So I've read the FAQ, http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/08/the-future-of-community-wiki/ and What are "Community Wiki" posts?. Honestly, I'm more confused about what it should be now (even after). Is this merely a voting and points issue? It seems like an attempt to disconnect a question or answer from the user because it is not asked or answered well - if that's the case, what does wiki have to do with it?

I'm not asking saying it should be changed because clearly a lot is written about it but could it summarized in like 1 sentence? Not asking to be argumentative but would just like a crystallized idea.

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    It's an old, dead, idea designed to deny people rep for asking questions with no answer, back when that was still acceptable. </rant> – ben is uǝq backwards Apr 7 '13 at 19:53
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    It's a way to encourage users to update old, outdated answers that aren't theirs. – Richard J. Ross III Apr 7 '13 at 19:55
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    @RichardJ.RossIII Hmm.... so that logic makes sense but so I know I can answer a new question as community wiki and that is emphasized in certain posts I read. Perhaps that rationale / feature is outdated? Not saying it's a problem, I just don't get it. – timpone Apr 7 '13 at 19:59
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    It's like Richard Feynman said, "I think I can safely say that nobody understands community wiki". – Ben Lee Apr 7 '13 at 20:59

I principally use community wiki when I'm doing clean-up.

Example: The user wrote a question and THEN solved his question and put elements of solution in the question body instead of in an answer. Well then I edit the question, fix the issues and remove the solution from the question and put it in an answer. It's not MY answer so I put it in a CW post with the attribution to the author. That way the question is clean, and the answer can now be found easily in an answer.

In fact you can consider making a CW post when you are posting a (good) solution that doesn't come from you AND (very important) you want other people to help you improve it, or think other could come and improve it. For example someone put the solution in comments, but is no longer active and cannot post it in an answer, well then you post it in an answer as CW and mention who it comes from. Please, though, provide an answer that is well formatted and that fits the FAQ about how to answer!

If you take an incomplete answer from comments, and improve it yourself and make it a complete answer, you should take the credit for it and post it with your name.

You should NOT use CW to write answers that you know would get downvoted (and you want to avoid the -rep for it), or as a way to post really incomplete answers.

  • ok, so a way to handle poorly formatted q/a's or abandoned users. So it is not saying anything necessarily about the quality of the question like this is a a definitive answer and there is not reason to keep on answering? – timpone Apr 7 '13 at 20:03
  • @timpone Well it's not supposed to be related to the quality of the question. Maybe some people, use it as so but it's not necessarily related. – Hugo Dozois Apr 7 '13 at 20:04
  • thx so it clearly serves several purposes that are loosely related around authorship (for a moderator) and intent of the answer (for someone anwering). – timpone Apr 7 '13 at 20:07
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    CW should not be encouraged when you steal someone's comments and post them as answers. When you post an answer under your name you take full responsibillity for it (and you've probably did some work to expand it as most comments don't really stand as answers). Furthermore if the answer happens to be wrong, I want my downvotes to hurt. – yannis Apr 7 '13 at 20:13
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    @Yannis that's an interesting point, but I find it cheap to steal the answer from someone and get rep for it. And even cheaper to edit something out of OP question and put it as an answer, and attribute it to myself, while I'm not the one who found it. – Hugo Dozois Apr 7 '13 at 20:17
  • @HugoDozois I am not saying you shouldn't give the other person credit, certainly do point at their comments as the source of your answer. The rep thing is (technically) an abuse of CW. – yannis Apr 7 '13 at 20:18
  • @Yannis that's a good point for the comments. What about the other situation where you edit out the answer from the poster's question (from an updated he made after solving his post). – Hugo Dozois Apr 7 '13 at 20:29
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    And actually, when you take a good answer from comments and put it as CC-WIKI you encourage people to come and improve it also. – Hugo Dozois Apr 7 '13 at 20:36
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    @HugoDozois That may be a good use of CW, because posting the answer in the question is a mistake only very new users make. And you want that user to be able to edit your (or rather their) answer without approval. – yannis Apr 7 '13 at 20:37
  • If you want to encourage collabration, go ahead and CW your answer (whatever its source might be). Just realize that it will be editable without review from users with only 100 rep, and that's not always something you want to encourage. It kinda works on questions like this, where (because of the popularity of the question) every edit will eventually be reviewed, but it might also allow not-that-great edits to sneak in and go undetected. – yannis Apr 7 '13 at 20:42
  • All that said, what I really don't like about CW is that my downvotes don't hurt, therefore my best way of pressuring the OP to improve their answer is rendered useless. – yannis Apr 7 '13 at 20:42

The Community Wiki status is a way to encourage collaboration on an answer, by lowering the required reputation threshold for edits to 100.

That's about it, in a sentence. After suggested edits were introduced, Community Wiki became more a relic of the past than a useful feature. Frankly, it's probably the most abused feature on Stack Exchange, but we don't care because all the possible ways we can abuse it are extremely harmless.

  • Still, 100-2000 rep to edit community wiki posts do not need suggested edit reviewers – random Apr 7 '13 at 20:04
  • ok, I think that's what was throwing me was the community wiki button on answering. To me, wiki implies 'established fact' and this seems to imply 'seed for discussion' but that's probably a bias I have. thx for answer. – timpone Apr 7 '13 at 20:05
  • @random I know, but at the same time I have no idea when it was the last time I saw CW applied correctly. – yannis Apr 7 '13 at 20:08
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    @timpone Yes, one of CW's many problems is its name. However I certainly don't mean that CW is "seed for discussion". It's just a way to encourage people to make bold edits (that's what I mean by "collaboration on an answer"), that they'd probably avoid if the answer belonged to someone else. – yannis Apr 7 '13 at 20:11

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