When users pull up the VTC panel, the description for "Primarily Opinion-Based" is:

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.

We discuss fiction. With the exception of questions about natural processes and orbital mechanics, they're all opinionated — very opinionated.

There are the better part of two pages of Meta questions about POB and not a few of them are asking about its definition on a site where the traditional SE defintion doesn't make sense. (For example, here (one of my own), here, and here.)

In my own experience, POB has come to mean...

The OP has not provided sufficient background or justification to determine which answer is acceptable.

Which is a fancy way of saying, it's POB from the OP's perspective. As in, the best answer isn't obvious, it was just the one the OP liked the best with no rationalization justifying why.

The last few days have seemed to be over-burdened with questions being closed for POB, even when it made more sense to close them for other reasons. Here's some examples:

It feels like people are simply defaulting to POB and I worry that it's from the perspective of "I can't see how you can answer this question with facts, so it must be POB." Maybe I'm wrong, but that's an issue we occasionally need to fight against on this site. People want answers to be factual on a site that's about science fiction.

This brings me to my question:

Question: Is it possible to change the descriptive text for "Primarily Opinion-Based" in the VTC dialog?

If no, then this entire discussion is basically moot and we'll be fighting the forces of evil forever.

If the answer is yes, then I'd like to propose a discussion about nailing down what POB means to the creative process of worldbuilding.

  • $\begingroup$ For your first point, I agree that it's a duplicate of the linked question, but it doesn't invalidate the POB reason as "what would this look like" is purely up to the author. For your second point, POB still fits as all the answers would purely be based on opinions (and the author can pick whatever he likes), and the third one is 100% POB AND too broad at the same time; There's no reason why a question can't break the rules in more than one way, many bad questions could be closed under more than one reason. $\endgroup$
    – Aify
    Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Aify Q1, point conceded. Q2 had a lengthy lis of criteria, all of which you dismissed. Almost NO question can meet your expectation, espeically magic. Nearly all WB questions require some amount of opinion. You just closed half the questions on the site because junior participants often trust the lead of experienced participants. Q3, POB was the least valuable VTC reason as duplicate Qs have useful answers and that link is now lost. POB is used too often. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 18:58
  • $\begingroup$ You're right about #2, I misinterpreted the list as the plot instead of as requirements. #2 should be story based. I'm confused about what you mean with regard to #3 though. $\endgroup$
    – Aify
    Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Aify, it's a pain to be a perfectionist. #3 could have been closed as a duplicate, which would have been more valuable than POB because the link to the duplicate question would lead others (theoretically) along the chain to find what answers there are. There are answers, and some are pretty good. Closing it as POB means it comes up on searches, but without a link to the duplicate Qs, it's wasted electrons. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 22:56
  • $\begingroup$ Alright, I agree with your duplicate decision on #3 - note that I didn't realize it was a dupe when I VTC'd it though. It was never flagged as a dupe. $\endgroup$
    – Aify
    Commented Jun 12, 2018 at 23:12
  • $\begingroup$ Your discussion about "a fancy way of saying" puzzles me. Wanting to know how an OP wants a given answer seems unnecessary. If the OP knew what answer was going to be acceptable, they wouldn't need to ask their question. If it's POB from the OP's perspective, who cares? It's irrelevant. It's WBers who argue for justification or background sometimes quite rightly, but not always. if POB has come to mean determining acceptable answers, then it's time to go back to its criteria of facts, references & expertise. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 5:47
  • $\begingroup$ If what you mean is: The OP has not provided sufficient background or justification to facilitate the answering of the question. Then this makes sense. The business of somehow knowing or even needing to know what is an acceptable answer is pointless for worldbuilding perspective. It might soothe the feelings of some nervous WBers, but that's not what we're here for. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 5:54
  • $\begingroup$ @a4android, is this discussion useful? The standard SE definition of POB doesn't apply here unless we wish to dispense with most of what we treasure (such as questions about magic). There is no way to change that definition and no profitable way to drill into the minds of participants what might make sense. Insofar as I'm concerned, there is no valid reason to ever close a question as POB as no rational definition can be applied. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 6:29
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JBH Yes discussion is useful. It's also futile, wearing & can be depressing. Generally, I agree with your conclusion. Mostly folk ignore the criteria for VTCs. With POB, they only have to have an opinion a question is POB and it's POB. You're the standard SE definition of POB doesn't apply here, not in a useful sense where WBing is concerned. I have argued elsewhere that questions need to be answered with logic, commonsense, reason & historical analogy in addition to facts, references & specific expertise. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Commented Jun 15, 2018 at 4:36

1 Answer 1


There are custom close reasons for "Off-Topic", but not for any other category

There are some discussions on Meta, such as Categories other than “off-topic” should allow custom close reasons, that talk about this and outline that communities can currently only change their custom close reasons for "Off-Topic". The high-level close reasons (Primarily Opinion Based, Too Broad, Duplicate and Unclear) can't be changed and even localized sites should only translate and not change. See also this very similar question on RPG.SE: Should/can we change the Duplicate notification?

If you want communities to be able to change the text for POB you need network wide changes. By making a you could theoretically get the attention of the StackExchange staff. Or to give an idea about what could potentially be done: you need to be satisfied with a custom Off-Topic close reason and discouraging the usage of the standard reason. Not a great idea in my opinion, but Off-Topic is the only thing we can influence. Every site gets three custom Off-Topic close reasons per default and can potentially get up to five if they show that they need it.


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