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There's a new post at the Stack Exchange blog: Good Subjective, Bad Subjective. It's well worth reading.

The gist is that it is indeed possible to ask subjective questions within the Stack Exchange framework, within certain limits.

This in particular resonates for me:

The folks at Moms4mom owned up to the subjective issue and came up with a set of principles to create useful subjective discussions on parenting: the Back It Up! Principle. Back It Up! means that your answers must be based on either:

  • Something that happened to you personally
  • Something you can back up with a reference

They talk about how “opinion, by itself, is noise.” They’re not saying that subjective opinions are to be avoided; they’re attempting to mold and shape their inherently subjective Q&A into something constructive, informative and helpful. As it turns out, there is an entire field of subjective “expertise” that has the hallmarks of making great Q&A sites:

The post continues with guidelines for asking subjective questions, and I can't think of much here that doesn't follow them. Most of the questions asked here have been pretty focused, with a very few exceptions.

What does everyone else think?

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I think that Is listening to music dangerous while cycling? is a good example of how a 'subjective' question can work on SE. What differentiates the SE from a normal forum is

  • Feedback on the question to narrow the original focus where necessary
  • multiple good answers to the original question (addressing the question, not someone else's answer)
  • discussion about answers allowed for, but limited to comments
  • and, it's got to be said, a user group who are prepared to not abuse the system, avoid taking the bait, or otherwise allow borderline questions descend into chaos.
  • Yeah, I cringed when I first saw the title on that one, but I slowly realized that it is indeed a good question to ask -- here. The answers are civilized and useful, and theres good information in that question about why people do what they do. – Neil Fein Sep 30 '10 at 23:19

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