This answer was originally made "Community Wiki" (CW) by the OP when he posted it and the CW status was removed by a moderator recently to reward the OP. I disagree with this action, especially because it was done without any form of community consensus and moderators should not be arbiters of who "deserves" reputation — especially not with tools available only to them.
I'd like to make a few points, with explanations, stating my objection and would like to have a discussion on this issue. I do realize it is quite long, but please do read it entirely or at least point 3. Note that because of this bug, the fact that it was once CW does not appear in the revision history nor does it state who removed it.
1. The question (and all answers) should ideally be CW
This is a classic "List of good X" question, which has historically (on other SE sites) elicited multiple responses (because everybody has an opinion of what's good). Going by precedent on nearly all sites in the network, the question should've been CW, but it is understandable that it wasn't because it was asked during the first hour of private beta and pro-tem mods weren't appointed yet.
Don't get me wrong — I do not believe in taking away anyone's rep because it was a "soft question". One person's soft question is another's hard work. But questions that have the potential to get bumped to the front page frequently because of the nature of the question (even if they don't actually get bumped all that much) have always been made CW — e.g. 1, 2 and 3 (and a supporting comment by another mod, also the OP of the question in discussion).
In this case, the OP of the answer chose to make his answer CW so that it can be edited by anybody with as little as 100 rep (2000 required in a graduated site to edit a non-CW post) and that should not have been changed unilaterally.
2. The answer would have been CW in any case
Had the OP not originally made it CW, the system would've automatically converted it
- due to being edited more than 10 times by the OP (now at about 110 edits by the OP)
- due to being edited by more than 5 users (total 6).
Now since a moderator removed the CW, it will never be converted to CW by the system, even if it is edited a million times and is a permanent fixture on the front page. Regardless of what one's views are of the CW system (I don't like it either), it is something that we have to work with and I don't think circumventing it in this manner is correct.
From Jeff Atwood's answer on removing CW (emphasis mine):
In general, we feel the current automatic "force community wiki" thresholds are correct:
- after 30 answers (15 on super user and programmers) are added to a question
- after a post is edited by more than 5 different users
- after a post is edited by the owner 10 distinct times
However, if you feel your post has been unfairly converted to community wiki and deserves special treatment, you can flag it for moderator attention and plea your case to a community moderator.
I'm not aware of any precedent anywhere with moderators arbitrarily removing CW. I think it is fair to interpret "unfairly" in the sense of, for example, 5 users making small typo fixes here and there with none of them going the whole mile and fixing the entire post, thereby making it CW for no reason.
3. Moderators should not be arbiters of who "deserves" reputation
I've been told the CW was removed because the OP deserved his rep. This is the primary reason I object to this change — a moderator's job is not to judge the quality of an answer and how much rep a person "deserves", especially not with tools available only to them. I've also, in the past, opposed any form of yardstick for how much rep a post deserves — it is what it is. There are several excellent answers on this site that have turned into CW because the user constantly edited it to improve it. Two examples that jump to my mind are:
and there are a few more by Leonid and Oleksandr that are very close to the tipping point. I would love for these to be un-CWed because there is no "community" effort here, just one person's. Alas, that is a slippery road to go down because what do you do for a post that doesn't "deserve" it? You end up with a mess and having to tell someone that their post didn't cut it. That simply is not a moderator's job.
4. If you feel a post deserves it, spend your own rep — use the bounty system
As I mentioned in my other meta answer, the system provides alternate ways for users to show appreciation for someone's efforts, namely the bounty system. Anyone with at least 75 rep can place a bounty from 50 to 500 (in steps of 50) to reward an answer. I gave the OP of the answer a modest bounty of +100 (which was half of what I had gotten for my answer on that post at that time) to show my appreciation for his efforts.
If the moderator who made the change wished to give them some "deserved" rep, they should've placed a bounty for how much ever rep they were willing to give instead of doing it in ways not accessible to normal users. At the very least, this should've been discussed on meta, since as I understand it was not unanimous (I would've opposed it and made the same points as above for not doing it).
In closing, I do not think this was done with the explicit intention of circumventing the system, but I do think that the consequences of this action, especially with the precedence it sets weren't thought through well enough. I would recommend that the action either be reversed, or the question and all answers be made CW as is normally done (preferable). Note that even if converted to CW now, the OP will get to keep the rep gained from the earlier un-CWing. I don't think anything needs to be done about it and the experience here can serve as a guideline for future decisions.
I would like to hear what others think of this.