In the beginning, RPG.SE was Community Wiki crazy. We used it for everything. We have an old Meta question on what to use CW for. But then we realized list questions were bad and CW was being used as a dumping ground for bad questions. So now CW is anathema. Some hunt down and kill old CW questions, annoying old users.

In 2012 I asked this question again, and the answer at the time was "lists and things about the future," but since then we've come down firmly on lists and things about the future being off-topic or, if tightly scoped, on topic but not CW, as well.

It was made a mod-only option in 2010, and the autoconvert to CW functionality was removed in 2014.

We still flirt with "well maybe, for a list question..."

Can we come up with modern guidance on how to use Community Wiki? It's fallen largely into disuse network-wide so "never" is legitimate, but we tend to just say "well... rare cases" which raises the question of what that rare case might look like.

As usual for questions like this, reading the linked Qs and having a firm grasp of the historical pros and cons is table stakes for your answer to be taken seriously - please do your research before giving your opinion.

Note that CW can be used on questions (in which case all answers are also CW) or just on an individual answer. Its net effect on its subject is to remove rep and lower the already pretty low bar for editing it.

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3 Answers 3


Community Wiki seems pointless.

After reading through the history of CW on RPG.SE, and the blog post about CW, it seems like there really isn't much use for Community Wiki here. The main arguments that I have for this actually come straight from that blog post:

If a question is valuable enough that you believe it belongs on the site, chances are you don't need it to be community wiki!

The main advantage of community wiki -- more editing -- was nerfed when we introduced suggested edits. With suggested edits, anyone, even an anonymous user, can edit anything -- so long as another experienced user reviews and approves their edit.

In addition to these two points, we have a very tightly-moderated stack, compared to others that I've seen. We have a high enough ratio of high-rep active users to posts that our review queue response time is very good, and we rarely have a bad question that doesn't get closed quickly (and fixed quickly, if the querent isn't off-put by the close). As a community, we exist in a sweet spot where we can encourage the kind of collaboration that Community Wiki is intended for by quickly approving suggested edits, obviating the need for CW entirely.

If this stack becomes massively more popular in the future and the time it takes for a suggested edit to go through grows, this might change, but for now I don't think there is much of a point to making any question CW.

To that effect, I propose the following:

  • Going forward, we don't make any new questions CW.
  • We also don't make any new answers CW.
  • We hold any existing CW questions and answers to the same standards that we hold all the other questions and answers on this site.

We can't actually enforce the policy to not make any answers CW, since that's up to the answerer, and there's no way to un-CW a post once it has been made so. What I'm proposing here is more that we, as a community, generally agree to stop using that site feature because it's not appropriate for our specific stack at this time.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Note: diamond mods can remove CW status on any post. \$\endgroup\$
    – user17995
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 20:34

I agree totally with DuckTapeAl's proposals. CW's just about pointless for questions and answers, shouldn't be used, and CW material should be held to the same standards as anything else. However, CW-ing answers is available, so I'd like to provide some guidance on where it might actually have some relevance.

Answers should nearly always not use Community Wiki.

Post your answer as a regular answer. They almost never need community wiki. We'll still be able to contribute to your answer even if it's a normal one; the wiki does almost nothing beyond saying you get no points for your answer. If your post's worth putting on our site, chances are you've earned the reputation points, and we'd rather you had them.

There's a slim circumstance in which CW is still relevant for an answer (but you'll probably never run into it), alluded to in our partly-obsolete create wiki posts privilege help page: you need largescale collaboration between more users than yourself, and you are certain reputation will be an issue impeding collaboration. We're talking situations like: you need three other users to write three quarters of the post, and all of them are grumbling about someone else stealing their reputation for it; or you sincerely can't complete a large effort answer on your own and are relying on as-of-yet-unknown community members to chip in a large portion of the work.

Chances are you'll never be in that circumstance. That's at least in part because reputation is a fairly abundant resource on RPG Stack Exchange for those posting at least a few answers and people are probably going to be happy for you to get the rep for their contributions, and in part because we don't tend to deal with situations so large they're beyond one person.

