Writing is highly inherently subjective in a way that many fields are not. For example, many programming questions have one right answer that can be looked up in a standard (not to say there aren't good, subjective programming question, but it is without a doubt a more standardized subject). And there are definitely some questions that are clearly too subjective (e.g. "What is the best way to express love"), but I feel like, for the majority, the line is blurred. Like my answer to this question was accepted, but what if there are people who feel that too much character development is bad no matter the situation? While I may disagree, there's definitely not one right answer, and that seems to be subjective to me.

So my question is: at what point does a question like the one I linked to become "officially" subjective?

(Also, I'm not sure how to tag this, because I don't really feel like this is about "off-topic" exactly. Feel free to fix the tags.)

3 Answers 3


Officially subjective is not a problem. Bad subjective is the problem.

There are actually several SEs that tend towards more subjective than Stack Overflow. The one in which I am most active is Cooking.SE (or as we prefer to call it, Seasoned Advice). Seasoned Advice is thriving because we have a fairly narrow on-topic definition and we pretty carefully close questions which do not fit within that definition. For example, we require our "list of X" questions to be written in such a way that they have a high "signal to noise ratio" so to speak (and we don't mark them CW). We defined our on and off topic questions through lengthy discussions on meta culminating in comprehensive FAQ answers. We even managed to tick a few people off in the process with our guidelines, which evolved during our discussions. One major asset in this process were our active Meta.SO users who were tracking what the overall community was saying as we went through beta.

Rather than "too subjective", I propose we focus on what is on-topic versus off-topic and on what is too broad versus too narrow.

  • I can't say it any better than this... I just wanted to offer another example: Programmers.SE was created specifically as a home for subjective questions not welcome on StackOverflow. We're pretty good at separating the "good" and "bad" questions based on the guidelines Robert Cartaino already cited.
    – HedgeMage
    Commented Nov 22, 2010 at 22:27
  • Works for me. Also I think Seasoned Advice is an amazing name.
    – Maulrus
    Commented Nov 23, 2010 at 0:36

Most Stack Exchange sites tend towards the subjective. This blog post provides a set of guidelines that help you determine what is a good subjective question and what is a bad subjective question.

Blog post: Good Subjective, Bad Subjective

The "Guidelines for Great Subjective Questions" (at the bottom of the post) provides the criteria that will help you fit your specific situation:

  1. Great subjective questions inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”.
  2. Great subjective questions tend to have long, not short, answers.
  3. Great subjective questions have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone.
  4. Great subjective questions invite sharing experiences over opinions.
  5. Great subjective questions insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references.
  6. Great subjective questions are more than just mindless social fun.

To add to the other answers so far:

Questions here will be more subjective than not, and that's fine. What we need to keep an eye on is that questions stay within what's on-topic for the site, as determined by the on-topic-definition questions here on meta, and that questions be answerable. Questions that are just starting a conversation are not appropriate, and should be closed or turned into useful reference/community-wiki threads.

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