We all know about the "Six Subjective Question Guidelines" which we were ENFORCED to follow while asking questions in Programmers.SE. For convenience I am quoting them here-

1. Inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”.
2. Tend to have long, not short, answers.
3. Have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone.
4. Invite sharing experiences over opinions.
5. Insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references.
6. Are more than just mindless social fun.

And many questions are being closed now because of not following the guideline. I just seen one(and already voted for reopen). But I feel, it was helpful.

Please have a look at the most voted questions of this site. I don't feel all of them meet all of these criteria mentioned in the guideline. But I think these are the questions which represents the 'type of questions' should be asked in Programmers.SE.

I feel only two things (other than being subjective) should be considered for deciding whether the question is a good one or not-

  • Is it helpful?
  • Is it fun (harmless definitely)?

Also consider the description of Programmers.SE in area51-

Beta Q&A site for expert programmers interested in discussions that are only indirectly related to programming.

And again there can be a guideline for asking good subjective questions. But then, people will NOT be enforced to follow it. That means, no questions will be closed because of not following the guideline.

So, what do you think?

  • The very first visitor of this question has downvoted!
    – Gulshan
    Nov 6, 2010 at 16:56
  • The second one has done nothing, and the third one has upvoted! Nov 6, 2010 at 17:47

3 Answers 3


No - they shouldn't be revised, they should be scrapped and a new set done properly.

The subjective/objective or good/bad subjective is the wrong approach.

And half of these "guidelines" are rubbish...

  1. Inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”.

Ok, that's fair enough, but a bit too vague on its own.

  1. Tend to have long, not short, answers.


  1. Have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone.

This applies to all questions; failure here should be a down-vote not a close-vote.

  1. Invite sharing experiences over opinions.

We should not be inviting sharing of experiences.

That's not to say some experiences are not valuable, but those ones will come anyway.

Having this as a guideline invites meaningless experiences.

  1. Insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references.

Not always necessary; up-votes alone can provide the proof of an opinion.

  1. Are more than just mindless social fun.

Agree. (It's not bad, just do it elsewhere.)

So yeah, out of that you could salvage this:

  1. Inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”.
  2. Encourage opinion to be backed up with facts and references.
  3. Are more than just mindless social fun.

But I don't think that properly captures the essence of what (I hope) we're trying to nurture here.

This is only half an answer, so far, giving my opinion on what's wrong with the "six subjective question guidelines" - I'll update the answer later to suggest an alternative approach for deciding if a question fits with Programmers.SE

  • 1
    Eager to know your suggestions. If they are good, SOIS will accept them.
    – Maniero
    Nov 6, 2010 at 23:23
  • 1
    "Invite sharing experiences over opinions." To be fair, I read this as Encourage factual accounts of experiences over speculation and not Please share your war stories. Still not sure it brings anything as a fundamental guideline (how does a question encourage that? Are the only good questions ones that actively encourage it, or could there be a good question that invites neither sharing experience nor outright opinion polling? Is asking for an opinion a close-able offense, or can a question be constructive despite it?), but there's some value in it at least.
    – Inaimathi
    Nov 7, 2010 at 3:16

I think they should be revisited, as there are some flaws in the current wording.

I actually posted a fuller answer to this as an answer to Jeff's original post. It's probably redundant for me to re-post my answer, so I'll simply link to it.


Regardless of what you think of the rules, they've been handed down from on high as a StackExchange-wide policy:


As such, they're probably not going anywhere soon.

  • I don't get the thing. They(authority) are fully dependent on us(community) for maintaining the rules. But they are not listening to us. And yet people are becoming police of the authority doing everyything they wished for!
    – Gulshan
    Nov 8, 2010 at 3:02
  • 1
    @Gulshan: Building a community is a tricky thing. If you allow nothing, the members resent you and you get a ghost town. If you allow everything, they go wild and you get 4chan. The StackExchange higher-ups are much more receptive to user input than the average online community, but they have to make decisions that go against the general will sometimes if they feel it's in the interest of StackExchange as a whole. Limiting subjective questions is one of those times. Nov 8, 2010 at 4:21
  • While posting the comment, only this site was in my mind. There shouldn't be that much of bindings in THIS site. As it was made for subjective questions.
    – Gulshan
    Nov 8, 2010 at 4:27
  • @Fishtoaster: SE is community driven. Find it hard to believe that Jeff, if presented with clear logic based on real experiences, would reply "just do as you're told."
    – blunders
    Oct 17, 2011 at 18:24

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .