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Is this site, essentially, a centre for primarily opinion-based questions?

The conclusion of this question is that this site will be more opinion-based than other StackExchange sites due to the nature of the subject; for this reason I think we should be very conservative in putting questions on hold for being "opinion based". I think it would be a great shame if StackExchange would start requiring all questions to be politically correct. I would personally have to leave for greener pastures.


This is the question that prompted this question for me, it is currently on hold:

How to respond when told to "check your privilege"

Most answers agreed that the best policy was to disengage; this degree consensus seems odd to me if the question is only opinion-based.

I answered it myself and outlined both what I thought was the correct course of action and why the other option is a bad idea. I used arguments to prove my points and my premises are minimal and apparent from the words I wrote.

Both me and other posters with similar viewpoints were engaged in what I perceived as bad-faith. We were disagreeing with postmodern philosophy ("privilege" is rooted in postmodernism), and postmodernists generally do not believe in dialectics but only in power. This gives their tactics a few recognizable characteristics, the main one being not using arguments or citing sources.

I think it's very unproductive to ask someone to clarify their points by saying "Can you back up any of your claims?" to quote @apaul34208. It does not address answer at all, and provides no information except that someone disagreed; it is useless noise better suited for downvotes, does not help to improve the answers and creates a hostile atmosphere.

This was how I and other anti-postmodern posters were approached, and the topic was quickly put on hold for a reason I already detailed and found dubious. These things suggested to me that the topic was not closed because it was more opinion-based than any other question on this site, but because of ideological reasons. As I thought this might become a recurring problem on this site, I opened this question.


What standards do we use to determine whether a question is too opinion-based? I believe this is important to prevent the grey area from being exploited to slant discussions in a particular direction.

I'll start with a few suggestions:

  • The answers do not converge to fewer than X solutions, the question should be further specified.
  • The answers are specific to sex, culture, race, politics or ideology.
    • Solutions: require question to specify for which perspective, mark answers with the respondent's perspective, ban this category of questions, selectively ban and make SE partisan.
  • The answer is arbitrary and of no significance.

Can we perhaps use the question I mentioned as a test case, and figure out why it should or should not be on this site, in detail?

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    I'm unclear what you're asking for here. The title, and your conclusion, seems to be requesting definition of "opinion-based", yet the bulk of your question (and part of the title) seems to be more focused on the belief that you're being censored or otherwise treated unfairly because people aren't willing to debate you in comments. – Beofett Aug 21 '17 at 16:47
  • @Beofett The reason I combine the two is that I think the grey area left by lack of a clear standard is exploited to effect censorship. I'm saying we need clearer standards to make sure they are not abused. – Willem Aug 21 '17 at 18:55
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    With your edit, this is even more of a rant than an actual, on-topic meta question. As such, I've voted to close as "unclear what you are asking". According to the edit history on your answer, no one has edited your answer but you, so I'm assuming your complaints about "censorship" due to "flagging and disrupting discussions" is focused on discussion in comments. If so, I suggest you read Why must we avoid discussions in comments?. – Beofett Aug 21 '17 at 19:34
  • @Beofett The question is: "What standards do we use to determine whether a question is too opinion-based?". Why do you call my question a rant? – Willem Aug 21 '17 at 19:37
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    @Willem Because 80% or more of your content has nothing to do with determining if a question is too opinion-based, and instead is you complaining about how postmodernists are abusing flags to censor you. – Beofett Aug 21 '17 at 19:39
  • Actually asking you to back up your claims had little to do with disagreement other than a suspicion that you would have a hard time doing it... – apaul Aug 22 '17 at 22:14
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I think we have two different things going on here.

  1. Your answer and point of view were challenged because you effectively just made statements without backing any of them up with sources and/or personal experience.

  2. The question was closed because things were quickly getting out of hand. People were arguing about it at great length in the comments and chat.

The first issue has been discussed to death around here... We want people to back up their answers. Full stop.

When you write an answer it's your responsibility to provide the relavent facts to make your case. It isn't the responsibility of other users to dig up facts to challenge your baseless claims.

Granted your politics didn't help matters there... But if you want to make a claim be ready to back it up with something more than 'this is what I believe' it may be what you believe, and you're entitled to believe it as much as you want, but you're not entitled to just dump it in an answer and expect others to debate you about it.

The second issue troubles me a bit...
We shouldn't be closing questions to put a lid on arguments. I know people claim that there wasn't an actionable question there, but I really don't think that was why the question was ultimately closed. The question was plainly clear enough to be answered and wasn't any more opinion based than half the questions on the site.

It really looked like people closed it because they didn't like where the arguments were going.

It would have been better to protect the question, flag offensive comments and answers for moderator attention, and move the arguments to chat as we usually do.

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  • Thanks, I agree with most of your post except the bit about beliefs. I expect a modicum of investment from someone who wants me to engage in dialogue. My arguments are based on logic and the premises I go off are clear from my writing IMO. I don't know what concepts are unfamiliar to you, but I won't back up every one of my premises in response to a low-effort post. I'm curious what you assume my politics are, because I only expressed a dislike of political correctness, identity politics and social justice, not an affinity with any particular ideology or party. – Willem Aug 21 '17 at 19:33
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    @Willem You keep implying responsibility on the part of people who want to engage you in dialog. This is the fundamental problem here: comments are not a place for discussion. They intent of the comment system is to allow requests for clarification, or additional information with that goal in mind. Ultimately, all good comments should potentially result in an edit (at which point the comment becomes obsolete). Everything else is temporary, and treated as such. – Beofett Aug 21 '17 at 19:37
  • @Beofett A request for clarification needs some level of detail to be actionable. None of the comments I received were that. "I think literally all your assertions are false" is not constructive. I welcome criticism that helps me better my answer, in fact I've explicitly done this multiple times around that question but I have received no such feedback. – Willem Aug 21 '17 at 19:41
  • @Willem All good arguments as to why this sort of thing doesn't belong in comments. – Beofett Aug 21 '17 at 20:02

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