I ask primarily because it's come up, and I've gotten conflicting advice and requests.

Seeing the bad tag thread (and a lot of the other hideousness from "back when"), plus having a lot of time on my hand this week, I decided to attack the issue with a sense of purpose, and it was suggested that I could do so in batches of 4 or 5, which is how I've been going about it. Do a batch, wait/do something else, and do another batch when next I notice the previous batch no longer being on the front page, as sorted by active.

Given that I've been told this approach is drowning out new posts when it bumps them all to the top of the active list, and I don't see anything here or in the FAQ about the etiquette on editing old posts, it seemed like a good idea to start a discussion about how this should be handled. And since finding one piece of old garbage usually means you're about to find a bunch more (in my experience), it seems like something that applies more broadly than to just tag clean-up.

So... please advise and/or discuss.

  • Edit with extreme prejudice. Spare them not for their much crying.
    – Wesley
    Aug 28, 2012 at 22:49
  • 1
    It doesn't bug me so edit all you want. I go directly to serverfault.com/questions which uses the sort options I set which is almost always 'Newest'.
    – Zoredache
    Aug 28, 2012 at 22:58
  • @Zoredache that's my default view too, when I'm not in what-new-garbage-needs-to-be-attended-to-today mode, so I can't say it bothers me either, but as it turns out, I am not the whole world (as incredibly unjust as that is). :) Aug 28, 2012 at 23:55

4 Answers 4


Cleaning up old content is important for the longevity of the site and for the long-tail questions, but getting new content answered is more important.

Which is why we generally suggest doing 4-5 questions at a time and taking a break, as you've stated you've been doing. This gives the chance for new questions to still be seen, and stops the flooding of the front page.

So, personally, and as a mod, I don't see any problem with the way you've been doing it. It's certainly the way I do it, and I'll often go and retag 50+ questions over the course of two or three days.

The only thing I can think of is that perhaps your breaks aren't long enough? I tend to leave my breaks for about an hour or so...


The only general comment I have on editing old posts is that if all you're doing is removing "thanks" or capitalizing "I" in one or two spots you should really look at the post critically.

Does the edit substantially improve the clarity of the post?
Was the signature or the poor grammar/syntax really that terrible to look at?

  • If the answer to either of those is yes - go ahead and edit.
  • If the answer to both is no, or "meh"…
    • …and we're talking about a young post (< 3 months), sure - go ahead and edit.
    • …and we're talking about an old post (3 months to a year) - meh. (Go ahead, I don't care)
    • …and we're talking about a post that's a year or more old - Let sleeping dinosaurs fossilize.

A little pedantry is a good thing.
Resurrecting questions about Windows XP pre-SP1 from the dead not so much - If I see more than one or two of these in the queue I'll reject them (which basically means re-submit the edit again later and I'll probably approve it).

I'm also more likely to be lenient on edits to questions without answers -- Dragging those back to the front page may actually get them answered, which is a Good Thing.


I'm one of those that requested you slow down just a little. I only ever see the default first page of questions and perhaps it's a timezone thing but over the last few days or whatever, I'm seeing more edited old crap than new questions. Sure I could change my settings but the reality is that the settings I'm using are those used by the very vast majority of visitors.

Having old crap dragged up isn't all bad by any means, as it brings to our attention stuff that in most cases should never have been posted in the first place (it's astonishing what was allowed in the early days). I'm just a bit concerned that those posting new questions are not getting a fair go because their question isn't on page one for very long. That's why I made the request. I believe that, like myself, the bulk of visitors don't look past page one. That by the way is not based on any evidence, merely a fair idea of how people operate.

  • 1
    Is the default view 15 answers per page? That would definitely seem to suggest smaller batches might be a better approach. Aug 29, 2012 at 11:08
  • 1
    @HopelessNoob, It's more than 15. I'm currently doing a course, so checked on a couple of machines that I'm certain have never been to SF before to ensure I got the defaults. On one there were 30 questions displayed and on another there were 37. FWIW, they each ran different screen resolutions. Aug 29, 2012 at 23:37

I don't see what the conflicting advice is here. It was me that suggested you do 4 or 5 at a time so that you don't flood the front page with edits (as I knew you'd go at it with a certain gusto)

@HopelessN00b just be aware that they all go past the front page and that they can drown out new questions so doing them in batches is preferable

So if you're doing a batch, then doing something else, doing another batch, and still drowning out the front page then do more of the something else - simples.

  • It seems that the main objection people have is that the updated questions show up on the front page. Maybe the solution is to have a "minor update" checkbox that has the question skip the front page when it's checked. If there's fear of abuse, have all minor updates be reviewed regardless of rep.
    – Starfish
    Sep 25, 2012 at 3:02

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