I'm relatively new to this StackExchange but questions like this one would probably be closed on most of the others I'm more familar with. However, it's highly upvoted and many people have contributed answers or comments so I assume I've probably just misunderstood the local StackExchange policy. Could someone point me at some clarification of how the opinion-based flag should be used on Academia.SE?

  • 1
    As rarely as possible. The difference between this site, and math.se or stackoverflow, say, is that people seem less interested in joining their own little cult online, then imposing their rigorous group-think views on everyone, and more in providing advice (also, as I think, being largely disinterested in reputation gain). There are good somewhat opinion-based questions: if you think you can help someone, do it; just avoid questions like this one which I'd call obviously childish. Jun 30, 2016 at 21:55
  • what is your definition of 'opinion'? Jul 2, 2016 at 15:14
  • @j-roibal are you asking me or @gnometorule? Either way I'm not saying 'opinion' is the problem; 'opinion-based' is the problem. If you can back up your opinion with evidence, that's not a problem. In the case of the example I picked (and it's just a random example; I have nothing particularly against this question) it would be possible to construct an evidence-based answer (a correctly conducted poll of people in the same situation, blocked by age, background, and gender, showing a statistically valid difference), but I think it's more likely to attract answers that are purely opinions.
    – arboviral
    Jul 2, 2016 at 18:38

1 Answer 1


In my observation, this site is different from many other sites on SE because much of the topic is about typical behaviors and customs rather than about the operation of a particular technology.

As such, the community seems to have settled into several effective patterns for transforming "opinion" questions into objective answers. The most common that I have noticed essentially turn a "Should X be Y?" opinion question into:

  • "Here is the typical range of variation for X (which may or may not include Y)"

  • "An effective way of approaching this question is to consider the following factors"

  • "The current state of debate on this issues is as follows"

Furthermore, two of the custom close reasons on this site ("shopping questions" and "strongly depends on individual factors") capture many things that might otherwise end up falling into the category of "primarily opinion-based."

As such, "primarily opinion based" closures are very rare on this site, often being reserved for places where the OP is explicitly asking for polling or debate.

Backing up these assertions, the current close stats for the past three months include:

  • 21% "shopping questions" (highest % close)
  • 15% "individual factors" (third highest, just behind "other")
  • 2.4% "primarily opinion-based" (second lowest, only higher than "migrate to meta")*
  • +1: thanks, that's very helpful.
    – arboviral
    Jul 2, 2016 at 18:46

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