Some caveats & don't-use-CW-for-this notes:

  • Expect CW answers to be held to the same standard as regular answers. They're not a waiver of our rules and quality standards. (Voters will use their discretion and judgement.)
  • CW may sometimes assist with collaboration, but don't expect it to make collaboration spontaneously happen. You may still need to do 90% or more of the work yourself, and your workload may be no different to a non-CW answer.
  • People may still opt to post new answers in an attempt to beat your CW answer, even if they could collaborate with your answer. Expect this to happen sometimes.

The TLDR summary: You almost certainly will never need to make a Community Wiki answers. Don't use it. If you think you may need it, you probably don't. If you're dead certain it's definitely solving a visible problem, use it, but you might like to check with us first, because you still probably don't need it (or it's not going to actually solve that problem).

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is conclusions I've come to privately over the course of my use of Stack Exchange. If people turn out to not agree, I'll be OK with that, but I'll certainly be interested to learn how other people feel and look forward to any other answer-related posts that might appear. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 18:44

Never for questions, Up to the Poster on answers.

My understanding of how Community Wiki questions work is that if a question is a community wiki, there can be only one answer, and it too is a community wiki. This should be discouraged as it disincentivizes many (most?) users to answer and provides no benefit for the question.

However, answers can be a community wiki at the original poster's discretion. I see no reason to have hard and fast rules about when a poster should make their answer a community wiki and see any guidelines as being a bad idea. Offering guidelines other than "It's your answer, do what you want, and accept the consequences (voting provides those)" puts expectations on a poster of the type the auto-conversions of old did. Those are a bad idea to implement.

The only viable action to take with this buck is passing it to the poster. Anything else is a horrible idea - and would lead me to advocate banning community wikis outright.

  • \$\begingroup\$ You are correct that all answers to a Community Wiki question are now Community Wiki. (See under the heading How does a post become a Community Wiki post? point 3.) Cited in that same bullet point, questions can only become CW nowadays via moderator action. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 1:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Its not a joke that this answer is a CW. If something doesnt make sense, or my spellchecker/autocorrect mis-fired... fix it.. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tritium21
    Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 3:00
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    \$\begingroup\$ this completely passes the buck on when/why to make an answer CW. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 3:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk Defer to the wisdom of the the SE/SO blog in that case. We cannot and should not have guidelines other than "Its your answer, do as thou willst". Anything else is... inherently evil - and I am using that word on purpose. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tritium21
    Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 3:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ We have loads of advice here on what to do in answers, from their content to their format. Having the CW button be our Unexplained Libertarian Paradise is plain silly. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 4:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would prefer that button go away, short of it going away, we should just link to the SO blog posts about it, and leave it at that. \$\endgroup\$
    – Tritium21
    Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 4:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ Correction on questions: CW questions can have multiple answers, but they are all forced to be CWs too. The one-answer-only functionality has to be manually cobbled together from CWs and mod-applied locks and doesn't require the question to be a CW. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 8, 2016 at 8:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think it's an appropriate contribution to the discourse to say it's inherently evil to give people advice and guidance on when and how to use a particular feature, on a site full of obscure features and loaded with tons of guidance on how to use them, and where giving people [support] on using features is part of our day-to-day. It's always been up to the user, but since when does that mean the user might not appreciate some help on when it's necessary? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 9, 2016 at 12:16
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    \$\begingroup\$ That said, if you fear that we might establish some kind of dystopian ruling that has the mods convert answers left and right to community wiki based on what we discuss here -- I don't think that'd be OK, but it's also not where this is heading. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 9, 2016 at 12:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ Emotive language aside, this response has a grain of KISS principle embedded in it. I have edited out the term "inherently evil" since overstatement isn't helping this reply, and assigning "evil" as a descriptive I don't think adds to the discourse. The only part of the answer I don't like is the last paragraph, as it is a contingency that quite possibly is best addressed in a "should we ban CW?" question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 15:21

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