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Previous Discussions:

To me, the same points return again and again

  1. Incorrect Usage of Community Wiki
  2. Web Application Recommendations/Alternatives
  3. Hidden/Requested Features

As the first of the stackexchange community, I think we have become too flexible in our scope for questions on this site, specifically cw/list questions. Or public beta will be up for evaluation in 1 day and I still cannot say for sure exactly what defines this site. In order to become the Q&A site for web applications we must tackle these issues now. Traffic is coming in so there is no longer a need for questions like Hidden features of Google and What is your most-used web application?. As someone once said in chat.meta.stackoverflow (I cannot remember who right now)

If there is no wrong answer then it is not really a question and should be CW

Of course there are exceptions to the above but there are in the minority.

In order to get straight to the point I have compiled discussions based on three meta communities actively involved in this: meta.gaming.stackexchange.com,meta.cooking.stackexchange.com and meta.stackoverflow.com . These communities are not going to be the same as ours but the methods applied can be looked at in detail and suited to our community.

Incorrect Usage of Community Wiki

First let us go back to the definition of Community Wiki

What are “Community Wiki” posts?

One of the goals of the website is to be a continually evolving source of good information. Community Wiki posts help enhance the wiki aspect of the site.[From meta.stackoverflow FAQ ]

When a user or a moderator says that a post must be converted to wiki the point pushed is that reputation should not be gained from questions that ask for lists. I do not believe this should be the reasoning. Questions/answers that are actively edited by those who have the reputation (1000 points), are forced into community wiki as this is how the system should work; a collaborative effort was made to give a high quality answer which continues to allocates votes. Therefore the system works here by applying cw mode. The initial action for a user to make his question/answer CW is to tell the community that he wants us to help in making his answer objective and high quality. [ see meta.gaming - Motivation for High Quality ]

Web Application Recommendations/Alternatives

This section is a gray line that I hope can be defined as clearly as possible via answers from you. If you read the meta.gaming post that I linked above, I want to highlight the following section

There is no motivation to excel and be an expert in building Repositories here. Otherwise, these Repositories should be filled to the brim with pages upon pages of contributions. So we are really just providing a small subset of qualifying content, namely the subjectively and currently popular content. Including myself, there are many people who continue to state that game recommendations can be founded on knowledge and that there exists expertise, but these past two months have shown quite clearly that nobody seems to care about making a good quality repository that is founded on knowledge.

Yes everyone knows here that it is easier to place a link to a site and one big pretty marketing picture of the product. These type of answers gather votes rather quickly. But do they give any value ? What are the pros and cons ? What are price brackets ? What is trial period ? Has the poster even tried the product ? I have seen many posts that start like this

I have not tried it but...

If you were to buy a meal from a place and you asked the waiter/cook how it tastes ... in most cases I would hope he/she tells you and not " I have not tried it "(This excludes no additions to the menu)

To stive for excellence, I think these questions need to be extensively answered/commented on beyond the user's need so that months later it can find any range of requirements. Short answers should either by voted down for lack of help (popularity of product should not be a reason for an upvote) or once you have the reputation edit the question. If the original poster did not like what you did with his question then he/she can comment. With reputation comes responsibility and it is your responsibility to use your powers.

Hidden/Requested Features

This has not originated from with web applications. This is an artifact from StackOverflow that had its good times. It was fun but for new users, are we implying that these question are the norm ? As much as we can duplicate from StackOverflow behaviours at the same time, I think we need to know when to either stop these questions in their tracks or clean these questions up. I have seen a few answers that were useful to me but others not really.

These two discussions can give you a gist of what people already said

Right now my current stance is to archive these questions with locks and maybe some disclaimer at the start of each question.

As for product requests, in my honest opinion these are best handled by the products feature support page.


I hope that you (the community) participates in this discussion you can even edit parts of this question that you think are incorrect( by fact not subjectivity )

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I don't see why there would be a problem with Hidden Feature questions, the powers that be (as noted in the first post you linked to) have stated that CW can be used for list-type questions. My response on the WebApp Rec questions is basically the same first link.

I think the main point should be that the answers should be specific, even if there is more than one of them. This keeps it from degenerating into a discussion with no useful content.

  • I can agree with that but sadly the system does not allow answers to be specific. Even with mod protection on the question high rep users still do not put in the effort to produce a valuable answer. Instead answers are given such as "gmail without a doubt" or "i use dropbox its the best". Everyone is entitled to their say but what can I possibly learn from answers like this ? – phwd Sep 28 '10 at 14:17
  • I agree partially with this. As I said above, A collaborative section to post correct and valuable information. If the # of revisions within the question/answers is virtually zero how can it possibly be allowed to stay as CW. To me it sounds like in order to not game the system list questions are to be converted to CW because this is not what the system was designed for. Hidden Features was a SO artifact, this is seen from all users who created [WebApp hidden features] (webapps.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/hidden-features) as they came from SO and not as a new user. – phwd Sep 28 '10 at 14:29
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Maybe it would be simpler to look at it from the opposite direction.

If it's not a "How do I ... ?" question, it probably should be Community Wiki.


Unlike Stack Overflow, however, where there is usually a small set of correct answers (and usually one that's more correct than the others), using web apps isn't so clear-cut as programming. I don't think we can look to Stack Overflow for inspiration, but rather Super User. (I've actually wondered why the seemingly artificial boundary between SU and Web Apps, but it is what it is.) How does Super User police their CW questions and does it work?

  • I think it would best for @ChrisF to chime in with this. I have not been in SU frequently. I spend alot of time on SO so my examples came from there. I am not so sure the above case holds though. Example How to convert PPT/PPTX files to PDF? vs List of webapps to convert ppt to a PDF format with the best fidelity available? basically says the same thing. Under this case the user can easily rephrase the question to guise the effect of List of X. – phwd Sep 28 '10 at 14:22
  • Not necessarily. In the first case I would expect that the asker would accept the first answer that meets their needs. Further answers are just other options. In the second case the goal is to build a list. – ale Sep 28 '10 at 14:26
  • Yes very true but say you were to look at the answers side by side, the only thing that differs between them is an accepted answer no ? Say lipis just gave the answer as "PDF Converter does exactly what you're looking for" would that be an acceptable valuable answer to the user,first and to other users in the community later on ? In this case he did not but other users have this format of short no-info answers that are voted based on popularity and not value. I will try to read up some suggestions in SU meta though. – phwd Sep 28 '10 at 15:03

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