I don't understand the wisdom of removing the CW button from the control of an author of a question, and having always to pester the moderators to turn it on. Might it be possible to return this control to those who pass some threshold of rep?

Edit: It might help to have an example and some context. The question arose from the comments under this question: Calculus Teaching: Is it possible or desirable to give a severely abbreviated treatment of series convergence tests?. This is a textbook case where a user (Frank Thorne) clearly perceived from the get-go that the question should be CW, but had to wait for moderators to make it so.

My own opinion is that this decision could be left in the hands of the author, where it is rendered instantly. I think our experience with MO 1.0 shows that we have nothing to fear here (the situation may be different for other Stack Exchange sites). (If anyone wants to argue the potential of abusing CW here, I would ask, rhetorically, whether the overall quality of questions on MO has improved in any way since the new policy. (-: )

  • $\begingroup$ I think StackExchange wants to keep the focus on questions with a right answer. Maybe this has caused a problem on other StackExchange sites, but I feel like the history of MathOverflow has shown that this is not a problem for us. $\endgroup$ – Jason Polak Jul 12 '13 at 15:27
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    $\begingroup$ @JasonPolak: "but I feel like the history of MathOverflow has shown that this is not a problem for us" I think some would vehemently disagree. Actually, I think a lot of the debates we had over the years would not have been needed if it were not for the existence of CW. (I do not elaborate, as this is not the subject here.) $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jul 12 '13 at 16:00
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    $\begingroup$ An additional detail: I think frequent users asking something in CW is sufficiently rare relative to the general CW-able material that it does not even change that much regarding volumr of requests. (If an OP does not ask right away in CW, to ask them to turn it CW is most of the time not enough, since the answeres are not CWed without moderator intervention. And again many either do not know or care about this and ask OP to turn the question CW while at the same time answering in non-CW. Just that I do not have to see this again would be enough to be happy about it having changed.) $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jul 12 '13 at 16:18
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    $\begingroup$ @quid: I don't think it was the existence of CW per se that caused problems in the past, but rather the quality of the questions. I believe in any case that questions which solicit opinions or do not otherwise admit definitive answers ought to be CW, and that many on the old system had the good sense to know when that applied. What I really want is for users to be treated as adults, and not have to go running to momma and poppa (i.e., the moderators) to get permission to do something they know is right. The issue of rep is rather secondary in my view. $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Mod Jul 12 '13 at 18:40
  • $\begingroup$ @ToddTrimble In that case, ee if you can get more moderators. It seems like you've been running on a system where the community handles itself. That's great, but the mods need to be able to pitch in. Just flagging it should work $\endgroup$ – Manishearth Jul 12 '13 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ @ToddTrimble: the issue is well explained in the blogpost I link to. CW creates a vague area for weak questions that however for some "do not really count" and thus are still tolerated. Had there been no CW mode I doubt some questions would have happened (or stayed open). $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jul 12 '13 at 21:21
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    $\begingroup$ quid, that's really neither here nor there because there are no plans to get rid of CW. The whole issue is over who gets to decide CW. $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Mod Jul 12 '13 at 21:24
  • $\begingroup$ I intended this as a reply to your "I don't think it was the existence of CW per se that caused problems in the past, but rather the quality of the questions." So I gave an argument why the existence of CW and the existence of a certain type of questions is not unrelated. Of course, if noone asked these question to begin with there would be no problem. But the existence of CW makes it worse. But I agree this is tangential, also I did not start this debate. Actually I wanted to avoid it explicitly. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jul 12 '13 at 21:51
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for explaining, quid. Glad we agree it's tangential! $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Mod Jul 12 '13 at 21:58
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    $\begingroup$ @Manishearth : I'm fine with moderators pitching in; the thing I don't like is that it is only moderators who can have the finger on the CW button. This seems to me, in a practical sense, an unnecessary degree of control (and I don't like any time delay between non-CW converting to CW; it should be something that can be rendered instantly, IMO). $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Mod Jul 13 '13 at 16:20
  • $\begingroup$ As far as I can tell, questions can be made CW only by mods (on SE sites) since 2010, see this answer: What can we do to make Community Wiki better? (Also other posts linked to this question might be useful.) Although the blog post that was linked in quid's answer has probably more detailed explanation of the rationale behind this: The Future of Community Wiki. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Aug 20 '18 at 8:24

