Yesterday I started this thread on Sequence Points and Undefined Behaviour and tagged it [c++-faq] after reading the following thread created by reputed member of the C++ community(tag) sbi

and related [c++-faq] tagged questions like

It was all going fine. I got nearly 30 upvotes (question + answers) combined and nobody closed the thread or made it CW. I added C++0x stuffs to my existing answer but the post became a bit too long so I decided to post it separately.

But a few hours ago I saw that only my created thread was made CW by stackoverflow moderator Will and that didn't make me happy. So I decided to take sbi's help at chat.stackoverflow. He(and so did I) flagged my post for moderator's attention asking for an explanation for making it CW even after so much discussion at meta.

I posted a comment here(a similar c++-faq tagged thread) and got this reply from Bill the lizard

Yes, I'd like to have a separate post that asks specifically whether the questions in the [c++-faq] tag should be made CW or not. I read through the post you linked to and it doesn't seem to be mentioned by anyone. We have a few other legacy tags like [code-golf] that are very explicitly supposed to be CW, but I don't think this is the same thing. Make sure you link to your post, this one, and any others you think would be helpful. I mostly want to make sure all the moderators know the CW policy, since we're the ones who make the final decision now.

So here is my question. What was my thread made CW [even though I explicitly tagged it [c++-faq]?


Suppose I create a new thread having exactly the same content as present in the current thread and then request a moderator to merge those threads. What would happen in that case? The merged thread would still be community wiki or not?

closed as off-topic by Wrzlprmft, Ward, James, ᔕᖺᘎᕊ, S.L. Barth - Reinstate Monica Sep 14 '15 at 21:00

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  • BTW no response from Will yet [he is the culprit]:P:P. – Prasoon Saurav Nov 15 '10 at 14:49
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    Correct call, I think. The problem with a Frequently Asked Question is that it is also frequently answered. It has been, many many times at SO. You've already got a badge for it. – Uphill Luge Nov 15 '10 at 15:29
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    Merging a non-CW thread into a CW thread does not convert answers. So I would expect that merging a CW thread into a non-CW thread would leave the new answers as CW but not convert the question. All things said, I would not recommend reposting until we get an explanation for the conversion. – Grace Note Nov 15 '10 at 17:35
  • this is an old discussion, but just so you know, moderators can remove CWs from posts now. So this comment from Bill is no longer true. – Lorem Ipsum May 7 '12 at 21:09

IMO the [c++-faq] postings should not be marked CW. The person who crafts a good FAQ deserves the rep that it garners.

