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The first experiment of a subjective proposal - programmers - was created 11 days ago and has been in public beta for 4 days so far.

As a private beta user I followed the website since day 1, reading most questions (even though I didn't actively participate much), and so far my impression is very good: programmers is a wonderful website to read when you have some time to kill. It's like reading a magazine.

In my opinion, reading Worst coding standard you've ever had to follow is much more fun than reading How can I sort an SQLite query ignoring articles (“the”, “a”, etc.), and thus it's no surprise that most of the stackoverflow most popular questions actually belong on programmers, as they are subjective/argumentative (but have been grand-fathered).

I believe that the very nature of subjective answers make them more interesting. Of course there is a (big) place for non-subjective websites where you can get help or help with a specific problem, but I think there should be a (big) place for subjective websites too.

It's early to say (this is meant to be an ongoing discussion that will probably last months), but so far programmers seems to be one of the more successful - if not the most successful - proposals ever created. It has 5k views a day, and the only beta website with more views is gaming.

So, what do you say? Should subjective proposals be allowed? Can they be successful?

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marked as duplicate by gnat, Martijn Pieters, hims056, Aziz Shaikh, Tobias Kienzler Sep 6 '13 at 6:41

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
"but have been grand-fathered" Some date from the early days. I'm OK with grandfathered describing those. As for the rest, the "responsible" voices (i.e. people who agree with me) have simply been out voted by hordes of those other people. / Eagerly awaiting the day Programmers leaves beta soes I can suggest shipping the cruft out wholesale. –  dmckee Sep 12 '10 at 21:18
    
They are allowed and if they are successful or not, we will find out in a few months. Do you have some time to kill or why do you ask this totally unnecessary question? –  Ladybug Killer Sep 12 '10 at 21:19
    
@Ladybug: they are not normally allowed, take a look at the FAQ, area51.stackexchange.com/faq. Also this is not a question but rather a discussion (check out the tags); I'm not asking anything, we are discussing and giving our opinions on whether subjective websites can work. If you believe that discussing this is "totally unnecessary" you are very welcome to not participate. –  Andreas Bonini Sep 12 '10 at 21:21
    
You use a lot of question marks for someone who does not ask anything. –  Ladybug Killer Sep 12 '10 at 21:34
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It seems to me that the only appropriate response to this is to close it as 'subjective and argumentative,' so I voted. –  Rosinante Sep 12 '10 at 23:17

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

It depends if your ultimate goal is entertainment -- or mastery of a topic, through teaching others and learning from others.

http://scobleizer.com/2009/11/02/the-chat-roomforum-problem-an-apology-to-technosailor/

Why do blogs bring more value over time?

Because bloggers get smarter over time and they have more experiences to pull on.

I noticed this in talk radio, too. Generally a talk radio host will get better over time. Why? As she or he gets more popular he/she will get better guests, be invited to better events, and become better studied on the topics they are talking about.

In other words, they become an expert.

I find I’m craving experts lately. People who build things. People who do things. People who make things happen. Tony Robbins, when he spoke at the Twitter Conference last month said that Twitter is his knowledge machine. He uses it to import great minds.

The thing is in the early days of a community having serendipity, which is what Facebook and FriendFeed’s forum features bring, make things a lot of fun. After all, it makes finding people who are like minded with you easier.

But eventually the experts (ie, people who are teaching you stuff) get drowned out and you are left with an experience that looks more like the magazine rack at a grocery store than a book shelf at Harvard.

Money quote: "the more conversations I got involved in the less I found I was learning."

Stack Overflow is for programmers who are doing things, and the questions on Stack Overflow are a necessary and natural consequence of working on real programming projects, however big or small.

While we do tolerate a certain amount of "fun" here, the emphasis is on getting concrete answers to specific questions, not random discussion.

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Um... You're incredulous that a S&A site is fun and seems to be doing well? Really?!

The Internet is built on Subjective and Argumentative!

From USENET to Reddit, from Slashdot to Twitter, the biggest source of idle entertainment around has always come from people of different languages, backgrounds, colors and creeds, spontaneously coming together to tell one another exactly why they're wrong, wrong, WRONG and also stupid and ugly.

It's addictive, an instant rush of adrenaline, the perfect drug, and fun for the whole family.

The only reason why it's discouraged on SO is the nasty tendency it has to completely destroy any sane, polite, informative discourse. But if you're just looking for a good time, it's S&A All The Way, BABY!

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Emphasis on the informative. If Stack Overflow lost that, I'd be a sad panda again. That's why I'm against Subjective 'fun' questions on Stack Overflow, because they invite people to ask other of those types of questions and the tough questions are ignored, instead of celebrated. –  George Stocker Sep 13 '10 at 1:51
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stackoverflow is, and has always been, for people who are trying to get actual work done. programmers.se ... not so much. –  Jeff Atwood Sep 13 '10 at 5:44

In a word, yes.

Because of the anti-subjective emphasis here on Stack Overflow, people often say that Stack Exchange can't work with subjective, or won't, or shouldn't, or doesn't etc..

Don't take my word for it though:

I believe you can have an inherently subjective (and successful) SE site if that is the focus of your site. Votes would be for more helpful advice, better formulated opinions, better-written descriptions, etc. But the caveat is, you CAN NOT mix the two. You either have a canonical database of knowledge or a best-of opinion poll. Not both. If you mix them, the subjective questions become the low-hanging fruit and bury the information in noise. Opinion mixes with fact. The information curve and the signal-to-noise ratio goes in the wrong direction.

(Robert Cartaino, in a comment on this answer)

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