Joseph made the qn Good practice on spacing CW, which was more or less within the bounds of Stack Exchange de facto practice before the Great CW Policy Change.

It does seem kind of hardline now: it's not in the less focussed half of the [best-practices] posts, and the question passes my "does it seem not too unlikely that someone could come by and sort out all the issues in one answer?" - I imagine that either Joseph or Will could, without breaking a sweat.

Does anyone have a criterion for when the moderator wikify power should be exercised? IIRC, Jeff said something to the effect that questions that looked like they should be CW nearly always should be closed.

  • The OP (Seamus) asked for this one to be made a Community Wiki entry: until recently he'd have been able to do this himself, so it seems fair enough.
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Commented Nov 17, 2010 at 17:41
  • @Joseph: After I posted this, it occured to me that this might be the case. It's good to say, though, that we have a policy that moderators do just CW questions on their askers request. Commented Nov 17, 2010 at 18:31
  • 2
    In this case maybe it is a good idea to add a comment that the question was made CW at the request of the OP in order to avoid confusion.
    – Caramdir
    Commented Nov 17, 2010 at 20:21
  • It seems to me that "best-practices" tagged questions are likely to be better off being CW, no? That was the reason for requesting the wikification.
    – Seamus
    Commented Nov 18, 2010 at 13:21

4 Answers 4


We have provided some additional guidance at the blog:


TL;DR version

Most of the time, you should be asking yourself “How can I improve this post so that community wiki isn’t needed?” Community wiki is like a cheese knife: it is a specialized tool to be used sparingly, and only in very specific circumstances.


My understand was that CW should be used for real on-topic questions where there will be a range of possible answers, none of which will necessarily be 'correct'.

  • I think the new idea is that if there couldn't be a correct answer, then it's not a real question. We don't have to agree with that here, but we should probably have something like a [big-list] tag if we do deviate. Commented Nov 17, 2010 at 19:09
  • 1
    @Charles: let's take an example. What about my "What packages do people load?" question. Do you regard that question as a blight on tex.SX? I think it is clear that it has to be CW and to me it seems a "real on-topic" question, but opinions may differ. (Don't spare my feelings! I find discussing actual examples much more fruitful than hypotheticals, and try to pick my own questions for discussion so that I don't offend anyone else.) Commented Nov 17, 2010 at 20:23
  • @Andrew: I didn't like that question (it was "load in almost every document", which struck me as daft), but the showcase of beautiful typography was worthwhile. I'm leaning towards thinking it makes sense to have [big-list] CW questions, but with the insistence that they be tagged so (yes, even though it's a meta tag), and have a higher "real question" hurdle to overcome. That's the de facto policy on MO, and it works there. Commented Nov 18, 2010 at 7:28
  • @Charles: I definitely agree with the "higher hurdle". So the thing to do is to take a look at the questions that we like and those that we don't like to see if we can extract some general principles to apply (which, like all such, should be considered guidelines rather than hard rules). What was it about the showcase that made it better than the packages question? Commented Nov 18, 2010 at 8:06
  • @Andrew: I've thought about possible guidelines, and haven't come up with any nice, bright lines to draw. I'll think about it a bit more, but do you have any ideas? Commented Nov 19, 2010 at 11:07

Looking at posts

  • made community wiki by its author for allowing everybody to edit
  • though nobody else besides the author made additions or significant changes
  • that situation didn't change for months

I suggest such posts may be de-wikified at request since it doesn't fit the original intention. Moderators could de-wiki it at request by the author.


Jeff said something to the effect that questions that looked like they should be CW nearly always should be closed.

Which is why, I think, that the ability to make things CW got removed. However, there is clearly still some purpose in having CW questions as mods can make things CW. The point (again, as far as I can tell) of taking away the ability to post CW questions from the off is so that the true purpose of CW questions can stay, but the misuse of it (namely as posting questions that really ought not to be there) goes away.

So, we should have some criteria under which a question is made CW. Joseph's answer goes a long way for me, but I can imagine other possibilities. The key words in Joseph's answer (for me) are "real on-topic". Whether or not a question is CW is not part of the criterion for being acceptable on this site. It first has to be a good question, and only then should it be considered whether or not to make it CW.

  • The key words ... are "real on-topic" - yes, definitely. We used to think that was a bona fide category, now a lot of people seem to think it is a muddle in the middle between questions that are and those to be closed. Commented Nov 17, 2010 at 19:14

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