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The description of the Create Wiki Posts privilege says:

There are also several ways a question or answer can automatically enter community wiki mode. In these cases, we believe that the post is de-facto wiki:

  • the body of the post has been edited by at least 5 different users
  • the post has been edited 10 times by the original owner
  • you answer a question marked community wiki
  • a question generates more than 30 answers

I notice that this very much leaves out the case where a post is transformed by fewer than 5 users, and I'm wondering whether it should.

For myself at least, it hasn't been all that uncommon to:

  • Make an incremental change to a post
  • Learn more information
  • Update the post
  • Come back to refer to the post and decide that it needs better formatting
  • Update the post
  • See that information has become outdated
  • Update the post
  • Etc.

(Here is an example. 12 versions by 3 users, some small changes, some large.)

When I'm doing this alongside other users, everything works as expected. When I'm the only one doing it (through particular interest, in the course of moderation, or pure chance) it seems strange to me that the behavior is different. I think posts where this happens should be made CW because:

  • Posts that need this kind of maintenance and are wiki-style repositories are exactly the reason Community Wiki exists.
  • I do this kind of updating as a member of the community, because I'm a member of the community. I don't think the edits would take on any special properties if they were done by >= 5 users.
  • If I'm doing this it probably means that the post should have been CW in the first place. Perhaps I wouldn't be doing it all solo if, as CW, the post were more obviously encouraging of additions from everyone.

In an answer I will propose specific criteria for when a "< 5 editor post" should be made CW, and I'm also interested in others' suggestions for them.

Does this make sense? What do you think?

share|improve this question
The thing is, CW is almost completely defunct from what I can tell and this may or may not bring it back. I'm not too sure if that's a good thing, it's way above my paygrade. – Yawus Jul 16 '12 at 23:10
Overall, I'm against CW. It doesn't make sense to lose ownership of something just because someone else came and edited it. I'd say that if someone has something significant to contribute to an answer, they should add a new answer and reference an existing one. (I don't consider formatting and grammar fixes as "significant".) The only real use I see of CW is for list-like posts - in which case, maybe the question itself is borderline not constructive. – Mysticial Jul 16 '12 at 23:27
@Yawus SE has been ambivalent about CW for quite a long time, the (relatively) recent blog post didn't do much except point out one more time that it's not supposed to be used for otherwise problematic questions. – Matthew Read Jul 17 '12 at 1:22
@Mysticial SE is so focused on collaboration that I think something like CW definitely has its place. On the Android site, just for example, we have quite a few wiki posts that (a) have been edited dozens of times, with most of the original content changed or dwarfed, and (b) have gotten most of their views and votes due to being revised repeatedly and cross-referenced everywhere. It makes perfect sense for the original author to stop gaining rep from those posts after it is no longer their post in any meaningful way. – Matthew Read Jul 17 '12 at 1:24

From what I've seen so far, nearly all the posts that get auto-wikied should not be wikied.

I've already flagged two posts out of wiki so far and I've seen at least 5 others that were too old by the time I noticed them.

Here's my proposal: Instead of auto-wiki, how about we replace them with automatic flags?

It would behave the same way as the current "too many comments" or "vandalism" flags. No automatic action is actually done. Instead a flag is raised and put into the 10k and mod queues for validation.

If the post doesn't need to be wikied, then it can be dismissed.

  • Minor edits from 5 other users. (example - wiki status manually removed)
  • 10 or more substantial edits from the OP. (example - wiki status manually removed)

If the post does in fact need to be wikied, then the moderator can wiki it:

  • Post bumping abuse. (example - mod wikied)
  • Actual posts that get many edits from multiple users. (I can't think of any specific examples that I've encountered.)


  1. There will be no meta more posts from confused users (such as this).
  2. Posts like this which arguably don't need to be wiki will no longer silently go wiki and become too old to be unwikied. (I would have flagged to unwiki, but it was too old by the time I noticed it.)
  3. This does not increase the potential for abuse. An automatic flag will eventually be seen by a mod who can act accordingly should the user be actively bumping the post for more views. (or bumping someone else's post to force it into wiki)


  1. More flags in the queue. More work for the moderators.
  2. Moderators might be less inclined to mod-hammer a post into wiki since he/she can get "blamed" for doing so.

Since posts are no longer (silently) auto-wikied, there should be no more butt-hurt with false positives where a post is incorrectly auto-wikied.

Without the risk of false-positives, we can then tighten the rules (such as 10 edits by any user.) to catch more cases where a post should be wikied.

Other things that can be tweaked to the current auto-wiki rules:

  • Edits less than X characters (by everyone except the OP) should not count towards auto-wiki (or auto-flag). I suggest x = 100 characters.
share|improve this answer
Auto flags for this sounds fine to me, however I know that (at least on SO) there is resistance to increasing mod workload via more auto flags. The flip side is also that mods (in my experience) are often unwilling to CW-ize posts that need it. – Matthew Read Sep 24 '12 at 20:41
Yeah, that's why I listed it under the disadvantages. People are generally less inclined to do negative things to another person. So all the borderline cases probably won't get wikied. But the obvious cases shouldn't be a problem. – Mysticial Sep 24 '12 at 20:46
Gotcha, I misunderstood that part. Funnily enough the reason I proposed this is because my flags for what I considered to be obvious cases aren't acted on :P – Matthew Read Sep 24 '12 at 20:54
How about moving it to a lower-rep queue, like 5000 rep? It's a tradeoff between user trust and amount of viable users, and use something like CW votes, similar to closevotes? – hexafraction Sep 29 '12 at 11:25
@ObsessiveFOSS Move what to a lower-rep queue? The visibility of the flag? Could you clarify? – Mysticial Sep 29 '12 at 17:09

I think the potential for abuse of a feature like this is limited. For one, you can only make an edit every 5 minutes, so (at 10 revisions) it would take nearly an hour to CW-ize someone else's post. If the edits were inappropriate then that's a fairly large window for them to be caught in, especially with repeated bumping, so I can't imagine it being a problem.

Second is that, just like with the current process, posts can become CW when they should not be. I don't see any reason to believe that would exacerbate this problem. Mods have had the power to undo CW for a while now so I don't think that this change, if implemented, would cause any sort of headache.

So then, my proposal is to simply remove the "by the original owner" from the second point of the criteria:

  • the body of the post has been edited by at least 5 different users
  • the post has been edited 10 times
  • you answer a question marked community wiki
  • a question generates more than 30 answers

If you disagree, do feel free to comment and/or post your own answer!

share|improve this answer
How about "the post has been edited 10 times by other users?" The OP should have more elbow room to fix up their own stuff, without having to worry that someone else's minor edits will push something over the edge to CW. – CodeGnome Jul 17 '12 at 2:14
If 2 people improve a suggested edit simultaneously, and the original suggested edit is marked as helpful, then the post will gain 3 revisions and 3 users in a short period of time. Just encounter this the other day. – nhahtdh Jul 17 '12 at 2:56
@CodeGnome That's a really good point! nhahtdh, with gaining 3 users that seems like a concern for CW-as-is. Since it's reversible I'm not too concerned, but you might want to bring that up as a separate question. – Matthew Read Jul 17 '12 at 3:09

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