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Personally I think not. If the concern is spurious bumping then simply stop bumping the post after some arbitrary edit.

This site might be part-Wiki, part-Q&A but I think its clear that people feel a sense of ownership over their questions and answers, which CW diminishes to some respect.

The question is: does this happen enough such that people won't maintain their posts as the facts change? I suspect it does.

Edit: Let me just add that there are plenty of ways of bumping your post without editing it currently, such as:

  • Retagging the question (assuming you wrote an answer);
  • Editing the question (assuming you wrote an answer);
  • Editing someone else's answer;
  • Adding another answer to the question;

  • Using a sock puppet to add another answer.
  • Have a sock puppet edit it's own answer.
  • Have a sock puppet edit someone else's answer (provided it has enough rep).
  • Have a sock puppet edit the question/tags (provided it has enough rep, or owns the question).

AFAIK all of these things will bump the question to the front page and none of them involves editing your post. So if someone wanted to constantly bump a question they already can. I haven't seen a problem like this to date, which suggest to me that we don't have a problem with spurious bumping.

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... having the sock puppet account edit it's answer. – Brad Gilbert Jun 28 '09 at 22:10
@Brad: yep thats a good one too. – cletus Jun 28 '09 at 22:12
enough edits force wiki regardless, so the sock puppet won't work. – Jeff Atwood Jul 4 '09 at 13:40
It'll work for a pretty long time. – cletus Jul 4 '09 at 23:20
Whats the actual no? Is it 6 edits? – test Jul 23 '09 at 2:14
If the sock puppet only edits it's own answer, it can do it indefinitely. It just won't accrue much rep. – Brad Gilbert Aug 14 '09 at 1:47
It's particularly frustrating when a good answer is penalized for having a conscientious author who wants to make it better, but singlehandedly pushes it into CW status. – Jon Ericson Mar 15 '12 at 21:26
Agreed that this is a flat-out bad feature, in particular for owner-edits. Solving a bumping problem by punishing edits is just plain bad design. I mean, for goodness sake, for a site about programming, made by programmers, I would almost call it an embarrassing design flaw. If you posted "Auto-CW" as an answer to a question of "How do I stop edits from bumping?" it would get downvoted into oblivion simply for violating some of the most fundamental rules of good software architecture. – J... Jun 8 '13 at 15:31
Q: Is this still how this works?? I sure am glad I stumbled upon this! I know I have made 3...4...maybe 5 edits to some of my posts in an effort to keep them tidy. I didn't even know doing so bumped the question! If I had had one of my posts automatically forced into a community wiki, I would not have been happy! ...and now I have to start keeping track of how many times I put in extra effort to keep my questions tidy? Ridiculous! If this is still how this works, can we at least get a warning on the last (and second-last) "free" edit?! – A.M. Jul 4 '13 at 23:09
possible duplicate of SO is too eager to turn my edited answers into Community Wiki – gnat Aug 8 '13 at 10:53
I really feel it's time to address this issue again. I've just hit the same wall for the third time. It's annoying that you feel punished for trying to improve your answer: meta.scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/3301/… – Django Reinhardt Jan 13 '14 at 0:51
Also, why is this "status-declined" when the majority seem to agree there's a problem? – Django Reinhardt Jan 13 '14 at 0:57

7 Answers 7

Personally, I'd rather that there was a vote-to-wiki that functioned like "close" etc; this would prevent the ugliness of people editing deliberately to force wiki, and avoid the accidental wiki you sometimes get by people tidying up a post

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Vote to wiki is an interesting idea. – cletus Jun 28 '09 at 22:53
Vote to wiki is basically rep deprivation. This suggestion is yet another manifestation of the great rep-whore/pimp divide. – Assaf Lavie Jun 30 '09 at 18:41
@Assaf - there is a common consent that "fun" questions (if they survive the opening shots) should be wiki... or is your argument that "what is your favorite cartoon" is worth nearly 8k points? – Marc Gravell Jun 30 '09 at 23:46
++ Love "vote-to-wiki" – Sampson Jul 8 '09 at 18:11
@Assaf, most people won't arbitrarily decide to strip you of your rep, unless the question itself is of the type that shouldn't award you rep ("What's your favorite color?") – Sampson Jul 8 '09 at 18:12
I agree with Assaf, it's just another rep denial tool, as well as even more complexity. Not a fan. – Jeff Atwood Jul 18 '09 at 6:08

This "auto-moderation" feature has outlived its usefulness.

