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CW in this case being used to "cover" a non-answer to interfere with proper answers

FYI - What are "Community Wiki" posts?

EDIT - a new case

Question How could I have one column store an arbitrary number of "users"

For posterity: Comment against question

@Richard aka cyberkiwi: Take up the "to CW or not to CW" issue on meta - the functionality exists, get over it. You're not a mod, not even close, so don't waste your time telling me how things should be done. – OMG Ponies 1 min ago

This came up due to the comment thread against an answer to the question: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/5319112

For posterity: Comments against answer

That's a comment (which I'd vote for), not an answer (which I won't vote for, and recommend CW'ing or deleting before someone downvotes you). – OMG Ponies 17 mins ago

@OMG CW does not save a "not an answer". If it is not an answer, it is not, whether CW or not. Let's not start putting comments as answers and masquerade them under CW banner. – Richard aka cyberkiwi


ORIGINAL

See answer here:
Change sort in SQLite

It was entered as a CW. I'm not sure if the author believes the answer to be correct, but I am about to investigate a way to do it properly using the data posted.

I read on some meta posts recently about people using comments because they won't take the rep burn if they get it wrong. Other reasons for using comments is that they are not really sure, but feel they should impart their partial knowledge.

What does the community think? Is there a policy or how do you feel about this?

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Surprising, considering the poster. He's right, btw. –  MPelletier Mar 4 '11 at 23:04
    
By "correct" I mean something that will "solve a problem" rather than preach. I've posted my non-CW answer in the question. –  RichardTheKiwi Mar 4 '11 at 23:06
    
@Richard I see what you mean, and I see how this can be annoying for answerers who provide a deep answer, but I don't see an infraction of etiquette. What he preaches is correct: "store your data in a format sqlite can understand". It is also a valid answer. Your answer is superior because it shows an actual way how to do that, but that is something the voting system is supposed to fix. This happens all the time on SO, with mixed results. I see your point, though - this could have also been made a comment. –  Pëkka Mar 5 '11 at 10:19
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Oof, I figured it out: CW is Community Wiki. Would be nice to define abbreviations at least once per post. –  Shaggy Frog Mar 16 '11 at 0:28
    
Vice versa, I've made comments only for people to respond that my comment answers their question. The ultimate person to satisfy is the OP- unless that's you, it comes off as sour grapes. –  OMG Ponies Mar 16 '11 at 0:59
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I'm not an SQL expert, but I don't see anything blatantly wrong with the answer. At first glance, it would seem like you're getting upset because he got more votes than you, while your answer obviously had a lot more work put into it. –  John Mar 16 '11 at 1:51
    
@John - This wouldn't be here if it wasn't a CW. The answer does not solve the asker's problem (I do know SQL) and the poster knows it - the questioner states "without changing the data". The answer is tangential and a comment at best. For the record, I believe the votes came AFTER I posted this question, so sour grapes doesn't even come into the frame. –  RichardTheKiwi Mar 16 '11 at 1:55
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I've observed your behavior around meta lately and have no doubt about your motive. Notice the emphasis on "would seem". However, in the comments to Pekkas answer, you do seem to be getting a little upset. I also noticed that you are a relatively new user. Frustrating situations like this will come up here, and the community will at times disagree with you. I find the best solution to be to let it go and move on. –  John Mar 16 '11 at 2:00
    
@John - I read your comment 5 times and I can't still conclude whether "have no doubt about your motive" is positive or negative. Anyway, you're right about relatively new user which is why I am asking on meta, so that I know how the community actually feels about this practice (if enough people voice out here). –  RichardTheKiwi Mar 16 '11 at 2:31
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Oh, sorry, I guess that was a bit ambiguous. Let me put it this way, I have noticed a large number of beneficial contributions by you. Given the passed time, I think it's safe to assume that most of the community would agree with Pekka, but that obvious (I stress obvious) not-an-answers would be flagged. –  John Mar 16 '11 at 3:15
    
@Richard in your new case, I saw the answer before it was deleted. The answer was asking a question - something usually done in the comments. No idea why a CW was suggested, that question could be answered entirely - the only discussion point is choice of solution, which can be expressed as multiple answers, giving the voting system chance to work. Adding comments in fear of downvoting is fair IMHO, people can downvote harshly, yet someone's input (even if it doesn't answer the question) can still provide broader insight into the problem domain. –  Adam Houldsworth Mar 16 '11 at 8:49

5 Answers 5

up vote 6 down vote accepted
+50

Looking at this particular case:

That's a comment (which I'd vote for), not an answer (which I won't vote for, and recommend CW'ing or deleting before someone downvotes you).

