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Ove the past number of years I've noticed an uptick in questions being closed for being "opinion based" and calls for questions to be closed for that reason. My understanding was that opinion based questions were on-topic for this stack (though they may fall foul of other rules which make them off-topic, for example: shopping questions).

My question is, what makes a stackable opinion based question that is answerable on the stack? Can we quantify what the criteria are for this? Or maybe a slightly easier question, can we quantify the criteria that should result in an opinion based question being closed?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Related FAQ: Why was my question closed as too broad, unclear, or opinion-based? \$\endgroup\$
    – Someone_Evil Mod
    Apr 20 at 11:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ @BESW No, unfortunately not, as it offers conflicting advice on the "primarily-opinion based" close reason, namely this part "answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than on facts, references, or specific expertise". It is possible for an answer to be both an opinion, but also grounded in and informed by specific expertise. What I'm asking, is do we have a criteria beyond "I think this is opinion based > close" for determining when we close opinion based questions. \$\endgroup\$
    – illustro
    Apr 20 at 11:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ It may be a better idea to ask about a specific question, and in this case, I would imagine it is this one: "Stylistic, Mechanical and Contextual summaries of Candlekeep Mysteries". If you do so, you will see people actually bringing in arguments about a specific case and can deduce their feelings about topically from there as opposed to asking people to make sweeping conclusions with regards to topically on any question \$\endgroup\$ Apr 20 at 12:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 while that question is certainly the "one that broke the camel's back" so to speak, it's not just about that question, but the more broad question of how we deal with subjective opinion based questions, and when they are good and when they should definitely be closed. The FAQ covering the topic is not really helpful as it stands and leads to a lot of confusion (imo). \$\endgroup\$
    – illustro
    Apr 20 at 12:22
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Let me start by trying to boil down the issue with (primarily) opinion based questions: The answers to such questions can't be properly evaluated on their quality. That means (opposing) answers will be (up)voted for their popularity instead.

We have some means of identifying quality, most relevant here is being supported by experience based expertise (aka Good Subjective). Then, when evaluating a given question, there are two questions to ask:

  1. Can there be a well founded and identifiable as good answer to this?

  2. Is it inviting answers which aren't that?

Answering that will come down to the curator's (ie. close votes) judgement. There are simply too many things that can be one way or the other to quantify it a lot better, at least as a way to cover for all questions.

Those two tester questions can be true and false independently, but should generally be edited so that 1. is obviously clear and 2. is false. If the needed edit is obvious, such as removing a "what are your ideas about this?" or some-such to remove 2., please just do that. Otherwise it'll need to be closed until those are clear.

And as a final note, sometimes we can't really tell what answers a question will get until they're in. Sometimes we might have concerns and give the question the benefit of the doubt and a trial by fire (maybe with a stern reminder about citing experience), or a question which looked fine will have answers which aren't. Either way, questions are sometimes closed based on their answers demonstrating them opinion based. Obviously that's a lot messier, and so there is a strong preference towards getting them fixed first.


†: You can still have question types where it becomes easier to identify good marks and issues, though adding specific rules is generally not gonna save a question type. See game rec.

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