This answer was posted a few days ago. The OP decided to make it into a Community Wiki answer because they wanted to "disown" it because they felt that their answer...

"isn't worth the votes".

Since this isn't what the Community Wiki button is for (CW should only be used where there is an expectation of considerable community input) I flagged it for a moderator to un-Community Wiki it. My flag was refused

flags should only be used to make moderators aware of content that requires their intervention

  • Why was this flag refused?

  • Bonus question. Does this mean I can now use the Community Wiki to avoid upvotes and downvotes on poor quality answers?

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    Whilst I disagree that, that particular answer should be CW (and I believe others do too from a discussion in TREU) I have a feeling it was declined because "it's their answer to do with as they please". Either that or it's an awkward process (I don't know) to do and not worth the effort. – TheLethalCarrot Aug 20 '18 at 8:49
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    I didn't decline your flag, but I had to decline a similar flag from another user because, although I personally agree with you in principle, apparently Stack Exchange doesn't (link is to another site's meta, but an answer from a CM which appears to be network policy). – Rand al'Thor Aug 20 '18 at 9:19
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    @TheLethalCarrot given people's worries in TREU about "answers in comments are a way of gaming reputation as you can't be downvoted" so is a Community wiki answer. You can't post dubious answers of dubious quality and not be downvoted for it. That's dangerous. – Edlothiad Aug 20 '18 at 9:19
  • @Randal'Thor TL;DR: What's the short version? – TheLethalCarrot Aug 20 '18 at 9:20
  • @Edlothiad FWIW, I had the feeling, from his messages in TREU, that SQB was more worried about upvotes that downvotes in that case (related chat transcript, by the way; it should be linked on this Meta page). Also, we have to define "dubious quality": while I'm not a big fan of the we don't know answers, they're still relevant ones when they're argued and not sloppily written because 'duh, man'. Would you have another example/definition to provide wrt "dubious quality"? :) – Jenayah Aug 20 '18 at 9:36
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    @Jenayah - the answer in question seem very sloppy to me. If it had been someone other than SQB I'd probably just have downvoted and dropped it into the delete queue – Valorum Aug 20 '18 at 11:01
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    Uninteresting for sure (as I said, not a big fan of the we don't know ones, no offence SQB). On the other hand and FWIW, I feel this "dv and VTD if it wasn't for SQB" argument is wrong, both because 1/ it does provide an answer (albeit a dull one) 2/ what's that thing about SQB or anyone else? To quote Shog, Focus on the content. Not the users. DV poor content, up-vote good content, flag abusive content... Of course, one's free to vote as they wish and won't get burned for it (I think?), but still, if you do think it was that bad, that feels wrong. – Jenayah Aug 20 '18 at 11:25
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    @Jenayah - I think the status of the user is relevant in this case. This isn't an infrequent or new user who's pressed the wrong button, it's a frequent poster who's executing a deliberate strategy to use the Community Wiki to evade up and downvotes. Will we now, for example, start to see these CW "we don't know" popping up all over the place? – Valorum Aug 20 '18 at 11:33
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    @Jenayah why wait until we're riddled with ants instead of cleaning up the food now? Do we need to have a problem to fix a problem or can we prevent it before it happens? – Edlothiad Aug 20 '18 at 13:15
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    @Jenayah - I don't see that his opinion is particularly relevant, beyond that of any other user. We know why he did it, the question is "was that an appropriate thing to do?". – Valorum Aug 20 '18 at 13:27
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    What I meant is that, maybe (or maybe not, time will tell!) SQB willing to post a full-fletched answer which could expose the arguments he thinks are in favor of it being "an appropriate thing to do" (whether that be from him or anyone else). Once again, FWIW I don't think it was, but all parties should be heard! And an actual answer would be more relevant to the story than the couple of chat messages we're basing ourselves on at the moment, that's all :) – Jenayah Aug 20 '18 at 13:47
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    @Edlothiad Often it's a waste of time to worry about problems that don't exist yet. Maybe they never will exist. Effort is usually much better spent on addressing existing problems than trying to address things that may or may not become problems. – Rand al'Thor Aug 20 '18 at 23:02
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    @Randal'Thor it’s a waste of time to fix a problem when we’re anyways discussing it? Surely that’s the best time to fix the problem, instead of spending time discussing it, doing nothing, then having to re-do all the work to then “fix” it then..? – Edlothiad Aug 21 '18 at 4:44
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    @Edlothiad - It may not be worth upvoting or downvoting as punishment or reqard - but, it's still worth upvoting or downvoting as a useful (or poor) answer, for the sake of users coming to the question. (In principle, at least; as a quotidian answer to an odd question, as Jenayah notes, no one may care enough to vote either way). I'd like to think that punishment/reward is a secondary consideration, and indicating an answer is good or bad is primary; that's how I try to behave, at least. – RDFozz Aug 24 '18 at 15:50
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    @RDFozz my general logic is “if it’s below 0, it’s marked as a poor answer” there’s not much difference to a -3 CW answer and a -50. However, a user, instinctively, reacts when a bunch of red pops up removing their rep. (Bare in mind when I wrote those comments I was under the presumption downvoting a CW answer would still cost me 1 rep.) – Edlothiad Aug 24 '18 at 15:54

