As pointed out by badp, we now have the ability as moderators to revert Community Wiki posts! We won't do this often (in essence, it needs to be convincing to allow reversion), but right now we've got a backlog of "maybes" that I think can be addressed.

I'm putting to review a selected bunch of answers which are Community Wiki, but were only ever contributed to by the original author. Some of these were simply marked when posted under the expectation of contribution, others reached the 11 revision limit. This also skipped some which were aggregate postings, were citation styles, or otherwise had some kind of implied exemption.

Tell us which ones you think would be fine to revert, or why not.

Initially CW

Rev Count'd

  • Related: I made my self-answer to this question a CW and Tzenes suggested that I perhaps should have made it a standard answer. Considering there was only one non-typo edit, I'm curious how the community would treat that case.
    – Shaun
    Commented Mar 16, 2011 at 15:38
  • I'd like my self-answer CW post to remain that way. Even if suggested edits kinda diminish the point of CW for improved editing, being able to just edit the post reduces the overhead for everybody involved.
    – badp
    Commented Mar 18, 2011 at 10:29

3 Answers 3


I'm actually going to argue against this line of thought, and I hope to explain to you why.

Back in the day people used to have the power to mark their question as CW. Part of this was a "good subjective" thing, but another part was the belief that people would collaborate on their answer.

This was not the case.

The reality is that people rarely collaborate on questions or answers, and as good as some of those answers I wrote were, I never received the rep I probably deserved for them. Now you might say, tzenes what do you need more rep for? and you'd be right, but back when I wrote those answers I was not king of the rep hill. Losing that rep meant a lot to me and I was always unhappy that my hard work went unrewarded (though if that second one wasn't CW I would have never split it into 4 answers).

So what did I get out of those answers? I learned what Community Wiki was for.

This is the point I'm going to try and bring across. Losing rep to setting your answer as CW is a learning experience. Maybe not the least painful one, but an important one. It teaches you when CW is appropriate and when it isn't. The reason I don't think these (or any other) answers should be reverted is because they're lessons of the past, and I don't want to diminish their impact.

It is very common to think: I'll write half an answer and mark it as CW so other people fix it. This is a very common misunderstanding of Crowd Sourcing. Making something a wiki doesn't automagically mean people will contribute (much the way making something Open Source doesn't just keep software developing). What's more, the crowd sourcing model that SE uses is one of incentives. You are incentivised to gain rep, you are incentivised to write your own answer (instead of contributing to a CW).

Its hard to argue with the results these incentives have garnered.

So if you want my vote: No. CW need to stay CW.

Post Script

A number of people have suggested that they mark their answers CW so low rep users can edit (citation). Once upon a time this was a necessity, however, today we have suggested edits, so it is no longer necessary to proactively mark your question CW

Post Post Script

Grace brought up the point of self edits pushing a post to CW (which I hadn't been familiar with). For those unaware, after 10 edits (of the original author) an answer will become CW.

I was a little shocked at this till I started to dig around on MSO. It turns out, this is something, which has been debated before. Ultimately, I don't know if I support this policy, but as it does exist I don't want to undermine it spuriously, and I think reverting CW from original author edits, would be undermining it.

If you want to know the reason for this policy you can find a transcript from Jeff Atwood on the issue.