  • We might want to consider some kind of vetting procedure before marking an item [c++-faq] however. – John Dibling Nov 15 '10 at 14:23
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    @John: There's very many people in the c++ tag that can re-tag, so I don't see a problem there. – sbi Nov 15 '10 at 14:27
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    Oh, and +1 to the idea. I just meant to post the very same answer. These explanations took a lot of knowledge and effort, it'd be a shame not to reward them with rep. – sbi Nov 15 '10 at 14:28
  • @John : BTW can CW posts be rolled back to non-CW state? – Prasoon Saurav Nov 15 '10 at 14:31
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    @Prasoon: No, sorry they can't. Once a post is made CW it's considered owned by the community, so there's no mechanism for giving it back to the original owner. – Bill the Lizard Nov 15 '10 at 14:35
  • @Bill : Thanks. Ok its fine. I am happy with the CW tag :-). No hard feelings. – Prasoon Saurav Nov 15 '10 at 14:42
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    @Bill: I have to say I'm very disappointed with that. That was a very rash decision by Will, not called for at all, and now it's not reversible. I'd call this a major moderation failure. Yes, I know, moderators are humans, too, etc., but still. Before making an irreversible decision, he should at least have read the comments. – sbi Nov 15 '10 at 14:56
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    @sbi As much as I agree with these questions not needing to be CW (in light of your earlier statement that the lower-edit-boundary is unnecessary), I think that before we label this a major moderation failure we should at least wait for Will to provide his standpoint. – Grace Note Nov 15 '10 at 15:10
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    @sbi: I'm sure I've made the same mistake a time or two, and I'm equally sure Will was responding to a flag, not just going on his own opinion. This case does lie in a somewhat gray area. It used to be quite common to make self-answered questions CW, just to avoid the appearance of "rep-whoring." The main reason I wanted Prasoon to post this question here on Meta is so we could reach agreement on whether [c++-faq] questions should or should not be CW, so that all mods are aware of it and won't make the same mistake going forward. – Bill the Lizard Nov 15 '10 at 15:17
  • @john : I accepted your answer because I was left with no choice. Still haven't heard from Will. :) – Prasoon Saurav Nov 15 '10 at 16:24
  • @Bill : One more question. Suppose I create a new thread having exactly the same content as present in the current thread and then request a mod(you) to merge those threads. What would happen in that case? The merged thread would still be community wiki or not? – Prasoon Saurav Nov 15 '10 at 16:30
  • @Prasoon: Dont accept anything yet. This conversation should remain active for a while – John Dibling Nov 15 '10 at 16:54
  • @John : Ok. Removed the upvote after adding EDIT 1. Have a look at it. – Prasoon Saurav Nov 15 '10 at 16:55
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    -1: The description for c++-faq is "Provides a collaborative, community-edited C++ FAQ." The key words being "collaborative, community-edited" which can be shortened to "Community Wiki". – Powerlord Nov 15 '10 at 19:37
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    @Will: No, you need 2000+ total rep plus a bronze badge in that tag to edit it. The badge requirement is why I, as a 20k+ user on SO, can't edit the c++-faq wiki entry. Perhaps, since moderators don't have to put up with those limits, you've forgotten about their existence? – Powerlord Nov 15 '10 at 20:42

I missed the original thread, but I find the whole business really troubling. Rather than finding a really good answer to a real question had by a real user and making it the go-to version because it is good we're going to anoint (or allow them to annoint themselves) someone to write the official version and award a bunch of rep (and for the "official" version of the question, none-the-less).

The idea certainly seems to be popular, but I don't like it.

  • Why dont you like it? – John Dibling Nov 15 '10 at 16:52
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    Beyond the "why dont you like it?" question, do you have an alternative idea? I think that a) we need faqs, and b) they need to be indexed, and c) there are many cases where there isnt already a go-to-able response to a similar question – John Dibling Nov 15 '10 at 16:55
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    @dmckee: I think the normal rules for duplicates should still apply to questions tagged [c++-faq] (or any other faq that results from this). If an older question can be found that covers the same material we can merge them so the original question gets the upvotes. – Bill the Lizard Nov 15 '10 at 17:00
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    @John: I don't like it because of the idea that [c++-faq] should be privileged. We've always had Jeopardy-style ask-then-self-answer questions. But to claim "this is special because I put [c++faq] on it" is to claim some official mandate to be the rightest. And yeah, the answer are competitive, but there is a claim being made to the official and most rightest version of the question. – dmckee Nov 15 '10 at 17:03
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    @Bill: If it is a FAQ, then there must exist a duplicate. No? – dmckee Nov 15 '10 at 17:04
  • @dmckee, I hereby happily invite you to read my comments at stackoverflow.com/questions/4182579/constructor-in-c and start the hunt for a really good answer on a good question about initialization lists. Heck, just finding the necessary keywords to make google turn up anything at all took time. (Nobody who stumbles into that syntax for the first time and is baffled asks for "initialization list".) And then, after I had looked at (literally) dozens of duplicates, I still came up pretty dry regarding a good answer. Can you do better? – sbi Nov 15 '10 at 17:05
  • @dmckee: And who ever gave the impression "that [c++-faq] should be privileged"? I suppose you read that into some statement, because I can't read it out of one made here or elsewhere. – sbi Nov 15 '10 at 17:06
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    @sbi: Prasoon gave me the idea that he thinks so, and if you did find a bunch of duplicate why not tag one of them as the faq. Otherwise you are suggesting that your new version of the old question is special by comparison. – dmckee Nov 15 '10 at 17:10
  • @dmckee: Not necessarily on SO. In the spirit of saving everyone's sanity, I do agree that we should be trying to consolidate those questions that really are frequently asked here though, and apply a [*-faq] to them as well. – Bill the Lizard Nov 15 '10 at 17:11
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    @dmckee: Just because it's a frequently-asked question doesn't mean there is a single post on SO that answers both that question and all its variants, which I think is the ultimate goal. For example, if there is a question about constructor initializer lists, another about const-ness in copy constructors, and a third about the Rule of Three, they should (IMO) all be linked to one master "Constructor" FAQ. If there is no such FAQ already on SO, someone should make one. </opinion> – John Dibling Nov 15 '10 at 17:22
  • I don't necessarily think that possessing the tag should be grounds to avoid Community Wiki. But on the same token, I don't think the tag should be grounds to be converted to Community Wiki, either, as the tag's ephemeral and changing nature makes it pointless to associate any form of permanence or elevated status. I agree with Bill that should a duplicate be found, merging is the proper course of action. Community Wiki seems largely unnecessary to introduce, considering we don't use it for other cases of duplication. – Grace Note Nov 15 '10 at 17:23
  • @dmckee: That link points to the question's history. I see no such claim there. – sbi Nov 15 '10 at 18:23
  • @dmckee: As for why not "tag one of those duplicates FAQ": I have explicitly challenged you to find one dupe with a good answer to tag FAQ with on a very specific and very frequently asked question on SO. It wasn't a special set-up trap, I had just tried doing exactly this today and failed. Unless you deliver, you will have to excuse me for considering your claim that this is possible to be an uninformed, untried, theoretical opinion, that has turned out to be impractical in many cases by those who tried. – sbi Nov 15 '10 at 19:37

