Current consensus on permissible length of editing time for a post? Hi, everybody. I run a forum th

Discussion in 'Managing an Online Community' started by biggazillakilla, Jun 27, 2019.

  1. 1 minute - 2 hours

    8 vote(s)
  2. 2 hours - 7 days

    5 vote(s)
  3. Unlimited time

    2 vote(s)
  1. biggazillakilla

    biggazillakilla Adherent

    Current consensus on permissible length of editing time for a post?

    Hi, everybody. I run a forum that's not nearly as active as it used to be (much like many others I imagine), but there are sections that are quite active. I started the forum in 2000, and we hit 1,000,000 posts this year.

    In my forum, grad school applicants will make posts asking for advice. In these posts, the applicants will frequently state their qualifications, such as their alma mater, their GPA, their work experience, their GRE scores, papers they have published, etc. What happens regularly enough to make it an issue for me is that a poster will contact me asking me to delete their thread.

    Now mind you, we have guidelines in place with clearly stated rules. Our current editing time is something like five days. (I used to have unlimited time, but a salty poster came back and edited every single one of his threads, rendering much of the forum he posted in nonsensical.)

    I must state that I would never want to put anyone's privacy or personal or professional life at risk, so I can understand why people need threads edited. We generally ask them to give us some text to replace their original post with, which some people comply with. (Many others do not though.)

    However, times have changed. People are much more aware of privacy matters now, and well, the Internet has aged. I don't think anyone, myself included, would have imagined a forum existing for so long and being so searchable. There seems to be a trend towards giving people a right to manage their own privacy. Sites like Reddit, for example, allow unlimited editing time, and don't seem to care whether a conversation is hard to follow as a result.

    A couple of years ago, I created a forum that's hidden from guests and search engines to which I could move threads by request. I've had such a request maybe three times, unfortunately.

    I've brought up these thoughts with my users and moderators, and they like things the way they are; they don't like it when users come back and delete their posts. Furthermore, the forum has become somewhat well known in one particular niche in academia, probably partly because of the long history of users who offer up their numbers, stats, and admissions results.

    But I wanted to get advice from others who run forums to see what they think.

    P.S. I saw the poll option and added that, thinking it would be helpful. I tried to limit the number of options to get a better sense of who prefers a very short editing time vs. a few days vs. unlimited editing time.
  2. MarkFL

    MarkFL La Villa Strangiato

    I help admin several math help sites, and a big issue we would have if we allowed indefinite editing is that students would remove their question once they got help so that their professors would have a more difficult time trying to found if any of their students posted for help with assigned work. And this would in turn render our content far less useful.

    Personally I like to offer forum members a reasonable window (up to 30 minutes) to edit to catch typos, etc., but I don't want them coming back 3 days later and making changes and in particular removing content that removes vital context for the resulting discussion. If they wish to add information to a thread they can make another post.
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  3. Paul M

    Paul M Limeade Addict

    Our forum turned 16 a couple of weeks ago, we allow 2 hours, and no one has ever found it to be an issue.
  4. zappaDPJ

    zappaDPJ Administrator

    I allow 2 hours and I'll also take into consideration any reasonable request to edit a post after that if the member puts forward a good enough reason.
  5. LeadCrow

    LeadCrow Apocalypse Admin

    Nowadays it seems people are more content with posting replies than editing posts, so any limit that exceeds a day should be fine. They can still have old posts updated as necessary upon simply PMing staff.

    We always allowed thread starters and vip members to edit their own posts anytime, as its necessary for thread 'owners' to keep them updated as they see fit and supervise ongoing discussion. Vandalism was pretty much a non-issue, only breached accounts that had old posts appended with sneaky invisible links violated policy.
  6. MarkFL

    MarkFL La Villa Strangiato

    Yeah, one of the forums I help admin, which isn't a math help site, allows VIP members to edit indefinitely, and we've never had an issue with thread vandalism either.
  7. overcast

    overcast Adherent

    1 day if it's OP and few hours for replies. But I guess it depends on the niche too. Some niche require editing time all the time so that those threads can be relevant in future.
  8. Nev_Dull

    Nev_Dull Anachronism

    We allow 1 hour edit time for posts, which generally gets used for fixing grammatical and spelling errors. Changes beyond that usually involve clarifying statements or adding additional information, which we encourage they do in a new post.