  • 1
    It's an interesting perspective you have here, and I certainly don't oppose it. Perhaps they do make pretty good lessons. Do you share the same point about the rev-counted ones?
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 12:25
  • @Grace I must confess I actually don't know what the rules are for revision count -> CW. I do know at one point you had me edit a post to push it to become a CW to test that out, but my understanding at the time was that required a minimum number of different users.
    – tzenes
    Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 15:49
  • @tzenes My testing was for assisting this research on the kind of edits, which I again thank you for. The limits are: 10 edits from the original author (it reverts on the 11th revision you make) or edits made from 5 different users. A question and all of its answers also convert when 30 answers are posted. I don't much care about reverting any scenarios but select ones of the first.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 15:52
  • @Grace Ok, I decided to do some research. My initial response to your mentioning the limits was "why does that limit even exist?" It would seem to me that un-CWing posts that hit original author's revision count is tantamount to removing that restriction. So why even have that restriction in the first place? Is there any point forcing a post to community wiki after 10 owner edits? Turns out there is.
    – tzenes
    Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 16:16
  • At this time I would say, either original owner edits should force to CW or they shouldn't, but if they do, it should not be reverted.
    – tzenes
    Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 16:17
  • There is a reason why the restriction is in place, and I'm not suggesting that this should always be done. I only picked two scenarios because I felt these were the only two where the authors were contributing substantial edits, rather than just meaningless bumps (which is the prevention mechanism). But, I'll take that as a vote that those two still shouldn't be reverted. Which, given the points you've been making, it still makes sense.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 16:19
  • 1
    @Grace Well, I'm still not sure if I agree with the original policy, but I don't want to undermine it spuriously. I think reverting those posts from CW would be undermining that policy.
    – tzenes
    Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 16:21
  • I agree that people won't edit a CW post even if they can, unless you explicitly encourage every commenter a large amount of times. That's a problem of education, though.
    – badp
    Commented Mar 18, 2011 at 7:49
  • @badp Education might be a related issue, but I think the SE incentive system isn't designed with CW in mind; rather CW has always been the pressure valve (think back to when people would mark Subjective Questions as CW). Ultimately, it may be that letting people mark their own answers as CW is just as bad as marking questions as CW (though on a smaller scale). It might be better if the only CW were questions which hit the edit limit. With suggested edits that is a very reasonable implementation.
    – tzenes
    Commented Mar 18, 2011 at 15:30
  • @tzenes I think gaming.stackexchange.com/questions/7442/… is a good example of a post that started CW and should remain that way. Remember that all edit suggestions must change at least 6 characters; if just one of the number changes, how'd one suggest its edit?
    – badp
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 13:56
  • @Badp the same way we manage to make comments with less than 15 characters... we improvise.
    – tzenes
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 15:30
  • Regarding your last edit, tzenes, I think it's obvious from your links that the rationale behind those rules is to prevent abuse. I think it will only be to our site's credit if we follow the spirit of this law rather than its letter - in other words, if we actively remove the CW status from posts that clearly don't show abuse. This will encourage users to continue making their posts better, with the only downside of more maintenance from the mods, and I do not think the effort required is particularly high.
    – Oak
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 16:50
  • @Oak I think that actually encourages abuse. Let's say I want to continuously bump my post to get as many up votes as possible. So I write out a standard tzenes style answer (ie. long with a lot of quality), then I break it up in to manageable chunks, and then I post those on an hourly basis on the top 5 peak GSE hours. Every day you get 1 new chunk, 2 new links and 2 edits (because I write a lot of spelling mistakes). Now if you're reverting based on the "spirit" or the law, I know that my high quality answer will be reverted from CW and I can safely game the system.
    – tzenes
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 19:28
  • @tzenes I guess that depends on the nature of the edits. Let's assume we're talking about an answer that both of us, as well as the mods, agree that its edit look very honest and useful - would you support reverting the CW on such an answer?
    – Oak
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 22:33
  • @Oak I think we're sort of getting off topic here, if we really want to use the Mod's ability to repeal CW at N number of self edits, I feel that's a different topic. To continue to argue that here is going to get a little messy. As I've said I think reverting CW from original author edits, would be undermining it. Especially if we had some extremely subjective criteria like: Tzenes and the Mods thinks it looks kosher. And now I'm going to have Matzah ball soup!
    – tzenes
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 23:11

Personally, I'd like to see the rev count-ed ones reverted. If a user tries to continually increase the quality of their answer in a way which is obviously not abusive, I think that user deserves all the reputation that answer generates.

Reverting it will also send the signal that users should be encouraged to continually make their answers better, as long as their edits are substantial and increase the quality.

  • The problem with manually un-CWing posts is that they will never become CW again automatically. If we suggest a policy of "just one contributor", unCW those posts, and after that the post starts getting many edits from many people, it will not go back to CW on its own. It's not likely, but it is what it is.
    – badp
    Commented Mar 18, 2011 at 7:54
  • @badp But seeing as it's not likely, we could just flag those posts for CW if that happens.
    – Oak
    Commented Mar 20, 2011 at 12:08

The rev counted ones should definitely see a revert for the reasons Oak mentions.

Most of the "Initially CW" questions would be good candidates for reverting as well because the answerer was completely responsible for all revisions. Consider the scenario:

  • User A answers and makes the answer a CW hoping for community contribution.
  • User A is the only one to contribute to the answer.
  • Question goes inactive.

In any other case, we'd want User A to receive the full benefit of the answer. Since the questions have gone inactive, I would make them standard answers. People who want to contribute to the answers can do so via comments. Given the lack of community effort to contribute to those answers, edit-via-comments should be sufficient.

"What does Metroidvania mean?" is a gray area because it was asked recently. I think we'd want to set a period of time before we consider a question "inactive" and just go based on that.

The ruling also becomes a gray area once a question is answers and marked as CW initially and is edited my multiple people. Even if the original answerer contributes pretty much all of the content, the fact that someone else helped means it's not clear-cut. You could argue that, in the case of the answerer providing ~99% of the content and other users contributing ~1%, they could have easily contributed via comments and that their impact was small, but you could easily argue that they utilized CW for its intended purpose and that it is now a community post. I'm going to refrain from giving an opinion either way since I actually have a question that falls under this criteria which means I can't be 100% objective in my views.

  • 4
    This is my perspective, but I'm very strongly against effectively "disowning" a question from the community that has actually accrued community contribution. However minor the change was, it's still someone else's contribution done with the intent of building a community answer. It comes off quite different than if no one bit the bait at all.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Mar 16, 2011 at 16:01
  • @Grace do you mean the one Shaun linked at the end? or was that a general statement? What constitutes "actually accrued community contribution?"
    – tzenes
    Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 8:14
  • @tzenes A general statement. 'AACC', explicitly, comes as substantial (6+ characters, haha ♪) edits while in Community Wiki status. Those are entries that people invested their own assistance with towards a Community-owned post. Implicitly, this would also catch "aggregate" posts, where one user combines all of the other's answers into one Community Wiki post.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Mar 17, 2011 at 12:30
  • The problem with making a self-answer like mine un-CW is that suggested edits cannot just change one number; they need to change at least six characters. If I write "210" for "120", you need 2k rep to fix that. If the post is CW, 150 rep will do.
    – badp
    Commented Mar 19, 2011 at 16:58

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .