44

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