I've been struggling with this for a long time and I'm still not convinced I understand what is really the point of "opinion-based" as a reason to put a question on hold.

I'm here to discuss this question.

...is expressing anger in this way always the wrong decision?

One one hand, the way the question is phrased would immediately make it an opinion-based question. I was surprised it wasn't put on hold.

On the other hand, if this question is about etiquette when expressing anger, then it should stay open but be rephrased to avoid confusion. I don't know if this is the case, the OP could clarify. In addition, the OP is not asking how to express the anger- he already gave examples.

I commented that the question was opinion-based and the OP used a question I have asked, to correctly demonstrate that the answers to my question are in essence different opinions, as most questions and answers here, are mostly about. In other words, you can't really avoid writing what you think when you answer most questions here.

How necessary is after all "opinion-based" as a VTC reason? Can we come up with a clearer alternate term (to express what though)?

Bottom line:

  1. There seems to be bias towards some opinion-based questions vs others.
  2. We can't really quantify how opinion-based is one question over another nor is it enough or convincing to say that they all generate some degree of opinion-based answers. And then what? There are some gaps in this logic. The moment you as an individual A answer a question you express an opinion. Period. It's very unlikely that there won't be a single other individual X who could potentially write an answer expressing a different opinion. This makes using "opinion-based" very confusing when deciding on putting a question hold.
  • 3
    It's primarily opinion-based. Jan 9, 2018 at 18:29
  • 1
    @AnneDaunted Thanks. I forgot to add "primarily". To me it makes almost no difference. The outcome is the same. How objectively can one determine how primarily or not primarily a (opinion-based) question is. This is the confusion and the issue and this is why I'm wondering about the question I'm discussing here as an example. Jan 9, 2018 at 19:18
  • This appears to be the only SE site where you have noteworthy experience, and that skews your perspective on what is or isn't useful. Even users with a range of site usage can be biased by the milieux they regularly see, when they start to deal with dissimilar sites. In this case, POB is a close reason here because it's a close reason everywhere. It's a default universal setting; I am not aware of any means by which it can be "reworded" (custom close reasons aside, it wouldn't be worth using one on this).
    – Nij
    Jan 11, 2018 at 11:16

2 Answers 2


First off, as Anne mentioned in a comment, the close reason is primarily opinion-based. Questions should only be closed for that reason if the main aspect of answers will be opinions, in particular opinions that can reasonably vary person to person and that can't really be justified.

The obligatory reference for this is Good Subjective, Bad Subjective. It's really worth reading the whole thing, but the key point is that good subjective questions can have answers that provide reasoning, explanation, and supporting experiences or evidence.

Especially on a site like IPS, where people's varying perspectives and personalities naturally come into play, we're unlikely to entirely escape from opinions. But that's okay! Questions can still be "good subjective". The important thing is that good subjective questions invite everyone to back up their opinions, even if not everyone has the same opinions.

In the end, I think "primarily opinion-based" will not be a terribly useful or common close reason here. Questions are much more likely to get closed as off-topic or too broad, when the OP has failed to describe a sufficiently clear interpersonal situation and goal. By the time they do get to that point, opinions are much more likely to be justifiable. But by all means, if someone asks, say, "when cheek kissing, which side is best to start on?" (in a culture where either is fine), vote primarily opinion-based.

So, coming to the specific question you mention, it seems that the question you mention is, one way or another, "good subjective". The OP is primarily focused on a specific situation, which is reasonably well-described, with a clear goal, so answering whether expressing anger is "wrong" in that case is right in IPS' wheelhouse. The more general question you quote ("is [it] always the wrong decision?") also seems answerable enough; if there's an issue there it's more that it's too broad, not that it's opinion-based. (Ironically your own meta question similarly asks both a general question and a specific one!)

Since discussion has also included, essentially, "is this actually a useful close reason?", this SEDE query lists non-deleted questions that have been closed as primarily opinion-based. (Note that some may since have been deleted or re-closed using a different reason.) Some of the most recent:

Even just from those examples, we can start to see that the most common category is asking what to do, not just how to accomplish a clear goal. This is opinion-based, because it depends on what the OP ultimately wants. (It's also kind of off-topic, if you look at it the right way - it's not just an interpersonal question, it's hiding a "what do you want?" question.) A variation of this: asking what they "need" to do or what's "ethical" to do. Different perspective, same problem.

Some also involve trying to guess what someone else is thinking, which is obviously pretty difficult to justify opinions on.

So overall, it does seem like this close reason is sometimes warranted, even if it's not the most common!

  • Thanks for your answer. The general part of my question was triggered by my confusion about the specific one :) . The question I'm discussing was tricky for me. I still feel there is bias towards certain questions vs others and we should try to be more objective in general but like you pointed out, I also felt that the OP had a clear goal (=preserve a friendship) and used examples but the phrasing made it a bit unclear to me. Jan 9, 2018 at 19:30
  • I think that if you're worried about bias, it's probably easiest to address by looking at more concrete examples. It's certainly hard to be completely consistent (especially since it's not always the same people seeing/voting on every question). This might be useful: data.stackexchange.com/interpersonal/query/780454/… (note that it includes questions all questions that were ever closed as primarily opinion-based; they may've been reopened or even reclosed with a different reason).
    – Cascabel
    Jan 9, 2018 at 19:37
  • I also checked my guess about close reasons (it had been based on a brief search on the site). It looks like the breakdown (with the same caveat as previous comment) is: 23 duplicate, 64 off-topic, 53 unclear, 124 too broad, and 40 opinion-based. So there's definitely still plenty of it, but most of the time people are seeing other issues. data.stackexchange.com/interpersonal/query/780471/…
    – Cascabel
    Jan 9, 2018 at 19:45

Basically any IPS question will generate opinions in answers. I think these fall into two main categories:

  1. There are widely accepted cultural norms for the situation (aka , )
  2. It is possible to write a defensible answer to the question - that is, you can back up your answer beyond "Do X, because I like X".

This question seems to be the second type, and the answers reflect that.

Most of them can be summarized as:

No, it is appropriate for situations X and Y, because... (reasons, examples, caveats)

An answer saying "Yes, it's never okay because A and B" would also be a valid answer. Answers like "No, it's totally fine, because I wouldn't mind if you said it to me" or "Yes, it's always wrong, because my religion says so" -- those would be opinion-based. Fortunately, there haven't been any of those so far (at least, not outside of comments).

So, since this question gives a specific context and goal and can be answered using logical arguments as opposed to personal preferences, I'd say it is not "primarily opinion-based".

  • I agree with you about etiquette and social norms but logical arguments can be used to support different opinions. I still think "primarily opinion-based" isn't as clear a reason to VTC as "unclear..." and "too broad". If there can be both a "No" answer (with it's arguments, examples, relevant experience) and a "Yes" answer then this demonstrates that the question has generated different opinions as all questions do here. I don't see the usefulness of using this reason to be honest. This is what I'm trying to discuss here I guess. Jan 9, 2018 at 20:35
  • If there's both a "no" and a "yes" answer, then votes will tell you what the community thinks about the validity of those arguments/examples, so it's useful in giving you more perspectives on the issue. As long as it can be answered by citing facts and logic, then it's not primarily opinion (even though, as always, how they're used are up to the answerer). If the question is generating many variations of "Yes / No because...", then I'd say that's a sign it is "too broad" instead.
    – Em C
    Jan 9, 2018 at 21:42
  • @Tycho'sNose For whether or not it's useful, I added some notes to my answer (in addition to the previous comments).
    – Cascabel
    Jan 10, 2018 at 0:05

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