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Just a quick question: It seems that we are marking quite a lot of stuff as community wiki. Apparently you earn no rep from community wiki answers, which raises the question of whether it is a good idea to be using CW so much this early. Is this intentional? If so, is this such a good idea while we still have so few users with enough rep to vote to close/open and edit questions?

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    $\begingroup$ I was going to ask the same question, maybe we need a policy regarding when a question should be a CW and when it shouldn't. Take a look at this also: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/55888/… $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Aug 31 '10 at 19:52
  • $\begingroup$ An example of a question which I think shouldn't be a CW: cstheory.stackexchange.com/questions/700/… (probably made CW because of down votes.) $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Sep 1 '10 at 6:10
  • $\begingroup$ I think that question became a CW because of the large number of edits. $\endgroup$ – András Salamon Sep 1 '10 at 15:58
  • $\begingroup$ @ András Salamon: I see, thank you for the explanation. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Sep 1 '10 at 18:39
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I'd like to propose the following FAQ statement about CW.

The CW flag should be reserved for questions where you do not believe that there exists one (or even a few) good answers, and where any individual response contributes a small enough piece of the overall answer that no reputation increase is warranted.

CW IS IRREVERSIBLE. When in doubt, DO NOT mark a question CW - this can always be changed later.

Often, a question that seems like it should be CW can be modified to be more direct and focused, thus avoiding the need for the tag. For example, the seemingly CW question "What are the key papers in topic X" can often be reworded as the more focused "What I should start reading when studying topic X". The latter has one or a few definite answers and need not be made CW.

Since this answer will probably need editing, I'm marking it editable.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think the tone of this statement might send the wrong message. There is nothing wrong with CW as such, and there are situations in which one should use CW. $\endgroup$ – Jukka Suomela Sep 1 '10 at 9:47
  • $\begingroup$ I like this; having more advice for how to properly form a good question should be a focus of the meta-community (by which I mean the smaller community of people who are actively interested in how the community is shaped), and simple examples are probably the best guide. $\endgroup$ – Shane Sep 1 '10 at 13:31
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    $\begingroup$ @jukka in principle you are right. But it's clear that people are willing to ask a cw question even when there's a perfectly decent regular question buried underneath. This is the practice this would deal with. Like it or not, rep is the grease that makes the overall system work - witness our struggles getting hi-rep users - and we want to encourage people to use that system, by asking precise questions that encourage a few (or one) clear answers $\endgroup$ – Suresh Venkat Sep 1 '10 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ here's another example of a question that I think should not have been made CW: cstheory.stackexchange.com/questions/832/… $\endgroup$ – Suresh Venkat Sep 1 '10 at 16:40
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, thanks for the comments, I agree that the best solution would be to ask questions that don't need to be CW. I was just trying to point out that occasionally there are questions that really should be CW, and our FAQ shouldn't scare away people who'd like to ask those questions, either. Perhaps we could tone down the "CW IS IRREVERSIBLE" part, maybe not all-caps?-) $\endgroup$ – Jukka Suomela Sep 1 '10 at 17:35
  • $\begingroup$ sure. go ahead and edit that ! $\endgroup$ – Suresh Venkat Sep 1 '10 at 19:02
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IMO, we're doing a reasonable job here. The problem about having too few users with power will be resolved soon when we have moderators who will act in the community's interest.

Reputation should be a signal of someone who an expert. Allowing too many open-ended questions could dilute the meaning of reputation on the site.

That being said, I think that many questions which are asked and are totally open-ended, could easily be rephrased in such a way as to be considered a valid question. Putting some research into the question helps, backed by some specifics.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree, I think we are doing fairly well regarding tagging questions as CW vs. non-CW. Perhaps we have too many CW questions, but it is not because people mark too many questions as CW; it is because people ask many questions that are open-ended and should be marked as CW. $\endgroup$ – Jukka Suomela Aug 31 '10 at 20:06
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    $\begingroup$ Fair enough, I just wanted to see what other people's thoughts were. I haven't used stackoverflow, so still haven't quite figured out the community wikis. Actually I had the "Learning quantum CS" question in mind. $\endgroup$ – Joe Fitzsimons Aug 31 '10 at 21:58
  • $\begingroup$ My feeling was that the learning quantum CS question did not need to be CW. But it was too late to do something about it. $\endgroup$ – Suresh Venkat Aug 31 '10 at 23:01
  • $\begingroup$ I agree about that one, but this question was what I had in mind: cstheory.stackexchange.com/questions/811/…. $\endgroup$ – Shane Aug 31 '10 at 23:25
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    $\begingroup$ I should point out that the cw tag is irreversible, even by moderators $\endgroup$ – Suresh Venkat Aug 31 '10 at 23:54
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, I think we should make a feature request that moderators should be able to reverse it... $\endgroup$ – Shane Aug 31 '10 at 23:59

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