Okay, I made it through a page and a half of questions on this sub-domain that came up under the search "subjective", so I'm sorry if this has already been discussed to death. Please close this as duplicate with a pointer to the best question already asked, as I'm sure if this is a duplicate, it's not the only one.

So, I asked a subjective question a while back because I stopped being able to see the line between subjective and objective when questions like "should I learn more about xyz" and "what is your favorite tool for thisorthat" and "favorite tricks for nameyourlanguage" kept coming up. And I got shut down right away. I'm not bitter. I was. But I'm not now. But it is a bit of a drag

a) seeing obviously subjective/personal questions get upvoted with hundreds of responses

b) seeing obviously subjective questions that are fun or intriguing get shut down after 10 minutes.


c) seeing obviously corny/boring/begging-to-get-shut-down questions in the way of real questions.

I know that the last one is everyone's least favorite and I'd like to think that the subjective rule was created for just those questions. But since subjective duh is a matter of taste, my (c) may be your (b) or (a) and so forth.

And having seen how much discussion has already gone down about this, I'm wondering if maybe we ought to accept that we're not just experts (or those in need of one, or both), but nerds who want to talk shop.

To further this discussion, I'd like to pose a question, a point, and a concept:

question: What are the stats on subjective questions? And by that I mean, are they more likely to be asked be someone with a higher reputation or someone with little or no reputation? I ask because there is a difference between having a place for us all to wax poetically on our favorite CS joke, and having a problem with vandals storming the gates and asking silly questions about whether HTML is stupid or just really dumb. (I'm not sure that made sense at all. I'll try that again...)

Are subjective questions typically asked by folks as one of their first 10 questions?

a point: I have never understood how community wiki works, how to tell if a question is of that category, how to see only those questions or filter them out, etc. And from what I can tell from previous discussion here, it has a few flaws to be worked out either way. Wouldn't a community.stackoverflow alleviate most of the problems (or at least give us a stern finger to point people?).

a concept: I think it would be silly to award points and reputation based on subjective questions, as they don't have a right answer. But the idea of trying to do such reminds me of one of my favorite British shows entitled QI. Celebrities must answer questions that are impossibly hard and trivial and rather then simply getting points for knowing the answer, they are rewarded points for being Quite Interesting. Now, I imagine that would be near to impossible to judge as a group (rabble/angry mob/etc) but at the very least, it could be an encouraging model for such a SO site and would at the very least justify the idea of points for "right answers".

So, having thrown all of that out there, I'm dying to know, is such a SO site already in the works?


Subjective is the most lucrative tag on SO, in general asking subjective questions will lead to the largest amount of upvotes. This is a direct result of the bike shed effect. The unfortunate side effect is that it erodes from the value and usefulness of SO.

In the past I thought just ship the 5000 community wiki questions to another site and be done with the community wiki concept. Nobody understands what it means, everyone has a slightly different definition. Give the hordes a place where only polls and subjective questions are allowed and let them gain infinite reputation.

But, the side effect is that this would splinter knowledge which may end up being bad long term. Also, more importantly, community wiki / multi answer is not what the SO engine is good at. It was designed for a single great answer and a single question, per topic.

So will there be a subjective.stackoverflow.com? Unless its a stackexchange thingy, I doubt it.

  • 2
    Even the name seems misplaced, why "Community" wiki? Aren't wikis by default community editable? – Vinko Vrsalovic Sep 7 '09 at 23:56
  • I'm not clear on your statement that such a site "would splinter knowledge". Do you mean it would distract users from being helpful on the non-subjective sites, or do you mean it would confuse issues that may be less subjective than we think? or do you mean it would cause infighting? Or something else all together and I've missed your claim? Nice citation, btw. Reminds me Scott Adams' corollary to the Peter Principle. – Anthony Sep 8 '09 at 0:03
  • @Anthony, All of the above :) , I mean questions like stackoverflow.com/questions/9033/hidden-features-of-c and stackoverflow.com/questions/662956/… would end up on a separate site to SO, keep in mind a huge amount of traffic comes to SO via these questions, Jeff would have to be mad to move it somewhere else. Some questions would ping pong between sites which would be a royal pain. If anyone is going for this kind of site it should be an unrelated venture. – waffles Sep 8 '09 at 0:10

If you have some free time. You can query the stackoverflow datadump to get answers to some of your questions.

And yes this has been discussed quite a few times. But regarding a subjective only site is most likely not on the way. Why? Jeff has stated before that a site must have guidelines. If you have a site where you can ask to freely, then chaos ensues.

Why are some questions "allowed" and some are not? It's just human nature, and in many cases it's just random. Who answered, voted, asked, at what time etc. I've seen good subjective questions get shot down and bad ones stay alive.

Many of the big subjective questions are from the days when a line wasn't drawn as tightly as it is now.

  • I'd hate to see chaos ensue (and I'm not being facetious), but it is frustrating that some of the smartest/coolest people in web development I've had a chance to interact with are not available via some kind of "public lounge" type setting. I'd really like to take one of my drawn out "answers by comments" questions to another area to just flesh out what I'm trying to do in general, both as the asker and the answer-er. – Anthony Sep 7 '09 at 23:47
  • That may be a different point, but in general, isn't there some amount of "yay!" vs "boo!" that could keep a community standard for such a subjective site, even if it wasn't a strict guideline? Or am I being idealistic? Forgive me, I've lived in co-ops for 13 years. Maybe even a certain rep has to be earned before being allowed to post. I know I'd answer more questions if I thought I'd get a voice in the smoking room. – Anthony Sep 7 '09 at 23:49
  • You're in the teachers lounge right now BTW :P – Ólafur Waage Sep 7 '09 at 23:53
  • Olafur, some tags are more forgiving to subjective questions, for example the Ruby crowd seem to be a lot less stalinesque when it comes to CW. Personally I stay away from subjective ... its not worth the pain. – waffles Sep 7 '09 at 23:57
  • Subjective should never have been allowed. It's fun but not the point of the site. – Ólafur Waage Sep 8 '09 at 0:01

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