    Anyone can request a post edit at any time, which we will do, if it doesn't affect the discussion as a whole.
  9. biggazillakilla

    biggazillakilla Adherent

    Thanks for all the replies! Good to hear what others do.

    I'm also wondering what ethical or legal rights the posters may have to their own content and whether at some point down the road, there may be either laws put in place or best practices suggested about user-generated content.
  10. R0binHood

    R0binHood Habitué

    As a user, unlimited always.

    As an admin, unlimited unless it's a forum with content that is unlikely to have personal information, such as answering technical or other questions.

    I hate having to need to report posts or ask for posts to be edited. It's an unpopular opinion among admins, but I like to have 100% control over my content and the right to edit or delete it at anytime without having to get a 3rd party involved or jump through hoops.
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  11. Nev_Dull

    Nev_Dull Anachronism

    In most places, the poster always retains copyright to everything they write. However, the forum holds electronic publishing rights to that content, as stipulated in the site's Terms of Use. Those publishing rights usually include the right to use and reuse the content (either in full or in excerpt form) as needed.

    When it comes to personal information, like that stated in the original post, it's still a bit murky. My read is the current laws separate what a site gathers about an individual behind the scenes, through the membership form, cookies, logs, etc. from what that individual chooses to make public in posts.

    That said, best practice would be to have a specified policy about personal information in posts, for both members and forum staff to follow.
  12. Penguin

    Penguin Aspirant

    I allow 5 minutes to correct typos, after that, a simple PM to a Community Manager (mods don't have edit permissions) and we can edit their posts for them :)
  13. Ingenious

    Ingenious Fan

    2 hours for me too... enough to correct mistakes or have a change of mind. Beyond that it requires a PM to admin and a good reason to edit.

    This might depend on what region you are based in and how your forum is set up. For example with mine in the EU and with most users posting under an alias, they don't have rights as such as not identifiable. Not that it would make much difference as my TOS state we won't delete stuff merely on request. If you haven't already I would get something in your sign-up terms to state that posts become a permanent part of your forum.
  14. MagicalAzareal

    MagicalAzareal Magical Developer

    Unlimited. Anything else has a tendency of creating problems for me.
    It's either that or disallowing it entirely.

    Sometimes, I'll make a post about an event and I'll add links relating to it whenever I stumble upon related articles as a citation of sorts, so that people who want to dive deeper into it can. A lot of the time, it's not worth making a second reply just to add a reference.

    And let's be honest here, poking and prodding a mod every five minutes for a trivial edit is just going to piss them off more than anything else.

    In my personal opinion, you really shouldn't let one fool ruin a good thing for everyone and editing every post is likely no different than if he handed you a GDPR deletion request which you would have to comply with by law anyway.
  15. jair101

    jair101 Aspirant

    GDPR deletion request does not cover content of posts, unless there is an identifying private information there.
  16. we_are_borg

    we_are_borg Administrator

    It depends in what usergroup some one is Members around 10 to max 15 min and the higher the longer you get but max is 2 hours. What you do not want is that people get an answer and edit or delete there topic. 10 min to 2 hours is more then enough to correct mistakes.
  17. zappaDPJ

    zappaDPJ Administrator

    The problem with that is there are no triggers to inform your membership that you've added content to an existing post so it'll probably go unread by anyone who has already read that content.
  18. doubt

    doubt Tazmanian

    Would need a function: Unread Edited Posts
    Or simply: Edited Posts(Would be useful especially for moderators)
  19. MarkFL

    MarkFL La Villa Strangiato

    I coded an addon that does that for vB 4.2.5, it puts edited posts back into unread status. :)
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  20. Nev_Dull

    Nev_Dull Anachronism

    Setting an edited post to unread is helpful. However, it's only helpful if the users know why a post they've already read is now marked as unread, and if they can identify what's been changed in the post and why. It forces a lot of extra thinking and effort on the users, which goes against usability best practice. It is both easier and simpler to make a new post, providing the new information or explaining what has changed from the original post.
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