A lesson learned is knowledge or understanding gained by experience. The experience may be positive, as in a successful test or mission, or negative, as in a mishap or failure...A lesson must be significant in that it has a real or assumed impact on operations; valid in that is factually and technically correct; and applicable in that it identifies a specific design, process, or decision that reduces or eliminates the potential for failures and mishaps, or reinforces a positive result

I have noticed that my specific questions that are capped with a request for any lessons-learned are often met with resistance from moderators. The request for lessons-learned as it pertains to a specific topic / question is often used solicit relevant facts and answers to questions that one can not ask, unless one has experience. Why is there resistance to lessons-learned / experience? This is the only question with regard to this thread

For example, I might ask the question, when is the best time of year to visit the Paris' Arc De Triophe as a tourist? Any lessons learned are appreciated. The answer may be in November because that is when there are the fewest tourist and the companion lesson-learned is that the elevator is out-of-service for the next 6 months. So if you are go with your 70 year old mother mother, then you need to ensure that she is able and willing to walk up many flights of stairs and back down again. Maybe this is not the best example, there can be other permanent pitfalls / obstacles that can / should be avoided, but hopefully the gist is there.

The ability to ask a question and gain the knowledge-based experience is priceless. Not every question has a quantifiable answer that can be Googled and more often than not the original specific question needs to be refined through the lessons-learned mechanism. In every industry I have worked in, this is a common mechanism for learning.

That being said, I would (respectfully) suggest that the leadership at stackexchange re-examine policy / culture with regard to lessons-learned. From my observations: it seems that there too many that are too quick to unnecessarily police (censor) questions, instead of providing useful insight.

I do not believe that incentive (points) should be awarded for modifying / correcting questions and that question moderators should be those that have a history of providing accepted answers and not necessarily points (i.e. credibility)

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    What do you mean by "lessons-learned"? Can you give an example? – HDE 226868 Oct 23 '16 at 20:43
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    Sounds like you are asking for allowing polls. We have tried and have seen these don't work well on the platform - there are certain assumptions it was built with in regards to objective one best answer etc... that mean that it is unlikely such questions will ever be suitable here. – Oded Oct 23 '16 at 20:52
  • Is "lessons-learned" being used here to mean "opinion-based"? i.e. you don't think "opinion-based" should be a reason to close, and your proposed solution to this is to allow these questions and only people with enough rep in a certain subject (tags maybe?) should be aloud to edit posts? (that's what I took from this but I'm not certain) – Cai Oct 23 '16 at 20:54
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    Lessons-learned are facts acquired through experience. They are not polls nor are they opinion-based. When talking to a mentor, I try to have very specific questions, but always try to leave an opening to encourage the mentor to provide facts / guidance that I did not think to ask for – gatorback Oct 23 '16 at 21:01
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    Do you have any specific example questions (i.e. actual questions that have been closed etc)? I suspect the problem is generally not the fact that you're asking for "lessons-learned" as that shouldn't really be a problem. I think the problem is more likely that the kind of question that you would ask for "lessons-learned" are generally subjective/opinion-based questions, but it's hard to tell without specific examples. – Cai Oct 23 '16 at 21:04
  • @Cai I have posed a questions capped with a request for lessons learned. The initial moderator that balked against the request for lessons-learn was invited to edit the question as he saw fit and did so. The community response was to close the question despite his complete rewording of the question. travel.stackexchange.com/questions/78483/… – gatorback Oct 23 '16 at 21:08
  • I am OK with negative feedback, but if you are going downvote, please ensure that you indicate why you are providing this feedback. Thank you – gatorback Oct 23 '16 at 21:11
  • The problem with that question wasn't specifically that you asked for "lessons-learned", but that it was too broad. – Cai Oct 23 '16 at 21:29
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    Downvotes are designed to be anonymous and without explanation for a number of reasons. One is that in our experience, requiring an explanation usually just results in arguing instead of any positive outcome. Instead, we often let the vote buttons speak for themselves; the downvote button says “This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful” when you hover over it. – SevenSidedDie Oct 24 '16 at 4:22
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    @Cai - doesn't seem that the asker had "opinion based" in mind. Imho, this is more "you don't want to do that because" kind of answers - basically, instead of having one single answer that point out the correct way to do something you have multiple answers that point out "common issues" in a process. It could be useful for those kind of question that don't have a single silver bullet answer, topics like "I can't do this recipe, every time the pie seems to be burnt on the outside and still raw inside - what could I be doing wrong?" but sSadly, those will turn into "too broad" very fast. – BlueSoul Nov 1 '16 at 12:44
  • @SPArchaeologist - I am relieved to hear that there are others that are familiar with lessons-learned. It seems that there is not a common understanding of what this means and how it useful to a student – gatorback Nov 1 '16 at 23:03
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    Perhaps renaming it "past experiences" or asking users to include their past experiences in their answers, should do the trick. However, I think there's a lot to be said for this type of specific request. – Mari-Lou A Nov 2 '16 at 6:24
  • @Mari-LouA: I think you are 'on to something'. Perhaps the unfamiliarity with the term 'lessons-learned' is causing a negative reaction to the request. I have found even the most educated have a hostile reaction when they find an unfamiliar word. I shall try to find synonyms that can test this hypothesis – gatorback Nov 2 '16 at 12:10
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    "Lessons learned" has a rather negative connotation, it suggests someone who will not repeat the same mistake: "I've learned my lesson" is often said when someone admits to doing something wrong, and promises not to repeat that action/error etc. – Mari-Lou A Nov 2 '16 at 12:16
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    @gatorback - this is closed so I can't really answer to your question. Many answers here suggest that your proposal would be "opinion based" but that is not necessarily the case IMHO. That said, I see another issue: the kind of question you propose would probably become a sort of "Commons pitfalls when doing some task" list...while this could have a value, it is the system that we have here that doesn't really support this kind of content. You would have multiple "correct" answers, while all here is optimized to make one single best answer "float" above the others. – BlueSoul Nov 2 '16 at 19:17

