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I have just discovered secondhand that a non-CW answer to a CW question will still accumulate rep normally. Is this by design, or is it an uncaught edge case? Either way, is it a Good Idea? The post that inspired this question is here; see the comments. (EDIT: although I asked this question in a general way, I'm primarily interested in the case where this results from merging of questions.)

A discussion about a closely related topic was held about a year ago, but it doesn't seem that any consensus was ever reached, let alone officially blessed by a Valued Associate. Also, I believe that that discussion was held before the "merging questions" capability existed.

EDIT 2: Hm, there seems to have been some confusion. I wasn't asking whether this behavior could exist — an example is linked to in the post. I was asking whether it was intentional and positive (as opposed to, say, a known but undesired side effect of implementing the "many edits → auto-CW" rule). But the consensus — using that term loosely — seems to be "case by case basis, flag for a mod if you find a qualifying case."

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You are correct, if someone posts non-cw answer to a normal question, it will remain as such after the question is converted to a CW. – Chris S Jun 15 '10 at 15:58
up vote 6 down vote accepted

Originally, this was by design: every post could be made CW (or left non-CW) at its author's discretion.

Then the checkbox was defaulted to CW for answers composed to CW questions.

Finally, the checkbox was defaulted, disabled, and removed entirely for answers on CW questions. However, no change was made to force answers posted to non-CW questions into CW mode when the question itself changed to CW: the status of questions and answers remains independently tracked.

This largely reflects the way the purpose and use of CW has changed over the life of the site.

IMHO, most CW questions should force their answers into CW mode as well. Note that questions collecting more than 30 answers (15 on SU) will automatically drop into CW, along with all their answers... I recommend flagging for moderator attention if you find one that hasn't played out this way.

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Ah, but if the question was manually wikied before hitting 30 answers, any existing non-wiki answers will not be auto-wikied. – mmyers Jun 15 '10 at 18:55
@mmyers: whaaat... That's still not fixed?! – Shog9 Jun 15 '10 at 19:09
Not last I knew, anyway. There obviously aren't a lot of chances to test it. – mmyers Jun 15 '10 at 19:16
@mmyers and Shog9, you could test it by edit-forcing this question into CW, as it has a whopping 45 answers due to merging but nothing was ever forced into CW. Adding another answer, perhaps a dummy one, would then reveal how this plays out. But it perhaps raises a bigger question of what to do with questions that reached 30+ answers by merging. – Grace Note Jun 15 '10 at 20:19
@ccomet: yeah, I screwed up that test by posting a new answer first... Oops, try this one instead. – Shog9 Jun 15 '10 at 20:34
You grabbed the one I was about to suggest. I perused all of them with answers:30 wiki:0, that one has the most non-author revisions already so it is the best candidate. I'll toss in an extra edit to remove the cobol tag. – Grace Note Jun 15 '10 at 20:38
@ccomet: Why answers:30 and not answers:29? You don't want ones that are already past wiki length, you want one that can be forced to wiki with one more answer. Or am I missing something? – mmyers Jun 15 '10 at 21:03
...looks like I indirectly messed up the test by editing it. This caused it to go to the front page, where people promptly posted new responses to it. We're going to need a more controlled environment to test it with, or get a moderator to help with initially converting a question to CW (without applying it to all answers). – Grace Note Jun 15 '10 at 21:04
@mmyers I was grabbing all the old questions that are above 30 answers by virtue or merging or being beta questions, using wiki:0 to aid in that endeavor. 29 technically works, but I was just using a search for "This should be CW" rather than "This is almost CW". Your search would provide a larger pool of candidates, naturally. – Grace Note Jun 15 '10 at 21:05
@ccomet: Try this one:… (it's actually somewhat of a specific question, so maybe less likely to pick up off-the-cuff answers) – Shog9 Jun 15 '10 at 21:17
Well, between when I left the office and when I arrived home, that question became CW, so I wasn't around to observe... did we get any data or did the test fall through again? – Grace Note Jun 16 '10 at 12:04
@ccomet: eh, someone replied before the question could be edited. – Shog9 Jun 16 '10 at 15:15

Some questions become CW due to excessive editing. This should not affect whether the existing answers should be CW, and it doesn't, so you will occasionally see CW questions with regular answers.

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This is by design to prevent gaming the system. Or maybe I should say reverse-gaming of the system. The idea is to stop random editors from being able to prevent answerers from gaining rep.

Since a question can easily get edited into CW mode (see my partial solution to the problem here), it doesn't make sense for existing answers to be affected by that switchover.

There's currently a diamond mod function that can turn a question and all its answers into CW posts. If you see a question that should be "full CW," flag it for mod attention so they can take a look.

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The whole point of CW is to make a question or answer editable to anyone who has 100+ reputation. Since its assumed that a possibly high number of people would edit a single post, no reputation is earned by the OP, it would not be fair.

That somehow turned into a shield to keep off topic or highly subjective questions open, "Look, I'm not earning any rep for this at all ..", or protect your reputation from down votes when posting something that might annoy people.

If you are providing a technical answer to a subjective question (not sure if that's possible, it might be though), you should earn reputation for doing so. If you want the majority of SO users to be able to edit your post, make it CW at the cost of gaining no reputation.

Otherwise, its up to you how you mark it. Beware, however, if answering an off topic or subjective question (off topic or subjectively), you may lose reputation unless you do give up rep by making it CW at a cost of letting the majority of SO users edit your post.

There is no 'rule' when it comes to that, just a sort of consensus in the community.

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