I consider this horrible advice. In particular, using CW to avoid the pain of downvotes because you, for some reason, dislike the comment button, is wrong. (in this case the user had comment rights). In severe repeated cases if we notice abuse you may end up getting banned or penalized for such behavior.


Bottom line, no, a CW answer is not another mechanism for leaving a comment. Also, in this age of "suggested edits" and "programmers.se" CW is losing more and more meaning.

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Meanings it shouldn't really have had to begin with... Also, +2.56 for ""programmers.se"" –  Shogging through the snow Mar 16 '11 at 2:11

I think this is perfectly okay practice, and usually has no sinister motive. I sometimes tend to do this, too,

  • When I know the question, and the answer I'm giving, have been asked before multiple times, but can't find the original, I'm too lazy to search, or I think the OP needs/deserves a direct answer anyway

  • When the answer is correct in itself, but somebody else could go deeper and present an actual solution, an effort I'm not currently ready to put in - this, I would speculate, is what happened in your case.

Another scenario where I could see this being good style is when an answer is exceedingly trivial ("You have a typo in line 3"). It's shameful sometimes how much reputation one can accumulate from fixing a missing quote.

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A legitimate reason for CW: more people can edit that answer (as the limit to "edit CW" is 100 rep, as opposed to 2000 rep for "edit any question/answer"). While SO is based on the "people can edit things I post", answering as CW explicitly stresses this and makes it "almost anyone can edit things I post".

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Your ability to demonstrate to the community what you think is a proper answer starts & stops with your ability to vote. I think your question is a non-issue for that fact, because that's the mechanic the site is built on for determining answers vs "non-answers". If an answer being CW stops you from downvoting, I think you really need to review what your motivation for the downvote really is. If there's a CW answer, and you want to post a competing answer that expands on the principle(s) already discussed in the CW answer for rep - you have self esteem issues, and should look at seeing a therapist about it.

A Community Wiki (CW) now means only answers can be marked as such. When I started on SO, questions could be too in an effort to stop rep whoring (and the community was verbal about it). I don't agree with the change regarding questions, but I don't spend much if any time on meta. But I digress... CW means that the poster gets no rep credit (plus or minus) -- doesn't even see in the activity -- so there's no mechanism besides comments against the answer for requests to clarify. But that's partly by design, because anyone with 100+ rep can edit a CW'd answer to correct it if necessary. The threshold used to be higher...

Frankly, it's asinine to read that a CW answer really should be on Wikipedia. Or that CW should be verboten/forbidden to high rep accounts... The sentiment reeks of sour grapes, targeting users that already see bias because there is often a preference to give credit to less rep accounts who've often lifted content from the high rep account answer or with content of questionable value. If your answer is so good, promote the question in hopes that your will be voted higher (and likewise, the other answer downvoted) because it's the community that decides - accept that sometimes, the community isn't interested.

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and this post is community wiki because ... ? –  waffles Mar 16 '11 at 2:04
    
You lost the point. A CW that is not an answer junks the question as much as a regular answer that does not answer the question. If you had an answer - go ahead and enter it, you obviously continue to do so to other questions. If you don't have an answer but would like to comment, leave a comment. I am against putting a comment pretending to be an answer as a CW-answer. Voting or not has nothing to do with this. –  RichardTheKiwi Mar 16 '11 at 2:06
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@waffles: I fear reprisal from the OP. –  OMG Ponies Mar 16 '11 at 2:08
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@Richard OMG's answer in your first example was perfectly suitable as an answer. If you don't like it or think it doesn't go far or deep enough, vote it down. If you think your answer is better, say so. However @OMG in the second, newest example I have to side with Richard: An answer that should be a comment should be made a comment - CW is not a solution for that, and starting to make that kind of stuff CW is not a good idea IMO. –  Pëkka Mar 16 '11 at 6:35

Your original example is a perfectly fine answer. I don't understand why you think it should be a comment. It gives a very specific reason why his code is sorting incorrectly. Who cares why the user chose to mark it as community wiki? It makes it easier for others to edit, so that could be considered a good thing, but they can choose for themselves, it's their answer.

Your new example shows an answer that clearly should have been a comment, or a new question. I agree that the comment about making it cw or not isn't useful. It would have been better if it had merely been flagged as not an answer.

There is no rule against cw spamming a question. If someone is pestering people to cw their answers, flag their pestering comments. If someone is posting comments or questions as answers, flag their answer.

This isn't a big deal, and there's really nothing here to see.

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