When the question asks "Is X a good idea?" (as this one does), doesn't that pretty much require opinions, and thus falls into the "primarily opinion-based" bucket of questions?


Is this good subjective or bad subjective - I can't tell?

| |
  • 1
    Everything here is opinion. The goal is to differentiate the Good subjective from the bad subjective – IDrinkandIKnowThings Dec 17 '13 at 21:09
  • it's a yes/no question - known as troublesome: "When asking a yes/no question there are one of two possibilities: 1. You really want a yes/no answer. If this is the case, and you don't need anything else to answer your question then it means the answers will be inherently low quality... 2. You don't actually want a yes/no answer, in which case your real question is not actually a yes/no question, and you're hoping that people will determine what your real question is..." – gnat Dec 18 '13 at 14:27

Executive Summary

There are three things I look at when dealing with subjective questions:

  1. Is it addressing practical, answerable questions based on actual problems?
  2. Is it 'Good Subjective'?
  3. Does it 'feel' right?

Practical Problems

I think as a bare minimum, a question needs to be designed to solve a problem. If there is no problem, it is a poll, and SE is not a great place to go polling for info. As Jeff Atwood pointed out:

If this is really what you want, you need to do it on another engine. Ours simply cannot support these kinds of frivolous, pure entertainment based content.

Most of the time this will separate the wheat from the chaff, and I don't even have to think any further. This is a quick heuristic to catch the worst of the bad subjective questions.

This question may have a fundamental problem, but it isn't clear at all what that problem is with its current phrasing. If it were asked today I would leave a comment saying something like:

Hey Fixpoint, and welcome to [workplace.se]! Is there something in particular that makes you worry that posting top performers will hurt motivation? If so, it may help to explain the reasons you are worried about this change. For instance, "My company started posting top performers in a newsletter, and some of my colleagues are getting demotivated because they aren't included despite considering themselves top performers, what is the best way to prevent this from causing people from becoming demotivated? Is there additional motivation that the newsletter creates that I may be missing?" Thanks in advance!

If they didn't respond to that, I'd almost certainly vote to close.

Good Subjective

I have a love-hate relationship with the Good Subjective article. I think it is a good set of guidelines, but I don't think it entirely captures what makes some of the questions on the site good or useful to the greater internet population. Regardless, it's a good place to start.

Great Subjective questions...

  • ... inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”
  • ... tend to have long, not short, answers
  • ... have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone
  • ... invite sharing experiences over opinions
  • ... insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references
  • ... are more than just mindless social fun

From my read, on a scale from 1-3 (1 being bad, 3 being awesome, 2 being passable), it would get a 2-2-3-2-3-3. Which would make it good. But since it isn't addressing a clear issue as explained above, I don't think that alone makes it a good fit.

If the question was clear, I think it would be good subjective.

My Gut

That's where the truth lies, right down here in the gut. Do you know you have more nerve endings in your gut than you have in your head? You can look it up. I know some of you are going to say "I did look it up, and that's not true." That's 'cause you looked it up in a book. Next time, look it up in your gut. I did. My gut tells me that's how our nervous system works.

- Stephen Colbert

The regular users here have read hundreds of questions. We are very familiar with high-quality, and low-quality, and all the stuff in between. Sometimes a question just feels 'right' or feels 'wrong' and the existing rules don't explain why. If I had to explain the thought process, these are some of the questions I ask myself:

  1. Will this be useful in the future as-is (to me or to others)?
  2. If it isn't useful as-is, is there a good core question here that can be focused on?
  3. Will we provide information equivalent or better to existing resources?

Our end goal is to have good content. If the content isn't good enough as posted, we can edit to improve it, or close it if we don't know how. Regardless of whether it meets the guidelines or not, sometimes it's a matter of I know it when I see it. We don't want rules to trump quality, so when it doubt, go with your gut.

| |

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .