For pretty much all of the time I've been active here (more than three years now), we've allowed critique questions and I've wondered if they're a good idea. Let me recap:
The on-topic summary says this about critique questions:
You can ask a Q&A question concerning your own work, but you can't just ask for feedback. Critique questions must be phrased in such a way that answers can be objectively voted on.
"I tried X but had problem Y"
- Excerpt (or a link to one)
- specific question about your sample or specific guidelines for the critique.
This links to the general critique guidelines and a clarification.
We get a lot of questions that don't follow these guidelines -- people posting an excerpt and asking for general feedback, or asking about some aspect of it but in a way that's hard to answer. These generally get put on hold, but even when they're brought into line with our guidelines, I find myself wondering if they are a good fit.
What's the problem?
You might say: "Monica, if you don't like critique questions then just skip them; some people obviously like asking and answering them, so what's the harm?"
My concern is that we give the impression of being a writing circle, a general-support site for people who want subjective feedback on their work. While outstanding answers to these questions can help others sometimes, the norm is that the only beneficiary of the answers to a critique question is the asker. That's not the model that Stack Exchange is based on; we want to help the asker and the next ten or hundred or thousand people who have that problem and come to us via Google.
Meanwhile, if we give the impression of being a writer's circle more than an internet resource for answers to questions about writing, I worry that we make it harder to attract the kinds of questions that are really Stack Exchange's strength, and that we make it harder to attract the users who will ask and answer those questions. No SE site flourishes without expert users asking and answering good, durable questions.
You get what you build. Are we building a site for experts?
I don't want to give the impression that I don't care about helping people get their work read and critiqued. I do care about that; it's one way of building a community of people who care about each other. Chat seems well-suited to this, both for formal sessions like the weekly writing challenge and for more-spontaneous, "drop-in" feedback. People come to chat with a link and a request to look, and people do that sometimes. (We could stand to increase the use of our chat room, and I stand guilty here, but it does happen.)
So what do we do about it?
That's what the answers to this question are for. I'm going to propose one approach, and I hope others will add theirs as well.