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Apologies in advance for not being able to get a satisfactory answer from reading all the related posts I could find. I may be way off base with my assumptions, so I'll just list them.

  • The rep system is intended to indicate the level of trust that the site (and its users) have in your technical skill.

  • * "Questions" that do not pertain to technical skills should be marked community wiki - one intended result being that someone particularly adept at posting popular joke/anecdote questions does not end up with a trust level equal to someone providing consistently high quality answers & questions.

  • The intent of the community wiki tag is to allow discussion that does not necessarily reflect techncial skill by taking rep out of the equation

I suppose I don't really understand why people are offended when questions are marked community wiki. While I find it fun and rewarding to answer questions, I'm not really invested in getting a top rep score - but I DO want to understand this more fully so I can moderate more consistently and fairly. I'm OK with being unpopular with those who disagree with the intent of the site, but I want to do what I can to make sure I'm interpreting that intent correctly...

Is it unrealistic to want everything that is NOT a sysadmin (on SF) Q&A post to fall under community wiki? Is my litmus test: "Will a correct and upvoted answer to this question accurately reflect an increase in trust for this user by the community?" too harsh?

[edit: I suppose it's the bold bit in particular that I'd like to paint in big letters on a wall somewhere - if it's accurate/realistic.]

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I just asked today if these similar sort of questions should be CW :-)… – Kyle Brandt Jul 24 '09 at 15:25

I suppose I don't really understand why people are offended when questions are marked community wiki.

There are a lot of people completely addicted to the rep game (see also the amount of angst poured out over minor discrepancies in when the daily limit kicks in).

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You're right, and I suppose if that's the only reason for CW-mark-angst I can discount it fairly easily. – Kara Marfia Jul 24 '09 at 15:25

My general rule of thumb for community wikiness is "if it falls under the allowed subject matter but is open-ended (i.e. there really is no correct answer) then you are going to hit the Wiki button."

The only other real option for open-ended discussion would be the "subjective and argumentative" close reason or "not a real question". I don't know how strict the guidelines are being applied in SF, but I know that so far in SuperUser, we are leaning a lot more on CW than outright closing since the allowable subject matter is so broad.

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No end of props to you, by the way, for taking on that task, I'm in awe. Glad to hear your thoughts on this. Life is easier when we can poke Jeff into etching something onto stone tablets. ;) – Kara Marfia Jul 24 '09 at 15:17
Why do we need to do anything about open-ended questions? I really don't see the problem with them. If they are relevant t othe site's subject matter, if the answers are valuable and informative, then why should it matter whether or not the question is open-ended? Why is it a choice between CW and closing? Why not "leave it alone so people can upvote the valuable answers as they would with any other question?" – jalf Aug 15 '09 at 17:59
I am with TX on this one, although I do tend to close early rather then later. SU is harder because the questions come hard and fast, and the areas we operate in are extremely "gray" most of the time. – BinaryMisfit Aug 27 '09 at 16:32

I view CW as being needed any time an answer drifts away from right and wrong and into the subjective. That's not a very good answer, though. On some level, determining whether a question should be CW follows Potter Stewart's line about pornography: "I know it when I see it."

For example, "What is the best web framework for $PROGRAMMING_LANGUAGE?" is clearly a subjective question. But what about "What is the best web framework for $PROGRAMMING_LANGUAGE if I need to do X, Y, and Z?" While there are still differences of opinion on the matter, it moves to meeting specific needs instead of a vague generalization. Should such a question be CW? It probably needs to be decided on a question-by-question basis.

The way I decide is to ask myself: will this question result in a large number of viewers downvoting because they disagree with the views of certain answers, as opposed to the verifiable correctness of the answer?

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I agree, unfortunately, I know it when I see it. ;) However, until we can get some higher-rep SF users, I have to have some rules to test myself against. I don't want to let the site slide into the pit - nor do I want to frivolously mark CW because I haven't finished my coffee yet. I really like your last point - tho we don't have much downvoting on SF for that reason yet. – Kara Marfia Jul 24 '09 at 15:23

I think it's a little absurd to discount the reputation and badge system. It's really a big part of what's made stack overflow so popular.

Sure it's cool to say "I don't really care about rep, I'm just here for the community"... but I'm willing to stick my neck out and say that I do like the rep system and enjoy it very much when my questions and answers get upvotes.

More to the point: it really bothers me when a question goes community wiki when it really shouldn't... especially when I put some effort into an answer and it gets a lot of upvotes.

I understand that joke threads and "what's the best chair" questions aren't rep-worthy. But just because a question is subjective and might have multiple answers doesn't mean that it should necessarily be on that same level. It is certainly possible to demonstrate technical skill when answering a subjective question.

