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I have newly acquired the ability to vote on Close/Re-Open questions and whilst going through the queue, I noticed a pattern.

Looking on here, I found this question: Here which talks about what differentiates between a question that is closed for being too Opinion based vs one that has an Opinion element, but ought to remain open.

However, reading through the discussion hasn't addressed my thoughts.

If I compare this to other SEs that I'm part of - say, for example, someone dared ask the ultimate opinion Question:

"Which is better, Android or Iphone" - we all know that such a question would very quickly devolve into mud-slinging between the two factions. And whilst some people would post up well thought out and reasoned cases as to why they have their preference or what needs a particular platform suited best - the risk of a full-scale flame-war is an inevitability and would tarnish the reputation of SE as a place where one comes to seek knowledge (or more realistically, copy and paste bits of code other people have written to solve the issue they are facing.)

I have no issue with that.

When it comes to Workplace - this rule seems to run counter to what Workplace actually is.

The majority of the questions asked here are "I have problems X at my Workplace, how do I navigate it?" - which, by it's very nature is an opinion based question. There is no definitive answer on how to solve a workplace problem. And whilst some may argue that with Coding SEs there's also no definitive way to solve an issue, the answers put forth can be tested and proved correct or incorrect.

I accept that there is a lot of grey area here - for example, a question of "Should I change careers?" is fairly easy to close as opinion based, it's not a question that we, the community, can answer for an individual.

Other questions, whilst still being predominantly opinion based, can generate a range of answers that can help the user navigate corporate life - for example, I often advocate for a more disagreeable response to Workplace issues, because there is data to support that this is the best solution long-term and because in my personal experience, setting clear boundaries with my Employer has had a net benefit for me and my career. Other people may advocate a different, more diplomatic tact. Both approaches have their merits and the individual asking the question is free to choose one or a combination of all the answers to resolve their issue.

but this is still an opinion based Question, with opinion based answers and against the site rules in it's strictest interpretation

My question is therefore:

"Unlike most other SE where opinion questions would illicit counter-productive arguments. The nature of the problems that most askers seek assistance on WP are going to be opinion based. The value that WP SE adds to the users is mostly going to be opinion based. As such, is this rule applicable in it's current form or should it be adjusted and clarified to suit the particular needs of the WP Community?"

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  • "The nature of the problems that most askers seek assistance on WP are going to be opinion based." - This I believe is not necessarily true: there are many on-topic posts out there, the problem I believe is mostly phrasing (depending on it, a post can become "less" or "more" opinion-based)... "The value that WP SE adds to the users is mostly going to be opinion based." - Not true, as the value users get is unambiguous and each one can use that on-topic advice and adjust it to their workplace (or use it as-is). That's why we ask for non opinion-based posts (to avoid opinion-based answers).
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 1:22
  • That's just it - "More or less Opinion based" is still Opinion based. Unlike other areas, there is still at least 50% opinion with any given answer, especially when compared to other areas. Take for example a SQL question - one can post an answer and give a reason why it's the best way to do something for a given dataset parameters, but the answer might differ if the dataset parameters change (e.g. number of rows) - there's an element of opinion but it's minor, whereas IMO opinion makes up the majority of what we do here. Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 3:45
  • When it comes to people , in reality even peer reviewed studies are just opinion. I've seen lots of things that may work in some cultures but be utter dangerous rubbish in others.
    – Kilisi Mod
    Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 21:36
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    I recommend you to read through the related questions on this topic since it comes up semi-regularly since we are indeed not a "hard science" site like others are. Good posts to check are: workplace.meta.stackexchange.com/q/7004 workplace.meta.stackexchange.com/q/2187 and workplace.meta.stackexchange.com/q/2993. For my part my PoV is largely still the same as I described in my meta answer here.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 23:55

1 Answer 1

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Yes, we cannot run our answers here through a compiler and prove them correct. Just as you cannot run a pattern from Software Engineering through your compiler and expect a message how well it will solve your problem.

However, just as on any other SE site, there is still valid points to be made that are based on facts, not pure speculation.

  • Experience: Someone was in such a situation and did something and knows how it ended for them. Those might on first glance conflict because different people in different workplaces have different experiences. That's why it's so important to mention country and job type.
  • Laws and Regulations: Many topics here are actually covered by rules, just like programming language syntax. While some countries, leading here are probably the US, do not notice that due to their "at will" stance, in many countries, labor law is a big deal. You cannot just "do whatever" when you are the boss. Or even when you are not the boss. It might be illegal.

If an answer is based in neither experience, nor legal framework, then it is indeed pure opinion. And if a question asks for those, it will be closed.

However, I'm not a big fan of rules lawyering. A question should stand on it's own. If it can be answered from experience or from sources like laws and regulations or court decisions, then it is not opinion-based.

Even if the asker ends the question with "I would like to hear your opinion". If it is an otherwise solid question, then closing it because we got triggered by a single word in the fluffy end sentence is petty and not helpful.

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  • Good point on the laws and regulations aspect - however I didn't raise that as those type of questions regularly get closed because the asked is realistically in need of actual legal advice from an actual lawyer. That said, I tend to agree with most everything in this answer and will probably use it as my yard-stick - specifically if it does not meet the criteria of experience (even though opinion) and Legal/Policy - then I'll vote to close. Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 19:48

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