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Why has “community-wiki” transmuted from the original intent?

If you read many posting here on meta, you will get a consistent message. The purpose of community wiki is to allow collaborative creation of real answers to real questions.

When I look at the questions that end up community wiki, that is not what I see. What I see is that it is used to establish a gray zone between concrete questions with concrete answers (on the one hand) and opinion/discussion on the other. By and large, opinion/discussion gets closed as 'not a real question' or 'subjective and argumentative.' But some number of posts that are not concrete questions with specific answers are allowed to remain -- so long as they are cwiki. The justification for this seems to be 'well, this tripe is too tasty to discard, but no one should get any rep for it.'

I can't think of a single occasion on which I've seen a cwiki question or answer serving as a vehicle for collaboration, or allowing low-rep users to stick an editorial oar into the river of text.

People aren't editing the question or collaboratively editing a single answer to reach a high polish. They are all posting different answers. Dozens of answers. Hundreds of answers. TL;DR No one is going to read all that stuff.

Maybe this is a good thing, and maybe not. It certainly leads to some level of confusion and whining about unequal treatment. (See recent meta question about career questions, e.g.)

I end up thinking that what we need here is to get our story straight. Given the recent ex cathedra pronouncement about leaving some humor questions open, wouldn't it be less stressful to write up and stick to a policy that covers this stuff, instead of having a policy that talks about one phenomenon and a practice that does something else?

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marked as duplicate by Shog9, Ether, Robert Cartaino, random, Rosinante Jan 31 '10 at 1:59

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
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@Shog9 I suppose I could collaboratively edit my particular thoughts in over there somewhere. –  Rosinante Jan 31 '10 at 0:14
    
that's the spirit! –  Shog9 Jan 31 '10 at 0:27
    
You're right, no one ever collaboratively edits a post. This is a situation where it would be desirable to close a question to new answers, except that the word "closed" has a stigma attached to it that is not appropriate in this situation. Yet, closing a question puts it in exactly the correct state to force editing of the original post rather than adding more answers. –  Ether Jan 31 '10 at 3:37

3 Answers 3

The community will find the most natural fit for working with the mechanics of the site. The usage of CW will only change if the system changes to make the other, more desired behavior, more natural. Putting words in a policy document only serves to pit religious fanatics against everyone else, and stopping it will be like trying to sue piracy into oblivion.

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I agree with you that community wiki is misused. Rather than accepting something of such low value (and assuming you don't want to just ignore it, like I find myself doing), how about just ripping the darn thing out? Maybe accompanied with stronger downvote weight to counteract massive upvotes in joke threads (how is that change coming?)

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I have noticed that in practice editing other people's stuff seems to be a step taken with care and considerable though for the original author's feelings and intent.

This is true for both CW posts, and for regular posts as edited by 2000+ rep users. The big exception I see is really poorly formed questions, which some people try to rescue (sometimes to great effect, sometimes not).

On the whole, I think this is a good thing---it avoids fights and petty snits---but it does sometimes get in the way of collaborative improvement.

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