I have asked a question about what satellites/probes have been directed outside of the solar system. There is one answer posted at the moment, but also comments that suggest that the answer is really a list (something wikipedia already maintains a list of).

I'm not really sure what to do with the question, so am asking for some suggestions.

I don't mind closing the question or self-answering with some explanation and some careful quotes from the source that has already been pointed out.

Many thanks.


Phil, it is not that all questions requiring list answers are frowned against, but specifically those that contain indeterminately long lists or lists which are likely to change frequently with time.

Our users are arguing that this is one such list. Frankly, I disagree, though I can see how it could become such a list eventually. I don't really think there is much you can do at this point.

I have also seen some users arguing that this is trivial information that one might find on Wikipedia. If our community determines that to be the case, there is also not a lot you can do.

If the community decides to close your answer, I would encourage asking more questions. It can take time to pick up on the culture around here, but you will find that most people are welcoming and ready to help new folks who are eager to learn.

If you have any specific questions, feel free to ask me in the comments here or ask them in our chat room. Also, check out our help center if you haven't already!

For reference, here is what the SE staff told me about Community Wikis:

I wanted to let you know that I un-wikified this question (Present distances between planet. How can I find them?), but I wanted to fill in a few blanks about why.

Wiki has a long history of continued use where the use case is no longer needed... to the point where the entire feature has been largely deprecated. Since the concept of Community Wiki was created, we've added a lot of features that have almost completely negated the need for it at all. The best place to start is this blog post:

The Future of Community Wiki

Basically, we no longer use wiki as a broad rep-denial mechanism or when a question might become a list. Personally, I would have removed (or repurposed) the concept of Community Wiki on SE a long time ago, but it still has a really, really narrow use case when an answer is being used as a broad, collaborative repository that is constantly being updated by a lot of users.

I wouldn't worry too much about the "make a list" aspect of this question. This isn't quite the same as someone asking to compile a list of everyone's favorite blogs. This user is trying to solve a pretty specific problem where the answer just happens to be whether a tool exists to help him solve it.

Hypothetically speaking, if you suspect (or if it comes to pass) that the list of answers would become so long and boundless as to become completely unmanageable (or largely unvetted as folks lose interest in maintaining it), it would be fair to ask "why wouldn't any random tool easily found work for you?" If the list of answers is so impossibly broad that folks are only piling on and guessing what tool would help the original author specifically, the question should be narrowed down. That doesn't really seem to be the case here. This is the difference between a question saying "let's create a big list" versus someone asking "can someone help solve my problem specifically?"

  • $\begingroup$ Thanks called2voyage. Someone mentioned maybe putting this info on a community wiki. Is this something Stack Exchange provides or would this need to be a third party wiki? $\endgroup$
    – Phil_12d3
    Jun 30 '14 at 15:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Phil_12d3 That is something that Stack Exchange provides, but that feature should no longer be used for this. Some of the older users are used to using that feature for that purpose, but the Stack Exchange staff has asked that Community Wiki no longer be used for this purpose. Either the question is acceptable (leave open and don't change to wiki) or it is not acceptable and it should be closed. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    Jun 30 '14 at 15:23
  • $\begingroup$ @TildalWave When converting such questions into community wikis before, Stack Exchange staff have sent me letters asking me to stop doing this and have undone my actions. They point me to this blog post. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    Jun 30 '14 at 16:20
  • $\begingroup$ @TildalWave You're right about the additional info being too broad. I hadn't noticed that part of the question. Phil, our site really isn't equipped to handle open-ended requests for information. It is a Q&A site built on specific questions with specific answers. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    Jun 30 '14 at 16:21
  • $\begingroup$ @TildalWave I don't know what you gathered from the blog post. Probably the same I gathered when I read it prior to being sent a letter by the SE staff. The SE staff have specifically asked that we cease using CWs for questions. CWs for answers is ok in narrow cases; in this case it is probably acceptable. I have removed the CW from the question however, because the SE staff have asked that we not use it for such. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    Jun 30 '14 at 16:32
  • $\begingroup$ @TildalWave If the question remains closed, it will eventually be auto-deleted (rep going with it). If it is reopened, then the user deserves the rep. Anyway, I'm not trying to argue, just trying to abide by the personal requests of the SE staff. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    Jun 30 '14 at 16:42
  • $\begingroup$ @TildalWave It appears you are right merely because the question has a sole answer. I'm not sure what the best course of action is then. The question only has one point. If users are really concerned about rep where it's not due, they can downvote. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    Jun 30 '14 at 16:45
  • $\begingroup$ @TildalWave I have updated my answer with the meat of the letter I received from SE staff. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage Mod
    Jun 30 '14 at 16:49

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