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I've seen this come up a few times and I'm not sure what to think about it. Fact is, if you're so inclined, you can force a post to CW by repeatedly editing it (when you don't own it).

Is this abuse?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

Since by definition edits to other people's non-CW posts require 2,000 rep, I would say that this is not technically abuse -- but I do not condone editing someone's post with the express purpose of converting it to wiki, and if I see users doing this repeatedly as a matter of course and with intent, there will be consequences.

(Also: since there are so many ridiculous complaints about this, I am reducing the CW threshold from 750 rep to 100 rep, effective immediately.)

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Perhaps the reason for the complaints is that CW is a fatally flawed idea and basically a failed experiment that should be abandoned. – cletus Jul 20 '09 at 0:24
I have the data in front of me, and it does not support your argument. In fact, I'll challenge you -- can you provide any data that actually supports your argument? – Jeff Atwood Jul 20 '09 at 0:27
at any rate, if you DO have data to support the "CW is fatally flawed" argument, open it as a new question. I really would like to see it. – Jeff Atwood Jul 20 '09 at 0:51
That was a comment in response to your topic and largely unrelated to the much narrower issue of whether repeated edits to force CW was abuse as far as the SO team was concerned. The "CW is fatally flawed" argument is, as such, off-topic. I'll happily start another topic on that however if you really want. The short version however is that the only real effect of CW seems to be that it allows people to post "fun" questions. I consider this a negative not a positive and don't think CW otherwise has any positive effects, hence my comment. – cletus Jul 20 '09 at 7:13
I think it is impossible to stop "fun" questions being asked. And some of them can turn into gems later. I'll have to blog about this. – Jeff Atwood Jul 20 '09 at 8:53

This happened to me. The specific instance was my answer on the Wedding Cake Code thread. Because I didn't immediately switch my answer over to CW status, people decided to go in and edit it repeatedly until it automatically switched. I do infact consider this abusive behavior.

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While this is a concrete example of the practice, this one I happen to agree with. The wedding cake question should never have been for rep and you basically escaped via a loophole (arguably a bug) in that if a question is answered and then converted to CW, the answer is not but neither is it converted to CW when the post hits 30 answers where it otherwise would be. – cletus Jul 20 '09 at 9:26

Yes, that would be an abuse of CW. The purpose of CW is so more people can edit, and more people editing will cause it to go to CW.

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That might be the stated purpose of CW but in practice I don't think it works that way. Frankly theres not a lot of difference between 750 rep and 2000 rep. CW is more commonly used as a defense for questionable and off-topic posts than for anything community-minded. – cletus Jul 20 '09 at 0:12
You're right about the practice, I've used CW as a defense before, since some users will downvote posts that don't deal with a topic that relates to their programming niche, or isn't technical enough in their mind. I despise the CW-police telling people to flag things CW just because it's somewhat subjective, that isn't the reason for CW. – Lance Roberts Jul 20 '09 at 0:22
this is a recent change, but the CW range is now 100 to 2000. I agree that it was too narrow before. – Jeff Atwood Jul 20 '09 at 8:54

Pretty sure i did this to a sofaq question at one point. Heh, pretty sure i did it to a sofaq answer as well, during a period on SO where the CW checkbox was unavailable to the author after an answer had been posted.

Didn't consider it abuse then; it was a popular, useful, and completely off-topic Q&A that benefited immensely from multiple authors - the perfect use for CW.

If you're just editing arbitrary questions to force them into CW mode... then that should probably be considered abusive. Heck, if you're just editing arbitrary questions without adding anything of value via your edits, then that's abusive. Edits should have a purpose, and "vendetta against the author" isn't a good one.

But even if you strongly believe a question should be CW (discussion/subjective/GTKY/whatever), please don't use this technique to force it. It's potentially confusing (why all these edits in the revision history?), and worse yet it's not terribly effective: answers aren't made CW when the question they're attached to is forced into that mode by repeated editing. So you end up in the situation where early answers collect reputation for their authors, while later ones (and the question itself) do not. FGITW may be a Good Thing when it comes to fast answers to technical questions, but there's probably no point in rewarding it for discussion/GTKY questions.

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