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Quite a bit of our questions have (at least at some point) been closed as primarily opinion-based. I adapted a query that shows all posts that were closed with that reason, ranked by total votes. At the time of writing, there are 19 questions in there. (Though not all closed questions are there, since the data was last updated 2 days ago, so there are a few more questions.)

Taking into account our topic, I think we can not be as strict as a site like StackOverflow when is comes to subjective questions, but we obviously can't be too lax either. An excellent, (almost) canonical view on this matter is expressed in Good Subjective, Bad Subjective.

In this blog post, Robert lists 6 guidelines for great subjective questions:

  1. Great subjective questions inspire answers that explain "why" and "how".
  2. Great subjective questions tend to have long, not short, answers.
  3. Great subjective questions have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone.
  4. Great subjective questions invite sharing experiences over opinions.
  5. Great subjective questions insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references.
  6. Great subjective questions are more than just mindless social fun.

I really urge you to go read the whole post though, because just summing up these guidelines without further explanation doesn't do it justice.

Now I ask you, after reading that post, to have another look at questions that were closed as opinion based (and possibly reopened after) and tell me what Good Subjective means for our site and if we are being too lax, too strict or are perhaps getting it wrong in some other way.

  • I've never liked that blog post. But still, I think it would be helpful for us to come up with our own site-specific subjectiveness guidelines, so lets see what everyone else thinks. – curiousdannii Jul 14 '15 at 8:48
  • @curiousdannii fair enough, the main point is that we should figured out what is a good place to draw the line for our site. – overactor Jul 14 '15 at 9:08
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    The data on SEDE is updated once a week, you can see when it was last updated on the home page. That's why the most recent closures aren't listed. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jul 14 '15 at 9:09
  • Smart people using queries... Regardless, I think that a lot of these closed questions are going to have a degree of opinion, unlike Stack Overflow where it's normally just a simple programming problem. A lot of those closed questions should be open, imo. – Zizouz212 Jul 14 '15 at 14:02
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My opinion? (heh, the irony) The nature of our topic is that it's more opinion-based than many others. We've also shown ourselves to be able to handle many of these opinion based questions. Here are the numbers for opinion-based closures in the last 90 days (so, our entire history):

Closed | % of all closed | Reopened | % of closed | Edit&Reopen | % of reopened
 24    | 28.57%          | 8        | 33.33%      | 4           | 50.00%

So: just under 30% of our closures are as opinion-based. We've used 6 different close reasons, so an even split would imply we'd have closed 16.7% as opinion-based. That's almost double. I read that as saying we've got quite an opinion-based subject.

Then we see the reopens. We've reopened a full third of those we've closed. That's our second highest reopen rate by close reason (the first is unclear, of which 100% are reopened). I read that as saying we're doing it right: also taking into account that half of what we reopened was edited, this says to me that we are capable of clarifying questions, reopening them, and getting good answers out the other side.

If anything, we should further what we're doing: with all opinion based questions, attempts should be made to clarify them in the comments, get them fixed, and get them reopened.

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I want to add to ArtOfCode's answer.

Having a topic like this will involve a lot of opinion, and a lot of amazing discussion. In many cases, multiple answers aren't going to be an issue, because we already have so many darn perspective from each corner of the world - Creative Commons, Open Source, Free Software, Open Knowledge... So there will be answers acknowledging these different perspectives.

Not only that, but perhaps we need to rethink what opinion based here is. So many of us come from Stack Overflow, where the line is set here, and we will get you if you dare cross it. The same "strict" rules seem to have somewhat carried along here.

The site applies to so many things, and there will never be a single set solution, because there is no universal manual of solutions. Hence, we need to accept the fact that questions might seem opinion based, but they are healthy questions.

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