I know that Stack Exchange requires questions to be specific, unambiguous, and having single-solution. For example, in the tour page (my emphasis):

Ask about...
Specific issues within each site's area of expertise
Real problems or questions that you've encountered

and, as immediately following,

Don't ask about...
Questions that are primarily opinion-based
Questions with too many possible answers or that would require an extremely long answer

Similarly, it was remarked here that

Stack Exchange encourages specific questions that have a specific, canonical answers."

A quick glance in Area 51 gives me the impression that several proporsals are probably too vague, too broad, or too aesthetics-based to reach attention, though it's just my guess: the literature proposal, the tea proposal, and the ethics proposal, among others.

Of all SE sites, it is generally noticed, say in this discussion, that Stack Overflow has quite strict policy. This is understandable, as SO has gained tremendous popularity, and everyday there are a huge number of junk posts swarming all over into it.

However, certain SE sites seem to maintain looser standard than others. How can an request for suggestion of action in a certain situation in an academy or workplace have a single "right" answer, or how can a worldbuilding, a possible continuation of a fictional situation, be the most likely one among other competitors, as does mathematics or physics?

Is this not double standard? Is the principle of non-opinion-based and allowing specific answers, though well meant, simply ill-defined?

So it seems the rule of each site is decided by adminstrators of their own. Then again, why can't we create literature, ethics, or tea site? I don't understand.

  • Sure, some topics are less technical than others. Does not necessarily prevent a site from existing. About your three examples: see Literature, Tea, and Ethics. These are proposals yet to be launched, because they don't have enough users committing or contributing sample questions, not because someone is holding them back.
    – user315433
    Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 14:01
  • So, the strictness of SO is decided by their admins, not (as I assumed) by the general SE policy. Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 14:13
  • I think Stack Overflow to the laypersons's programming questions has become somewhat like Physics Overflow to general physics questions. Why hasn't someone open a new programming question site with looser standard (like physics SE)? Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 14:18
  • 2
    There is no such role as "admin" of a Stack Exchange site. And if there were, how exactly would they deal with 9000 new questions on Stack Overflow every day? One can't even read that many questions. If you want to learn how these sites really work, observe and participate.
    – user315433
    Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 14:29
  • Right.... as you can tell, I am new to this.... so I am just giving my quick, if not rash, observation. And surely I have just learned something. Anyway, may be you shall make your comment an answer so I may choose ? : P Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 15:02
  • 1
    you seem to be focusing on "softer" sites but if you look closer, most striking difference can be observed on "harder", software related sites. For things that really heavily deviate from Stack Overflow model take a look at question and answer norms at Code Golf, Software Recommendations, Code Review
    – gnat
    Commented Nov 27, 2016 at 17:10

2 Answers 2


Please see the blog post Good Subjective, Bad Subjective.

We just had a complaint to this effect on Worldbuilding meta. The logic was the same as yours: Why are some questions allowed when they are opinion-based? There are several points to consider, in response:

  • Not all questions on the sites you mentioned are opinion-based. Asking about typical processes for peer-review in academic journals, general company policy dealing with [X, Y or Z], or whether or not a given planetary system is likely to form are not opinion-based.
  • There is a difference between simply subjective and overly subjective. If there's no way for determining which answer is the best, the questions is likely too subjective.
  • The sites you mentioned are indeed more subjective than other sites. However, they have been careful to make it clear that there is an element of subjectivity to many of their questions, and they have outlined the boundaries of opinionated questions. I'd recommend looking at their help centers and per-site metas.

The guidelines on the Stack Exchange tour page is just general guidelines. Each site has its own guidelines. In other words, those policies on each site are decided by Meta discussions among users and implemented by users, not by administrators. There are very well managed sites while there are some poorly managed sites. Everything depends on each site.

As @zaq commented, it's best for you to observe and participate.


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