Why was this answer made into a wiki? Should a moderator remove its community wiki status?
Should a moderator remove its community wiki status?
No. I would consider this a violation of the author's prerogative. They have the choice to make their answer CW, which affects only their answer; overriding that under normal circumstances would be akin to forcing them to accept an edit - putting their name and image on words they explicitly rejected.
A bit of background: Community Wiki has a long and troubled history on these sites, primarily because of its use in the now long-distant past on questions as a means of allowing otherwise-unsuitable discussions, polls and the like. For a very long time, the system actually forced CW onto posts that attracted either a large number of answers or a large number of edits... But we put that behavior to rest nearly 3 years ago now, leaving the use of CW at the discretion of answer authors in the common case, and moderators for extremely uncommon cases:
An author can still apply the status manually when posting or when editing their own answer, and moderators retain the ability to apply it when they deem it truly necessary (for instance, a question attracting very large numbers of partial answers can be a sign of a topic that wants to be a wiki). For the most part, we’ve turned it back into something that you can choose to use in cases where it lets you work together to create something wonderful: [...]
Much longer background: chimerical moral rights
These sites are a delicate balance between multiple systems and philosophies. The original documentation explained them with this diagram:
Naturally, this results in a fair bit of conflict between how folks expect things to work and how they actually work - on all sides of the equation. A member used to a traditional online forum might expect to post questions or replies and never update them; a blogger might expect to update their own posts but never see another editor messing with them; a wikian might expect to readily edit anything.
Achieving a harmonious balance of expectations here is critical to the long-term viability of a community.
When the goal of a site is to serve as a repository of information for future readers, a sense of community ownership is needed - we cannot forever hold an individual author responsible for updating or even disseminating information. At the same time, individual ownership provides a great deal of motivation: both the reputation score and the simple ability to point to a profile filled with useful, informative posts are extremely satisfying to many who participate here. So we cannot entirely overlook one in favor of another without either alienating other members of the site or hurting its usefulness.
And in the place where this system sits - in between extremes - there lives an often-overlooked set of concerns, something often referred to in legal areas as "moral rights". As is often the case with concepts that've been codified in law, finding a clear, succinct explanation for these can be difficult; I like this one, which I found on the website of the Australian law firm Epiphany Law in the article, "What Are Moral Rights?"
In contrast, the moral rights recognise the connection between a creator and his or her work. They are concerned with whether the creator has been properly linked with the work and whether the work has been treated with dignity (or at least not in a derogatory way).
Consider for a moment what these sites do with the material that we all write on them: they combine it with the work of others, allow others to modify it, and allow others to take and build upon it. Your beautiful question may be sullied at any time by an answer you find offensive, or advertised on another site dedicated to a topic you find reprehensible; your carefully-crafted answer may be shown next to a sloppy and incorrect one, quoted by someone who misinterprets it. They're still "your" posts, but you've ceded control over how they are used, and this opens you up to situations in which you may find yourself very unhappy with the uses they are put to.
This is a dilemma that we've struggled with for the entire 9+ year history of the network, and the often-subtle underpinning of a great many odd features and unusual rules. To name a few:
By default, authors can delete their posts for any reason... But if the post has proven itself useful in some way, or been build on by the work of others, deletion may be prevented or reversed.
By default, authors have the final say in what appears in their posts... But if a given edit is deemed necessary to preserve or greatly increase its usefulness, they may be overruled.
Authors can delete their account at any time... But we may retain any posts associated with it that have been deemed useful to others.
Authors can request that their name be removed from a post at any time. This is actually codified in Section 4(a) of the license to which all participants must agree to post under, though exactly how we implement it can vary.
But among all the features in this system, Community Wiki is by far the strangest and least well-understood.
Hunt the CWumpus
The actual function hasn't changed in years - a post marked as CW differs from a normal post in that they...
- ...do not contribute to the reputation score of its original author or any subsequent authors.
- ...do not contribute toward certain badges, including tag badges.
- ...can be edited without peer review by any member of the site who has earned the edit community wiki privilege.
