See Why was my question closed after being forced into Community Wiki mode? and Split Subjective and Argumentative close reason, among others.

There have been many questions on SO that are subjective, yet not argumentative. Questions which were clearly stated (and thus, should not have been closed as "not a real question"), and yet questions which could only have been answered by an indefinite amount of discussion.

I propose adding a new close reason that would permit such questions to be closed, simply because they are "discussion" questions and thus not appropriate for a Q&A site.

The verbiage for the "Subjective and Argumentative" close reason used to include "or would require extensive discussion". I agree with removing that part of the close reason, but thi nk it should be moved separately into this new close reason.

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    Most technical questions of any complexity require some discussion.
    – nb69307
    Commented Feb 22, 2010 at 11:38
  • @Neil: I'm not talking about "discussion" to determine what someone's actual problem is. I'm talking about discussion for discussion's sake. Commented Feb 22, 2010 at 13:28
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    If we're going to get another close reason, I'd like "give me teh codez". I desperately want to close some of those sometimes, and there's no reason. Commented Feb 22, 2010 at 14:54
  • see my updated answer, below Commented Jun 16, 2011 at 7:49

4 Answers 4


With the recent changes Jeff tried to drastically reduce the amount of reasons.

I think few is good.

We can't have enough to cover all possible cases; I think not a real question is more than ok for discussions.

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    @Koper: it appears there are people who object to using "not a real question" when it clearly is a real question. I think some of the impetus for making such questions CW comes from the fact that there is no proper category for such questions. They are real questions, but they are not what CW was meant for, so where do they stand? I say make it clear that they are discussion questions, which should therefore be closed. Commented Feb 21, 2010 at 23:57
  • If it is a question that can be objectively answered (ie, not retorical, etc) and it's not subjective then I would say it's allowed, wouldn't you? Otherwise not a real question and subjective and argumentative should cover it. Commented Feb 22, 2010 at 0:40
  • @Koper: I'm talking about real questions which require discussion. Some of these may be subjective. The questions I'm referring to are not argumentative. Commented Feb 22, 2010 at 0:46
  • @John: quoting Jeff (meta.stackexchange.com/questions/5018/describing-close-reasons): subjective is actually OK in some situations. It's the combination of subjective+argumenetative specifically that I find obnoxious and anti-community. Commented Feb 22, 2010 at 3:30
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    @Koper: why do you feel I disagree with that? I'm referring in this request to posts which may or not be subjective, but which require, or at least, encourage, discussions. These are not appropriate for a Q&A (Question and Answer) site. Commented Feb 22, 2010 at 4:08
  • The interpretation of "Not a Real Question" as used is "not a questions or not appropriate for $SITE", which is why people use it on discussion. And yes, that causes confusion among new users. Commented Feb 22, 2010 at 4:11
  • My criterion for "not a real question" is "Would I clearly recognize an answer to the question?" Therefore, I don't read it as excluding subjective questions. Commented Feb 22, 2010 at 14:53

I think the "let's make a glorified list of X!" problem is much more dangerous and pernicious than discussion.

Some subjective discussion is OK, as long as it's a reasonably low level relative to the core Q&A on the site.

update: we changed "subjective and argumentative" to this, network-wide, which covers discussion, lists, and a number of other common scenarios:

not constructive

This question is not a good fit to our Q&A format. We expect answers to generally involve facts, references, or specific expertise; this question will likely solicit opinion, debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion.

  • Jeff, I don't see any way for the discussions to not get out of hand. Once you allow the same kind of disucssion permitted on any other forum, people will no longer be able to see what's different between SO and any other forum. Commented Feb 22, 2010 at 9:58
  • @John: while there might be no way to ensure a discussion gets out of hand, that's not in-and-of-itself a guarantee any given discussion will get out of hand. Commented Feb 22, 2010 at 11:30
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    @quack: by "out of hand", I pretty much mean "existing". I think that the very existence of discussions dilutes the Q&A nature of SO and makes it "just another discussion forum". This is because people not accustomed to SO (and some who are) will then begin treating it just like any other discussion forum. That must be avoided in order to retain the unique value that SO provides. Commented Feb 22, 2010 at 13:26
  • @Jeff: I find it strange that you would refer to list questions as "dangerous and pernicious", and yet you gave the green light to this: stackoverflow.com/questions/1995113/strangest-language-feature Curious... Commented Feb 22, 2010 at 22:32
  • @gnovice every rule has exceptions; I believe the 'fun' part was covered in a blog post on blog.stackoverflow.com recently Commented Feb 23, 2010 at 8:10
  • @john our system makes discussion awkward, and that is by design. It will continue to be by design as long as I'm alive and able to control it. Commented Feb 23, 2010 at 8:11
  • @jeff: I'm agreeing with you, and going further: I'd like to see a close reason to close such awkward questions. There are those who will use "awkward" discussions unless you explicitly tell them, "no, closed as being a discussion question". Commented Feb 23, 2010 at 12:03

I think there should be a close reason "Not a Q&A question", which would include discussions.

  • That would work for me, though I might use different verbiage. Commented Feb 22, 2010 at 20:58
  • Yeah, I'm also not really happy with the phrasing, but couldn't think of anything good.
    – sth
    Commented Feb 22, 2010 at 21:30

I would also be for this. I think that sometimes, discussing things to cover the overall range of subjective opinions, to create a kind of composite answer, is the correct way to handle certain questions.

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    Except that, with this close reason, such a question would be closed. Commented Feb 22, 2010 at 0:10
  • I think I misread the question. I thought that subjective questions should be allowed to stay open, rather than closing.
    – Laykes
    Commented Feb 22, 2010 at 0:40
  • subjective questions do not necessarily require extensive discussion. I'm talking about a new close reason for questions (subjective or not) which require discussion. Commented Feb 22, 2010 at 0:47

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