Research:Improve your edit

This is a suggested growth project.

What's an "Improve your edit" feature? edit

It's a revert that doesn't bite. Or at least, that's the idea.

Previous research (e.g. NICE) has focused on "friendly reverts" - e.g. personalized explanations offered to the reverted editor.

This does not however alter the fact that a revert is a pretty drastic and surprising action, especially when your edit is made in good faith to improve a project like Wikipedia. A revert may also feel to the user like the edit is lost -- retrieving a reverted edit is an advanced skill. This likely contributes to the feeling of rejection.

Instead, why not make it obvious to the reverted editor what's going on, and how to improve and re-apply their edit?

"Improve your edit" instead of "Your edit was reverted" edit

The feature would appear as an additional option next to "Undo" and "Rollback", similar to previous efforts to make reverts friendlier. The link could, for example, be labeled "Undo: Needs improvement".

Let's say User:Dogmaster3000, a new editor, is making an edit to a biography that's semi-plausible but lacks a citation. User:GNUdalf spots the edit, and clicks "Undo: Needs improvement" in the diff view. GNUdalf now sees the following dialog:

You're undoing this change, but you're telling Dogmaster3000 that it could be improved. Please explain below why it needs to be improved or select from one of the standard reasons.

[ ____________________________________ ]

Standard reasons:
( ) Claim added to a biography without citation
( ) General questionable claim without citation
( ) Spelling/grammar issues

[ Undo ] [ Cancel ]

So far, it's similar to other "friendly revert" tools. The important part is what happens next. Dogmaster3000 will now receive a new message and e-mail notification (in future, a more beautiful notification), e.g.:

I have deferred your change to Carla van Carlson (football player) for now edit

Hi Dogmaster3000,

thanks for improving the article "Carla van Carlson (football player)" (and welcome to Wikipedia). I'm one of the other volunteers on Wikipedia and spot-checked your change. I noticed that your edit doesn't include a citation, which is important especially for biographies of living people.

Your edit isn't gone -- it's just deferred. Click "Improve your edit now" below to load your original edit and add a citation. You can also see the edit you made below:

► Show the original edit

Warm regards, -- GNUdalf 03:32, 24 May 2012 (UTC)

[ Improve your edit now ] [ No, thanks ]

If Dogmaster3000 clicks the "Show the original edit" button, an inline diff is loaded.

If Dogmaster3000 clicks the "Improve your edit now" button, the edit box is loaded with the original edit pre-loaded. This may not work because the page may since have changed dramatically, but in many cases, we should be able to do so by applying the original diff to the most recent version.

The edit screen would likely have to load some standard instructions as well, like so:

You're about to re-apply a previous change.

Your change was deferred by GNUdalf because it lacks a citation. Please try to address GNUdalf's concerns, or resolve the matter through discussion. Repeatedly making the same edit without seeking consensus is considered edit warring and not permitted.

Your changes are shown below:

▼ Your changes


Thank you for improving Wikipedia!

(Edit window)

What are we trying to find out? edit

  • Do users act on the "Improve your edit" feature?
  • Do users click the "No, thanks" button (e.g. do they read the suggestion but deliberately ignore it)?
  • Do users whose edits are deferred instead of reverted edit more?
  • If the feature shows promise: Which messages / UI affordances are most effective?

UX considerations edit

  • Diffs are not very intuitive, visual diffs would be very helpful here
  • A lot of experiments in this area falter due to the horrible brokenness of user talk pages