The 'community wiki' tag on the sister question doesn't seem to be appropiate by its definition, since neither the questions nor given answers are suitable for multiple editors - not at all.

Is this an appropriate use of 'community wiki' tag? It seems here to mean 'punish soft questions by not awarding reputation points' (which could be fair, but is not illustrated by the name).

Use of euphemism like this makes me frustrated with the Stack Exchange site - can we be honest about our motivation please?

I would be keen to hear robjohn's motivation for changing the status of the question.

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    $\begingroup$ That question hardly has a "correct" answer, so CW seems reasonable. $\endgroup$
    – mrf
    Jun 16, 2013 at 13:05
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Whether it is "appropriate" or potentially "dishonest", it has been a long-standing practice that such questions be made Community Wiki. Jeff Atwood and Shog9 have spoken about this sort of use of CW in the past. Were the CW option not available, I wouldn't be surprised if the question was simply deleted by the community well before accruing 30 answers. $\endgroup$
    – user642796
    Jun 16, 2013 at 13:47
  • $\begingroup$ Please note: I didn't say dishonest. $\endgroup$
    – Ronald
    Jun 16, 2013 at 13:55
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    $\begingroup$ rob was merely doing what is traditionally done for "soft" questions. If it helps, the community here takes CW to mean "credit waived" for such soft questions. If it can't be CW, I'd vote to close myself. FWIW, the tradition precedes math.SE; this is also the way soft questions are done over at MO, and this tradition was nicely carried over here. $\endgroup$ Jun 16, 2013 at 14:09
  • $\begingroup$ I agree about the euphemism thing. $\endgroup$ Jan 1, 2016 at 2:34

1 Answer 1


I have now read the blog at http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/08/the-future-of-community-wiki/

which seems to answer that yes, CW's only actual function is "don't award reputation here". (although it's not clear that this is how questions should be identified for CW)

I strongly dislike that but I obviously won't go against official policy.

As an expert mathematician, I spent my 10,000 hours on pedagogy and it saddens me that education or basic mathematical understanding questions are often marked as 'soft' or 'community wiki'. It seems to be a way of showing disrespect to the field of mathematical pedagogy.

This particular question is popular perhaps because it's accessible: everyone can have an opinion. However, I don't agree that popularity or accessibility means the question and answer is of less value to the community: there is still a significant level of expertise that is needed to accurately answer the question.

There is some issue that questions which are inaccessible and require expertise are relatively undervalued (because people very rarely vote on those) - however, I don't think this is resolved by making accessible questions immediately worth 0.

The 'sister' question used as an example is not a joke, or a fun question, and I believe people are upvoting it because it has value here which it deserves to retain.

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    $\begingroup$ "...everyone can have an opinion." - and here I have emphasized the motivation for setting such questions CW. It certainly has value; that's why it's still there, and nobody's voted to delete the question. $\endgroup$ Jun 16, 2013 at 14:14
  • $\begingroup$ "everyone can have an opinion" does not imply that "there is no correct answer". $\endgroup$
    – Ronald
    Jun 16, 2013 at 14:15
  • $\begingroup$ I note that, of the high vote questions - all are accessible (everyone can have an opinion - and many answers are expressed). math.stackexchange.com/questions?sort=votes That's exactly why they have high votes, but not all are marked as soft. My feeling is that, of those questions, pedagogy questions are more likely to be marked as soft. $\endgroup$
    – Ronald
    Jun 16, 2013 at 14:24
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    $\begingroup$ Okay, let's use that list. You say "not all are marked as soft"; which of those was in fact soft, but not marked as such, and were not set CW? $\endgroup$ Jun 16, 2013 at 14:26
  • $\begingroup$ I am saying that I don't think that popularity/accessibility is a fair justification to (directly or indirectly) identify soft questions, so I plead the fifth. $\endgroup$
    – Ronald
    Jun 16, 2013 at 14:31
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    $\begingroup$ No, we don't set questions to be CW based on popularity. we set them based on "softness". As to how "softness" is determined, it's just like porn... $\endgroup$ Jun 16, 2013 at 14:35
  • $\begingroup$ I wrote this post to encourage thought on how softness is determined, indeed. However, I think the answer "you know it when you see it" permits a continuing bias against accessible and therefore pedagogical questions. $\endgroup$
    – Ronald
    Jun 16, 2013 at 14:40

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