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Recently there have been many close requests with the "opinion based" reason and I am wondering if having this close option is useful. In a way most questions on this site are opinion based, and what exactly is opinion based and what isn't is ironically very much based on opinion.

In the majority of cases where questions are requested to be closed for being opinion based, I actually agree that they should be closed, but there are usually better reasons available. Usually such questions also have no clear goal or are lacking detail or focus.

In the case where non of the other close reasons apply I usually think that the question are worth answering. One recent example, and three other re-open voters seem to agree with me, would be the question about how much backend TL should know about frontend: As a Tech Lead, to what degree should I learn about frontend technologies?

In general I feel that questions on how to navigate the workplace cannot be answered with scientific rigor and exactness and any answer will always have a good portion of subjectivity to it, with that in mind nearly every question could be considered "opinion-based" and what would be considered "objective answers" are only considered to be objective, because there is a very wide consensus about its truthfulness. I understand that SE is not the right place to have a debate, but I think there is no harm in having a specific, focused and on-topic question with clear goals with a variety of different answers, based on different experiences.

PS: As a Meta Meta comment; while writing this, SE shows me that there has been this motion 7 years ago. Can we eliminate the close reason "Primarily Opinion Based"? Since the user base is different now, I think there is no harm in bringing this up again, and I hope the rules of meta allow duplicates.

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    "good reason" is in the eye of the beholder. Personally, I think too many questions are closed too quickly. Others clearly disagree. Nov 13 '21 at 12:25
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    "Since the user base is different now" - the user base is larger, and has different people. But I doubt that the nature of the user base is different now. Nov 13 '21 at 12:27
  • @JoeStrazzere The nature of the closed question seems to have changed a lot since then. When I go through the list in the meta post linked, most of the questions closed for being opinion based are actually wide open. When I look at the question closed now for being opinion based, it seems they are higher quality. I wonder whether there was a close reason "Needs a goal" 7 years ago, because those seemed to have been a way better close reason for many of the items.
    – Helena
    Nov 13 '21 at 12:31
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    (shrug) I don't see much difference. Either way, I doubt this close reason will be removed. As you noted, we've had this discussion before. Nov 13 '21 at 12:49
  • Regardless of the outcome of this discussion, I kind of doubt if it is possible to be changed/removed because this is one of the standard close reasons that apply to all SE sites.
    – Andrew T.
    Nov 13 '21 at 13:24
  • @AndrewT. is there a way to find out, whether it is possible?
    – Helena
    Nov 13 '21 at 13:43
  • Need to get the answer from SE staff directly. A mod may add status-review to request attention from SE staff if it is worth it.
    – Andrew T.
    Nov 13 '21 at 13:46
  • @AndrewT. To my knowledge there is no way to modify the default close reasons of which the opinion-based reason is one. At the site level we can only work with our community-specific close reasons. You'd have to bring it up on main Meta Stack Exchange.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Nov 13 '21 at 20:44
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    As to the question asked here: as mentioned the topic has been discussed at length before and the consensus has always been that while we should be careful not to jump the gun with closing questions too often (instead prefer to edit them to focus on an answerable question), this close reason just like the others serves a purpose. Read through some of the related questions as well, they go into more detail. I doubt anything new can really be said on the topic.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Nov 13 '21 at 20:49
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    @JoeStrazzere The policy of some people at TWP is that they won't close a post without "Just cause" Unfortunately, they interpret that as "Just cause we felt like it" Dec 13 '21 at 14:40
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I kind of prefer the old "primarily opinion based" or "not constructive" phrasing a little better than just "opinion based", but yes, it is.

Questions can be at least somewhat opinion based here; even in hard sciences, there is usually at least some room for professional judgment in almost any question. Questions cannot, however, be opinion based to the point that it's no longer possible to defend answers with facts and logic.

See also: Real questions have answers.

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  • That was always a bit obnoxious, IMO. Never liked that phrasing. I like the phrasing of "Questions require a goal that we can address." Nov 29 '21 at 21:18
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It's worded poorly by someone at the SE mothership who didn't know the difference between OPINION and CONJECTURE

There is a very real difference between an educated opinion and wild conjecture.

Conjecture is essentially an untested hypothesis with incomplete data, while opinion tends to be based on informed experience.

An opinion from someone who has survived several rounds of layoffs, and gives an assessment what the signs to look out for would make up a decent answer, and would be able to detail their experiences.

"Okay, the first thing to look out for are senior executives jumping ship, followed by the long timers suddenly retiring. Then, you look for other cost cutting measures being implemented. If you see them trying to save every last penny, like getting rid of the plants, it's probably time to move on"

As opposed to:

"I think that layoffs are coming because those rich SOBs don't care about the workers!"

The first was an opinion, the second was conjecture

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Yes, purely opinion based is a good reason to close a question (hence the reason that close reason exists) and a reason to downvote answers.

The way it's supposed to work on SE is that while certainly, there are domains that don't have objective answers, you are intended to use the guidance in Good Subjective, Bad Subjective to leverage people's actual expertise and not just Internet Tough Guy posing. The linked article contains six guidelines as to how to tell a good subjective question vs a bad subjective question.

Guidelines for Great Subjective Questions (see the linked article for more)

  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.

You can then answer them using the Back It Up! principle.

Back It Up! means that your answers must be based on either:

  • Something that happened to you personally
  • Something you can back up with a reference

We implemented these guidelines on RPG.SE and had really good results, allowing meaningful discussion of the more experiential parts of role-playing games without it just being people spitting out their unsubstantiated opinions of what practices "suck" or not. We could use more of that here. Many of these questions could be answered with references or personal expertise, but mainly since the community is tolerant of random personal preferences, that's how they get answered and are of low overall quality. That then leads to more aggressive closing, as it's likely that a questionably subjective question to become a time-waster rather than a useful Q&A.

Following Good Subjective, Bad Subjective both on questions and answers mean more clear opens vs closes and better answers to open questions.

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    If you've quoted directly from the article, you probably should format those bits as block quotes.
    – ColleenV
    Nov 16 '21 at 17:10

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