The reasoning given under questions that are closed as not construcive reads:

this question will likely solicit opinion, debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion

Apart from the polling, I don't see the problem with any of these other possibilities. Some of the best questions and answers on this site have been the result of healthy doses of opinion, debate, argument, and extended discussion—without precluding facts, references, or specific expertise.

Should the wording of this close reason be revisited?

3 Answers 3


There is nothing wrong with questions that solicit opinion, debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion, if you want a forum; Stack Exchange sites are not forums, and those types of questions just reduce the usefulness of a Stack Exchange site (generally speaking).

What is the usefulness of a question where users express their opinion? What could future readers find useful in that question? If the question involve expertise, then it can be more helpful, but for opinions there are already many available forums. (I am not saying that forums are not useful, but that is not the target chosen from Stack Exchange.)
Such questions tend to have a possible infinite number of answers, as every user could have a different opinion, and questions were there are more than X answers are not very helpful. Look at the questions on Meta Stack Overflow where the answers are more than 50: As the answers are not visible on a single page, most of the users would not read all the answers.

I think that the description used for that closing reason is clear enough to let users understand why the question has been closed. In the case that is not clear enough, the FAQ should help in understanding that.

  • With some questions, there's no "definitive" answer as such. But they may still be good questions, with potentially good answers saying something like "Some people think X, but I think Y because..." In such situations the relative numbers of up/downvotes and associated comments may be very helpful to future visitors. It's not uncommon to find "authoritative" reference sources disagreeing over some fine point, and IMHO ELU is an excellent place to compare/contrast, agree/disagree with conflicting pronouncements. Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 20:09
  • "No definitive answer" doesn't mean that all the answers must say, "IMO, this is what happens." It would be good if the answer is backed up with relevant data.
    – avpaderno
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 20:30
  • The main problem is that Stack Exchange doesn't suit well questions where more than 10 answers are correct. This is an issue reported in other Stack Exchange sites, such as Seasoned advice, which has the following question in its meta site: What types of sourcing questions should be allowed? Aaronout gives a link to repository questions, which the link to an answer given from Grace Note.
    – avpaderno
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 20:31
  • Well I'm not disagreeing in general with your point - certainly a question capable of having 10 "correct" answers isn't even what I want to see here, irrespective of the fact that the site itself isn't designed to support such things. I just think the way you expressed your position is more extreme than can be justified. I don't see you ranting about the kind of rubbish that dominates the "top-voted questions", for example, and I think they degrade the site far more than questions that don't have a single authoritative answer. Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 22:22
  • ...apropos which, I know I'm biased, but I have 8 answers already to this question, all of which are nothing more than personal opinions so far. But I at least think it's a very interesting question, even though I frankly don't believe a definitive answer even exists - and I'm certainly not holding my breath that it will turn up. Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 22:26
  • I think the difference is between expertise, and debate. If the opinion comes from experience, and it is backed up with data, that makes the answer more useful; if all the answers are similar to "I use this word" I don't see them much useful. (They can be useful, but I think their usefulness is someway limited.) I am not ranting about anything; I just report what I think relevant for answering the question; the term "repository questions" has not been used from me, but from somebody that knows better than I do how Stack Exchange sites work.
    – avpaderno
    Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 22:53
  • Absolutely agree everything in that last comment. Re my own question that I linked to, I've been disappointed by even comments, let alone answers, that just say "this is what I say". Like I can't figure out for myself that usage varies! Commented Jan 18, 2012 at 23:17

I thought of saying that a change isn't necessary. But the fact that someone with considerably more reputation than me finds it necessary to ask the question makes me think it is.

Debate, arguments, and extended discussion are constructive to the extent that they surface problems with facts or reasoning (which are what a good answer is supposed to provide). If it ought to be more clear that this kind of constructive debate is not meant to be stifled, one added word like "pointless", "unproductive", or "unconstructive" is all that would be needed:

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 unproductive opinion, debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion.


Assuming we all agree "polling" questions are unwanted, it seems to me all the other descriptions - opinion, debate, arguments, extended discussion are just different ways of saying the same thing.

Apparently we don't often close questions for this specific reason - it took me a couple of minutes to find Split between British and American English as an example. And I'm quite happy it was closed.

Sure - some of the more "interesting" questions do in fact generate extended discussion, but in principle I think we always hope a single relatively concise answer will (or at least, could) emerge as the consensus opinion. If it looks obvious from the start that this isn't going to happen, the question doesn't really have much going for it.

I think the current FAQ wording is fine. The repetition implies/emphasises that questions which are only likely to generate a lot of opinion, debate, etc. won't be viewed favourably. We don't overuse this reason anyway; unless it starts getting mis-applied, I would leave well alone.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .