I answer here due to my comments on mxyzplk becoming too long.
I agree on one thing. Forum behavior must be discouraged. With Forum behavior I mean where answers are used for dialog among users. Every user should post one answer. This point is trivial, but makes SE and its usage stand out against forums.
I checked a bit on meta.SO for the meaning of CW, and the point is: nobody knows for sure. The only point that is made is that a CW is some post where 1) votes do not reflect skills (which imho is slightly wrong, since rep does not necessarily correlate with skills) 2) the post is owned by the community, not by a particular person. To me, the nature of the design of CW with a Q/A site where every answer is associated to a person makes little sense. Why should I edit your answer anyway ? This would make more sense if there were only one "answer space" available in CW, with this answer belonging to the community. But ok... this is SE design, I'm not here to discuss that.
The point clearly is: we need to encourage good answers to good questions, not good discussion to good starting issues. Hold your horses, though. What is the difference between a discussion and a question/answer ?
A discussion implies an intense exchange of opinions with retorts and counter-retorts. This behavior must be fought against. Our scope is that someone asks a question, and some other people provide answers. The appreciation of each answer by the community is voted (up or down) and the original question author can give his own recognition to his preferred answer by ticking. So far so good. This behavior is simple, googleable, quick (I have a need -> I solve my need) and straightforward.
Then we come to the problem of subjectivity. There are various kind of questions a person can ask. Those who accept a clear, exclusive answer. examples from various domains
- What is the surface area of a cone?
- How do I initialize a list of a given length in python ?
- What are the changes in AC between AD&D and D&D 3.5 ?
Those who accept different possible answers, because they are different strategies (all equally good) to achieve the same goal:
- How can I prove the pythagora theorem ? (you can prove it in many different ways, and no one is better than the other, although maybe someone is easier to be presented)
Those who accept different possible answers, because the strategies are different (and some strategies can be better in some situations than others)
- How to recognize malicious source code?
- How many parameters are too many?
The problem we face is subjectivity. Apparently, subjectivity is when the personal, non-mathematical, non-specified-in-literature gut-feeling enters into the answer. There can be questions that today are subjective and won't be subjective in 10 years. Example... Suppose someone asks "Is object oriented programming suitable for my project ?". In 1980, such question would be a heated source of discussion. Today, the answer is relatively straightforward and most definitely is a yes.
Again, a question about how many parameters go into a routine is kind of subjective, but it's well agreed that too many is a bad idea, so there's no real subjectivity involved, at least today. Idem for the malicious source code. There are different techniques, some better than others, but they are specified in literature or experience. These questions generally lack the gut-feeling scenario, but it's worth noting that the gut-feeling scenario can change according to crystallized knowledge and acquired experience in the field.
So we are still at the same point. What is a "subjective" question ? And is a subjective question bad or not ? Let's see an example of what is clearly a subjective (a bad one by virtue of its subjectiveness) question:
- Should my character be blonde or dark haired ?
Here everybody has his own answer, according to his preference, and whatever answer the player gives has no effect on the game whatsoever. Another one
- Should my character be LG or CG ?
This is another bad subjective question. The choice, in this case, has an effect in terms of gameplay, but it's impossible to answer properly without considering the context. The same question asked in this way:
- Should my paladin be LG or CG ?
definitely has an answer, and a right one.
Another example (not rpg related):
- should I put decorative sunflowers on my dinner table ?
is a bad subjective question if asked in the DIY SE, but it becomes a matter of style and presentation on the Cooking SE, where there's concern about visual impact on guests in a restaurant, and eventually can answer with a "no. they smell too much" (I assume they smell. I've never sniffed a sunflower)
In conclusion, the issue of bad subjectivity can be solved by asking yourself the following two questions, one after another:
- "Has this question a value of quickly solving a problem of general interest or providing strategies to solve it, within in the context of this SE argument, regardless if the answer comes from personal feeling or from a clearly specified book ?". if Yes, then it should stay open. If No, it should be closed.
- "Has the question no potentially better answer (in terms of either technical exactness or greater personal satisfaction) that can be picked by the OP out of the pool? and any upvote that any particular answer could collect does not reflect the skills of the person answering ?". If yes to both of them, then it's a CW, otherwise it's a regular question.