Community Wiki really isn't used much anymore. Partially, as I explain below, that's because it's a malfeature. But more importantly, we now have Suggested Edits, which means that even anonymous users can fix problems in posts. It's nice that low-reputation users can skip the review process on CW questions, but very few questions lend themselves to this sort of treatment in my experience. (There's an argument to be made for CW posts in the meta.* side of a site, but I don't intend to make that argument.)

Since Community Wiki rarely occurs naturally, users are only confronted with it when it is imposed artificially as a tool to moderate user behavior or limit reputation from a single post. The first is utterly pointless since most users don't learn about this from of censor until after the punishment has been meted. As far as I know, the user isn't even notified that they are running out of "free" edits.

As for limiting reputation, are these the sort of posts we should discourage:

  • A thoughtful answer to my Philosophy question.
  • A continuously updated question concerning Genealogy and Family History.
  • An answer that has been called "one of the best answers on SO" and a "Beautiful answer" and "one of the best answers I have read on this site."
  • [Insert other examples that I've noticed but can no longer find or new examples as they come up.]

These are good posts made better via edits.

On the gripping hand:

  • A frankly poor answer from a user who really is trying to improve. The trouble here is that CW makes it seem like he wants his detractors to freely edit the answer. CW sends the wrong signal in this case.

These posts should be reviewed instead.

When this feature was introduced, there wasn't a mechanism for humans to review the work of other participants except by watching the question stack. These days, we have a Community Review Task feature. It seems to me that if a post has been edited many times1, the post is a candidate for the Low Quality Posts queue or, perhaps, a new queue altogether. Some frequently edited posts are of low quality. But not all. The ones that aren't should be allowed to life full, rich lives. And, of course, low quality posts (of all sorts) should be downvoted and/or deleted.

Currently, if you want to have the Community Wiki status removed, simply flag a moderator. On smaller sites at least, we are happy to fix the problem.2

"Community wiki" is a Frankenstein's monster of a feature. (Look at it's name! What does it mean?) A great many of the uses for this feature have, in my opinion, been removed by the introduction of this meta-site. Over-editting is definitely one of the odder ways to trigger "community wiki", but it makes a bit of sense if the purpose of the feature is to open up editing to more people. If a post is edited X times, it's a good guess that it's the sort of post that could benefit from more editors.

Sadly, "community wiki" does more than just allow a larger population to edit a post. Some of the effects might make sense in certain cases, but it seems dumb to penalize a question that happens to have a number of typos. Even worse is penalizing a questioner who periodically maintains their own question.

I think the entire feature needs to be rethought and this particular problem readdressed. The current "solution" is too complicated.


  1. Is it 10 rather than 6 times now? It's hard to keep track. Which is another reason to kill this "feature".

  2. I'm not sure what happens to those flags on larger sites. It probably depends on which moderator sees the flag and what sort of mood they are in at the time. On the site I'm currently a moderator for, we are excited to see a flag since they are somewhat rare. I gather that's not the case on some of the bigger sites.

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@Jon: I agree... unfortunately, Jeff A doesn't ("it's just another rep denial tool, as well as even more complexity. Not a fan."). So good luck with getting it reconsidered and redesigned. – Lawrence Dol Apr 26 '10 at 20:56
+1 "penalizing a questioner who periodically maintains their own question" is outrageous. Community Wiki itself denies rep and is extra complexity (despite the quote above). I can see how human moderation could be seen as complexity, but how would it be "another rep denial tool"?? – A.M. Jul 4 '13 at 23:37
I don't know if I agree with your solution, but I sure as hell agree with your diagnosis. Come on, Jon. Surely something can be done? – Django Reinhardt Jan 13 '14 at 1:04

I do also. I often worry if I am coming back later and fixing up the question with more relevant data that I will trigger the CW.

I like the idea you had of stopping bumping after n consecutive edits by the owner (or some other person)

I think we all benefit from editing without fear.

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+1 "I think we all benefit from editing without fear." - Absolutely. – Mike Rosenblum Oct 12 '09 at 19:14

The forced-CW action when there are many edits from various authors makes sense because at some point then the post should no longer be considered solely the original author's work, and the site should reflect that.

But this scenario, where a single author modifies a post multiple times... perhaps over the course of several months even, does not really indicate anything special. I agree that, ideally, it shouldn't force CW.

However, it was put in place to solve a very real problem. Some people will make periodic, pointless edits to their own questions in order to garner additional attention. Abusing what is normally a useful feature. Forcing CW doesn't stop this, but it does help to remove one potential motivation for it (rep). If it were possible to suppress this via other means, i'd be all for it...

