On my forums, it is our policy that we don’t edit member posts. When a post violates our User Guidelines, it is removed. Even if it is one line out of a long post. Once in a while, we do have a member who will ask, “why didn’t you just edit that post and leave it?” I can understand this question, certainly, and I always answer it, of course. Here are our reasons:

Sloppy Documentation

Editing posts makes for sloppy documentation of violations and actions taken. When you remove the post, you have the entire post as the member made it – forever. This includes the time stamp and the IP attached to it. It counts as irrefutable documentation in that this is the actual post, this is not the staff member quoting the post or saying that someone said this – this is the very post that violated the guidelines.

It’s also great to be able to search through posts that have been violations to search for sites that have spammed before, etc.

Harder Mistake Correction

Sometimes, posts do get removed that shouldn’t and those mistakes have to be corrected and I or we have to apologize for them. If you remove the post, it’s very easy to correct the mistake. But, if you edited the post, you have to hope that what was removed was documented very well – otherwise, it’s not going to be easy. Assuming your software doesn’t have some sort of “revert edit” feature that maintains forever.

This would also relate to a situation where you have one member violate your guidelines, supposedly, and then five replies that include that violation by quoting it. You have to edit all of them.

Staff Members Aren’t Proofreaders

If you can violate our guidelines and a staff member will fix it for you, would you care less about violating the guidelines? You may or may not, but at the end of the day, I don’t want my staffers to be looked at like proofreaders, who members expect to read their posts and make adjustments so that they are OK.

Recognizing the Value of Posts

At the same time, and in conclusion, while I see that removing posts is definitely the way to go – I recognize that it is frustrating to spend a lot of time on a post and have it removed for what might seem like a small reason. Because of this, it is included in our guidelines that we are glad to send any member a copy of a post that they made that has been removed, as long as it wasn’t so bad that we wouldn’t just rather them start over. That way, they can retrieve their work and adjust it and repost, rather than creating it from scratch again.