It seems to me that here (and elsewhere on Stack Exchange) some posts are criticised being matters of opinion that actually can be answered factually, and also that this seems to be very hit and miss, with some being criticized or closed and other being happily accepted. A couple of examples of the kinds of questions I mean:
- Can a protagonist with questionable morals be appreciated?
- Very long sentences: personal style or just bad writing?
These strike me as being matters of taste. That is, some people will like morally compromised protagonists and some won't. Some people will like long sentences and some won't.
But while these are matters of taste, from a publishing industry perspective, and from a general literary perspective, they are not matters of opinion. They can be addressed factually. Are there successful published works, or respected works of literature that have morally compromised protagonists (yes) or long sentences (yes).
There are also more specific questions that can be answered factually, such as are agents specializing in genre accepting clients whose work has morally compromised characters and/or long sentences?
It strikes me that if we don't accept questions that are matters of taste, we will not accept any questions about writing at all. If we reject some of these as opinion based and not others, we are being inconsistent. Writing is, in the end, an attempt to appeal to taste. Few if any pieces of writing appeal to all tastes. The question of whether a writing techniques is good or bad is always a matter of taste, but the question of whether such writing is publishable, or might appeal to the taste of others, can be answered, if not definitively, by reference to facts.
Another way in which I think this is important is that the site seems to currently be dominated by people who write science fiction and fantasy, which is a particular taste. It is easy for that taste to become treated as fact, especially given the way that the reputation system works. But if that taste becomes fact here, that limits the breadth of appeal of the group. That is a problem considering that post per day is the one statistical category in which the site performs poorly by Stack Exchange standards.
I strikes me, therefore, that we should be consciously making the distinction between whether a question expresses a matter of taste (almost all of them) and whether it is answerable with reference to literature or publishing industry practices (most of them). And the same should go for answers. An answer should not be up voted and accepted merely because it expresses our taste, but because it points to independent facts about literature or publishing.