MATLAB Answers

James Tursa

Allow Question Markup Capability with fewer Reputation Points

Asked by James Tursa
on 7 Jun 2013

Currently it takes 2000 reputation points before one is allowed markup privileges (as part of overall editing privileges).

However, I find myself often in the position of reading a question where the code has not been marked-up as code and is unreadable. I either have to wait for some individual in the 2000+ category to notice this and mark it up, or copy the code into an editor at my end just to be able to understand it.

Will TMW consider lowering the reputation threshold for this particular markup privilege? Maybe down to the 500+ level? I wouldn't care as much about the general editing capability, just the markup privilege. I have less than 1000 points now, and it will likely take me another year or more at my present rate to reach the 2000+ category, but I could contribute in this area right now if allowed.


If it were changed to 1000, then over the next bit the only people this would affect are some Mathworks employees, and you, and Per. Also Thomas, but he has not been active for some time. I would be fine with those individuals gaining edit privs. I would need to think more about the longer term effects.

Good point! However, together with markup one would need the privilege to add and remove white-space.



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4 Answers

Answer by Jan Simon
on 8 Jun 2013
Edited by Jan Simon
on 13 Jun 2013

The power to edit the message of other users should be used with extreme care. It is not easy to allow to insert markup, but not to change the contents in a way, which was not intended by the author. Therefore I think, that lowering the limits might have negative side effects.

But I do see the problem of missing code formatting also. I frequently use the "Edit"-button to see the code in its original form, e.g. to reveal the dimensions of matrices, when the author did not use the leading spaces for: [a b c d e f] Without the smart formatting this is obviously a [2 x 3] matrix. [EDITED, clarification] But after I've seen the message in the original format, I do not apply any changes.[End EDITED]

So instead of gaining the power to edit foreign messages, a button to toggle a plain text view would solve a lot of problems.

I still do not give up to hope, that beginners can be instructed to apply a proper code formatting. Perhaps a short entry exam helps, which enables the participation in the forum only after the user has typed a code formatting successfully and pasted the URL of the FAQ site. I know that this sounds a little bit hilarious, but encouraging 10 users per day to apply a proper formatting is not a fair alternative.



Answer by Daniel Shub
on 10 Jun 2013

The Answers interface does not provide a mechanism to role back edits, making "editor" powers to powerful in my opinion. I brought up the topic of reputation need to achieve editor powers in this question last year.

I personally think that better than editing the questions is to simply close the questions. If you cannot answer a question because of the lack of formatting, close the question and tell the OP to edit it. If the question is lacking needed information, close it. If we close more questions, it will lead to higher quality questions and a more useful site.

Closing in my opinion is a much safer as it is not permanent and it is more efficient. It takes less time close a question and ask for improvements, provides insight into whether the OP is really interested, and prevents others from looking at poor questions.

  1 Comment

Jan Simon
on 13 Jun 2013

A good strategy, Daniel.

I think opening a question, marking the code and hitting the code button is faster than closing and writing a comment, which asks for code formatting. But I feel like I have written more than 400 comments about code formatting and I admit I get bored by this. So now I'm going to close some questions and look what happens (to the threads and to me).

Some search results:

 commented_by: "Jan Simon" comment: "format" : 632 pages
 commented_by: "Jan Simon" comment: "code formatting" : 155 pages
 commented_by: "Jan Simon" comment: "format code format" : 325 pages

And of course there are many other contributors which format the code by editing or post corresponding comment. Here I focussed on my personal participation, because it is meant to explain my personal and emotional reaction. But it is more important to realize, that unformatted code wasted a lot of hours of the time of all contributors.

Answer by Doug Hull
on 7 Jun 2013

You have those privileges now on your own posts.

That is a list of suggested things to do to OTHER people's posts when you get editing privileges over other people's posts.

  1 Comment

Exactly ... yes, I would like to have that markup privilege over other people's posts, and in general I think people with 500+ reputation points can be trusted with that capability.

Answer by Matt J
on 7 Jun 2013

I agree that an editing privilege applying to mark-up only would be great.

In any case, I can probably accelerate your rise to 2000 points. Like most of us, you've given lots of reasonable Answers which OPs never bothered to formally accept. I can go back and Accept-click those.


Jan Simon
on 13 Jun 2013

@Matt J: Yes, I know. I've meant It was a little bit scary, that a user had invested so much time to vote for such a large number of answers manually inside 48 hours, but had not reasonable explanation for this. He or she did not contact me personally and of course TMW did not reveal the name or login for the privacy protection.

Today the "Recent Activities" tell us whos is doing what in the forum. And although it would have been useful for me in the above mentioned case, I really do not like such activity scanners. (Hi Prism, it's me!)

Matt J
on 13 Jun 2013

@Jan: Wow, looks like you had a devoted fan! That is quite a lot of effort s/he put in and 700 is well beyond what I think I could invest.

However, I do sometimes think such behavior is good and that we frequent contributors should team up and occasionally sweep each others' profiles for overlooked/unaccepted answers (the valid ones, of course). I've done so, for a few of us.

For one thing, this would be a way of taking undue power from the posters. As I've said elsewhere, I think the status quo gives some contributors incentive to spoon-feed full solutions to people posting questions, instead of just fair hints, to be sure of winning favor with them and earning the points.

I also think some contributors, e.g. James, deserve to be a lot further along in rep points. I feel certain that he should have had more than the 50% rate of Answer acceptance that he has had.

Jan Simon
on 13 Jun 2013

I really agree. See also:

While I still think the voting and automatic gain of powers could become a serious problem, the fact seem to imply, that it is successful. The forum has grown up from it's infancy and I think we got the critical mass of high skilled contributors, such that even very specific question can be answered in a short time - even when the 4 topmost answerers are on holidays.

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