I understand that Stack Exchange is not built to support open-ended questions and discussions. And having read some of the arguments I can understand why it's problematic. I understand that at one point a failed attempt was made to support them. No problem. The infrastructure here does not support this kind of discussion.
I agree that there is a fundamental problem with the world having an open-ended discussion. I thought this summed it up quite well:
In such an environment, your subjective conversation will probably go like this: first person asks a (subjective) question, second answers it (so far so good huh?), twenty more add answers from different perspectives, fifty more attempt all imaginable kinds of jokes, hundred more add all imaginable kinds of side notes... and so on and so on, over and over again, until your brain explodes.
Human Interaction Management (HIM) teaches that systems should be built to account for the way people actually work. It eschews the idea of having the system attempt to force users to abide by the design. Rather it suggests that as users evolve their use cases the system should be adapted.
Consider that spreadsheets were originally build for what-if number crunching and that people actually used them to create schedules, todo lists, information matrices and so on. So the developers rather than complaining that those uses weren't intended instead chose to accommodate the emerging use cases and as a result spreadsheets apps became more useful tools.
A lot questions asked here end up in hands getting slapped. It's inevitable. I occasionally get my own hand slapped (by way of down votes) even after doing my best to form a proper question. It's annoying. Sometimes I'm left to wonder what exactly was wrong with it.
It feels that there is a bit of a group moderation mentality. Once the first person down votes a question the next person is slightly more likely to concur. That builds momentum and one wonders if it's just a matter of the wrong person getting to it first since there are often follow up replies that seem to indicate some interest in it. When this happens I'm disgruntled for having wasted my time — and sometimes I had invested a lot of thought. In the end to avoid the negativity and potential damage to reputation, I just delete the question.
I understand that Stack Exchange is designed for objective questions. I then considered whether there might be some other high-quality site that permitted a more subjective discussion but after some thought I realized that if the infrastructure could be built into the Stack Exchange network that would be ideal. I notice very often that questions are migrated to more appropriate areas. I also notice that people are continuing to ask broken questions. So in the spirit of HIM I figure accommodating the reality of what's happening makes sense. The solution involves building a different infrastructure for managing subjective exchanges.
The question Why functional languages? somehow skated by the subjective police. There are lots of subjective reasons that people like/prefer functional languages. This question resulted in a firehose of replies. It looked somewhat like the quote I mentioned: different perspectives and side notes were offered and the end result is the size of a chapter in a book. I'm not saying there isn't a lot of good information there, but it's anything but organized or answered as one cannot definitively answer a subjective question.
So when I talk about a different infrastructure for managing these kinds of discussions a few things come to mind.
- Each answer should simply aim to offer a single idea (one bullet point).
- Side notes and caveats that expound upon any one idea should be attached to it somehow and eventually someone of proper reputation could better integrate those caveats into the individual idea (and the attachment could be deleted).
- Sometimes one person has a better knack for explaining an idea than another person. It's thus possible that some bullet points will be duplicates of others. Duplicates could be grouped together so that eventually by way of votes the better ones are left and the less popular ones are collapsed and hidden. (A user could expand an idea if he wanted to see how others articulated it and maybe upvote another version, which might eventually become the main version.)
In any case, the idea is that the infrastructure is similar to a wiki in that by way of votes, aggregation and editing, the result is tight and well organized with the most popular ideas floating to the top. In this way, subjective questions would have no correct answer, but popular and well-organized thoughts on the topic.
I haven't worked out the details. All I'm attempting to say is that with the right infrastructure, subjective questions do have a useful place in the exchange of ideas. In a way, such a site would be similar to Wikipedia; but it's content would be organized by popular vote.
I know this is no little task, but is there value in doing so? I think there is. Nothing is going to prevent people from asking ill-formed questions. Wouldn't it be nice to somehow accommodate these? In this way both objective and subjective questions would have their own place. And people that like Stack Exchange the way it is would actually benefit. Lots of flagged-and-closed questions remain on this site. Such questions could be migrated to the sister site so that only the purely objective ones remained here.
Ultimately what you have is a one-stop shop for asking questions. You don't have stop and wonder if your question is well formed or worry that your hand will be slapped.
Google has become so synonymous with "search" that it's name is used as a verb. It does so by continuing to expand its definition of search. As such there's going to come a time when regardless of what you're searching for you can find it by googling it.
In the same vein, why shouldn't Stack Exchange become synonymous with Q&A. Why stop to wonder if the Q is broken?