- ...are attributed on the question page only to the original author by name, and only as long as that author has contributed a majority of the text in the post. If a subsequent editor achieves a large majority of authorship, their name will be displayed; if no large majority can be attributed to a single author, no name is displayed by default; rather, a link to the revision history containing each author's contribution is displayed.
- ...never display an author's profile image or other profile statistics on the question page.
The goal of this feature is clearly to bump a given post a little bit further away from the "forum" side of that euler diagram and a little bit closer to the "wiki" side. But what that actually means goes much further than just making it a bit easier for others to edit: there's a very clear de-emphasis of author-ownership, both in how the post is displayed and in how the system treats it. This is made explicit when an author elects to make a post CW:
A few things to note there:
- You're giving up explicit ownership. Behind the scenes, your account still "owns" the post (it appears in your profile, you get more weight when approving or rejecting suggested edits, you get notified of comments, you can still delete it). But you don't get ultimate credit for it, either in terms of how it is displayed on the page, or in terms of how the system rewards you for it.
- You can't "take it back". Once you've handed over ownership to the community, it's theirs - the status sticks to the post no matter how many subsequent edits you make... Or how few subsequent edits anyone else makes.
Community Wiki got a bum rap for years, mostly because it was forced onto posts by the system or other users. We had good intentions there, but... It was a bad idea and we no longer do that. What remains is actually pretty cool, if you look at it from the perspective of what it enables: authors can symbolically give up ownership of a post at any time.
Note that this clearly isn't a legal action; that pop-up dialog is less than a page long. You retain the copyright to anything you write here. But it does align itself with some of those moral rights we discussed earlier: you get to say - in a public way, totally under your control - that you no longer want sole credit for a given post.
For all of the controversy that has plagued CW over the years, that particular usage has remained remarkably consistent: as far back as I can remember, folks have reached for CW when they didn't feel like taking credit for an answer. Now, sometimes this has seemed a little bit dirty, even manipulative: marking a post CW to avoid getting dinged by downvotes, or to keep your reputation at an even 10K for example. But it's also been used to acknowledge the contributions of others to a FAQ or omnibus answer - even if no one else ever edits, by de-emphasizing the author more focus is put on the words - and attributions - in the post itself.
And on the topic of...
One of the most often-cited criticisms of authors using Community Wiki on answers is that they might do so to shield themselves from the penalty imposed by downvotes. This is almost never valid; in nearly any situation where it would matter, the author is allowed to delete the post at any time, which also immediately refunds any reputation lost to downvotes. In fact, CW makes downvotes on answers free to the voter as well, which can mean a bad answer is more readily downvoted. Moderators and trusted users are not hindered from deleting CW answers, so nothing in the status hinders moderation and may in fact encourage it.
The more subtle concern I think is...
Peer pressure breaking windows
A long, long time ago, when Stack Overflow was young and the rocks were still all red and soft, a few of us got it into our heads that it'd be a great idea to pressure other people into making their posts CW in cases where they were clearly undeserving of reputation.
...we didn't have very good luck with this and eventually gave up. But, the fact remains, we did try. And maybe others would try again, somewhere else where the proverbial rocks are still soft and runny. So, the specter looms whenever CW is brought up.
I sympathize with this. But, ultimately it is harassment that is the problem here, not CW. If, for example, it becomes commonplace for authors to use CW on posts that are mostly quotes, then what harm is there in that if they do so by choice? Either the answers are problematic in the same way that they would be without CW, or they are not problematic; only if the authors are harassed when they do not use CW is there a problem, just as there is a problem when authors are harassed for any other reason.
If an author chooses to use Community Wiki, that's their business - the system has informed them of the consequences and they've made their decision. If you encounter one of those rare situations that demands a wiki answer, especially one where only a wiki answer is appropriate for a given question... Then raise a discussion and get the moderators involved. If you observe harassment, flag it. If you see a bad answer, downvote it; a good one, upvote it. And if you don't see a problem... Don't make one. Each day has sufficient problems as it is.
Community wiki policy https://literature.stackexchange.com/help/privileges/community-wiki
When should I make my answers Community Wiki?
