Recently the following very general question was asked on the main site:

How do I buy a used bike

The intent of the question is to be a general community Wiki answer; something to which some of the more common could be linked to as duplicates, and serving somewhat like a FAQ post.

In the comments, on of the mods raised the objection to making it a community wiki and suggested that we use cannonical questions instead. This is an example of a connonical question from Stack Overflow:

What is a NullReferenceException, and how do I fix it?

How should we handle these?

Full Disclosure: I am the mod who put the question referenced below "on-hold" so we can have this discussion. I am perfectly fine with being overruled on that...


I think handling these as cannonical questions is the way to go.

Looking at the current answers on the post that started the discussion, each of the answers seems to me like it should be it's own question.

Doing so has the following advantages in my opinion:

  1. Each "problem" can be located on its own, rather than having to scroll down a wiki post.
  2. Each existing answer seems like it could be an end-point for the "Close as Duplicate" option.

As an example from the posted question, I would ask the following question and question body:

How do I make sure a bike fits when purchasing in person?

I'm look at buying a bicycle. It may be either new or used, but I will have a chance to test ride it in person before I purchase it. What do I need to know and check to make sure it fits?

In this case, the answer would be most of the links that are included in the current answer here.

Using the cannonical question format would also help with some of the canned comments that many mods and high-rep users fall back on when we see similar posts. On example I use all the time is when closing as a product rec I frequently add the comment:

Product recommendation questions are generally a poor fit for a Q&A site since the answers quickly become out of date. There are a number of previous posts that will help you know what to look for when buying a new/first road bike link1, link2, commuter bike link1, link2 and mountain bike link1 link2.

These could then be either closed a duplicates, or still closed as product rec but linked in the comments to the relevant cannonical question.

  • Yes, you almost want an faq, but focussed on content rather than just how to use the site
    – PeteH
    Jul 8 '16 at 8:03
  • 1
    Separating out the questions that are answers to "How do I buy a used bike?" does a disservice to a uninformed consumers who are trying to take advantage of knowledge of our community. There are many factors that should go into buying a used bike, few new users will be magical enough to know all the questions they should be asking on their own. Jul 8 '16 at 19:22
  • I have now upvoted this post and the post by @Batman. I hadn't encountered the canonical question idea before. Let's try it out. The thing that isn't clear to me is how a question / answer gets to become "canonical".
    – andy256
    Jul 19 '16 at 4:12

I think that we should keep this question and have cannonical questions. This is similar to the big-list tag used on Math.SE/CS/some others.

When buying a used bike, it provides pointers to a bunch of related questions that people should know. And we can put small summaries of the main ideas needed for each question someone should be asking to buy a used bike.

As for scrolling down a wiki, we can put the list of questions in the main question area, so people at least get an idea of what they need to think about.

  • 2
    This is the better as service to future users. It allows the community to put forth all of the applicable questions regarding buying a used bike. This allows a possible future user seeing the list to ask questions they likely may have not thought of before and improve real world experience. Simply asking "How do I find out how much a used bike is worth?" Finding an answer, they purchasing a wrong sized bike that is a "good deal" is a prime example. The lack of size information on craigslist ads points to the fact that sellers are aware of most buyers shortcomings. Jul 8 '16 at 19:17

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