Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 158 Stack Exchange communities.

What is meta?
Here's how it works:
  1. Any Stack Exchange user can ask a question
  2. The community provides support, votes on ideas, and reports bugs
  3. Your voice helps shape the way Stack Exchange operates

Every now and then I see a "should be a wiki" comment in a question... even in the superuser private beta.

Why is that?

share|improve this question
It's definitely thick with this. I even had a question that I originally flagged as a CW receive a 'Should be a wiki' comment. – Jeffrey Jul 15 '09 at 13:57
Should be a wiki. – Daniel Daranas Jul 15 '09 at 16:42
up vote 14 down vote accepted

The real benefit to CW is not supposed to be to shield people from down votes (like many people try to use it), it is supposed to lower the rep threshold for editing so that other people can help and add to your post.

Some people like to think that CW means that 'anything goes' which is obviously not true. Community Wiki was meant for common sense situations where common sense would tell you that you really should not be earning rep, nor should the answerers.

This involves things like "Hidden features of C#". Not "What is your favorite dog as a programmer?".

share|improve this answer
Your third paragraph gives the purpose of CW, not just a benefit. It should be your lead. – Bill the Lizard Jul 15 '09 at 14:07
@Willy the chameleon: Good advice. Thanks. – GEOCHET Jul 15 '09 at 14:08

It tends to be used for polls, subjective questions or ones where the OP is asking for lists of things.

share|improve this answer
So if I ask a list of recommendations it should be wiki? I still don't get why... – juan Jul 15 '09 at 13:47
A lot of questions like this appear to be asked as easy ways for people to gain reputation. This is frowned upon and as wiki posts don't earn the poster reputation it's seen as a way of diffusing these posts a little. There's also been a discussion (or two) on here as to whether wiki posts should earn badges as well. – ChrisF Jul 15 '09 at 13:52
It depends on what your recommendations are for. Unfortunately there's no hard and fast rule, but if you read a lot of questions you'll soon get a feel for what's what. – ChrisF Jul 15 '09 at 13:53
If the answers are popular instead of correct, that skews the voting. Good suggestions can still float, but should the person be rewarded for what ends up being a popularity contest? – random Jul 15 '09 at 13:56

While the original intention may have been for CW to be editable content, I don't think it's worked out that way; community wiki is instead an indication that either: a discussion without pursuit of a definitive answer is taking place ("why should I..."); the views contributed are by definition subjective or opinionated ("what is your favourite..."); the topic is trivial or fun and therefore higher traffic, so shouldn't lead to rep accumulation ("do you love Jon Skeet?").

I am starting to think the use of the word 'wiki' is problematic, while 'community' is helpful. Suggestions?

share|improve this answer

If there's not a foreseeable end to the questions, it's likely best as Community Wiki. You shouldn't benefit from asking a question than can never really be objectively answered. If you could, we'd all be asking "What's your favorite color?"

share|improve this answer
Actually, colors are not programming/sysadmin/computer related... – juan Jul 15 '09 at 13:47
Maybe it is programming related when I get answers in RGB constants ;-). And then there is an end to the answers as well, 256^3. – malach Jul 15 '09 at 13:49
My editor has color-themes. I use dark-pastel. – Sampson Jul 15 '09 at 14:10
@Juan, ok the question should be reprhased as "What's your favorite color, as a programmer?" ;-) – Nathan Koop Jul 15 '09 at 14:16
#0000FF (character filler) – gnostradamus Jul 15 '09 at 14:34

If something is more of a discussion type, feelings are that it should be flagged as community wiki. All content the can be edited by more people (+750 rep and up). No reputation can be earned, as content is publicly owned and there is no right or wrong answers. Upvoting becomes a way of agreeing, down voting of disagreeing. Badges can be achieved though by the original owner of the question or answer.

If a question is wiki, all answers are too. But one can mark an answer as wiki. Both marking answers and questions is done using a checkbox near the edit box when asking or answering. The checkbox cannot be unchecked once submitted.

Recommendations are somewhat of a borderline case. Obviously, somebody recommending something has put work into building up his experience and opinion about the thing he recommends. Therefore he deserves reputation, one would say. But if the thing is highly subjective, I would also tend to see it as a discussion more then a recommendation.

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .