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In my opinion, auto-conversion to community wiki status has a nasty habit of ruining great posts on Stack Overflow. You pose an interesting question, and people post a bunch of copycat answers hoping to catch a ride on the reputation train. You work to maintain an answer over time, and you're punished by having it expropriated by "community wiki."

As I understand it (and I may very well misunderstand it, since the whole feature has never made sense), community wiki is to encourage more collaboration on posts by lowering the reputation threshold for editing. However, the suggested edits feature provides a better mechanism for allowing low reputation users to contribute to existing posts.

I think community wiki is obsolete.

Could we have some data on how many edits on community wiki posts were made by users under the normal reputation requirement? How do those compare to the number of suggested edits?

There are still plenty of problems with auto-conversion to community wiki. I'd like to see it go away.

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  • 3
    Community wiki still allows those between 100-2000 to edit without review
    – random
    Sep 8 '13 at 23:40
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    In the case where the post has no clear single contributor but really is maintained by the community, it may be a little unfair to send all the reputation to one person who started the post but did not necessarily contribute to a majority of the content. Such posts are few and far between, however.
    – icktoofay
    Sep 8 '13 at 23:43
  • That is not entirely true anymore @icktoofay
    – PeeHaa
    Sep 8 '13 at 23:57
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    It's not at all obsolete, just somewhat misused. You might be interested in this instead.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Sep 8 '13 at 23:58
  • @random Thanks for the clarification, but I think the review for these users is beneficial, and I don't think it discourages contribution. I don't think the lack of review (community wiki status) encourages edits by these users either. It would be interesting to explore the data for answers to these questions.
    – erickson
    Sep 9 '13 at 5:56
  • I don't see how you're "punished" by having it expropriated by "community wiki." Sep 9 '13 at 6:35
  • @ŁukaszLech Because you no longer earn reputation for your answer, even if no one else has performed a single edit. And yes, it's a penalty. If you don't care about it, that's fine, but a lot of people do. CW is counter-productive. It is extremely ineffective at promoting collaboration, but a significant disincentive to contribution.
    – erickson
    Sep 9 '13 at 7:33
  • @erickson but usually before something goes CW you earn relatively tremendous amount of repo (as for SO, here even great answers rarely have more that 5 upvotes). Sep 9 '13 at 7:35
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    One of my key points is to challenge the presumption that CW has value. If it helps solicit more contributions, that should be clearly demonstrable. If it isn't effective, why do we have it?
    – erickson
    Sep 9 '13 at 16:00
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I'll quote an earlier explanation I wrote on why community wiki is still useful:

From the blog post on Community Wiki from Grace Note:

The intent of community wiki in answers is to help share the burden of solving a question. An incomplete “seed” answer is a stepping stone to a complete solution with help from others; an incomplete question is a hindrance and an obstacle to getting a solution as no one understands the inquiry. It is in answers that the goal of community wiki, for the community, by the community, shows its truest colors.

If you know that your answer is incomplete and you want to encourage other users to add information to it, you can make it CW to invite others to edit the answer. Since everyone can propose edits, community wiki is not necessary anymore for collaborative answers, so it has lost a lot of its usefulness. It is now more of an invitation for other users to edit, but it is not really a technical necessity anymore.

But that is an entirely different issue than the auto-CW that happens when too many edits are performed. This is actually a complete misuse of the CW feature just for the side-effect of disabling the earning of reputation on that post. The editing aspect of CW is irrelevant for the auto-CW feature, it is just a way to discourage excessive edits to posts that misuses an existing feature to achieve this goal. So the presence of suggested edits don't change anything for auto-CW.

That said, I strongly dislike the auto-CW mechanism and would like to replace it. But I don't think we can scrap it without replacing it with something better and less confusing. There should be a mechanism to prevent users from endlessly bumping their posts to the frontpage, but that mechanism shouldn't use community wiki to achieve this.

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  • My solution to edit-bump abuse is to modify the bump criteria to something meaningful. What percentage of the post has changed? How long has it been since the last change? Etc.
    – erickson
    Sep 9 '13 at 7:29
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    @erickson you can turn an old post into a completely different thing by a sufficient of minor edits. Any minority metric has to take in account any previous minor edits. Sep 9 '13 at 10:02

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