I don't have time for a long answer, but I agree with Todd and disagree with Quid. The situation is not better now. Regarding quid's comments under Todd's question, it seems like the big arguments from the old days were about big list questions, and those have (thankfully) slowed down of late. But even excluding those questions, there are many good questions should be CW for good reasons, e.g. textbook recommendations, advice questions, etc. There should be an option for the person asking the question to make it CW...that's just common sense. We can't make the moderators do work every time such a question pops up.

  • $\begingroup$ "We can't make the moderators do work every time such a question pops up." How many questions were there that are right away correctly asked in CW? (If it is not asked right away in CW in most cases they need to do the exact same work anyway to make the existing answers CW.) Maybe let us wait for a moderator to say if they see a problem with the workload coming from this, if this is the only argument in favor of the change. (I only know that I flagged some about 50, I think, over time that were not made CW while it would have been possible, or turned CW "half-way".) $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jul 12 '13 at 20:43

I think both Todd and Quid make valid points. I think that much of the CW issue is less relevant than before. There are fewer big list questions where CW is needed to sort answers.

Also many people used to try to enforce CW on soft questions to avoid people getting 3000 rep without answering many questions. The fear was it would make it easier for soft questions to be reopened. Now with questions only +5 it is hard to reach 3000 without answering questions.


Added 2: This is in repsonse to the edit of OP.

First, the decision was never really "in the hands of the author." It was "in the hands" of various entities, including the author (with some exceptions, but let us ignore this). Other entities, in whose hands this decision was, where a) the moderatots b) the system (by which I mean auto-CWing one edits or number of answers).

And this was not at all only theoretical. There were cases of questions that were made CW by moderators against the explicitly expressed wish of the author (to be clear I fully support these decisions).

For b) this also happened, at least upon edits (I think for the answer threshold it was mostly done before manually), mostly by accident, in an irreversible ways. (This persists but now can be reversed, which one also can see as improvement, although to be fair one could keep this improvement and still go back to the old way regarding other aspects.)

Now, depending on how you read the above you might think this is nit-picking, however, what this also shows is that in my opinion and this is the point I want to make here:

The decisions if a specific question is to be CW or not was all the time much more a matter of following guidelines [edit: replaced a word] regarding the type of questions that should be CW than an actual decision of the author. Some authors that knew about the guidelines merely did it right away.

Second, regarding the "nothing to fear." Well, I am not so easy to scare, at least not by questions on MO, so no we have nothing to fear. But then since also the comparison to other sites is made where this might be an issue but here on MO it is not. I really recommend the blog-post I link below. The type of problems (if one sees them as problems, as some though not all do) on other sites described there are precisely analogous to what we have on MO, too. (As a general aside, while I agree MO is in some ways special, I think we should also avoid to overdo pointing this out, because then in various ways it seems to me the problems are in fact quite similar, and the situations are not that different.)

Third, for the specific qustions mentioned as example. It is even not so clear in my opinion that this must be CW for intrinsic reasons, and a slight modification (sharpening/improving the questions slightly) could make it in my opinion easily a non-CW question. (Again, I refer to the blog-post.)

This example to me seems precisely like one where CW is "abused" (this is not directed against the author, it is a common use here after all). My reading of CW-ing here is, [added: this is as indicated by the 'my reading' my personal interpretation, and could be wrong, but there were examples where things like what I say below were made explicty by an author or by others in discussion] that the author was well aware there could be opposition to such a question (whether this is good or not is not the question), and it has three votes to close at the time of writing, yet via entering the CW grey-area thought to avoid some of it, and sufficiently much of it that the question "survives." This is precisely how CW should not be used (that it was done a lot in the past does no change this).

