As most of you know, the whole community wiki for questions idea has been thought and re-thought. Polls and lists of also have. The one item per answer policy has been up for debate. Right now as an example of all of these things, we have What Are Good Reads about Writing.

Before we enter public beta, it might be good to clarify a policy about questions like these. Cooking.SE, which I participate in, has a pretty strict no community wiki unless the system kicks in and creates it policy. This is designed to discourage list of X questions or polls.

Do we on Writers want to have community wiki for polls? Do we want to encourage this for one item per answer questions? Or do we want to encourage questions like the one linked?

5 Answers 5


We have provided some additional guidance at the blog:


TL;DR version

Most of the time, you should be asking yourself “How can I improve this post so that community wiki isn’t needed?” Community wiki is like a cheese knife: it is a specialized tool to be used sparingly, and only in very specific circumstances.


As a note: I'm the creator of the question listed here as example: What Are Good Reads about Writing.

A list of recommendable reads about writing (to keep that as an example) might be useful for visitors of this site. What are the other places to get such a list? Not at Wikipedia. There might be sites, that collect such lists, but they are not user-editable and not rated. Both is possible through the stackexchange-software. Why not use that possibility? Stackoverflow has many such lists, for example https://stackoverflow.com/q/194812/21005 about freely available programming books.

Also, if you disallow such questions you will have to close them again and again. New users will ask such a question, without knowing about this policy.

And in the end: what's the damage through this sort of questions? If they're community-wiki, they give their creators no reputation.

  • 1
    I hope you know I wasn't trying to be negative. I've simply noticed that this policy actually has helped Cooking.SE and am wondering what will work for this community. I don't have an opinion yet.
    – justkt
    Commented Nov 19, 2010 at 15:57
  • I didn't take it negative, I hope I didn't sound defensive. I think that's a question that needed to be discussed to define the community. But my personal opinion is, that these sort of question is useful for readers.
    – Mnementh
    Commented Nov 19, 2010 at 17:39
  • Agree, this would be good to define, but I also find these kind of questions useful too.
    – Ash
    Commented Nov 20, 2010 at 1:18

Questions you're talking about should have place here. I've gained much benefit from community lists on Stack Overflow and continue to gain it everyday. I.e, what if someone will want to know what publishers will gladly accept books on {subject}. That's definitely a CW question, and very helpful though.

  • While I agree with the sentiment, I question the particular example. There are excellent resources like Duotrope and Writer's Market for researching markets. I doubt we want to create and maintain questions to cover this - there are tons of publishers and the landscape is constantly changing.
    – sjohnston
    Commented Dec 9, 2010 at 22:08
  • @sjohnston I actually would like this example to be allowed. Since many of the people that frequent here could be editors for publishing houses, it would be a good way for them to be able to say "Yeah, this house is currently looking for new submissions." Writer's Market is often out of date the week after it's published. Houses close down, they stop accepting submissions, their guidelines or contact info changes. But here, writers would be able to network with possible publishing connections that would be up to date. Commented Dec 18, 2010 at 17:58
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    @Ralph - I agree that a constantly up-to-date resource like this is a Good Thing. I think it would be on-topic. I just question whether we would be able to effectively maintain it. Duotrope does a pretty good job keeping its lists up to date, but they have a crew constantly contacting people and updating the entries. Would we have a group willing to do the same? And would they do it better? What I don't want to see is an attempt at this that becomes outdated and ends up providing bad info to someone.
    – sjohnston
    Commented Dec 18, 2010 at 21:32
  • I wouldn't recommend keeping a master database like Duotrope has. Why reinvent the wheel? But we could answer publisher recommendation questions as they come. "I have a steampunk/romance manuscript. Can anyone recommend a publisher?" I think this would be better than a large database since you can get personal recommendations and not just have a list of every publisher that takes Steampunk/Romance books, since not all publishers are great. Commented Dec 19, 2010 at 0:47
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    @Ralph - in general things that will age out with time are closed as "too localized" because they don't help with a repository of the answers to questions. I'm not sure that a good publisher for X is so localized that it needs to be closed. Would be a good subject for discussion here on meta in its own question.
    – justkt
    Commented Dec 20, 2010 at 15:25
  • @justkt @ralph - I think individual questions may straddle the edge, as they do have the potential to grow stale. Still, I'm inclined to agree that they shouldn't be closed.
    – sjohnston
    Commented Dec 23, 2010 at 1:34

I am active on the Gaming StackExchange site, where we have had extensive discussion about game recommendation questions, a sort of list question we get frequently there.

One of our more eloquent mods wrote an editorial on the subject of list questions and repositories. I think it is worth reading to gain an understanding of the potential problems associated with these. The pitfalls are not necessarily apparent when a site is small (like Writing currently is).

I am not advocating for or against. I just want everyone to be well-informed before making up their minds on this.


I think we should use the "One Item Per Answer Thing" - This will allow most flexibility, because users would be able to vote for what they support for, discuss under the particular item, as opposed to "Lists of X".

  • if it's one item per answer, it is probably a list of something (list of X refers to the entire question, not each answer)
    – justkt
    Commented Nov 21, 2010 at 14:08

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