We don't un-wiki posts unless there's a very compelling reason to, and CW'ing to avoid gaining rep certainly doesn't fall into that category. Using CW to avoid rep loss on a post expected to net negative rep is really the only questionable use for it, and given current guidance (below) even that would not be reason to un-wiki the post(s). If someone developed a habit of doing so, they may well get a "consistently low-quality answers" mod message though.

Shog9 gave a thorough discussion of CW and un-wiki-ing on another meta, as linked to in the comments:


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.


Does this mean I can now use the Community Wiki to avoid upvotes and downvotes on poor quality answers?


CW does two things:

  • Prevents you from gaining or losing rep.
  • Lowers the rep requirement for editing.

Neither of those two things has anything whatsoever to do with how voting behaves. CW answers can rise and fall like any other, get grayed out after being heavily downvoted, and can be deleted by the community where necessary. They are not "special" and do not get any protection from the site's core functionality.

If an answer is low-effort, downvote it. If it is CW, downvote it anyway. CW is not an excuse for posting bad answers.

Maybe you meant this:

Does this mean I can now use the Community Wiki to avoid losing rep on poor quality answers?

Yes, technically, but you should not be writing poor quality answers in the first place. Poor quality answers should still be downvoted and delete-voted regardless of CW. The problem in this case is not "A high-rep user used CW wrong." The problem is "A high-rep user wrote a low-effort answer." The solution to that problem is the downvote button (and in some cases, the delete button). If you notice a pattern of low-effort answers from the same user, either take it to meta or flag it for moderator attention.

As the CMs often like to point out, a lot of energy is expended arguing over the merits of answers to poor questions. That may be the case here. This answer basically says "The question doesn't have an answer because it is too speculative." That sounds a lot more like a close reason than an answer to me. And when we scroll up, the question is closed as Primarily Opinion Based (it also has 4 reopen votes, so who knows what will happen next). If a question does not have an answer, carefully think about whether it is closeable. Not all questions with no answers should be closed, but many of them can and should be. If you're confident that this question should not be closed, then your there's-no-answer answer does not need to be CW because it's a perfectly good answer (and, ideally, it cites specific sources where an answer could have been found but wasn't).

We should also note that downvotes are -2 a pop. It takes hundreds of downvotes or more to make a small dent in the average high-rep user's total. An answer can receive five times as many downvotes as upvotes, and still have no overall effect on the author's rep. Answers need to be overwhelmingly downvoted before they start losing you rep in large enough quantities to matter. Case in point: the linked answer has, at the time of writing, +1/-2 votes for a net rep gain of +4 (if it were not CW, that is). Even without that upvote and with an extra downvote, it would only impose a penalty of -6 rep. What difference would that make?

Does this mean I can now use the Community Wiki to avoid gaining rep on poor quality answers?

Yes, but you probably wouldn't be gaining all that much rep from a poor quality answer without said answer being CW in the first place (see next part), so it's a bit of a moot point.

If you would have gotten a lot of upvotes even without checking the CW box, then maybe it isn't all that bad of an answer.

Does this mean I can now use the Community Wiki to encourage upvoting or discourage downvoting on poor quality answers?

In theory, no. In practice, maybe.

As I said above, people should vote the same on CW answers as they do on regular answers. "The author won't get rep for this" is a terrible reason to upvote anything. It has nothing to do with the quality of the content, and so it will not cause good content to rise to the top (which is the whole point of voting in the first place).