To me, adding:

Any lessons learned are appreciated

at the end of a question more or less equates to:

... and can you also tell me anything else you think valuable that might help me about what I just asked?

You seem to indicate that this is the purpose of that line when you commented:

I try to have very specific questions, but always try to leave an opening to encourage the mentor to provide facts / guidance that I did not think to ask for

That would turn even a focussed question into something quite open ended, and so I would always edit it out. It adds nothing to further focus the question and instead serves to de-focus it.

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On the one hand, asking for people's quantifiable experience is a major part of Stack Exchange, so including a line like that is pretty much noise. But that doesn't explain why there's resistance to it; noise is normally just quietly edited out.

The reason for this is the broad nature of the request. Asking how to do X or when to do Y, with the implicit addition of "and provide reasons for your answer", is normally fine. If those reasons come from personal experience that's not likely to be written down anywhere, so much the better! But asking for all possible tangentially-related experiences anyone may have had is far broader and vaguer. That's really just asking for a bunch of stories. We don't want stories. We want answers.

In general, your question should not explicitly try to tell answerers how to do their job of answering. It should ask something cohesive and well-defined, and let the answerers and voters deliver the best answers, with whatever caveats, addenda, explanations, history, citations, and arguments prove necessary. Putting a line in about how you want citations, or you want personal experience, or you want only answers that follow your originally-intended approach, or almost anything else… that just makes the question worse.

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  • Thanks for the response: I now understand that I should have included a definition of lessons-learned when I originally posted. I agree that ALL tangentially related experience is not what I am seeking. Lessons learned are facts and knowledge: they are not stories – gatorback Nov 2 '16 at 12:51

You have two or three points in your question.

In your first part you focus on utterly broad, very opinion based questions. Those don't tend to do well here. They can be useful at discussion boards when there can be a vivid discussion on each other's opinions, but since SE is not the place to discuss things, this is the wrong place. The format SE uses is not fit to have anything more than questions and answers.

Secondly, you ask to require experience of users who edit posts. This is already the case since editing is a privilege provided at 2000 reputation, a bar set to ensure users do have at least some experience in the topic discussed on the site. Other users' edits are reviewed by those experienced 2000 reputation users first.

And you might get some support on removing the 2 reputation incentive for suggesting edits that got approved, but I think that is better to be asked in a separate question with some pros and cons.

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