What is the rationale behind making the question a community wiki with list questions? Why should this question require editing by new users?

And why should the answers be community wikis? I might expect all answers to be edited into one big answer as a list, but that doesn't appear to be common practice. Do other people really edit your answer to a list question?

What's behind this community-wiki thing? Does it make sense? I've never seen a community-wiki question on this website that seemed to profit from it, but perhaps I've missed or forgotten one.

3 Answers 3


The reason people do it is so that the posters won't get rep from it. Making questions that are very open, funny, philosophical, etc, and that have more than one answer (potentially hundreds of answers) was a very easy way to get high rep on the original Stack Overflow. So at some point someone decided to make them community wiki, so that the posters would not get any rep, and thus remove incentives for posting questions that are not really questions.

In the early days of SO the community was pretty spammed with irrelevant questions like "what's your favourite programming cartoon?" that got hundreds of upvotes so I can see why it was done.

I'm not necessarily saying that I support things being this way.


Apart from what reported from @victoriah, the other reason I can see for making a question asking for a list a CW is that every answer would be equally valid (except in the case the user didn't understand which items were required); in such case, giving 15 points to the accepted answer doesn't make sense.
Community Wikis, then, don't influence the accept rate, which means there is no need to accept an answer for a CW question; it makes perfectly sense for a question where every answer is equally valid.


This is required because if it was not, new answers would not be community wiki.

In other words, new answers inherit the state of the question.

Once you reach 30 "answers" the matter is forced (15 on Super User and Programmers).

  • We were unsure whether we should close an interesting but subjective/list question or make it community wiki because it seemed that CWs might be deprecated. It sounds like CWs are OK in some cases though.
    – z7sg Ѫ
    Jun 5, 2011 at 12:13
  • 2
    @z7sg CW is not great in any case, it means the question is on the edge of being acceptable Jun 5, 2011 at 13:44
  • I think this information is outdated.
    – NVZ Mod
    Jul 10, 2017 at 11:25

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