-Vote to close question because it's ''opinion based''


-Don't answer with opinions.

There's two options, but option 1 has no reason to exist

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Voting to re-open as I believe the community on this site has changed significantly in the 6+ years since the "duplicate" question was asked - and we should re-visit how we approach "opinion based" with the current attitudes of the community. $\endgroup$
    – Jimmery
    Jan 16 at 20:44
  • $\begingroup$ I genuinely and naively don't get what you mean in the body. Can you explain a bit more the two choices and end conclusion? $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jan 16 at 22:37
  • $\begingroup$ @Tortliena the FAQ of the site says ''no opinions allowed'' then what's the point of closing questions because ''uhm but people could possible answer the question with opinions! so better to close the question'' The site says clearly NO OPINIONS so there's no reason for the VTC-opinion based to exist since people are not supposed to answer with opinions at all. $\endgroup$
    – user100394
    Jan 17 at 8:53
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    $\begingroup$ @Cataphract your reading of the close reason is wrong. Anything could be answered with an opinion. The close reason is for questions that call for opinions. It's "Opinion-based", after all. A question like "Which is the best colour?" can only be answered with opinions and as such should be closed as opinion-based. A question like "What colours should be used for camouflaging in urban environment?" does not require an opinion but knowledge and facts to answer and thus shouldn't be closed as opinion-based. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Jan 17 at 8:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The crux of that supposedly duplicate query is the suggestion that an "opinion based" tag be created. I'd like to vote to reopen this question as it appears to ask something different. I totally agree with Tortliena (name spelled correctly this time!) and VLAZ that a) the body of the question needs to be clarified and b) assuming that this isn't a duplicate of some other query, it's a valid topic for discussion. $\endgroup$
    – elemtilas
    Jan 17 at 16:02
  • $\begingroup$ I think it's a good thing that Meta allows opinions, or we'd never get anywhere. I believe that this question is unique, as this is asking a different question. This asks about moderation techniques, whether we should be closing questions for asking for opinions, or deleting answers because they present opinions. Personally, I think that it's a false dichotomy, but it should be discussed. $\endgroup$ Jan 17 at 17:23
  • $\begingroup$ @RobertRapplean I don't think that's what the question says at all. To me it seems pretty clear OP did not actually understand the OB close reason and just complained about it. Which happens regularly enough. Unless the question is clarified, I see no real discussion needed here. The only thing to really say on the topic is explain what the opinion-based close reason (and maybe close reasons in general) are. Which is not new information that we need to discuss in year 2023. The linked duplicate already handles OB. $\endgroup$
    – VLAZ
    Jan 18 at 12:19
  • $\begingroup$ @VLAZ, those are the actual words of the OP. He's asking why the two mechanisms exist when one would be adequate. The thing he doesn't understand isn't the OB close reason, it's why we need two mechanisms. He's failing to recognize that the two mechanisms are under the purview of two different groups of people. At minimum, the answer should be "because normal posters can't be expected to understand that they shouldn't post unfounded opinions." $\endgroup$ Jan 18 at 17:02
  • $\begingroup$ There's actually no moratorium against opinions. There have been lengthy writeups about this. What they are trying to avoid is, basically, drivel: "What color should my main character paint their fingernails?" Something that is 100% opinion and has no worldbuilding basis at all. $\endgroup$
    – JamieB
    Jan 18 at 21:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Cataphract Like on main, remember to edit the question with the relevant clarifications. People don't always read comments and this might be detrimental in understanding what you mean. $\endgroup$
    – Tortliena
    Jan 18 at 22:34
  • $\begingroup$ @JamieB you didn't read that article very well. Thus, questions that are not answerable — discussions, debates, opinions — should be closed as subjective. It seems simple enough: Fact good; opinion and discussion bad. But why? The rest of the article backs that statement up completely with only one exception: opinions backed up with facts and references are acceptable. All of which is why the moratorium you're talking about actually does exist in the form of a dedicated VTC reason created by the company that employed the author of that article. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Feb 6 at 6:09
  • $\begingroup$ @jbh In context of Worldbuilding, that really translates to "answers that work". Can the question be answered with solid solutions? Great! Are the solutions merely spitballing? Not so great. e.g. we cannot guess how long a unicorn's horn might be, because there is no answer that isn't just 100% baseless opinion. We can present thinking on hacking a simulation because hacking (and exploits) are real things, so there are solutions to the problem. There may be multiple solutions, and "the best" may be debatable, but that's true even of the best Stack Overflow answers, too. $\endgroup$
    – JamieB
    Feb 6 at 16:20
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe to put it another way, "debatable answers" are not prohibited. A coding problem on Stack Overflow can have multiple different answers, all of which are valid, one of which may be "the best". They don't want the answers turning into a big debate ("moved to chat") but no, it is not required that a question only have 1 answer, and that the answer be absolutely undebatable. $\endgroup$
    – JamieB
    Feb 6 at 16:22
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @JamieB Wow, you're impossible. Please do not use an article that was intentionally designed to explain why opinion-based questions are excluded (not questions that lead to subjective but fact-based answers, but questions that lead to opinion-based answers) to rationalize your belief that the door to answers is wider than Stack Exchange has said it is. The VTC:Opinion-Based reason exists because Stack Exchange does not want opinion-based answers. That article is clear, Fact good; opinion and discussion bad. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Feb 6 at 22:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Obviously I disagree, @JamieB. Ignoring an article that supports my perspective? Ignoring a site history that's established the precedent I'm using? You're the one that's whitewashing everything to suit your beliefs. You've been voted down over and over and over ... but still you're "fighting tooth and nail." Yeah. I'll stop feeding the troll now. You don't know how to learn and you've not invested the time to understand. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Feb 8 at 3:21

