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I don't think moderators should be arbitrarily marking questions as community wiki, thus denying users of potential reputation points. For example, I was just searching SU and found this question. Why did Diago mark it as CW?

I thought the same thing about this SO question. Mark Gravell marked it as CW for some reason. Why? Because it got too much attention? So what?

Let the community determine what is community wiki. One of several things will take care of "questionable" questions. It will be so freakishly popular that the number of answers will switch it soon enough, the community will pressure the person who asked the question into making it CW, or the community will be put off and ignore it. Of course, they may just as well accept it as just a really popular question.

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As already mentioned I switched it over after it was flagged by community users. I normally do the switch and then delete the relevant comments since the task has been completed. Also in this particular case there was no specific answer. As Jeff pointed out it is rare cases where we intervene, generally I will if there is already answers since the answers don't normally get switched if the OP makes the change. – BinaryMisfit Oct 4 '09 at 8:40


Yes, they should. According to The Atwood:

If you think something should be community wiki then flag it for mod attention with a comment to that effect. Simple.

Regarding the questions you cite: the first is a GTKY question (asked individuals to describe their practices, no "right" answer), while the second asked for speculation. These questions, while fun enough when rare, can and have become a problem if left unchecked... CW isn't the best solution, but it's the compromise that's worked the best so far.

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this is not a common practice, anyway, I'd expect the total volume of moderator-forced CWs to be tiny relative to the total – Jeff Atwood Oct 4 '09 at 3:45
To second that: feel free to flag it, but it isn't a "given" that it will get wiki'd. – Marc Gravell Oct 4 '09 at 8:59
If its that rare, maybe a new CW gold badge? – Locutus Oct 5 '09 at 12:57

Generally we would only do this in obvious cases - and even then there is a fine line between marking it wiki and just closing / deleting it. In reality, based in part on timing and popularity; delete a popular (yet completely off-topic) question and hell breaks loose. Delete the same question before it gets started, and nobody minds. CW is, in some cases, a compromise that works reasonably well.

There are also a lot of cases where somebody suggests something should be wiki and we leave it alone.

I'm not going to try to analyse retrospectively, but the $23,148,855,308,184,500 is a tricky one. The answer (assuming it is correct) is a fantastic bit of detective work. I honestly can't remember my thought process at the time (I imagine / assume it was getting a lot of spam / moderator flags - don't quote me), but thinking fresh now; rep is primarily a token of site activity / trust. I'm not sure if it a great idea for somebody to get virtually 10k moderator access on a single answer... perhaps more evidence that a rep limit per post might be more useful than a rep limit per day.

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Both the examples questions you gave were not about programming.

The first was about testing hardware and the second a bit of fluff about an unusual computer malfunction.

Neither question asked about programming or related to any particular programming language.

And I hope it is getting more and more difficult to fool moderators by inserting the word programmatically in a question, in any of its spelling variants

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The first question I referenced was on and had no obligation to be about programming. – raven Oct 4 '09 at 2:52
Ok, sorry, I didn't notice that. The old methods of denying users reputation points seem to work quite well though. – pavium Oct 4 '09 at 3:15
yes, but what is the best food ... for a programmer? – Jeff Atwood Oct 4 '09 at 4:15

Moderators shouldn't be using Community Wiki as a weapon.

Community Wiki shouldn't be about the topic. If something is off-topic, then close or delete it. CW is all about editing and allowing more people to contribute.

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like love, community wiki is a multi-faceted thing. It's not merely about editing alone, though that is an important part of it. – Jeff Atwood Oct 4 '09 at 4:14
That was beautiful. I am weeping... – Josh Hunt Oct 4 '09 at 5:06
See the first part of my answer for more feedback on this. But I love the idea of using CW as a weapon; thinks of walking into a bank: "hand over the money and nobody gets wiki'd!". – Marc Gravell Oct 4 '09 at 9:01

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