Sigh, and I've been avoiding controversy for sooo long (well, long for me).

The simple fact is that I was going through the flagged post queue and saw that one or more people had flagged the question commenting that it should be made a community wiki. I say, "one or more" because I don't troll for stuff to do--the mod queue is quite long enough, but I don't remember the exact number.

So, I go and check it out. Yep, its a question of a type that is traditionally a wiki--it has no definitive answer. For example, "hidden features" questions are wikis, such as this popular one.

Now, it isn't necessarily an option to let this kind of decision go to the community, as you have to flag a question in order to make it a wiki. So either I dump the flag or make it a wiki. It fit the (as I understood them) criteria, so I made it a wiki.

I haven't heard anything about [faq] questions no longer deserving of the wiki. If I have missed this update, then my sincere apologies. I try not to be the most hated mod on StackOverflow, honestly. If this is the case, I would love to get a link...

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    There wasn't any official discussion of this class of questions not needing to be marked wiki. That is, until now. So worry not your hot-dog-stand-radiating-head over that. ♪ – Grace Note Nov 15 '10 at 19:38
  • "I try not to be the most hated mod on StackOverflow, honestly." I sense a contest coming on. My term is up in 2011 anyway. ;) – Bill the Lizard Nov 15 '10 at 19:53
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    @Bill we have terms? AWESOME! I plan to nominate anybody and everybody who busted my balls; my greatest revenge will be handing them the mop and bucket! Hahahah! – user1228 Nov 15 '10 at 20:32
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    Bill, I don't really have hard feelings against you, but this was a bad mistake. You should at least have looked closer. That question came from a 23k user with a c++ gold badge, not some newbie, and it came with praise in comments from two other such community members. If you mods are forcing questions CW just because one user flagged them, then that's actually much worse than the wiki-bullying that the recent CW handling change meant to prevent. The way it used to be whoever asked the question at least had the chance to withstand the heat and not make their question CW. – sbi Nov 15 '10 at 23:17
  • I think you (the mods, that is) need to seriously re-think the way you are handling this. If SO had started out in a way that one user flagging a question would cause the mods to turn it CW, this would likely have been changed months ago to the system that was just abandoned. – sbi Nov 15 '10 at 23:20
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    @sbi we LOOK at a question because users flag it. What we do is, of course, based on our judgement. Do you seriously think it is otherwise? – user1228 Nov 16 '10 at 16:40
  • @Will: Why do you repeat what you said? Am I now to repeat that I think you should have looked closer and that one flag vs. two praises is a bad ratio to base a pro-flag decision on? And are you then going to repeat yours again? What do you think we can achieve that way? – sbi Nov 16 '10 at 20:56
  • @sbi you have an issue where you cannot comprehend the difference between the decision and the flag. Also, there was no "two praises," not that a hundred "praises" would change the fact that it is an unanswerable question which should be made a wiki. – user1228 Nov 16 '10 at 22:14
  • @Will: My issue was exactly with the decision, which I consider too rash. When I write "you should have looked closer" and "blah is a bad ratio to base a blah decision on", then how could I have missed that this was a deliberate decision? (Oh, and starting an reasoning with "you cannot comprehend" is rarely ever paving the way for a good, impressive argument. It is, however, a good way to move a discussion from the issues that started it to a but-you-said-style quarrel.) – sbi Nov 16 '10 at 22:33
  • @sbi "why do you repeat what you said?" "Are you going to repeat yours again? What do you think we can achieve that way?" Look into the mirror before you start accusing others of lowering the debate. – user1228 Nov 17 '10 at 14:23
  • @Will: I could now say what I think the differences are between mine and your reaction, but this would indeed lower the debate. Instead I repeat: I consider it a mistake. You should have looked closer, and maybe put a comment there first, to give people a chance to point out why CW would be wrong. Flipping an irreversible flag because a quick glance seemed to agree with a user flagging for it IMO was a rash decision. I'm not mad at you for it, but it's sad that it's irreversible. I said all this and I stand by what I said. Your comments in response to this didn't address any of these points – sbi Nov 17 '10 at 20:47
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    @sbi I think Will's point is that you seem to be placing a lot more weight on the flagging user's opinion than Will's own opinion in this decision, whereas Will based his action more on his own thoughts on the question, not based on the fact it was flagged. All the flagging user did was point out something. Disagree with Will's opinion all you want, but I think it is understandably infuriating to have your own motives ignored and instead continually implicated as basing decisions as "pro-flag". – Grace Note Nov 18 '10 at 17:25
  • @Grace: Well, if it seems this way, then I certainly wasn't myself making clear enough. (I'm a non-native, which makes this likely.) I thought I stressed that I disagree with his decision, which I consider rash. Where the flag comes in is by getting a mod's attention to the question in the first place and in that I think it might have more importance than Will might want to agree to. But, yeah, hadn't he then decided to make it CW, we wouldn't be discussing here. – sbi Nov 19 '10 at 6:25
  • More evidence of why these should be wikis: stackoverflow.com/questions/121162/… Its pretty clear that the people participating in the tag are more concerned about the rep than the information. – user1228 Nov 19 '10 at 13:54
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    @sbi You actually stressed very strongly and repeatedly the accusation of "forcing questions CW just because one user flagged them". Which is italic in your first comment, is the focus point of your second and third comments, and is generalized as "a quick glance seemed to agree" in the fifth comment. You've continually downplayed everything Will has said about making a decision by calling it rash (done with little or no thought/consideration). Understand that he did think it through, and that what your beef should be is that his thought process may be incorrect in this instance. – Grace Note Nov 19 '10 at 17:29

While I think the OP deserves the rep the lowered reqs for editing would be handy.

I think the CW system is broken it tries to do two unrelated things believing they are related.

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    The CW system only tries to do one thing: lower reputation for editing by establishing community authorship. What was "broken" with the CW system was people who decided to exemplify the secondary aspect as its main use, not the system itself. – Grace Note Nov 15 '10 at 14:36
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    I disagree with this one. In fact, that editing arbitrary postings takes a considerable amount of rep was one of the main facts leading to the idea to setup the FAQ system the way we're trying to do now. Look at Prasoon's answer. The knowledge put in there is very impressive. (Says me with a C++ gold badge.) You don't want any 150rep SO newbie to fiddle with that stuff. All who can really contribute to it, have the rep to change this anyway. – sbi Nov 15 '10 at 14:43

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