We've started getting some questions and self-answers about basic OR questions that get asked over and over again on other sites, like:

(Full disclosure: I wrote the last one.) I think it's great for the site to have these questions and I plan to write more of them; I hope others do too.

In a comment on one of those questions, it was proposed that questions like these should be made Community Wikis. My sense is that on other sites, questions like this get converted to CWs much later, but I don't really know what the pros and cons are (other than the questions and answers not earning any reputation).

So: Should we make "basic" OR questions into Community Wikis?

Update: To express your opinion about whether we should make basic OR questions CWs, please post an answer or vote on one. To express your opinion about whether this question is a good question, please vote on the question.

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    $\begingroup$ Can the downvoter explain the choice to downvote this question? $\endgroup$ Commented May 31, 2019 at 12:39
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    $\begingroup$ Probably the down-voter meant to express "no, we should not make these community wikis", but posting an answer should be the way to do that, IMO. I will post an update. $\endgroup$ Commented May 31, 2019 at 12:41
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    $\begingroup$ I personally favor to do this in a later stage such that 1) we can generate content and easily determine what we want and what we do not want to have on our forum, and 2) to provide a way to obtain reputation for new users (which is required to obtain privileges such as reviewing queues) $\endgroup$ Commented May 31, 2019 at 12:43
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    $\begingroup$ I probably wouldn't turn any of those 3 questions into community wikis, but definitely questions about resources like a list of open-source solvers e.g. this one or.stackexchange.com/questions/4/… $\endgroup$ Commented May 31, 2019 at 12:46
  • $\begingroup$ @LarrySnyder610 I copied-pasted your update into my question: or.meta.stackexchange.com/q/44/71 $\endgroup$ Commented May 31, 2019 at 13:01

5 Answers 5


No, basic questions should not be made Community Wiki as a means of somehow making them more palatable on this site. This still comes up on occasion, but Community Wiki has been largely deprecated for almost everything I've seen suggested here. The other answers seem to pretty much cover the issue, but let me enumerate some of the (non) Wiki use cases to make the issues clear from a design/policy standpoint

TL;DR: you should pretty much forget about Community Wiki entirely. The original design of Community Wiki was to lower the bar on engagement where it was desirable for more people to participate in a massively edited wiki-style post. But with the addition of "suggested edits", Community Wiki has become almost entirely deprecated for its intended purpose. We generally suggest not using it at all.

Where Community Wiki (still) Goes Wrong:

  1. Community Wiki should not be used as a way to allow a question which otherwise would not be allowed on this site. Users sometimes suggest a question might be okay if they simply make it Community Wiki. Either it's a good fit for the site, or it's not. Wiki should not be used to make a post less accountable.
  2. Community Wiki should not be used to deprive someone of reputation or to distance themselves or remove ownership of something they posted on this site. There's a tiny sliver of a use case where someone might be compiling polling-style answers into one post (not generally recommended), but absent that somewhat rare use case, Community Wiki should not be used to disable the reputation construct.
  3. A post should never be forced to Community Wiki. Users can still make their own answers Community Wiki (tolerated, but generally frowned upon), but Moderators should never forcibly remove reputation from a post as a condition of keeping it on this site.
  4. Community Wiki never applies to entire question threads. We removed the ability for a user to mark their own question as wiki a long time ago (forcing all answers to be wiki, too). The reason is stated in the bullet point above, but I'm including it here for folks who may suggest or request it.

These "very basic" questions you mention are called canonicals. But... well, now the question that comes is:

What are canonicals?

From the canonical tag wiki on Meta Stack Overflow:

Canonical questions are those that have the many arms of duplicates pointing back to it as the one truest presentation (or near enough) of the problem. In other words, the most cited when duplicate questions are found.
Canonical answers are those posted to a question that serve to cower all others in their breadth, research and utter tremendous weight of reason and accuracy.
These two post types often find themselves on the same page.

Canonicals are usually Community Wiki, so that's why I thought you referred to them without actually knowing it.

Some notes here:

  • As mentioned, canonical questions are there, when there are too many questions about a problem and people are forced to answer them again and again.
  • Canonical answers (usually 1 per question) must have full info.


No. We shouldn't make these posts Community Wikis, simple because they aren't!


  • Let's wait to see if most questions are about the same problem the 3 you mentioned describe.
  • Let's see how the forum evolves during the beta stage.

as Michiel mentions.


In my opinion, it is better to postpone community wikis to a later stage because:

  1. Easy questions with answers provide opportunities for new users to obtain some reputation points. This may motivate them to becomes enthusiastic about our new OR forum which increases the chance to trap them into an OR exchange addiction.
  2. The reputation points are required to obtain privileges such as reviewing queues, so in the beginning, we could use some users with more reputation
  3. More content provides more detailed voting opportunities for users, which can help us in determining which content we like
  4. Somewhat similar to point 3, I believe that we are not sure yet which wikis we like to have and how detailed/specific they must be. For instance, do we want a wiki that explains branch-and-bound, branch-and-cut, and valid inequalities, or do the three topics deserve a separate wiki each? To avoid that we have to merge/split many wikis I guess it is better to first see how the forum evolves during the beta stage.
  • $\begingroup$ 4. Waiting for more questions will help us see which topics are actually interesting to have as wikis? $\endgroup$ Commented May 31, 2019 at 12:51
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    $\begingroup$ @MichaelFeldmeier Great OR people think alike! we typed the same suggestion simultaneously :) $\endgroup$ Commented May 31, 2019 at 12:53

First, I agree with others that there is no rush to make a decision this early and make these basic questions (such as how to linearize) wiki questions.

Regarding my suggestion, it is based on my OR-X experience. We would eventually get lots of those questions. So having a repository of related Q&As could help people finding their intended answers as well as helping active users and admins to find the relevant link fast. In addition, having a dedicated set of pages to common OR problems might attract more visits and users to the site (I'm not arguing more visit and users are necessarily good things).

As for the Wiki suggestion, I think this creates an opportunity for everyone to participate and help to improve the quality of answers, instead of relying solely on OPs and admins.


Community wiki basically does three things:

  • It prevents the author from gaining or losing any reputation.

  • It lowers the reputation required to edit drastically.

  • The author isn't always shown in the bottom right corner of the post, so the identity isn't as clearly associated with the post.

These three things really aren't helpful for basic questions. While they may be simple, it's still a good on-topic question and the author should gain reputation from it. If it's not good, then it can be downvoted and the author will lose reputation. If it's extremely simple, it probably won't need to be improved very much overtime, so there reputation requirement for editing doesn't need to be lowered. Finally, there's just not a good reason to hide the author's identity.

Community wiki is helpful for questions and answers that frequently need to be updated or edited for any other reason, which means the author shouldn't be the "owner" of the post if the editors are the ones putting in the most work. However, these "easy questions" probably won't need to be collaboratively edited.

So IMO simple questions should not be made community wiki just because they're simple.

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    $\begingroup$ Community Wiki is also good for questions where nobody has all of the answer, but many people have part of the answer. Things like the list of local names of ingredients on Cooking.SE, or various "identify-this-crowd" questions on SFF. Still doesn't make it suitable for "easy questions". $\endgroup$
    – Mark
    Commented Jun 5, 2019 at 19:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Mark agreed. I think that kinda falls into the second and third categories, since almost anyone can improve it and it hides the original author's identity in most places. $\endgroup$
    – Picachieu
    Commented Jun 5, 2019 at 19:59

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