Situation & Problem with it

As I spent a lot of time answering Qs (500+ so far), I often stumble upon my own answers, when searching for something here on WPSE. Sometimes I come to answers that are older than a year and I think …

»Hey, I now know more, let's edit the answer.«

… and I do it. Normally this then is the 3rd, 4th, or even later edit, as I revisit answers I gave and rework or add to them when I find stuff that can be improved.

Sadly I already hit the number of 10+ edits on some of my higher voted answers as for example the one about activation/deactivation/uninstall for plugins. If I'd now find some more improvements, I have to stay back and leave it as it is, as it would automatically be converted to a community wiki. Even if no other user participated and improved my answer.


I don't…

  1. feel that I'm a one person community.
  2. want to loose rep points as the way to the max of privileges will just be much longer 1).

I do…

  1. understand that there has to be some mechanism to convert Qs to a community wiki.
  2. want to have community wikis on the site.


Actually a community is more than one person. If I'm improving an answer, than I'm improving a source for the community. IMHO this isn't what a community wiki is about. A community wiki should be something the community works on, instead of something that was worked on for the community.

What I'd really love to see is that the answer/question does only get converted when the community participated on improving (like we have it for - for e.g. - close votes). So could we please have an automatism that converts on 5 users who edited the answer/question? Please! Thanks.

1) Not having privileges means to me that I'm locked out from being more helpful for the community and making it easier for us all to keep the site a/the wp resource in the web.

  • There's currently some discussion about this. Mods were told to let this stay on SE pages first, while SO stuff says it should be moved to SO.meta. So I'm flagging it now. – kaiser Feb 27 '12 at 15:20
  • Migrating to SO.meta as requested. Please remember to follow up over there :-) – EAMann Feb 27 '12 at 15:32

There is already a mechanism that converts to community wiki once 5 different people edit. You can read about all the details of automatic community wiki conversion in this meta.SO post.

One of the reasons for the automatic conversion once the original author edits 10 times is to discourage excessive bumping of questions. Every time you edit your question is bumped to the frontpage, which you can use to get additional attention to it. The reputation loss associated with having your question made CW is supposed to deter users from bumping their questions continuously by making minor edits.

It is frustrating to have your post be made CW just because you wanted to improve it further. The most effective way to avoid this is to try and do as much as possible per edit, if you edit some minor details, try to find some other stuff to improve and you might save one edit.

If your question is auto-wikified due to exceptional circumstances, e.g. because of an edit war, you can ask a moderator to reverse this.

  • Thanks for the link and explanation (+1). Sad, that this is just there to prevent something the system adds by itself: Bringing stuff to the front-page? Point is: If I found a misspelling in a var that will prevent the whole answer from working, my edit would only be 1 character (ex. $resutl instead of $result) and absolutely valid. Why isn't there just a flag, that the mod can visit and approve/deny in such cases? – kaiser Feb 26 '12 at 14:48
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    I don't think anyone is really happy with the current solution, there are probably several ideas on Meta.SO on how to change this system. I don't like the current solution, as it misuses CW for a completely different purpose and I don't think we should discourage editing in any way. But it's pretty hard to come up with a good solution for this. Making mods approve stuff is very problematic because it doesn't scale to e.g. SO-levels of traffic. – Mad Scientist Feb 26 '12 at 14:57

Actually, a community wiki is used where there is no one right answer. Something to which multiple people contribute multiple solutions, so no one person should get credit for being "right" because several people are right.

This is why up-votes on community wikis do not affect your reputation points.

That said, if you ever feel a question should be converted to a wiki, flag it for moderator attention. We can switch it over from a regular Q&A to a wiki with the click of the button.

But in reality, unless someone else's answer is wrong you shouldn't be editing it that much.

A lot of questions are edited under the banner of "improvement" because the proposed code snippet doesn't match someone else's preferred coding style. This kind of edit is invalid.

Also, some people will edit answers to propose alternative solutions they think are better. Targeting different filters, using alternative WP methods to fetch data, etc. If your edit substantially changes the nature of the answer, it should be a new answer, not an edit.

But if your edit means to clean up the code of an accepted answer to make things easier to read, reflect changes in the core API, or fix a glaring error in the code, then it's 100% valid and should be done.

From what I've seen on the site, though, this last category of "valid" edits is somewhat on the rare side. That's why there's an automated mechanism to auto-wiki anything that's edited too much ... multiple changes signal the edits are falling into one of the above "invalid" categories (code style changes, alternative solutions, etc) so these changes and the question as a whole (since it's changing so frequently) shouldn't impact reputation.

  • Point is that there are sometimes only minor improvements: A misspelling I found, a function name that could be shorter/better. Just take a look the edit process of the ↑ linked uninstall/activation answer. Adding new answers with close to the original code just to prevent the convertion mechanism would - in this case - be plain stupid from my side. Sidenote: This Q is only about the automated mechanism that converts answers, not about the mod capability. – kaiser Feb 26 '12 at 14:34
  • Remember, we aren't trying to optimize code here, we're just trying to answer questions. When I see edits that are merely refactorings of already functional code, I can't help but ask myself "why." Yes, you should be making such changes in production code ... but if the answer works, there's no reason to edit it like this. – EAMann Feb 26 '12 at 14:47
  • So you're actually encouraging me to then just add a link to my blog and make further process there? Hmm. An answer is an answer and it is for more than one use case/user. Remember: This is a Q/A site and not a forum, which means that questions and answers should stay as broad as possible to not be too localized and therefore add value to later readers as well. Tags should then sum up all content on that topic. In my dreams, there also is a point where you don't have to ask another answer and just read all tag questions to get what you need. – kaiser Feb 26 '12 at 14:51
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    "But in reality, unless someone else's answer is wrong you shouldn't be editing it to improve it." - Wait: what? That statement seemingly directly contradicts a fundamental SE mechanism, as per the FAQ, which states: "All contributions are licensed under Creative Commons and this site is collaboratively edited, like Wikipedia. If you see something that needs improvement, click edit and help us make it so!" – Chip Bennett Feb 26 '12 at 19:49
  • I was referring to minor refactoring and code styling (the majority of the peer edits I see). Sorry if that was unclear. – EAMann Feb 26 '12 at 21:41
  • But don't "minor refactoring and code styling" make questions/answers easier to read/follow/understand? If the issue is too many such edits, or differing opinions regarding proper/readable code styling, perhaps we need to adopt an official standard, e.g. the official WordPress coding standard? – Chip Bennett Feb 27 '12 at 12:57
  • +1 to that, @ChipBennett. And that's all I was trying to get at. (Was in too much of a hurry to write my answer properly ... will edit/clean it up appropriately ...) :-) – EAMann Feb 27 '12 at 15:24

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