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Are area51 proposals that intentionally deal with subjective questions allowed?
Should we have a subjective version of every Stack Exchange site?

Stack Overflow allows only questions that can be answered and not initiate discussions. I understand that the reason for having such a strict policy is to maintain quality standards.

However the Q&A policy wasn't so strict a few years ago and allowed several open-ended questions which had some amazing answers. See, Why are there some type of questions that are open and highly upvoted, while others of that same type are closed? Can someone explain?

Most of these questions are locked and marked as "not to be used as examples for asking similar questions".

But beginners, like me, tend to have many open ended questions, for which I would badly need the expertise and guidance of the programming community of StackOverflow.

I understand that SE sites usually do not allow this, but is there a possibility of creating a separate site where such kind of questions can be entertained? Does Area 51 allow me to create such a site?

I am asking with reference to questions like Resource on computing time complexity of algorithms


4 Answers 4


The problem is that the format, the whole way these sites were designed, doesn't match an open discussion. It is meant to be a place where you ask a question, and get answers which are ordered by community votes.

It's actually complicated to have a discussion on such sites, even on Meta. The only way to actually discuss something is in the comments, and it's visible that it's quite limiting, and not made for an extended discussion. Even troubleshooting is complicated at times.

And for the "What is the best..." questions, in the end it's not about picking the best answer to a question. All it does is an inventory on which people upvote and downvote according to their personal preferences.

So it makes sense to refuse such open-ended questions, they don't fit on such Q&A site.

  • I don't think the OP is asking about a site for open discussions, but rather a site that allows more open ended questions, such as asking questions that can have many right answers like resource requests or best practices. Which answer you choose is based on your specific situation.
    – Rachel
    Aug 30, 2012 at 14:01
  • I understand but open ended questions have been asked and have obtained great answers and a larger number of upvotes.
    – Max
    Aug 30, 2012 at 14:02
  • @Rachel - That's what I meant. Thanks.
    – Max
    Aug 30, 2012 at 14:04
  • Same issue. These sites are really geared towards pushing "the best answer" to the top. Such questions proposing an inventory of different products or practices don't have a "best" answer. All you will get is a vote by popularity, at best.
    – Gnoupi
    Aug 30, 2012 at 14:14
  • @Gnoupi That's awesome though. All the good answers are the first thing you read on the question, and you have a great list of items to choose from based on your situation. I think even the popularity factor is good because typically you want a common solution instead of an obscure one, and those will be voted to the top.
    – Rachel
    Aug 30, 2012 at 14:17
  • @Gnoupi - What you say is applicable to open-ended questions as well.
    – Max
    Aug 30, 2012 at 14:20
  • @Rachel - there were a lot of questions like that on Super User. Yes, they were useful to find new things. But it's not matching the format. Most of them ended with Mozilla Firefox on top of the list. In the end you have people voting for the programs they like and downvoting the ones they don't. At this point, it's not about finding the best answer, it's just about popularity voting. And that's not the purpose of such sites.
    – Gnoupi
    Aug 30, 2012 at 14:20
  • @Gnoupi The OP is asking about the possibility of creating a site through Area51 that allows this kind of question though, and is not trying to get it implemented on any of the current sites.
    – Rachel
    Aug 30, 2012 at 14:27
  • @Rachel - I'm aware of that. But the framework is the same, even for a new site. It is still centered around pure Q&A. For questions that can be answered. My point is that such thing doesn't really match the framework.
    – Gnoupi
    Aug 30, 2012 at 15:08
  • @Gnoupi We'd never get anywhere in life if we refused to do anything that didn't match an existing framework :) "We can't build things that fly, cars aren't meant to fly!" But anyways, I think the SE framework is a great Q&A framework, and would work fine with any Q&A site. The only thing that may not match exactly with open-ended questions is the "Selected Answer" feature.
    – Rachel
    Aug 30, 2012 at 15:43
  • 1
    @Rachel - We can build sites that allow for open-ended questions and discussions. I just pointed out that the SE network was not one in its current form. To take your analogy, SE is the car. That's doesn't mean that there can't be a site better suited for discussion, just that it's not suited for flying, in its current form.
    – Gnoupi
    Aug 30, 2012 at 15:46
  • @Gnoupi My whole point is, I don't think your answer accurately answers what the question is. It refers to discussions instead of open ended questions, and your final line says it makes sense to refuse these types of questions because they don't fit on the site, which wasn't the question at all. Perhaps you can update it so it directly addresses the question being asked? Even something like "No I don't think SE should allow for new sites with open-ended questions because ..."
    – Rachel
    Aug 30, 2012 at 16:19

Those questions were asked before the rules were as well-defined as they are now. They are only kept around for historical reasons, and the note on them (as you noticed) explicity says that similar questions are not acceptable.

