Sometimes I might want to ask a question and present several possible answers to it. Presenting these answers as official answers has the advantage that it is easy to see the numbers of votes - as opposed to waiting for respondents to copy my suggested answers as real answers, if they will ever do so. I think it would work best when the range of reasonable answers is limited, which is incidentally never without problems. I imagine others might post additional answers, and I might change my own answers based on comments.

So is it done to create a poll like this?


No. This is a poll and is explicitly disallowed. Primarily because the answers run massively afoul of these two guidelines:

Great subjective questions inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”. The best subjective questions invite explanation. If you’re asking for a product recommendation of some kind, you want answers to contain detailed information about the features and how they can be used, and why you might want to choose one over the other. “How?” and “Why?” has more lasting value than a bunch of product-feature bullet points or a giant enumerated list, no matter how extensive. In contrast, the bad subjective questions let answerers get away with hit-and-run answers that maybe provide a name and a link — but fail to provide any sort of adequate explanation, context, or background.

Great subjective questions tend to have long, not short, answers. The best subjective questions inspire your peers to share their actual experiences, not just post a mindless one-liner or cartoon in hopes of being rewarded with upvotes for being merely “first.” Sharing an experience takes at least one paragraph; ideally several paragraphs. If I’m asking about how to bake cookies, don’t give me a list of grocery items: milk. butter. vanilla. eggs. There is virtually nothing I can learn from a short, static list of grocery items that make up a recipe. Instead, tell me what happened the last time you made cookies from that recipe! Share your detailed experiences, so that we all might learn from them.

A poll might occasionally OK here on meta, but never on an actual site proper.

  • Also, most of the time when people ask questions of the form "Is A correct or is it supposed to be B?", the actual answer turns out to be "Well, it's really C, or possibly even D." – Marthaª Jan 6 '11 at 20:01
  • @martha for sure, see meta.stackexchange.com/questions/8891/… – Jeff Atwood Jan 7 '11 at 5:35
  • Okay, thanks, that is clear. @Martha: You are right, that would probably happen. I intended this for questions whose range of reasonable answers is limited, but I don't know how that would have worked out. – Cerberus_Reinstate_Monica Jan 10 '11 at 15:56

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