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Something I've noticed in the last few days (it's probably been going on longer than that, but a couple days ago it actually bit me, so I noticed it...) - why do we make minor edits (usually small style, spelling, or grammar corrections) to questions or answers that were posted anywhere between two and five years ago? At some point, wouldn't we think "this has been like this for a very long time, maybe we should just let it stand as-is"?

The reason I say this "bit" me is that posts that are edited in this way show up on the list of active questions. Which in my case, led me to post a comment on an answer that had been posted ages ago, thinking that it had been much more recently active. Which was a little embarrassing when I realized later what I had done (though I'll survive, of course...). This is compounded by the fact that on the Stack Exchange Android app, a question or answer that is edited doesn't show any indication of when it was originally posted, it just shows when the last edit was done (and doesn't provide any way to actually look at the edit history, short of opening the question in a web browser rather than the app).

I understand that we want an excellent body of curated content, but it seems to me like this practice of editing posts that haven't been touched in years causes some usability issues. If we think it's sufficiently important to do this, I'd suggest that we could consider making (at least) one of these changes:

  • Edits of this nature (or maybe just edits like this by a moderator) should not be considered to be "activity", for purposes of updating the active questions list. Admittedly, this does create an (unlikely, but possible) opportunity for abuse, by allowing changes to things posted in the past without raising an obvious indication that something changed.
  • The Android mobile app could be updated to also show the date a question or answer was originally posted, rather than just the date the last edit was made to it (and for bonus points, provide a way to look at the full edit history too). This is probably the most sensible option, though I don't know if there is any ongoing development on the Android app at this point; it's been a very long time since I've seen any update released for it.

This particular meta forum is probably not the best place to raise either of these suggestions, but I'm not sure what other forum would be more productive.

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First, there are some real gems amongst the older posts. Anything that encourages readers to revisit them is a good thing IMHO.

Second, I can read several other languages other than my native English, although in some cases quite badly. If I am reading something in another language I find that often minor typos and grammatical errors can completely floor me, leaving me struggling to understand what was meant. A significant number of forumites do not have English as their first language and I can imagine that some of them have the same problem I do in other languages.

Third, technology advances. In the old days we didn't have a move replayer for showing positions, game snippets and whole games. Again, at a personal level, I find it really useful to be able to click through a game fragment rather than have to try and visualise it all in my head. For stronger players this is not a problem. Adding this to older posts is a boon for players like me. Also, links die often die of old age quite quickly. Sometimes they can be fixed and sometimes they have just gone away. In either case it is worth changing them appropriately.

  • With all respects, my opinion is that you are single-handedly destroying the community with your edits. Every time I enter the site, I try to see how to help a user only to find out the question is four years old and only appears in my feed because of some spell correction – David Nov 4 '19 at 8:38
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I strongly disagree with Mr. Towers. I think most of those edits are very little or nothing to the question while they create a great "barrier" for contributors to answer the recent ones.

If someone wants to search for previous questions on a particular topic, there's already a search function for that

  • I accepted Brian Towers' answer because it is a detailed, straightforward answer to my actual question, which was "why is this done?" I will say, though, that I too don't care for the practice (at least in some of the forms I've seen it), though I can't say I feel "strongly" about it. For example, I personally think editing a 3 year old post or answer for grammar or minor spelling errors is not useful and is in fact counterproductive. I've discovered that this has been brought up before: chess.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/198/editing-others-posts – patbarron Oct 28 '19 at 18:35

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