In the FAQ, in clearly states

What kind of questions can I ask here?

Programmers - Stack Exchange is for expert programmers who are interested in subjective questions on software development.

Yet, later, it states

What kind of questions should I not ask here?

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page. To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where...

Does that sound a little... off to anyone else?

  • 4
    Seems to me your second part cut off just as it was getting to the really important stuff.... 'avoid asking subjective questions where...' Insert Really Important examples here.
    – Walter
    Commented Feb 8, 2011 at 12:22

3 Answers 3


Well, there's good subjective, and there's bad subjective.

For example, this is a subjective question that works:

I'm building a database [for some specific reason, include concrete details here] and I'm not sure whether I should fully normalize it. Does it make sense in my specific situation, and why?

Here are some subjective forms of this question that do not work:

  • What's your preferred database storage form, normalized, denormalized, or something else?
  • I denormalize all my databases for speed, how about you?
  • I feel like denormalization is too risky, do you agree?
  • What if databases always forced you to fully normalize?
  • Normalization is a huge waste of time.

Do you see the difference?

  • I understand most of those being wrong. But is it possible to rephrase one or two to be appropriate? Or is there no way, for example, to ask what the pros and cons are of a denormalized database are, in terms of performance, on a stackexchange site? I thought programmers would be the most appropriate place. Commented Feb 8, 2011 at 17:02
  • @MatthewU: you can ask that, carefully, and you may get a very good answer... But that's probably not what you actually needed to ask. Because if you're designing a schema without any idea how it'll actually be used, it's all just a crap-shoot, and if you're lucky that's what you'll end up being told (if you're unlucky, you'll be informed that the universal secret to fast databases that no one wants you to know about is to rub them daily with cheetah sweat).
    – Shog9
    Commented Feb 8, 2011 at 21:25

We are voiding a certain class of subjective questions. Namely the kinds listed there.

  • every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite __?”
  • your answer is provided along with the question, and you expect more answers: “I use _ for _, what do you use?”
  • there is no actual problem to be solved: “I’m curious if other people feel like I do.”
  • we are being asked an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if __ happened?”
  • it is a rant disguised as a question: “__ sucks, am I right?”
  • Thank you. When I first read it, I read it as "Subjective are ok to ask... don't ask subjective, for example". But, as you point out, it's "Subjective are ok to ask... don't ask these kind of subjective" Commented Feb 8, 2011 at 17:04

It might be better if the "subjective" in the second example was removed, leaving "avoid asking questions where...". I'd suggest removing that word.

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