I made this answer community wiki because I only posted an extremely partial answer. Since the content seemed to be useful and too long for comments, posting it as an answer seemed somewhat appropriate, but the answer certainly required extra work. (This use of community wiki seems to fit with what is stated briefly in this blog post: 'An incomplete “seed” answer is a stepping stone to a complete solution with help from others'.)

This brings up the question of when a poster should mark an answer as community wiki.

For FAQ-like questions on Meta (especially those that generate short list answers for which elements in the list are not disputable), marking an answer community wiki might be reasonable.

A similar argument might be made for a question on the Main site to allow a single answer to better address the complex question. However, expecting others to sacrifice potential reputation gain by adding to a community wiki answer (rather than posting a less complete answer) may be somewhat unreasonable. (On the other hand, such would allow a user to add a very small amount of content which would gain little or even negative reputation if posted as a separate answer.)

So the question remains: When should an answer be made community wiki?

2 Answers 2


To me, you've got the gist of it.

there are only two reasons to make an answer community wiki now that suggested edits are in play:

  • To indicate the answer is incomplete and to invite community contribution to finish it.
  • To avoid gaining reputation for the answer.

The first is noble, the second is...odd? But those are basically the only uses for the format in the present structure.

  • I could somewhat understand the second, particularly early on in a site, when one is answering (and likely accepting the answer to) one's own question. Such seems almost unfair. OTOH, early in a site there is a desire for rapid reputation growth, so such might actually be less friendly to the community (as if saying "I do not want to help out in moderation [e.g., review] tasks any time soon"). C-wiki seems to say "I am not rep. farming" but might actually 'steal' rep. from others (if the community punishes "non-team players" who post separate answers).
    – user3331
    Commented Jun 17, 2013 at 23:20
  • 2
    @PaulA.Clayton yes, we need high rep users to supplement moderators so yes, in a way denying yourself reputation is not actually helpful to the community.
    – wax eagle
    Commented Jun 18, 2013 at 1:52

The "Community Wiki" feature is pretty much a relic of a previous social experiment on the part of Stack Exchange. It wasn't a complete failure, but the lessons they learned from it have mostly gone into other tools and it no longer serves a major primary purpose like it used to. In particular the "comprehensive list" type of thing that it worked for originally is not even an Q&A format we accept right now.

There are still occasional uses for it, but as you note they are not usually compelling.

  • 1
    I thought "comprehensive list" questions were still on-topic if the list was both short and objective. Such questions may have a "bad smell" as a category, but I thought that some members of the category were thought to avoid the "not constructive" close reason.
    – user3331
    Commented Jun 17, 2013 at 23:23
  • @Paul Yes there are certain ones that can be given a pass, but those are also the ones that don't require CW status to pull off.
    – Caleb
    Commented Jun 18, 2013 at 7:18
  • 1
    I agree about not requiring such, but sometimes it saddens me that the best/accepted answer lacks some content in other answers (not from disagreement or awkwardness of fit but seemingly from unwillingness to "steal"). CW would only slightly help with that sometimes, but I do not know how to address this issue generally. (E.g., rf. my comment at SciFi and its context. The best and accepted answer excluded some agreeable content even after a reminder of CC licensing.)
    – user3331
    Commented Jun 18, 2013 at 12:12

You must log in to answer this question.