However, people have an annoying tendency to vote more leniently on CW answers than on non-CW answers. This causes them to clutter up good questions and make them look like they have been addressed when in reality they still need a real answer. My preferred solution to this problem is to actually write a real answer (or ask someone else to do so), and let it outscore the CW answer. But this is often impractical for a variety of reasons.

I don't have any good solutions here, aside from consciously and deliberately changing our voting culture to stop favoring CWs. In the short run, people with deletion votes should consider using them where appropriate, and the rest of us can make do with flags (again, where appropriate). All of us could downvote these a bit more heavily.

Does this mean I can now use the Community Wiki to avoid rep notifications on poor quality answers?

I suppose, but you do still get comment notifications, and downvoters can and should leave comments explaining their downvotes. Rep notifications are not a particularly effective way of communicating with authors, so this is a Good Idea for any kind of answer, not just CWs.

(Anyway, there's always the nuclear option of contacting Stack Exhange and telling them to dissociate your name from an answer... that will stop you from getting any notifications and disown the post in a far more thorough way than CW does. No amount of arguing on meta will take this loophole away, it's baked into section 4(a) of the copyright license.)

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    I’m not sure how this answer is really relevant to this meta. It seems to take a pseudo pedantic point to make a point. It also makes some quite wrong statements about hardcoded policies we have on site. – Edlothiad Aug 21 '18 at 4:47
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    @Edlothiad Actually this answer makes an excellent point, albeit perhaps at unnecessary length. It's important to remember that rep changes don't matter that much: the main purpose of voting is to visibly mark a post as good or bad, not to reward or punish a user. And CW doesn't stop us from using our votes to do that; the only thing it does is prevent the poster from gaining/losing rep when we use our votes for the purpose they were intended for. – Rand al'Thor Aug 21 '18 at 9:12
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    The only thing I'd disagree with is "people have an annoying tendency to vote more leniently on CW answers than on non-CW answers". In fact, I'd say it's the other way round: people are more willing to downvote CW answers than non-CW answers, because downvotes on CW are free. – Rand al'Thor Aug 21 '18 at 9:13
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    It makes a good point, amongst various false ones. Such as when to VTC, VTD, amongst others. – Edlothiad Aug 21 '18 at 9:15
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    @Randal'Thor If rep changes aren't all that relevant (which I absolutely agree with), then avoiding rep changes (no matter if positive or negative) isn't really a valid reason for CW either. Using CW to avoid positive rep gain is as much a symptom of too rep-minded a community as using it for avoiding downvotes. If rep doesn't matter, then why are you CWing? – TARS Aug 21 '18 at 10:09
  • @TARS You're right, but as a counterpoint: if rep doesn't matter, why stop people from CWing? Un-CWing a post is an action too. It's possible to discourage something (e.g. using CW to avoid rep changes) without requiring that mod action be taken to prevent it. – Rand al'Thor Aug 21 '18 at 10:14
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    @Edlothiad: I wrote that some questions with no answers (not necessarily this one) should be closed, and that some very poor answers (not necessarily this one) should be deleted. I would be very interested in reading the meta discussions where we decided against doing either of those things. – Kevin Aug 21 '18 at 12:42
  • @Randal'Thor It might be, but such moderator action can serve to emphasize that discouragement. What's a "discouragement" worth if there's not actually a problem with doing something? Not acting on it just washes this out. – TARS Jun 22 '19 at 10:41

I was on the fence about voting to delete the question because while not actually opinion based — it's not asking "what do you guys think should happen?" — it's almost certainly only answerable through speculation.

As "primarily speculative" is not a valid close reason, I answered with a basic "we don't know". I disowned that answer, since I felt I was acting as the system / community user and therefore didn't want it associated with my account. I've read and agree with what Shog9 has written about CW.

Since there is now another accepted answer while mine proved to be controversial because of its cw status, I've deleted mine.

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    I approve of your action in deleting the answer but I disagree with your decision to do it in the first place, hence my downvote. – Valorum Aug 21 '18 at 9:48
  • I think an argument can be made that pure speculation almost always involves opinion. Speculation based solidly on the information we do have is a little different - opinion is still involved in most cases, but the evidence included would make such an answer not primarily opinion. So, I'd think that something that requires speculative answers, where there's little evidence to go on, could safely be closed as primarily opinion-based. – RDFozz Aug 24 '18 at 16:10

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