For example, these questions:

And these to a lesser extent:

From the FAQ: "You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face." Questions of the form "Here are some examples of words that have [this property], what are some others?" can be hard to answer definitively. To a lesser extent, "Are there any words that have [this property]?" can also be hard to answer if the poster is looking for all such words instead of just a few examples.

Some of the other SE sites prohibit these kinds of questions; what should we do?

3 Answers 3


I faced this issue in the English StackExchange site.

My proposal is to make them community wiki. I'll try to explain why:

Since some of these questions are very useful, we can't simply delete them, but the problem of "equally acceptable" answers remains, not to mention that people will be encouraged to post an answer just to receive reputation.

So the solution is CW. If we make a question "community wiki", we'll have these advantages:

  • People will post only if they really have good info to add, but they won't earn reputation, since every answer can be "correct";
  • For the same reason of the answers being equally acceptable, the OP won't need to choose one if they are made community wiki.
  • Making them CW, will save the question, not closing it or deleting it, making that info available for future users and visitors.
  • Same idea here, otherwise that Community Wiki function would be no use, IMHO.
    – YOU
    Commented Jun 6, 2011 at 12:34
  • I admit that I had not thought about community wiki when I posted my opinion. But I am still unsure how it should work. As a hypothetical example, consider a question asking for words consisting of two identical kanji. Probably there are hundreds of them. Marking it CW is probably better than not marking it CW, but I doubt that it is really useful on SE. Commented Jun 6, 2011 at 13:36
  • Each case might be evaluated, I guess... But consider a question like "Can you list me all the ways to say this expression?", there is not a main correct answer, but it might be useful...
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jun 6, 2011 at 14:04
  • I see the point. Indeed, a single rule will not apply to everything, and I agree that CW is suitable for some list-type questions. Commented Jun 6, 2011 at 15:07
  • 1
    Since votes on community wiki posts don't increase a user's reputation, would people actually contribute answers to these questions?
    – Amanda S
    Commented Jun 6, 2011 at 15:43
  • There are many posts like that in the English SE and people contributed. I know some people won't post just for that, but I hope most people will contribute anyway, because we're here for the language, not for the reputation per se... Maybe. :D
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jun 6, 2011 at 16:20
  • Also, I thought that users couldn't mark questions as Community Wiki anymore. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/67039/…
    – Amanda S
    Commented Jun 6, 2011 at 16:40
  • Do five edits auto-convert to community wiki still?
    – Troyen
    Commented Jun 6, 2011 at 19:25
  • @Amanda S Yup, you must flag it, but if you're the OP you can turn it I guess?
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jun 6, 2011 at 20:02
  • @Alenanno: No, even the asker cannot mark a question as CW since last October, as the link in Amanda’s comment says. (This only applies to questions, not answers.) Commented Jun 6, 2011 at 20:43
  • Ok ok... Well that doesn't change my proposal :D I still think it's the only way... Unless you want to just close those type of questions. If you allow them, this will get different from how a SE site should be, that's my opinion...
    – Alenanno
    Commented Jun 6, 2011 at 20:49
  • @Amanda, > "users couldn't mark as Community Wiki anymore." That's one of the reason, why we need moderators :-) and Thanks for accepting the proposal.
    – YOU
    Commented Jun 7, 2011 at 1:16

In my opinion, it is not appropriate to ask for as many words satisfying some criteria as possible. On the other hand, asking for a few examples should be fine.

Therefore, my proposal is to interpret the questions asking for a list of words satisfying some criteria as asking for a few examples instead of an exhaustive list, possibly leaving a comment stating so.


As a regular of a Stack Exchange site that's had a lot of “list of X” questions, I'll put a word in. I haven't really thought about how applicable this is for JL&U.

The problem with “list of X” questions is that they tend to attract answers with one suggestion each. The end result is that answers are ranked by age (older questions got more votes) and popularity. The reader gets no clue as to the relative importance of answers, or when one answer is better than another.

I've found that a useful criterion for list-type questions is the kinds of answers they attract:

  1. Just one example: bad.
  2. A few examples, chosen to be significant, plus a link or two to comprehensive lists, or a method to look for more examples: good.

To some extent, it's possible to allow list questions if you can get enough answers of type 2 and systematically delete answers of type 1. Whether that works depends on how dedicated the community is to making these questions work.

  • +1 well said. Good practical arguments.
    – repecmps
    Commented Jun 9, 2011 at 3:31

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