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Subjective question on Stack Overflow.
Why are there subjective and argumentative tags?

Today I posted a question which I really liked:


shortly after it was closed as "subjective"

If that is a problem I wonder why the "subjective" tag exists marking 6128 questions (not all of them closed)

Furthermore, just like I mention in my comments. My favorite questions is this:

What is the single most influential book every programmer should read?

I believe it is also as subjective as mine but it is marked as favorite by 1205 users

Should these questions really be forbidden? If so why aren't they removed? Why it is possible to tag a question as "subjective"? Is not possible to find any value for these questions?


Unlike the other example you posted, your question has several problems:

  • It is far too generic.
  • It is not marked as cw.
  • It is not programming related at all.

Hence, it is a clear candidate for closing.

  • 2
    well, I must upvote you myself! thanks your answer – SystematicFrank May 5 '10 at 21:25

What's allowed or not allowed is community enforced, in such a way that the community might decide a given question is good enough to leave alone, even if it breaks a rule or two.

However, such exceptions are rare. Having one slip by is akin to winning the lottery — there are even "prizes", in the sense that these questions often earn you a badge or two. And just like the lottery, there's no point complaining about it when you don't win. Also like the lottery, I hope most people here are smarter than to try to play.

  • 1
    I think this is pretty much the best summary of this that I have heard. It should be cannonized. – beska May 5 '10 at 21:51

What Daniel said, plus did you notice the sequence number on the books thread?

The books thread dates from very early in the site's history, before many of the current norms were well established (or established at all). The matter of how to handle subjective posts had not been hashed out at that time, and once we got around to it that old material was kept on to maintain the peace.

Many, but not all, of the highly voted, subjective questions that have survived the closing gauntlet also date from pretty early. A few (very few, very select) new ones also survive by being reopened every time they are closed (usually three or more times...). Yours evidently didn't make the grade.

See also: Stack Overflow: Where We Hate Fun.


What marks the question as "subjective" subject to closing would be statements like:

However there are little things that we all can do to make this a better place beyond trying to erradicate annoynig stuff such as Visual Basic.

You are voicing your opinion instead trying to solicit generic advice like the sample question you provided.


However there are little things that we all can do to make this a better place beyond trying to erradicate annoynig stuff such as Visual Basic.

Look, I'm no fan of Visual Basic, but don't expect your questions to remain open if you can't write them in a reasonably-professional tone.

Subjective questions are OK, within reason; notice that the close reason is subjective and argumentative. The book question is not only one of the oldest questions on SO, but also very limited in scope; an answer to that question has to be an existing book. Yours was completely open-ended, it's literally inches away from "what do you do for fun" (actually, it's "what do you do to feel good about yourself?"). This particular question of yours come off as both technically trollish and having hints of political activism. Not a good candidate for the Stack Overflow Q&A format.

Also, it's really not programming-related. Even if it weren't S&A, I'd probably vote to close as off-topic.

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