2 Answers 2


You're forgetting the rest of Stack Exchange

Worldbuilding.SE is only one of 170+ Stacks in the Stack Exchange network, and more graduate Area 51 every year. Worldbuilding.SE has the dubious distinction of being the least objective Stack of the lot and the only one where the Opinion-Based VTC reason might not be reasonable.

All Stacks operate using the same network-wide template. What's good for the other 170+ Stacks is, by definition, something we're stuck with.

Yeah, but why isn't the SE rule against opinions enough? Why even have a VTC reason?

Again, you're not taking Stack Exchange into account. Stack Exchange believes questions should be closed quickly. SE's goal is to be the world's resource for specifically useful answers to broadly applicable questions (we're back to not being quite like the other 170+ Stacks). Given that goal, they want to STOP any and all answers that aren't specifically useful before they ever get loaded into the system because deleting answers is intensely rare — and as the number of irrelevant, not specifically useful answers grows, the value of Stack Exchange to the world decreases.

So, from SE's perspective, we should be slamming closed every question from every user that doesn't meet SE's rules or our Stack's expectations until someone edits the question to meet all those rules and expectations.1 You might not appreciate or approve of their reasoning, but given their goals, it makes sense.

Stack Exchange does not see themselves as, per se, a social media service. Unfortunately, a great many users do. That conflict comes to a head with questions about question closure. What SE sees as a way of improving the quality of their overall service we see as a mean-spirited policy that drives away new users. Trust me, they don't care — and from a business perspective, they can't.

OK, so what do we do about it?

We've tried everything.

We've tried ignoring it. We've tried redefining it. We've tried scoping it. We've even tried going to meta.SE and asking for it to become Stack-dependent so we can get rid of it. None of it works. Why? Because Stack Exchange controls the rules, the text, and the associated Help Center pages. Anything that varies from those (and this is important) canonical sources requires an unbelievable amount of policing, educating, and cat herding — and every effort has failed because it's exhausting. And our Stack Exchange overlords aren't going to change the base software for just one Stack.

So, my good friend, you... like the rest of us... are stuck with it. We all have this coming-of-age moment when we realize there's nothing we can do about Opinion-Based but deal with it.

To add insult to injury, it really is a valid and viable VTC reason on Worldbuilding.SE — even for questions about magic


Because the goal of this Stack is not to tell stories or generate ideas. It's to help build worlds. Even worlds meant to express utter chaos are required to have predictable sets of rules. And it's those rules that we're here to help people develop. Rules are reasonably objective and questions about rules are reasonably focused. Answers aren't Opinion-Based because they're based on everything from empirical examples to scientific reasoning to logic. In most instances, questions closed as Opinion-Based lacked conditions, restrictions, limitations, and expectations that would have guided answers to higher quality responses. In fact, most Opinion-Based problems (indeed, a LOT of problems) would be resolved if querents simply included the following in their questions:

  1. What is stopping them from answering their own question?
  2. What are their goals or expectations with the question?
  3. How will they judge a best answer?

If a querent can't answer those three questions for themselves, the question they want to ask on Main is almost certainly not ready to be asked.

So, if you're getting questions closed as Opinion-Based, you need to courteously ask why people felt the question was that way — and then you need to change to avoid the problem.

1We're also a bit unique about editing. Where pretty much every other Stack on the network encourages anyone to jump in and edit a question to improve its quality, we kinda hate that unless you've earned enough rep to represent basic trust. The problem is that it's pretty straight forward to know how to keep the idea of "what's 2+2?" intact, but it's a lot harder to preserve the idea of "I'm trying to balance the power of my bugaboos, which use anger as a motive force for causing damage, against their peace-loving brethren the Ababbas. How can I balance anger and peace?" We also have an unwritten rule that no edit to a question should ever invalidate an answer. I personally disagree with that, but it's what the community wants.

