I just had a question closed as primarily opinion based. I don't understand what this means. There is no 'manual' or 'applied science' behind interpersonal skills so of course the answers will be opinion based. With a question like, 'what to do if a member of your group left and waitress forgot to charge him an item' I'm sure other people have had similar situations.

EDIT: for example I don't see what makes this question on topic and mine off as both are asking 'what should I do?' Dreamt of another girl, want to tell my girlfriend, but how without getting smited?

  • Deciding whether a question is "primarily opinion-based" is primarily opinion-based :)
    – Selvek
    Commented Mar 19, 2018 at 19:41

3 Answers 3


Your question was closed as opinion based, because it was effectively asking "What should I do?".

As is discussed here such questions are not a good fit for this site. Since we don't have a custom close reason for such a question we, use POB, because that best indicates what the problem with the question is.

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    What's with the downvote on both answers? Both were written by people who voted to close the question explaining why the question was closed.
    – sphennings
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 17:21
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    Beats me. I upvoted it.
    – NVZ
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 18:16
  • This actually is pretty helpful for me because I had no clue why questions were getting closed like that, and I see why some of my answers are kinda invalid in the scope of this site. +1
    – Froopy
    Commented Mar 7, 2018 at 22:30
  • I don't understand what is meant by "what should I do" questions? In a sense aren't all questions "what should I do?" unless they're completely theoretical?
    – bluevapor
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 7:40
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    @bluevapor uhmm.. consider "what should I eat?" is POB cuz I can recommend all sorts of things. But "how can I make pasta?" is more answerable.
    – NVZ
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 8:31
  • @NVZ Just that the approaches of making pasta are much more clear when it comes to right or wrong. Most answers are still opinion based. Just count all the 'you can't change people' answers, which are strange because people change people through feedback all the time. Commented Mar 19, 2018 at 17:30

It's worth mentioning that this isn't about opinions. Every question generates some opinion, that's just how interpersonal communication goes. However, we should focus on the main issue: primarily opinion-based.

A good place to look for the definition of primarily opinion-based is the Closed Question help page. It explains, like it does in the closed question, what it means:

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than on facts, references, or specific expertise.

What that means is that your question might have generated too wide of a variety of answers, mostly focusing on options or courses of action, rather than a more thorough understanding of a specific interpersonal problem or skill. For instance, a "What should I do?" question is primarily opinion-based because, rather than asking us for help with a specific case, you're asking for opinions on what decisions to make before we can even help with the deeper issue. We cannot make decisions for people, only advise them on how to carry on the decisions they've taken already.

Questions like "Should I have done X?", "I did X. Was I right?" or "What if X happened?" are also opinion-based in that they're not asking about interpersonal communication, but rather theories and/or confirmation. It is also a good idea to check out the Don't Ask help page for further insight into the topicality of questions.

A good interpersonal skills question doesn't have to be opinion-based. It can ask about approaches to a specific problem or type of problem, or how to improve on specific facets of social interaction, or what's generally acceptable under certain cultural norms. I highly recommend taking a look at this somewhat-related meta question. More specifically, the list of linked questions at the end of the question, which gives us some good examples of interpersonal skills questions that are not opinion-based.


This site isn't about ethics. A lot of questions that ask "Should I..." are asking for ethical judgements, which are off-topic here. Some people and cultures do not consider lying to be unethical, likewise some cultures would not consider small thefts or debts to be problems. You'll need to decide what you think is right by yourself, and only then come to ask questions about how to implement a specific plan you have.

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    So, questions for seeking revenge would be bad ethics but still on topic? See also the recent meta about an edit that was rolled back.
    – NVZ
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 3:51
  • @NVZ People may not want to enable revenge by supplying answers, and not all questions are about IP skills, but neither does a question being about revenge automatically make it off-topic IMO. Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 3:54
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    The question was edited by another user to make it less revenge-y and gave it a positive spin. But then another user rolled back the edit saying we shouldn't do that, since that's not what OP wanted.
    – NVZ
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 3:56
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    @NVZ Right. Questions should never be edited against the OP's intentions IMO. Why can't we just let bad questions be bad? Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 3:59
  • @curiousdannii: because this site is designend to improve both question as well as answers, to be useful to others?
    – user6109
    Commented Mar 14, 2018 at 16:24

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