Added: since apparently there is a considerable interest in my arguments (with 5 upvotes on the comment demanding them while half-way they are in comments already) here is one reason why I prefer the new systme over the old one and also the proposed one (somewhat redundant with comments):

A main point why I prefer the new system is that it should minimize certain small debates in comments that I do not find very productive.

The question of whether a question is CW or not is ultimately pretty much to the irrelevant end, in my opinion. In particular, this is not a very urgent matter. I agree some questions rather should be CW, but if they are not for a while early on it also does not change much.

But, for some reason some people seem to have relatively strong feelings about this (to avoid confusion, I do not mean Todd Trimble). Also, some, and sometimes the same approach this CW matter in ways I find strange. Berating users where it is really reasonable they did not know about it, or even worse could not even make it CW by themselves, some even voting to close over such things, which is one of the more inapproriate reasons for a vote to close in my opinion. Leaving comments like: "this is a community wiki question, voting to close until it is so labeled" (the until is an additional strange detail, but anyway).

Or, and this annoys me really a lot out of principle: ask OP to make it CW and at the same time answer the question in non-CW.

It is a mystery to me how one can justify to do this. It is particularly annoying (but some seem unaware of this aspect) since then even if OP reacts in a timely manner moderator intervention is needed as the answers stay nonCW and CW is mainly so that the answers are in CW so a quite absurd situation arises. But even if I would not know this I cannot understand how one can ask for it to be CW and not oneself set the accompanying example.

So, in my opinion, each such event reflects negatively on the site. With the new system this is a lot more unlikely to happen in this form. This is an improvement.

The main reason for it is AFAIK is to discourage the type of questions that got asked in CW. See this blog post http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/08/the-future-of-community-wiki/

There were debates surrounding this, so it is somewhat unlikely this will be changed (in the sense that others raised the same point with similar arguments we might make).

To your specific suggestion, I would be against introducing a rep limit, since this will only create confusion. (More generally, I consider the current situation as better than before, but having a (significant) rep limit would be worse than both; I do not give the argument for this general point as it might take the debate off-track.)

There was a minimal rep limit for CW on the old MO (I think 10; the reason for this were posts made in error in CW by first time users).

Already this caused confusion, as I think many did not know this, and some complained at first time posters for not having made their post CW, which in addition to it not being very reasonable in any case, in my opinion; always felt particularly odd if one knew that they did not have the choice.

If there was now a different rep-limit this situation would come back and much worse, as for first time users even not knowing this one detail at least most would think, okay this is a first time user they might not have known, with a different limit this would not be so clear.

So, I am against a (significant) rep limit for making a post in CW. (For current situation or old one I would not care so much, but non-minimal rep limit is worse than both as said.)

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    $\begingroup$ It's hard to evaluate your answer when you intentionally withhold arguments (for fear of taking the "debate off-track" -- what debate?). I also think you might be exaggerating the chaos that would ensue, and also perhaps whatever confusion did ensue under the old system. (It certainly escaped my attention.) $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Mod Jul 12 '13 at 18:30
  • $\begingroup$ I did not give the arguments why I prefer the current situation over the old one, as this seemed irrelevant as you suggested something still different. (Replace debate by thread; I did not want to start a debate about rep in general mixed in with what should or not be genarally on MO.) Also, I answered some of you side question, why this was done for example. But since we are evaluating: your request is not quite precise, which reputation limit do you propose, roughly only order of magnitude 10, 100, 1000, 10000? might make a difference to evaluate your request ;) $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jul 12 '13 at 20:53
  • $\begingroup$ Did you pay attention to the fact whether an OP of a question that was asked (sometimes in a rude form) why it is not CW had had the rep to make it CW right away? If you did not pay attention to this, of course you did not notice it happening. And some of the CWing-debates in comments were quite pointless. In addition to the clean way always would have been anyway just to flag as often there were answers already. I rememeber several question with more than one comment on CWing it (with unresponsive OP simply not online) but seemingly noone had idea to flag over hours (I did then typically). $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jul 12 '13 at 21:01
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    $\begingroup$ I didn't propose any rep. As I said in another comment, the issue of rep is not a primary concern with me, but I know it is with some people. If pressed, I would propose the old 10 as fine by me, but some people who would seemingly prefer to place power in the hands of moderators might prefer 10000 (where moderator tools kick in). $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Mod Jul 12 '13 at 21:04
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    $\begingroup$ your last comment is giving me an impression of being argumentative. If so, I wish you would calm down. $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Mod Jul 12 '13 at 21:06
  • $\begingroup$ Now this is much cleaner, if it should be CW it must be flagged. And that's simple and clear. No need for comments regarding it except perhaps to signal that somebody flagged already. I mean some people even voted to close if the question was not inline with there expectation regarding CW. I always felt this was very inappropriate. Now this likely will die out. Except if we restart it with the added issue that more might get a completely unjustified vote to close as not all will pay attention to threshold. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jul 12 '13 at 21:07
  • $\begingroup$ The last comment was written befor seeing yours. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jul 12 '13 at 21:08
  • $\begingroup$ It is not argumentative. It is a simple question: did you pay attention to it? And, if not how should you have notice the confusion I claimed existed but you did not notice? $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jul 12 '13 at 21:09
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    $\begingroup$ I might not have paid it much attention, quid, if I was not the one calling for CW. But I wonder if others feel, as you do, that the situation was calamitous? $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Mod Jul 12 '13 at 21:14
  • $\begingroup$ Regarding the rep: I thought the mention of rep reffered to something else. I would say to attach a rough rep-value to the threshold you want for being allowed to ask in CW could still make sense. It might make a difference for some. For instance, while I do not consider the workload argument (not yours) as very convincing as it is rather rare, I would say one really should agree it is not a relevant argument if it only were to apply for 10k, because how often would this even be relevant then. Once or twice a month I would guess. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jul 12 '13 at 21:28
  • $\begingroup$ Regarding calamitou: I think you too complained on at least one occasion because somebody voted to close something as they thought it should be CW but was not. (I might have a hard time finding this and perhaps it was somebody else. But I think it was you.) And, again, many people simply did not know that one also needed to pay attention regarding answers. So of course they did not notice if this was not in-line, and thus did not see the problem. (It is not a huge problem, but only to get the point across why I consider it as a progress that no it must be flagged, as opp. to having a mix.) $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jul 12 '13 at 21:34
  • $\begingroup$ quid, you wear me out; I am being told now to avoid extended discussions, and I really don't have voluminous amounts of time to respond to each and every point you make (and many of which I take issue with). I will say however that I find your remarks on the specific question I linked to unwarrantedly speculative. If you would like to continue the discussion offline, presumably you would know how to contact me. But, basta. $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Mod Jul 13 '13 at 15:27
  • $\begingroup$ Okay, let us leave it. But, first you complain I do not give enough arguments, then you complain I give too many. (As a general aside: that you are told to avoid extended discussion is a sort of irrelevant notice by the software in particular for meta, mainly there to point to the existence of the chat-functionality. So we could also discuss this is chat. Yet, since you do not have much time, actually, neither have I. But, again, you complained I do not expain my point in full, so I felt somewhat obliged to explain more. I warned from the start on a lengthy debate would follow :-) $\endgroup$ – user9072 Jul 13 '13 at 15:37
  • $\begingroup$ Your first edit was fine, quid. The second one I take some exception to. Part of it could be a language thing, but instead of "policy" (I don't think there are hard and fast policies which dictate when CW is to be applied), I would say there are general rules of thumb, and applications of such can be determined by authors. The whole bit about "hands" was also completely unnecessary, since I'm obviously not talking about removing control from moderators. $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Mod Jul 13 '13 at 15:56
  • $\begingroup$ One more thing I should mention: yes, I did read (yesterday) the blog post you keep referring to. $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Mod Jul 13 '13 at 16:12

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