This question ticked me off a bit: Software monetization that is not evil

It's basically a question about how to monetize software without using toolbars. And while I know a large population hates those toolbars and may even find them evil. I also think it's large irrelevant to the question of calling certain things evil.

In my opinion, a question should be a question that's answerable, just that, not also a platform for personal beliefs.

So, should you edit out something like that in a question?

  • related (not a duplicate): The real borderline for “Opinion based” in Programmers – gnat Jun 6 '14 at 13:35
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    Evil has long been programmer slang for something that does harm to a system, process or workflow, that massively outweighs any gain, and while it alludes to moral judgement doesn't necessarily entail one. I don't see much moral judgement in not damaging a users' machine. It's not free of moral judgement, but I think we can reasonably assume that at least attempting to do at least a reasonably good job is a moral baseline for everything here. – Jon Hanna Jun 12 '14 at 10:35

If you can turn a bad question into a good question by editing out the moral value statements, by all means do it. Just improving the question should be reason enough.

I wouldn't edit a question just because it contains a moral value statement. That is tantamount to making your own moral value statement on the value of having such statements in a question.

  • the entire question centers around the morality/right-vs-wrong issue, there's no saving it by editing... – jwenting Jun 10 '14 at 11:26
  • @jwenting: I agree that the question that started this thread was salvageable. I answered in a more general vein. – Bart van Ingen Schenau Jun 10 '14 at 12:41

No, you shouldn't edit-out statements of morality. Perception of right and wrong is fundamental to human nature, and while some questions invoking morality may be too broad, the statements themselves are part and parcel of rational discourse.

This particular question was way too broad to be a good one, but if it has been asked instead as "What is a non-evil way to monetize using a toolbar?", we would have had a very viable question with clear possible answers. Especially if the question or answer specified what was evil about using toolbars.

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    That's one of the exact problems I have with the kind of question: you can give a good answer and the reply can be: but that's evil too. – Pieter B Jun 7 '14 at 16:39
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    "Good" and "evil" are not synonyms for "I like it" and "I don't like it". They imply an objective, absolute reference, and in the case of "evil" even have a few specific meanings for software development. As i said, specifying what in the question or answer is "good" or "evil" would improve the quality, exactly the same as including some inline content instead of just providing a link. – DougM Jun 7 '14 at 17:53
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    Good and evil are inherently subjective, not objective at all. The words are used to trigger an emotional response. What's good and what's evil is open to interpretation. If you specify in your question what you consider good or evil, you might as well use that specification instead of the words good or evil. – Pieter B Jun 12 '14 at 8:43
  • English.SE is thataway >>. You yourself called a hypothetical answer "good", which rather undermines your assertion that the words are inappropriate. – DougM Jun 12 '14 at 14:53
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    That's nitpicking, good in the context of good and evil is an entirely different beast as good in the context of quality good. – Pieter B Jun 13 '14 at 6:40

Such questions shouldn't be edited, they should be closed as opinion based, because the entire question is about peoples' opinions after all...

If the asker wants to change the question into something real, let them do it themselves, let's not try to do it for them and change the meaning of the question to something it's not or they'll likely never learn.

  • Are you claiming that all questions with a moral statement should be closed, or just the specific example provided? – DougM Jun 12 '14 at 14:56
  • I know that there are some arguments about the difference between right and wrong, but it's very hard for me to believe that there is anything opinionated at all about certain things such as murder. Some moral issues are grey areas and opinionated, but the line must be drawn somewhere. To say that all questions on this site should be programming-related is an "opinion" in itself, but you can see why it is still held as a clear-cut line. Keeping this in mind, whether a question involving ethics should be attacked as opinionated depends on the moral in question. – Panzercrisis Jun 16 '14 at 21:48

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