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I believe this question: Examples of apparent patterns that eventually fail should quite clearly be CW, as I have stated in the comments (with three upvotes hitherto).

I flagged the question for moderator attention describing this, and it got tagged as an "useful" flag.

However useful it may have been tagged, this was several hours ago and has since been ignored.

What is going on? What is the meaning of an useful but ignored flag? Why hasn't the question been made into CW? Is it not, as I think it is, quite clear that question does not admit a definitive correct answer?

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    $\begingroup$ The question is CW... $\endgroup$ – Qiaochu Yuan Feb 22 '12 at 3:34
  • $\begingroup$ What the...? It is, indeed. It must have been switched just now! Let me know when you read this comment so I can delete the question. $\endgroup$ – Bruno Stonek Feb 22 '12 at 3:36
  • $\begingroup$ Since your question provoked an interesting response from Mariano, I hope you won't delete it. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Feb 22 '12 at 5:11
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Sorry, I dropped the ball on that one. I dismissed the flag and had the CW dialog open and ready, but got distracted and completely forgot about that tab in my browser until now.

The question is now CW'ified :)

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  • $\begingroup$ Ah, I knew I wasn't crazy :) That's ok. I should delete this question now, no? $\endgroup$ – Bruno Stonek Feb 22 '12 at 3:37
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It was not me who handled that, but I have handled quite a few such flags in the past in the same wat. A flag is not binding and moderators can disagree with the judgment that the question should be CW.

I for one have found so far very few reasons to deprive answerers of symbolic retribution for their answers, and I have never so far turned a question into CW. That a question does not have a definitive answer does not mean in the least that producing one of those possible answers does not take effort, for example, amd much less producing a good answer! In the particular question you refer to, you can find pretty good answers into which the authors have put considerable effort—I would say that more effort than the average for a math.SE answer... yet the multitude of possible answers somehow makes their effort less valuable than this in terms of reputation points?!

The one useful thing about CW is that the rep requirement to edit other people's answers is lower, if I recall correctly—I have yet to see this have any effect in practice. Additionally, if a question is CW then the owner can not accept an answer without the cost that that usually implies in terms of the accepting percentage... but I regard that as a bug in the system in that it conflates two completely different things.

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  • $\begingroup$ Oh, I didn't mean to imply a flag should be binding, it just seemed a bit contradictory to have a flag tagged as "helpful" but then ignored. In any case, I get the impression that there is not a unified CW policy, even though Grigory M.'s most upvoted answer in this other meta thread: meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/2790/community-wiki agrees with the reasons that made me flag the question. In fact, I consulted meta before flagging the post. As for myself, I don't really have an opinion on this, so I'll just go with (whatever fuzzy) rules there are about this :) $\endgroup$ – Bruno Stonek Feb 22 '12 at 3:46
  • $\begingroup$ There is some cost, if I understand correctly, for a user when her flags get declined as not useful. Personally, I only use that option when the flag is actually noise. $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Feb 22 '12 at 3:49
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    $\begingroup$ My feeling is that for questions which turn into vote frenzies (often the same as questions which do not admit a correct answer, though not always) the amount of reputation people have gotten has far outstripped the "actual" value of their post, and CW is an (admittedly far from perfect) way of fixing that. If there were another option to CW-ify all further votes, but let people keep the reputation they'd gotten so far, that would be ideal in my opinion. $\endgroup$ – Zev Chonoles Feb 22 '12 at 3:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Zev, I thought that was the way CW worked. Are you sure that points earned for an answer get taken away when a question is made CW? So every point I've ever earned on m.se could disappear overnight in an orgy of CW-ification by rogue moderators? Can I take out insurance somewhere? $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Feb 22 '12 at 5:19
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    $\begingroup$ The site is structured so that its members set the value of posts. Are a couple of flaggers and even less mods to decide their "actual" value? At the very most, I'd suggest to request the SE people to add a stop-assigining-points-to-this-question/answer thingie, similar to the close and delete votes we already have so that the community itself can decide... $\endgroup$ – Mariano Suárez-Álvarez Feb 22 '12 at 5:29
  • $\begingroup$ I am pretty sure @Gerry is correct about the CW-fication and rep, especially considering how an answer can be made CW because too many edits were done on the parent question. In that way, CW works differently from deletion (which on the next recalc will reset the relevant rep earned/lost). $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Feb 22 '12 at 9:44
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    $\begingroup$ @Zev The problem with CWing all further votes is that this implies that only the fastest answers are rewarded. But only very rarely are the fastest answers the best. So implementing such a scheme discourages later, more deeply-reasoned answers. To me, such deeper answers are one of the key values of the site, so one should do all one can do to encourage them. $\endgroup$ – Math Gems Feb 22 '12 at 15:40
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    $\begingroup$ @Math Gems: That's a good point - I would certainly like to reward those answerers who take the time to go into detail and consequently answer later. I'm not really sure what to think about CW anymore. Also, perhaps if the site displayed at random one of the newest answers at the top, followed by the other posts sorted by votes, this would help those later posts get their deserved upvotes. $\endgroup$ – Zev Chonoles Feb 22 '12 at 16:28
  • $\begingroup$ I think I remember an announcement from SE Inc (when the checkbox for askers to CWify a question themselves was removed), that they considered CW to be mostly obsolete now that "suggested edits" exists. My impression is that they are keeping the feature in the software for the benefit of sites that see some point in it anyway, but certainly the fact that it exists in the software doesn't mean that we have to use it. It might be a useful line of defense for posts that explode into votefests, but I support a policy of not CWifying questions unless and until that actually happens. $\endgroup$ – hmakholm left over Monica Feb 26 '12 at 1:21

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