When you want to enhance the "wiki" aspect of your post, so that it can be a continually evolving source of good information through repeated editing.
When you feel your post would benefit from less concern about voting affecting the reputation of those participating in it.
This answer appears to fall under both category 1, and 2, a user is linking another users answer, hence being a combined effort, and the user is also not trying to benefit from the situation which seems to fall under category 2.
Also mods should not be simply be un-converting wiki's
Moderators can also choose to convert posts into community wiki mode if they feel it is appropriate for the question or answer, generally after a discussion with the community and affected individuals. Once a post is made community wiki, that mode can only be removed by a moderator under exceptional circumstances.
This case is hardly "exceptional circumstances".
If it were not for the Community Wiki option I would simply not have bothered posting. The question had been asked and answered 5 years ago with a very good answer elsewhere that was not mine. I have no desire to pretend like I wrote TimK's answer, good or bad, nor do I have any desire to justify it's contents.
I posted my answer on the good-faith assumption that the poster honestly wanted to know the answer and just didn't know there was already one written. I was not attempting to write a "great answer", because IMO there already was one. I was attempting to point the OP at it with enough information that he could decide if it warranted following the link.
Apparently the answer under scrutiny was made CW because it drew on an answer from another Stack site, and the answerer wanted to share it without being associated with it for good or for ill.
But community wiki isn't a tool for reputation denial (or for dodging the repercussions of questionable-quality answers) and practically speaking I see no difference between quoting a different Stack and quoting a blog or a book. We'd never expect someone to eschew rep for quoting a blog or a book. The answerer went to the trouble of tracking down the information and sharing it; why shouldn't rep gains should reflect that?
The moderation team is under no obligation to revert the CW in this case, nor are they obligated to leave it be, but I'd lean toward reverting it myself, for reasons which follow.
"Community wiki is like a cheese knife: it is a specialized tool to be used sparingly."
The intent of community wiki in answers is to help share the burden of solving a question. An incomplete "seed" answer is a stepping stone to a complete solution with help from others[...] Community wiki is for that rare gem of a post that needs true community collaboration.
- "The Future of Community Wiki"
Community wiki used to be massively overused. Changes to the editing system rendered its original purpose largely moot, and there's now a lot of confusion about CW's role in the Stack mechanics. These days there are three basic reasons to use CW:
- Compiling a canonical reference
- Consolidating the knowledge of the community
- Encouraging the ongoing, active maintenance of a changing answer.
Community wiki is for a special scenario, something built not by the expertise of one individual, then improved or iterated on by a few others, but rather something created by the concerted efforts of the community as a whole.
- "Putting the Community back in Wiki"
I don't see this particular answer needing CW to make it "easier to edit and maintain by a wider group of users," so I don't see any reason for it to be a community wiki. Community wiki is a tool with a specific set of uses, and CW rollbacks are left to mod discretion. One of the responsibilities of our moderators is to help the community use the right tools for the job at hand.
As for the answer itself--it's not very good by lit.se standards, because it was written for a different site with different priorities. And the question itself is under a tag whose implementation is still being debated, so quality there is... in flux, I suppose we could say. I think this is a good example of why we should treat quotes from other Stacks the same as we would any other source: citing a source is great, but it can't stand on its own. We need to bring in our own expertise and tailor the answer to meet the expectations of our own Stack.
I don't think it's appropriate to use community wikis unless the idea is for the answer to be easily editable. As Cahir Mawr Dyffryn æp Ceallach points out, community wikis are not a "I don't want reputation" feature.
Members of this site post answers that cite a single webpage as a source all the time. As far as I can tell, community wikis have not been used in any of these instances. There shouldn't be anything different about citing a Stack Exchange webpage as opposed to a regular webpage.
Remember: different Stack Exchange sites have different standards for answers. If someone asks a question on this Stack Exchange site, that means that they want our answers, not answers from another site. By all means, cite and quote other Stack Exchange sites like you would cite and quote any other source. But don't just cross-post content just for the sake of cross posting it.
If you feel uncomfortable posting an answer because it just cites one source, then maybe don't post the answer at all. If the question is easily googleable and shows no research effort, you can always downvote it.