  • $\begingroup$ I'd argue there's an important step after a querent answers your questions three. The querent, be they pure of heart, needs to look within and rewrite their question to ask specifically about the impediment they identified in Q1. It should be clear what specific impediment they're facing and what sort of help they're looking for to overcome it. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Jan 19 at 3:26
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings I agree completely. If we could convince anyone to actually do it. I think I've seen a querent answer Q1 once. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jan 19 at 10:51

The straightforward answer is that "one is meant to head off the other".

Suppose someone asked, "What brand of shoes should my main character wear?" Being a clearly opinion based question that has nothing to do with worldbuilding, no one should answer it. Rather than get thousands of people to coordinate on not answering, it would be easier to get 5 ranking community members to close the question, thus eliminating the temptation.

As for the broader question of "why VTC opinions at all? Is subjectivity so bad?", there is a lengthy writeup about this (cherry picked quote: "There is a growing list of proposals about increasingly subjective topics, and we believe many of them are going to make great Stack Exchange sites!"). SE is well aware of the concept of subjective Q&A. They support it, and encourage it, within reasonable bounds.

Therein lies the rub. What are reasonable bounds? I think the linked writeup covers it pretty well. To some, though, it's clear that anything short of pure fact is opinion and therefore against the rules. They misunderstand the rules, but it's hard to blame them for their overly literal interpretation when one of the close reasons literally says "Opinion based" (although they have years of questions to look back on for guidance on what is acceptable for a given stack).

Just as each stack has its own community, and its own spinoff community rules, SE rules must also be subject to some local interpretation. Workplace SE might actually be even more subjective than Worldbuilding, as it is almost nothing but opinions and anecdotes. Should Workplace be closed? Is it unfit for SE? Should the community there mash VTC on every question that might incite an opinion? No. It just needs to be on topic, focused, and helpful.

Good subjective, here, is helping someone build a world, even if it means giving an opinion, so long as it is focused, on topic, and not, itself, a big debate or sheer "mindless fun".

Sometimes, it's the good answer that saves a mediocre question, and SE recognizes this too, so there is actual incentive to salvaging a question if you think you can. Vote To Close is the nuclear option -- the biggest hammer in the drawer for the rank and file user. It should be a last resort, not a first choice.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ although they have years of questions to look back on for guidance on what is acceptable for a given stack No stack permits old questions to set precedent against current rules. Rules change. The community changes them. So does Stack Exchange. In reality, there are not years of questions establishing guidance. In fact, they tend to lead our younger users astray. And VTC is the nuclear option in your opinion. In Stack Exchange's opinion, they expect questions to be closed quickly to give the OP a chance to fix them before a bunch of garbage answers show up. It's better to educate the OP. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jan 19 at 10:55
  • $\begingroup$ @jbh I'll ask again, then: what rules have changed? Is there a log of them anywhere? It's relevant for the community to see and understand rule changes. It would additionally be helpful to know what drove the change. VTC is the nuclear option, and frivolous votes to close clog up the work queue and means someone else has to sort through all of them. That has been a classic SE problem, as well. I'm less concerned that we are "misguiding new users" by tricking them with old posts, and more concerned that we are driving off valuable veterans, by claiming rule changes that never happened. $\endgroup$
    – JamieB
    Jan 19 at 14:29
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Painfully, no. But as luck (good or bad) would have it, there is still an example. If you check out this Help Center page you'll see an old list of VTC reasons. Of the 5 reasons listed, only 2 survive today. SE changes the rules from time to time. It's their service, they can do what they want. We get to live with it. You've just not used the service long enough to know this. So, having proven that you don't know what you're taking about ("...by claiming rule changes that never happened..."), where would you like to go? $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jan 19 at 18:26
  • $\begingroup$ And for the record, though there's no longer evidence that it's happened, SE has changed both the "On-Topic" and "Don't Ask" pages. It's frustrating... but you claiming it doesn't happen is causing more problems than it's solving. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jan 19 at 18:27
  • $\begingroup$ So no relevant rules have changed, no actual problem is being solved, and there is still no explanation for your position other than you believe it. Fortunately, we are both just 1 vote and I'm content enough to carry on in that fashion. $\endgroup$
    – JamieB
    Jan 20 at 0:37
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Changing VTC reasons is a relevant rule change, . And when you get a gold badge in a tag topic (as I have), your vote becomes five votes for that topic. Maybe you ought to embrace the rules provided by the service provider and the policies of the Stack rather than assuming you're in any way the equal of either (or at least take the time to understand what they are). $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Jan 20 at 0:46
  • $\begingroup$ @jbh I embrace the rules provided by the service provider. I think you need to review the code of conduct and realize you are not a site administrator, or the arbiter of rules. As you once told me, if you don't like someone's opinion, downvote and move on. $\endgroup$
    – JamieB
    Jan 20 at 18:17

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