In light of a recent blog entry by Grace Note, The Future of Community Wiki, I think we should reevaluate the old SO FAQ entry regarding CW: What are "Community Wiki" posts?

In the single answer to that question, the question Why have Community Wiki posts? is answered with some general blahblah that doesn't tell me anything, the question How do Community Wiki posts work? lists "some of the key features", among which the "much lower reputation" needed for editing is listed as a prime one.

Me thinks this needs a general renovation. Any thoughts?

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    I've added a link to Grace Note's blog post at the top of the answer you cited. Does that suffice? – Robert Harvey Aug 26 '11 at 16:01
  • @Robert: I don't think this suffices. This FAQ thing is a Q&A game. People go to that question when they have a question ("What is CW?") and search for an answer. The answer wasn't very helpful to begin with, my critique above still stands after your edit. Adding a link to a lengthy blog posting (not exactly a typical answer format at the best of times) which goes to great length to explain a likely future of a feature, thereby basically requiring knowledge of its past in order to make sense, doesn't really get to the point to answer the question. – sbi Aug 26 '11 at 17:40
  • What is needed instead is a straightforward answer explaining what CW is (and "Community Wiki posts help enhance the wiki aspect of the site" does not explain what it is at all), when it is useful, how it is applied, and by whom. Having another answer explaining its past might be helpful, too. – sbi Aug 26 '11 at 17:42
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    CW resists attempts to define it in this way, which is why the FAQ post is technical in nature; it describes what CW is, but not why it exists, because the why defies explanation; the why has a long and colorful history that is still evolving. – Robert Harvey Aug 26 '11 at 17:44
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    The basic idea behind CW is to "give the post to the community" by lowering the editing requirements and waiving reputation. That's all CW really is. In the past, it has been co-opted and misused by the community for other purposes, but it is really no more than that. – Robert Harvey Aug 26 '11 at 17:46
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    @Robert: For one, I'd differentiate between the historical development of the goal and the current goal. And, frankly, if the current goal cannot be stated in one or two sentences, then there might be a problem with it. But also, I know what the original intent of CW was, but I already said (and the blog agrees with me) that the historical intent isn't needed anymore, because users can edit now without having 100rep. That still leaves the question of what it is used for today. Which still isn't answered. – sbi Aug 27 '11 at 11:20
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    I'm not sure there is a purpose in Community Wiki anymore. It's primary purpose has always been to lower the editing threshold, but since the "suggested edits" feature allows anyone (including anonymous users) to contribute edits, I think it will be very rare indeed that CW is necessary. – Cody Gray Aug 28 '11 at 0:39
  • @Cody: As I see it, the only place CW still has is preventing the original provider of an answer (or question) from getting rep for it. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but if I'm right, this is what it ought to say on the package. – sbi Aug 28 '11 at 19:07

Kind of offtopic, but let's see when we actually set a community wiki. I marked a question as a community wiki:

  • When I knew the answer (read about this in a blog, or just searched in Google, or just had access to working code, but the code was not mine), but I didn't have any experience/expertise in the field to provide any additional information or to answer potential questions/resolve issues. So I posted the raw answer and invited the community to help explain.

  • When someone else edited my post with a great explanation about what I've wrote - since the explanation is actually more valuable that the piece of code (I'm a Stack Overflow user) - I don't feel right "owning" the post and gathering any upvotes

  • For a post that will end up with a list in it, so I want people to be able to edit that list.

Any others? ;)

  • The first two you mention are when you would be ashamed to earn rep from someone else's work. Fine, that's really noble. The last one isn't necessary anymore, because you don't need much rep anymore to edit someone else's answers, you only need others to approve your edit. (Of course, with list answers that might still leaves the other reasons, but this one's out.) – sbi Aug 26 '11 at 17:45

One of the trends happening on SE sites is for the FAQ questions to have just one answer, there is no official standing on this, but the mods have been incrementally making it so. In that case it would be good for the 'canonical' answer to be Community Wiki, i.e. owned by the Community.

  • Are you referring to the red-tag faq questions here? – Robert Harvey Aug 26 '11 at 16:08
  • @Robert, yes, right now out of 126 FAQ questions, 40 have only one answer. – Lance Roberts Aug 26 '11 at 16:09
  • Huh? That answer is CW. – sbi Aug 26 '11 at 17:43
  • @sbi, Yes, I know, and I'm saying that's one purpose for CW. – Lance Roberts Aug 26 '11 at 23:29
  • @Lance: But it isn't. Suggested edits have taken over this functionality. – sbi Aug 28 '11 at 19:07
  • @sbi, I think the only point I was making was that the sole FAQ answer should be community-owned, not any one individuals answer, since many people will be editing it over time. – Lance Roberts Aug 28 '11 at 19:18
  • @Lance: Fine. So one of the reasons CW exists is for the FAQ which explains why it exists? That seems a...um, very tangential point. – sbi Aug 29 '11 at 6:28

There is a functional difference between Community Wiki and Suggested Edits.

Suggested Edits allow anyone to make an edit, but it then has to go through an approval process if their rep is under the editing privilege level.

Community Wiki allows anyone with 100 rep to make an edit without approval.

I'm not saying that CW is a good thing for this reason, since maybe the approval process for any low-rep users is what Stack Exchange wants, but the clarification was needed.

  • I think the main difference between the two is that CW prevents the original author from getting any rep. – sbi Aug 29 '11 at 6:26
  • @sbi, Please understand that is only a side-effect of the Community owning the post, and not the intended purpose. Also remember that badges are still earned on CW posts. – Lance Roberts Aug 29 '11 at 7:02
  • It used to be a side-effect. Now it is the main feature of CW. There's no significant difference between suggested edits and CW. (And what difference there is is usually considered an advantage.) And why would questions that are popular, gain more than a dozen answers (and thus have their votes sky-rock) be turned CW, if not to prevent a flaw in the voting system (votes correlate to popularity more than to quality) from wreaking to much havoc by preventing users from harvesting rep? And what other reason is there to keep CW nowadays? – sbi Aug 29 '11 at 9:42

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