The question Some classic literature is available for free - but where? is a shopping question, but it is one that will have value to the community for ever, and the answer is potentially always changing.

Should it be converted to a community wiki question?

4 Answers 4


This question may be okay if it remains limited and well vetted in its responses (and possibly 'locked' if it starts accumulating runaway answers) — but let's set that aside for a moment to avoid using Community Wiki as a way to make these questions somehow "okay".

It's not.

Community Wiki was not designed to solicit crowd-sourced lists of stuff. The problem with Community Wiki is it's often used to to allow questions that otherwise would not be allowed on the site. That's why we largely deprecated this feature.

Future of Community Wiki.

Community Wiki was originally designed to open up the editing to a larger base of users by lowering the reputation requirements. But with the introduction of 'suggested edits', this feature is no longer needed. Community Wiki was not meant to be a way of depriving authors of reputation, and Community Wiki was not meant to allow questions that otherwise should be closed.

If the answers are remain somewhat limited and well vetted, the post is fine. The problem with most of these "let's create a list" questions is that it becomes really hard to begrudge anyone their addition, and every suggestion of a random favorite free service/book/tool/application/website/blog/etc is no better than any other, until all semblance of expertise is lost.

Let's see how it goes.

But let's not (mis)use the Community Wiki feature as a tool to somehow fix these questions.

  • I've just put in the last vote that was needed to put the/my question on hold. Thanks for the feedback and the heads-up. Much appreciated…
    – e-sushi
    Dec 20, 2013 at 19:02
  • Robert - Are you in favor of using the "lock" approach? It seems that the current answers contain valuable content that would enrich the site, and locking seems to be a good way to address "me too" issues. SHould this be a separate Meta Q?
    – DVK
    Dec 20, 2013 at 19:35
  • @DVK I do not like the preemptive use of 'locking' a post in anticipation of a potential problem. That is essentially censoring otherwise well-meaning users who may legitimately want to contribute content before there is an actual problem. But if a lot of me-to answers are destroying an otherwise valuable post; sure, go ahead and lock it. But locking a post because it's likely to attract a lot of me-too posts is an abuse of the feature. Dec 20, 2013 at 20:10
  • @RobertCartaino - sorry, I wasn't clear. I was referring to the latter scenario (post-emptively), more specifically, to NOT closing the question for a very specific reason that any of the benefits of closing it can be less invasively achieved by locking it later if there's a flood of mee-toos that materializes.
    – DVK
    Dec 20, 2013 at 20:15
  • @DVK If the post continues to be valuable except for the fact that a low of low-rep users (who don't necessarily understand the system) are posting a lot of me-too answers, than 'locking' is the right tool for that job. Dec 20, 2013 at 20:18
  • @RobertCartaino - I posted as a separate question, feel free to condense your comments into an answer to that: meta.ebooks.stackexchange.com/questions/64/…
    – DVK
    Dec 20, 2013 at 20:26

I posted the question with the motivation that it could indeed bring value.

Then @tocho posted a comment that - depending on the point of view - had a valid argument and while I don't think it's a "shopping list" question, I somewhat can see that the question may well attract spammers and co., which might degrade the value of the question in general.

Therefore, I flagged my own question for moderator attention with a deletion request, just to discover that (seconds later) a new and positive comment pointed here, stating that the question might have some merit. Looking around, I tend to agree and I am not sure if it wasn't a mistake to flag my own question for deletion. Why? Because my question isn't the only one of it's kind here. It should therefore be on-topic.

Alike questions do exist…

Personally, I'm not sure where to take it. I mean, it should be noted that there are alike "list" questions which seem to be regarded on-topic. A random example of such a question is “Is there online eBook authoring tool which can produce ePub and PDF formats?”. To me, this is as much a "shopping list" question as my question is, resulting in similar link recommendation replies as my question does. In fact, the example question even goes beyond that, as it asks for "product recommendations", which is more "shopping-list" than my question. At least from my point of view. And to be sure no one thinks my example wasn't random enough, let me point to another random example which results in similar "product recommendation" answers: “Clean up converted ebook”.

Letting the eBook community decide…

Oh well, may the moderators and the community decide what to do with my question. Personally, I won't be angry if it stays live (I mean, there was a reason for me to post it in the first place). But the world won't fall apart for me if the community decides it is best to delete my question.

See, in cases like these, I tend to go with the flow and comply with the general consensus for the benefit of the community. If you think it should stay, feel free to ignore my deletion-request flag. And if you think it should be killed, be my guest. It's up to you, dear ebook community. Whatever you decide, you got my humble “OK” on it.

The need to draw lines…

Generally, I would like to advise that we — as a community — make sure we don't flag questions before having set up exact parameters of what is allowed and what not. Anything else would be wrong, because it would be non-constructive for both Ebooks.SE as well as it's current and future members.


I have edited my question in the hope it now is more well defined and more specific/detailed. Though, I could not modify it in a way that it would not attract references and links. On the other hand, I added an example link which should make clear what the question is asking for… alike quality references.


We allowed recommendation questions for a long time on WordPress Development. It was a mess:

  • the questions were either too localized, e.g. what the asker needed, was of no interest for anyone else, or
  • too broad, so the question got dozens of answers, because the real goal wasn’t clear, and
  • we spent way too much time cleaning the answers up: the questions attracted self-promotion, many links went dead, or their target showed something else now, including malware.

After a long discussion we made those questions off-topic.

Community wikis are not for questions asking for a List of things. They exists to make editing easier. Upvotes for the question and its answers don’t count for reputation anymore. One effect is that answerers don’t put much effort into theirs answers. Nobody wants that.

Let’s make shopping questions off-topic from start. We don’t need link rot, we need clear, answerable questions and good answers.


Answers should absolutely be CW since we don't want the first answerer to get all the reputation forever for the post as it gets edited and improved.

We might want to toggle the question as CW to facilitate having all answers be CW and deprive the asker of rep if it increases past the effort taken to craft the question.

Basically anyone, even anonymous, not logged in people can suggest an edit. Community wiki is all about managing reputation gained on wildly popular posts.

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