In review, I've seen a number of edits that were good ...except for the edit summaries.

Bad summaries are most often something like, "Improved question." This is a bad summary because any editor assumes his/her edits have improved the question, or they would never have suggested the edits in the first place. This provides no information whatsoever about what is changed, and is worse than putting in no summary at all, because with no summary, Ask Ubuntu generates a basic, purely syntactic summary of the edit, which is often somewhat useful.

So far I've just largely ignored the problem. When I think the changes made by an edit are good, I approve the edit.

But the number of users applying these bad summaries seems to be increasing (though I do not intend that as a scientific claim). I feel like I shouldn't simply ignore this.

But what should I do? Here are some possibilities...

  • I could reject the edit. But I don't want to do that, because the actual changes are good.

  • I don't think I can "Improve" the edit (with the "Improve" button)--edits that change only a summary are not accepted by Ask Ubuntu.

  • Should I try to contact the user personally?

  • Should I post a comment? I don't want to pollute questions and answers with these kinds of comments (not even directed at the original poster).

  • I could post a feature request, asking that the edit summary text box carry a more explicit statement of what it's for, or for phrases like "improved question" to be automatically detected and rejected as edit summaries.

  • Or I could just go back to ignoring this, as I've been doing until now.

  • 5
    I just ignore it, however I'd prefer to see what the community says.
    – jrg
    Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 1:49
  • 2
    Ignore it --- don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
    – ish
    Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 7:06
  • 2
    For the record, I'm really bad about putting summaries (as in I haven't done it for quite a long time) Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 15:18

3 Answers 3


When the edit in itself is good, summaries shouldn't matter.

What about those super bot type editors whose edits always carry summaries like added xxx chars in body??

That said, while good summaries are to be encouraged, we don't have a specific need of discouraging 'bad' ones, I believe...

  • Also, a prolific editor will probably appear in chat at some point, when he/she can be "set straight"...
    – ish
    Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 7:28
  • Edits without summaries will carry automatically generated, non-semantic summaries, like "added tags" and "added xxx chars in body." As I discussed in my original question above, these are far more useful than a summary like "Improved question." They're most often not ideal, but they clearly denote the basic nature, and the extent, of the edit. Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 8:57
  • I do not see such clear distinction between these two kinds of edit summaries.. But everyone may have a different opinion. :)
    – Mahesh
    Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 9:07
  • I never comment minor fixes, 95% of the time the reviewer of an edit needs to review the edit content, not just the summary... wait a second, didnt i say something like this about "Oh, I'm the OP" summary'd edits...?
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Commented Jul 3, 2012 at 16:59

In the beginning (at Ask Ubuntu), I made many edits with this kind of summary. I thought That was OK, since there are reviewers, who actually see my edits, and I also think that was good suggestions. ( 1/66 is rejected, for the rejected one, I also feared that might be rejected ).

But now, I see that, this kind of summary may confuse reviewer or create annoyance. So, I am now changing that habit.

My answer will be (After knowing that the edits are not hidden) : Option 5, that is post a feature request, asking users to remind about good summaries by adding something with this one:

We welcome all constructive edits, but please make them substantial. Avoid trivial, tiny one-letter edits unless absolutely necessary.

enter image description here

Because, that helped me to avoid unnecessary edits, might also help me (and many others) to avoid typical, two worded summaries.

Also, if a certain pattern is found on the summary string, we can warn user with a warning like this :

enter image description here

Finally, We need to remove these strings as suggested summaries: (Because that does something for my short edit summary habit )

enter image description here

  • 2
    Edit summaries are not hidden. They are viewable to everyone in the world (regardless of reputation or whether or not they have an account), when they look at a post's edits. In particular, they explain to the author the reason and nature of the edit made to their post. Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 1:54
  • 3
    I did not see that. Thanks. Now, I MUST change my bad habit. A link about What constitute a good summary may help me in my change.
    – Anwar
    Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 1:59
  • @EliahKagan, I have edited my answer after knowing that information.
    – Anwar
    Commented Jun 21, 2012 at 3:10

I've seen a few exceptionally bad edit summaries. For example "Edited tags" when actually the tags have been edited plus the title or body. I reject edits like that because the edit summary is misleading, usually writing something like "Please make sure your edit summary accurately describes the edit", or at most terse, "Inaccurate description".

That said, I realize this can happen by accident, so I'm sympathetic. E.g. if you edit the tags and don't leave a summary, the system will write "Edited tags" for you. Then if you go back and edit the title or body, and don't change the summary, it will stay as "Edited tags".

In the case of a summary like "Improved question", if the edit is minor, I'll let it pass. If it's major, I'd be more hesitant.

But take this with a grain of salt, because I'm probably the most anal edit reviewer. I have about the same numbers of approved, rejected, and improved edits.

  • 2
    I don't think I'd go as far as rejecting an edit I knew was good on the grounds that the summary was bad (unless the summary were so bad that it would require moderator intervention if approved... which fortunately is rare). However, there is at least one situation where I feel strongly that the sentiment you've expressed here is correct. When there is reasonable concern that an edit may be introducing incorrect information into a question, and the edit summary does not fully address that possibility, then I think reviewers should quickly reject it. Commented Apr 20, 2018 at 23:56
  • @EliahKagan Yeah. Maybe it would be better to approve the edit, and leave a comment for the editor on the question.
    – wjandrea
    Commented Apr 22, 2018 at 22:37

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