Some of you may have noticed, but there's a tentative experiment going on in Destruction of iconic structures in wars of the 20th century and later, where we answer list type questions with community wiki answers. This is inspired by the proposal for reference requests.

One questions arises though in terms of how to present the community wiki. So far there ate two approaches. Feel free to suggest others, of coruse.

  1. Copy all the answers into the wiki, for example my original post

  2. Add a line in the wiki's list for each answer, for example the edit by T.E.D.

Some advantages and disadvantages I see are that:

  1. Everything is in one place. The community wiki reads like a complete answer. Readers wouldn't need to scroll away for details. Likewise, items can be added to the list without having to make an additional post for the details. On the other hand, the list itself becomes cluttered, and we would have duplicated content.

  2. Much less clutter in the community wiki answer. It's a concise list with links to follow for those interested in more details. Each item, in their own posts, can further be commented and voted on. On the other hand, information is dispersed through the whole thread, and sometimes there's no need or desire to create a separate post for a short answer.

For example, I would prefer to just keep the details for my item, the destruction of Wàn Sōng Temple, within the community wiki, since I don't really much point in posting such a short answer separately. But under scheme (2) I had to do so to provide some details on the event.

Lastly, I can think of a third solution: a mix of the two. Posters who prefer to put their answers separately can put in a short line and a link to the full answer for details. Those who don't want to, can instead make a reasonably sized section within the community wiki for details.

Either way, can we get a consensus on how to proceed with list type answers?


The heart of this idea was that we acknowledge the inherent "communal" nature of a list question, but still keep the SE voting/reputation mechanism as way to encourage and reward good answers from users, and tell readers which answers are deemed better. I just don't think you have that if you don't have the (one and only) copy of the full text of an answer in the user's non-wiki answer.

My original idea was that the top (accepted) answer to the list question would just be the list. It sort of makes a TL;DR answer for the entire question. If you want details about each item, you scroll down to the answers that contain those items. If you like or dislike what the details have to say, the vote button for that item will be right there for you.

IMHO that's very important for the whole scheme to work. Expecting users to pick out one they like/don't like, and then go scrolling down past the (now ginormous) wiki answer to the specific user answer that mentioned it, and then vote, is just unrealistic. Plus, if the detailed text is all in their own answers, then you have the detailed text for list items automatically sorted in order of community votes. If our users think answer A is a great exemplar, but answer X is weak, the voting will automatically keep A listed more prominently than X. If you just chuck it all in the wiki, you lose that property.

  • Your version (concise community wiki with links to other answers) is neater and better. I vote in support of your version. – taninamdar Mar 22 '15 at 11:59
  • I wish you'd address the issue of whether to have optional brief summaries, instead of jumping straight to the extremes of "copy the full text" vs "one line". – Semaphore Mar 22 '15 at 18:51

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