So: how do you propose to stop gratuitous bumping of posts without also removing the ability for those who do make valuable and substantial updates to their posts to garner fresh reviews?

  • Time-based suppression? (1 bump / day) (still provides plenty of opportunity for abuse by the patient)
  • A fixed number of bumps for the life of the post? (first six edits bump, but later edits do not)
  • Quanity-based suppression? (bump only on edits changing more than 50% of the post) (still fairly easy to abuse)?
  • ?
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The problem is that you can currently game the system by bumping the question without editing your own post. If you have sufficient rep you can edit (or even just retag) the question. You can add another answer. You can use a sock puppet to add another answer. AFAIK we don't seem to have a problem with that, which suggests to me we don't have a problem with spurious editing. – cletus Jun 28 '09 at 20:51
For further reading: blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/04/in-defense-of-editing (I disagree with much of Jeff's opinions in that post though) – Kip Jun 30 '09 at 16:49
Any of those solutions is better than the forced-CW action. All it does is discourage people from improving their answers. – endolith Nov 23 '11 at 18:07
I would love to see proof of this assertion, @endolith – Shog9 Nov 23 '11 at 18:14
@Shog9: What kind of proof? If you improve your answer more than n times, the rep you've earned from that question is deleted. That's like receiving zero salary because you worked too hard. – endolith Nov 23 '11 at 19:15
@endolith: no, that's not how it works. You don't lose anything. You just don't gain anything more past the point where it becomes CW. So if you can show me a sharp drop-off in the number of edits once the # of revisions hits 9, then it'll be clear this is a deterrent. But 9 revisions is already pretty rare; I rather expect you'll find 10 is slightly more rare, 11 a bit more so, and so on. – Shog9 Nov 23 '11 at 19:34
@Shog9: Wait, what? That's a huge difference. Where does it say that? – endolith Nov 23 '11 at 20:01
@endolith: right here - see the bullet list under, "How do Community Wiki posts work?" – Shog9 Nov 23 '11 at 20:12
@Shog9: Ah. I guess it's not the end of the world, then; merely bad. Just because something's an outlier doesn't mean it's bad. – endolith Nov 23 '11 at 21:12
up vote 23 down vote

I actively fix minor grammatical errors and improve formatting on other people's questions. Sometimes this happens in multiple edits that are more than five minutes apart, so they don't count as a single edit. I've been warned once or twice by other users that this is pushing a given post to its six-edit limit. But I have no intention of changing my behavior (which improves the site!) to accommodate a dumb rule.

In fact, I disagree very strongly with this StackOverflow Blog post, which says (among other things) that I shouldn't bother changing "it's" to "its" unless I also have something more substantive to change.

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Agreed. I also get apprehensive when I'm improving an answer that already has a lot of upvotes, but if it comes down to it, I care more about the quality of the site's content than an ultimately meaningless point system. – endolith Nov 23 '11 at 18:19

I'm happy to announce that starting today, community wiki is no longer automatically forced on a question for any reason, including this one. This has always been a long standing issue, how this mechanic worked. It was never a comfortable one, even for this team, but it had a job that it was doing and it was the only thing doing that job.

Now, we have made a lot of changes to flagging, and with more changes to come. For this, we've changed the system so that in the situations that formerly resulted in automatic conversion (with some thresholds modified), a flag will instead be raised. This will allow us to have better awareness of the situations as they come up, and allow more appropriate actions such as contacting users or cleaning up posts. The time of community wiki for this kind of thing has come to an end, basically.

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I think the reasoning behind this is to prevent people "evilly" gaining reputation and attention by constantly editing their question, which bumps it to the front page.

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Also: prevent those determined to gain reputation by such techniques from annoying everyone else by effectively taking over the front page... – Shog9 Jun 28 '09 at 20:43
...but I don't upvote anything just because it's on the front page and I doubt that any substantial amount of users does - so where exactly is the harm that is supposedly avoided by this? – Oliver Giesen Aug 23 '09 at 16:32
On the sites front page == more people seeing the post == more potential up-votes – dbr Aug 23 '09 at 17:37
So? What's wrong about up-voting good posts? – Oliver Giesen Aug 23 '09 at 18:51
The front page is supposed to be for new content, if there wasn't a disincentive to doing this, the front page would be spammed constantly.. – dbr Aug 23 '09 at 23:53

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