I mean, sometimes content is intentional. Look at the revision history on this:

Centos 6.3 install reiserFS support

The question was from 2012. The content within was deliberate, and this was the accepted answer.

What motivation would someone have to edit 4 years after the fact, have the content rolled-back by the author, then make the same edit again?!?

It's disrespectful.

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    Yup, but that's the license and the way things go around here. Author's original intent isn't nearly as important as they like to pretend, or say to the sub 2k peons. – HopelessN00b May 21 '16 at 17:59
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    I'm not too butt-hurt, but it goes into the pile of reasons for diminished interest and participation. – ewwhite May 21 '16 at 18:03
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    Yeah, I'm years ahead of you on that particular reason, so I get it. Just saying it's not gonna change for the better, so adjust accordingly. – HopelessN00b May 21 '16 at 18:10

This particular edit, whatever you may think of it, "clearly conflicts with the author's intent".

Edit rejection reasons screenclip

"Even edits that make drastic changes should strive to preserve the goals of the post's owner."

One of Ed's goal was to make a dig at Reiser based on his mugshot photo, and this edit clearly conflicts with that. It should be rolled back, for that reason. Not liking or disagreeing with part of a post is not justification for editing that part out, it is justification for using that little down arrow off to the side.

Furthermore, someone's mugshot with a tame, but derisive comment on it, is not really so inappropriate as to warrant summary removal from a post. Again, this is something that should be handled with a downvote, if anyone actually feels that strongly about it.

Not that I expect this to actually happen, but that's what should happen, according to SE's own guidelines. That it doesn't, is part of the broader problem with the community and, I'd argue, SE in general. Why bother having rules, if they're going to be enforced arbitrarily? As Ed said, just another thing on the pile of reasons for diminished interest and participation. Seriously, pick your battles... this is not something that's worth further alienating one of the very few quality contributors the community has left.

  • I'm neutral on this one. I definitely do not advocate downvoting a factually accurate answer on the basis of a supplementary opinion. – Andrew B May 21 '16 at 18:53
  • @AndrewB If you feel that strongly about the supplementary opinion, it's the better option than just editing out whatever part of the post you disagree with. – HopelessN00b May 21 '16 at 19:09
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    Sorry, but this editing hint is obviously not meant for this situation, and you should know this. This would be relevant if the post had be edited to contain glowing praise of ReiserFS or its creator. Instead, the edit removed something I consider really offensive. I don't think it's tame or harmless and I just don't get why the f*** we are even arguing about this. – Sven May 21 '16 at 19:12
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    @Sven has your threshold for what's offensive always been this low? Regardless, I'm not arguing, and there's a larger issue here. The site's highest rep user, one of the small number of remaining, regular contributors, is saying that he feels disrespected by an edit that introduces a major change to a four-year old post. Your response to that is going to do more than just determine the content of an old answer. It's really no skin off my nose, but it seems to me like it might be in [what's left of] the community's best interests to give your response a little more deliberation. – HopelessN00b May 21 '16 at 19:33
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    @Sven The argument is because you locked the post, allowed someone to change an answer into something I didn't want and asked the discussion to take place in Meta - see: This post has been locked while disputes about its content are being resolved. For more info visit meta. – ewwhite May 21 '16 at 21:00

Can you explain to me how posting a mugshot of Reiser contributed in any way to the technical discussion regarding the file system he developed?

Regardless of what he did, he is still a human being and has rights and this part of your post was beyond disrespectful. Frankly, I find this appalling and I can't understand why you even object to have this part removed.

Oh, and by the way: We regularly remove content that is not related to the technical discussion and this also happens on old posts when people stumble upon them and flag them.

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    Removal was unnecessary. I don't have to provide a technical justification because the answer, context and problem was resolved... Years ago. I objected because of the comments and the subsequent rollback. – ewwhite May 21 '16 at 15:36
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    So what if it's disrespectful? How much respect does a man who murdered his mail-order-bride really deserve? Like it or not, undesirable personalities in lead project developers is a factor in product selection. For example, I know of multiple companies that are moving or have moved off of Observim (onto a fork) because they're sick of Adam Armstrong's flaming jackassery. – HopelessN00b May 21 '16 at 18:08
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    It's true. The scandal drove developers away from the Reiser filesystem and killed its use and mindshare in production environments. A non-technical cause with a technical and business impact. – ewwhite May 23 '16 at 11:29
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    @ewwhite: I am really not opposed to adding/keeping the Wikipedia link describing the specific Reiser problem at all - this is certainly a valid point and, like Andrew, I have missed the link in the deleted section. If this is the main part of your grief, we can easily fix this. My issue is the mugshot and the derogatory comment coming with it - I think it violates our be nice rule and thus has no place here, and for this the age of the post is irrelevant. – Sven May 23 '16 at 12:06
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    All that said, I've to say that my mod action certainly doesn't mean any kind of disrespect at all towards you and I am really sorry if you should feel this way. – Sven May 23 '16 at 12:06

I'm going to have to agree with Sven. I have a lot of respect for you ewwhite, particularly since you guided me away from taking the wrong behavior hints from the rest of the community when I was a newbie, but I think this is a good opportunity for me to return the favor.

Putting aside my own (less than favorable) opinions of Hans Reiser, I think you're letting emotions get in the way of your usual rationality.

  • The content is of questionable taste and adds no value. It's the classic "face only a mother could love" treatment. True, it can be interpreted as entertaining by your intended audience, and one could argue that it's meant in fun and not intended to be taken too seriously. Objectively however, it's an opinion about someone's physical appearance being used to weigh on their trustworthiness. It adds no objective facts to the discussion.
  • The comment associated with the rollback is well-justified: stay technical, mofos.
  • We are agreed that edit wars on old questions provide little value in and of themselves. That said, the content being disputed is the sort where I personally 1) would have anticipated the possibility of a poor reception, and 2) just let it go once that happened. Even if it was years later.
  • Once you rolled the answer back, the correct course of action for this person should have been to take the topic to meta as you have done. That was the only disrespect I see on their part.
  • As much as I personally derive no offense from the original answer, objectively I must condede that your original answer can rightly be interpreted as disrespectful as well. I'm no fan of the Cult of Sensitivity, but I'd have to concede the point here.

In short, your original intent was fairly harmless but I think you need to let it go. I don't equate this with pointless editing of old content, such as converting punctuation over to Unicode. This was not worth holding the line on.


That said, I did miss that there was a link to the Wikipedia article. Presented as HopelessN00b did in the comments of Sven's answer, that's definitely relevant. There's nothing wrong with linking to that article and presenting it similarly.

  • The content was apt at the time. But the flurry of downvotes today is just stupid. – ewwhite May 21 '16 at 18:37
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    @ewwhite That much I don't have visibility into, but if the answer is being dogpiled with downvotes on the basis of that one detail alone, that's pretty damn petty. – Andrew B May 21 '16 at 18:38

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