Title says it all, really. Users on every SE site since and including SO want to post fun polls, "best of" lists, "how to" lists and discussions about sometimes-only-tangentially-related topics. And every point on the spectrum from "this should never be allowed" to "this should always be allowed" is represented.

How do we feel about such questions on English Language and Usage?


4 Answers 4


Having a policy about such things seems like a solution looking for a problem. We don't yet have any problems with these kind of questions. I think an occasional language-related poll or list question isn't going to crowd out the useful content, so I don't see a strong need to bring down the axe hard on an issue that isn't.

  • 1
    They're starting to pop up, and if there isn't a discussion early, you end up with "well, you let those first ones through" later on.
    – Pops
    Commented Aug 6, 2010 at 19:19

FWIW I'm much close to "this should never be allowed" than "this should always be allowed." SO built a reputation on good, quick answers to objective questions; that's part of what makes the SE model so special. "What are the best quotes about grammar?" isn't inherently a bad question. Neither is "When are Florida oranges in season?" I wouldn't want to see either one on this site.


I found the "best tips of" and "hidden secrets of" of programming languages on SO to be really fun and informative. I'm for this, as long as it's on topic, i.e., about English.


I have a different perspective than some answers. I see allowing those types of questions as having two main problems:

  1. Whether they are allowed or closed seems a bit arbitrary.
  2. The questioner or answerer sometimes reaps points like a threshing machine mows down wheat. In fact, I'm sure that the tendency of these types of questions to garner rep are what drive them to be posted in the first place.

What leaves a bad taste in my mouth about these questions is that once the question is asked and someone get some obscene 250 upvotes, they've "stolen" that space away from everyone else. The same question can't ever be asked again. It leaves me feeling a little bit cheated because those folks got an easy ride into fame where I'm chunking my way forward by only the sweat I'm willing to put in. And before you criticize me for being uncreative, I am hesitant to try posting such questions myself exactly because they feel so lousy. I don't like it; I don't want to do it; trying to post this type of question myself is bound to yield many closed questions, and somehow feels like a violation of the spirit of the site.

  • Regarding reaping unfair reputation: any polls/lists should be community wiki; pretty much everyone agrees about that. CW posts don't accumulate rep, so this isn't really a problem. If someone doesn't make a poll question CW at first, others are quick let them know (and moderators can also make posts CW).
    – Jonik
    Commented Sep 27, 2010 at 15:17

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