I have seen related questions been asked on this forum, but none of them actually reached the point I would like to be clarified. From my perspective, every single non-math/logic question is opinion-based. In some cases, that opinion will be strongly backed by evidence. In others, it will be an intuition with not too much justification. However, there is always a chance of every answer being wrong (the only verifiable truth is, as Descartes put it "cogito, ergo sum")

My question would then be "where's the barrier?"? How certain does science have to be about an answer in order to stop being opinion-based. Let's show a few examples:

First, our all time favourite: a code question I posted myself on stackoverflow: Is it possible to label elements in a Python list? In this thread, I am asking for a way of writing a "Python list with labels", this means, a "Python dictionary", but there are other ways to achieve the same goal. Most people would not say this should be put on hold as opinion-based, but in that case... Why should the following question?

Classical Chess Opening Repertoire This question was posted on the chess forum. For those who may not be familiar with chess, the asker wants to build an "opening repertoire", so, he wants other users to help him find the most adequate answers to the opponent's first moves. But there is no such thing as the most adequqate answer! There are many possible ways to reach a good position, just as in my previous question. So, yes, the answers to this question are purely opinion-based and it was put on hold.

However, How to beat King's Fianchetto Opening Modified (White) this quedstion is asking basically the same thing, except it a different position. As before, there is no final answer, and indeed we see different people giving different pieces of advice. The question was not put on hold and it even received 4 upward votes.

Just in case you know nothing about either Python or chess, here are a few examples of questions that could be opinion-based (or not)

How can I prevent myself from forgetting a language?

Supersymmetry vs multiverse

Generosity in the World Happiness Score

Did the National Rifle Association (NRA) block research into statistics related to gun control?

Why shove the river when your range is more than 50% value heavy?

Why are there no attempts to establish the metric system in the US?

How to solve the cubic equation -1.6𝑥3−2.1𝑥2−2.9𝑥−0.3=0

In short, my point is that opinion-based judgements are purely a matter of opinion and this should not be a reason to put on hold so many questions,at least, not in every community. I understand I could be wrong and that's why I ask you: "Where is, in the Stack Exchange world, the border between a fact and an opinion?" Please don't put on hold as opinion-based!

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    Stack Exchange is a network of Q&A sites i.e. quite different from discussion forums. I recommend not referring to them as forums. – PolyGeo May 10 '19 at 11:52
  • Sorry. I recently fired my English translator. Would you like me to rewrite the post in my native language? – David May 10 '19 at 11:54
  • @PolyGeo, an SE site is the very definition of a question and answer forum because anyone is allowed to ask or answer questions. No, the SE sites are not discussion forums, but they certainly are Q&A forums. – Ron Maupin May 10 '19 at 13:21
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    Unfortunately, there is no one "answer" to your question that can be generalized across all SE sites. The question as to "the border" between "primarily-opinion-based" and "appropriate" questions vary according to community consensus and precedent as practiced on the specific site in question. What is primarily-opinion-based on math.se is different from what is primarily-opinion-based on parenting.se. That does not mean that the closure reason is used arbitrarily; usually each site's users use that close reason consistently, per that site's protocols/consensus/precedent. – amWhy May 10 '19 at 14:47
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    @Namaste Agreed. Closing this as "primarily opinion based" would be wrong, because there's an answer on each site, and that is (or should be) fact. Closing as "off topic" isn't going to provide an enlightening close message, and while it's on topic to ask here it's on topic to ask individually on each site; unless you want an answer here to ask there. By finding a duplicate (or a few) links are provided which explain to David what's opinion based versus too broad, etc. – Rob May 10 '19 at 14:58

Questions aren't put on hold because they're opinion-based. We have a lot of successful sites in the network (The Workplace, Worldbuilding, Parenting, Writers) where almost all or at least the majority of the questions and answers are inherently subjective / opinion based.

I'd like you to take a look again at the close reason:

primarily opinion-based

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.

The first word is very important: primarily. The problem with opinion-based posts is that their quality is hard to measure; if one person says 'yes' and the other says 'no', who are you going to believe?

My question would then be "where's the barrier?"? How certain does science have to be about an answer in order to stop being opinion-based.

That question is hard to answer, and it will ultimately depend on the community (the users running the site). The more technically oriented sites are (generically speaking) less likely to allow opinion-based questions. Also note that on large sites, some questions simply fall through the cracks. There must be thousands of primarily opinion-based questions on Stack Overflow which are still open because there are not enough people to review them.

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  • Many of the questions I linked are in that category of "I say yes, you say no" answers. I see nothing particuarly wrong with them – David May 10 '19 at 12:17
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    There is indeed nothing inherently wrong with primarily opinion-based questions @David. However, we have learned - the hard way - that Stack Exchange is not the best platform for them. Everything here, including the software, the reputation system and our moderation guidelines are fine-tuned towards questions that can be answered factually, and preferably definitively. Open-ended discussions and primarily opinion-based questions have different requirements, requirements that neither Stack Exchange or the majority of the community is interested in fulfilling. – yannis May 10 '19 at 12:34

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