I hope I don't get flamed for this. I feel the community wiki aspect of stack* to be very confusing. Having just read this question, and then seeing the first 3 comments on it, has prompted me to post. It's something I've been wondering for a while.

So often you see people saying 'This should be CW', and I've often avoided asking questions knowing that that will be first comment if it is subjective. It sounds like the users can't make a question CW (now we're out of beta). Maybe there should be a 'vote to make CW' up down on each question, as the comment 'This should be CW' just adds clutter and often get's voted up earning people rep despite it being an obvious comment anyone who was first to read (and inclined) would make. Not that I have a problem with that, I'm just failing to see the logic. And the question I linked to is now a CW yet it sits in the question cue like any other, so I don't see the difference.

Even if I'm pointed to an explanation of CW vs question and then this is closed I'll have learned something. I have searched but am just not getting something...


  • $\begingroup$ 1) This post belongs on meta.stackoverflow.com 2) meta.stackexchange.com/q/11740/162890 should answer your questions about CW 3) Upvotes on comments do not earn you rep, they're just an indicator that the comment is useful $\endgroup$
    – Jeff
    Aug 19, 2011 at 6:57
  • $\begingroup$ Brilliant, thanks Jeff, just what I was after. $\endgroup$
    – nzcoops
    Aug 19, 2011 at 7:01
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ As you can infer from the fourth comment to the referenced question, I disagreed with the CW status (and still do). That thread is flawed because of it: as a normal question, it (I suspect) would have garnered answers that were better supported and documented. The question asks for definitions, after all: what could be a clearer example of something with an objective correct answer? However, it's "fuzzy" in the sense that it does not ask "practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face." Were it phrased more pointedly it wouldn't have been made CW, IMHO. $\endgroup$
    – whuber Mod
    Aug 19, 2011 at 14:06
  • $\begingroup$ @whuber Since you linked to this thread in a recent Meta question about CW, I was wondering if you are still disagreeing with the CW status of that thread: stats.stackexchange.com/questions/5026 (as per your comment above). If you still do, why not revisit it? $\endgroup$
    – amoeba
    Jul 3, 2017 at 11:00

1 Answer 1


Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.

--- Benjamin Franklin, 1706–1790

The purpose of SE sites is to collect responses to specific questions, and elect the best one so that future visitors facing similar dilemma will know what's the correct solution is. In the meantime, newcomers can add their thoughts and a "correct answer" might evolve. In my view, SE sites are dynamic systems; they will evolve as new technologies, new users, new contexts of use will emerge around them. Whenever a new question comes up, I'll expect from the "best" answer to truly answer the question, but also to help the OP learning from it; this may be about improving question, referring to well-acknowledged references, sharing one's experience with similar problem, stimulating his own interest in learning more.

Sometimes, questions are subjective--but within the scope defined in our FAQ--enough not to warrant a definitive answer: They merely call for one's opinion on a specific problem, ask for a (big-)list of references, or whatever might be considered on-topic here. This is what we consider as CW questions. There's simply no definitive, objective, or perfect answer, so let's collect a bunch of ideas or opinions in a thread. No one will earn reputation from that. But we are not here for that purpose; we all are here to learn from others, and share our own experience. The OP might be aware of that but isn't allowed to convert it as such. He can just flag it for mod attention, or put an addendum in his post. We as mods are likely to notice it within respectable delays. In fact, it is good when the OP himself thinks his question might be best suited as a CW question. Otherwise, let's let the community decide on its status. It is especially true about newcomers who don't necessarily know about SE guidelines.

In conclusion, what I expect from you is to be aware of when one of your questions isn't really calling for a definitive response; otherwise, just ask the community: "Is it a candidate question for a CW thread?", in your question or in a comment. The community will "vote on it".

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ +1. But I would like to make a plea for a fine but important distinction concerning that all-encompassing "whatever" in the second paragraph: purely "subjective" questions typically get closed (see our FAQ). Questions that specifically seek multiple valid objective answers ("big lists") get CW status. Questions that by their nature will elicit subjective information that's difficult to document (asking for experiences, for instance) also are CW candidates when they're on topic and likely to prove useful. $\endgroup$
    – whuber Mod
    Aug 19, 2011 at 14:01
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ (A separate remark) Note that participating in CW questions, although not contributing to reputation, does contribute to certain badges (Necromancer, Good Question, Good Answer, etc.). $\endgroup$
    – whuber Mod
    Aug 19, 2011 at 14:10
  • $\begingroup$ @whuber Thanks. These are important points, indeed. $\endgroup$
    – chl
    Aug 19, 2011 at 18:22

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