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The very premise of something being subjective is that the answer is going to be different depending upon who you ask, therefore there by definition can't have a correct answer. – TheTXI Jul 24 '09 at 16:29
There's more than one way to skin a cat, and they're all "correct." – Boden Jul 24 '09 at 16:52
@Boden: sure. And they'd all be valid answers to the question "How might I skin a cat?" (although a single answer combining them all might well get the most votes...) But what about the question, "What's the best way to skin a cat?" - the same answers could be posted, but only one can be valid for that question... and it's subjective which one that is. A better question might be, "How should I skin my cat?" and include details on a specific cat-skinning scenario, for which there may well be a single, best answer. An alternative to wikifying the second form is conversion to the latter. – Shog9 Jul 24 '09 at 17:10
FWIW... Another common form of question seen is, "How do you skin a cat?" At face value, this is a poll question - anyone who skins cats can answer with their specific method and not be wrong. But again, chances are the author doesn't actually care about the methods of every cat-skinner on earth - he merely wants advice on how he should proceed, or possibly, a list of potential methods that he might choose from later on. Therefore, these questions can be converted to either "What ways exist for skinning cats?" / "How might I skin a cat?" or "Which method should I use for skinning my cat?" – Shog9 Jul 24 '09 at 17:15
I feel somewhat obliged to point out that "I'm not really invested in getting a top rep score" isn't discounting the rep system. I'll agree with you that there are a lot of worthwhile questions that fall under CW - but the site needs to have a scope. Information overload is more useless than no information whatsoever. It seems appropriate for the system to confer greater rewards for answers to questions that fall within its stated scope. – Kara Marfia Jul 24 '09 at 17:17
Everyone, please, I love my cat ... – Kyle Brandt Jul 24 '09 at 19:37
@Kyle: then i suggest asking, "How might I skin my cat, lovingly?" to avoid your question being closed as a duplicate... – Shog9 Jul 24 '09 at 20:00
Community wiki is about limiting the rep system. It has nothing to do with information overload. I am specifically referring to posts that are subjective, but require technical skill to answer (not just "this thing here is the best tool"). – Boden Jul 24 '09 at 20:41
@Boden: you think skinning cats doesn't require technical skill?! – Shog9 Jul 24 '09 at 21:09
Of course I do, that's why I used it as an example! – Boden Jul 24 '09 at 21:20
Ah, right then - so we have four potential forms of the cat-skinning question, two of which can have objectively-correct, technical, answers. So let's just try to stick to those two... – Shog9 Jul 24 '09 at 22:15
@TheTXI: Why does it matter whether or not there can be a single correct answer? As I see it, that has nothing to do with CW'ing. If we follow that logic, we should eliminate upvotes from non-accepted answers as well. The entire premise for SO (and its sister sites) is that there can be more than one good answer to each question, and that every good answer should be rewarded. I don't see why the same shouldn't apply to open-ended questions. If the answer is good, and reflects the properties normally associated with a high rep, then it deserves a +rep. – jalf Aug 15 '09 at 17:57

I suppose I don't really understand why people are offended when questions are marked community wiki.

I didn't know people were offended when a question was marked CW. That might be a SF thing. I haven't really noticed it on SO.

I tend to object to the constant cries of "MAKE IT CW" that appear as soon as there is the tiniest bit of subjectivity or open-endedness involved. Asking "what is the best practice in programming situation X" is subjective and there might be more than one correct answer. But it is still relevant, and good answers do reflect knowledge and should contribute to the user's "level of trust", so I generally argue against CW'ing those.

But then there are the ones that are just for fun. Joke/anecdote questions, for example, are obvious candidates for CW. A popular answer there indicates nothing more than that the poster had a good story to tell. That should not increase their rep.

Is my litmus test: "Will a correct and upvoted answer to this question accurately reflect an increase in trust for this user by the community?" too harsh?

I think that's the correct way to decide it. Some people use one that goes "Can there be more than one correct or valuable answer to this?" as a test to determine whether or not a question should be CW'ed. And I think that is far too strict. It uses CW as a trash can for anything and everything people can disagree upon.

It completely discounts the value that still exists in open-ended questions/answers. They can still be technically relevant, informative and everything else you'd normally upvote.

I'm personally pretty relaxed about my rep, and it doesn't bother me to spend 15 minutes writing a detailed technical answer to a CW question where I won't get any rep. But it annoys me when CW is used as a garbage bin for "any question in which it is possible for people to disagree on the perfect answer".

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