When you ask a question like:

What's the best way to do "X"

The preview/editing engine in SO warns you that this is a subjective question and is likely to be closed. Which makes sense. My guess is that it sees the word "best" in there and assumes it's subjective.

However, I'd argue that a question like:

Best practices on doing "X"?

is not subjective in instances where it's been established what the Best practices are on something and the question is asking what those are (and the question will act as a reference for others).

And these questions tend to not get closed so I'd say improve the parsing (assuming I'm right about it) to warn if it sees "best" but not if it sees "best practices"

EDIT: ok, so this question was unpopular. That's fine. But it occured to me that my original point was lost so I'm going to add this and drop the subject.

SO has a tag called "best-practices". And yet, if you ask a question with the word "best" in it, you get this message which, while it doesn't necessarily mean your question will be closed, is potentially confusing to users since you're fine with asking about best practices but are getting on to them anyway.

That was my point. Not whether or not you should be asking those questions, but rather that it might confuse or annoy some users that you're fine with them asking best practices questions to the point of having a tag for it, but are going to nag them anyway.

  • 1
    you know what they say about assumptions... – Troggy Aug 4 '09 at 18:52
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    They taste like spinach casserole – TheTXI Aug 4 '09 at 18:54
  • And they give you flatulence. – GEOCHET Aug 4 '09 at 19:02
  • Welbog ;) not bad – akarnokd Aug 4 '09 at 19:03
  • What's the best practice for asking subjective questions? – Ian Elliott Aug 4 '09 at 19:09
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    @kd304: Excuse me why the hell are you bringing me into this? – Welbog Aug 4 '09 at 19:13
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    @Welbog: He was hoping you'd bring donuts. – Eric Aug 4 '09 at 19:29
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    I LOVE DONUTS – Welbog Aug 4 '09 at 19:32
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    This comment string is Subjective and Argumentative. I vote to close. – devinb Aug 4 '09 at 20:41

I don't think you understand 'subjective'. Best practices are almost always subjective.


Best practices are completely subjective and it should be warned. Something is a best practice because it is the method preferred by the majority, but it is in no way the most correct method for the general case.

Also adding complexity to the warning system is flawed in its own sense. It is a warning system, as it still lets you continue with your actions. You being human and all should be able to tell if your question is really subjective, it just gives you a heads up.

  • The value of the practice might be subjective, but the existence of the practice is objective. It's like saying "what is the consensus regarding the end of the world in 2012?" asking if it is correct is different than asking if there is such a consensus and if so what is it. – Sled Dec 5 '12 at 21:36

However, I'd argue that a question like:

Best practices on doing "X"?

is not really subjective since in some cases it's been established what the Best practices are on something and the question is asking what those are (and the question will act as a reference for others).

You can argue that, but you're still wrong. If there's really and truly a single, objective, agreed-upon Best Way... Then you'll get that in an answer to any question on doing "X". If not, you've just set yourself up for a bunch of subjective, possibly-argumentative responses.

Ask, "How should I do X?" Or ask, "How might X be done?" And leave it at that. Let the voting system on SO and your own good judgment find the Best Practice for you...

  • I've modified my question some. – Tom Kidd Aug 4 '09 at 18:57
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    Now it's pointless: if you know there's an Established Best Practice, why are you asking a question? Just use the Established Best Practice! – Shog9 Aug 4 '09 at 19:00
  • What if you know there is a practice but you don't know what it is? Don't say Google it - that's what SO is for – Tom Kidd Aug 4 '09 at 19:24
  • So you know that, for doing X, there's a Single Best Way that Everyone Agrees On, but you just can't recall what? Ok, that sounds like a really specific scenario. And so what? If you ask, "How might I accomplish X?" you'll still get the right answer, seeing as how it's the incontestable best one and everyone agrees on it. There's no harm in not asking explicitly for The One True Way; if there is one, you'll find out anyway, and if there isn't, then by not asking for it you've avoided starting a fight. Win-Win! – Shog9 Aug 4 '09 at 19:35

Just because it suggests that it might be subjective doesn't mean that you have to follow through with what it says. If you are more than sure that it is an alright question, post it.

Francesca is not perfect, although she tries her best.


I would say that best practices are subjective, and therefore a warning is justified. SO doesnt prohibit you from asking the question, but the warning will most likely prompt you to reread your question before posting, which is a good thing.


While there certain can be questions asked that contain best or best practices that are not subjective, the majority are, so the choice was made to provide a warning to the user. That said, it is just a warning, and if you believe your question is not subjective, you're free to ask it, just don't say you haven't been warned.


I don't find Best Practices subjective. If they are the best, there is an ordering of quality. The ordering of quality is based upon a quality metric. "Crashes less", "Higher probability of flaw". These are not subjective.

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