That being said, here are some sites where you can try asking your questions:

However, such questions are not acceptable on the Stack Exchange network.


I love the stack exchange engine and would definitely be interested in helping to create more open ended SE sites on Area 51 if SE would allow it, providing they maintain the Q&A style and do not degenerate into discussion forums.

SE is far better than other online Q&A sites I have found for a few reasons:

  • The best answers are always at the top (providing you're sorting by votes)

  • Answers are clearly marked, and you're not wading through a lot of comments or questions to find the answer

  • Anyone can edit posts, so the grammar and spelling is normally edited into something readable and easy on the eyes

  • The targeted communities ensure that everyone participating shares a common interest

  • The tag system makes it easy to find questions that interest you

  • The reputation/badge system encourages users to keep participating in the site, and is a decent way to tell how knowledgeable a user in in a particular tag or topic

  • Any community member can help maintain the site, not just moderators, which leads a lot more users helping with the janitorial work

I feel these things are what makes a high-quality Q&A site, and not specific rules about how a question should be asked.

Some of the best questions on this site are opened ended, and have many great answers that equally answer the question. Some might not have a single right answer to the question, while with others the determining factor in which answer you select is based on your specific situation. I find these questions a great resource for many users, and would not consider them "discussions"

But I'm not sure that SE will allow such a site.

Programmers.SE was originally meant to be a more open ended site where you could ask subjective questions, but at some point it was decided that the questions it attracted didn't meant the quality standards that SE wanted, so the site's direction got changed. I loved participating in the site back in its early days, and learned a lot from it, but have since quit participating because it is no longer the resource it once was for programmers.

You can learn so much through open ended questions that you cannot learn through targetted questions, because there is a lot that you don't know you don't know. So providing SE supports such a proposal, I would definitely be interested in helping to create and participating in a Q&A site that allows open-ended questions again.

  • 5
    I disagree; I think the specific rules about what sort of questions can/can't be asked are one of the most important things that make SE a high-quality Q/A network. Aug 30, 2012 at 13:52
  • I too love this site. Sometimes, I need guidance from this community regarding specific topics, unfortunately I cannot do it on this site. I'd love to use chat rooms, but I dont have enough reputation. :(
    – Max
    Aug 30, 2012 at 13:54
  • @AndrewBarber I rephrased that line a bit. I was referring to rules about how a question should be asked, and realized the way it was previously worded made it sound like I disagreed with all rules about what questions can/can't be asked. Some rules are great, such as what is on/off topic, but I disagree with the need to format your question in a specific way for it to be considered high quality.
    – Rachel
    Aug 30, 2012 at 13:58
  • 1
    @Max With regards to chat rep, you only need 20 for as far as I know. Even with suggested edits alone you should be able to get there within a day easily.
    – Bart
    Aug 30, 2012 at 14:00
  • @Rachel: It's not a question of fromatting. It's a question of what is being asked. Whether a question is open-ended or discussiony has nothing to do with formatting. Aug 30, 2012 at 16:06
  • @NicolBolas Then perhaps you are thinking of a different definition of formatting than I am. I am referring to questions that are asked in a specific format, such as questions asking for a list of answers (Example: What resources are available for X), or for answers that each contain a small part of an ultimate answer (Example: What kind of things should an X developer know?).
    – Rachel
    Aug 30, 2012 at 16:13

Regarding the specific SO question you linked to (now closed as Not Constructive), while it's not fit to this Q&A engine, it could be rewritten as one or many more specific questions, focusing on examples of what the OP doesn't understand, and I'm sure that would lead to great answers, many of them possibly containing links do valuable resources where the matter is discussed in more detail.

My point is: it's possible to achieve the same goals in terms of learning, by asking questions that are more fit to the site.

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