This question: Why are foursquare tweets not annoying?

just screams subjective, but not one of the "subjective police" said anything about it.

However, this question: Is Google Instant good or bad UX?

is clearly subjective as well, and it got jumped on by at least one person. Of course, rather than close the question, he just started voting subjective answers down instead.

Two things:

1) Are we allowing subjective questions? If so, then the FAQ needs to be updated.

2) If we are allowing subjective questions, then people should not be downvoting subjective answers just because they are opinions. Disagreeing with the opinion is one thing, but that isn't the case here. He was downvoting EXCLUSIVELY because they were opinions.

I personally believe that we should not be allowing subjective questions at all (not even Community Wiki) and then we won't have these issues. If the argument is that UX isn't always objective, then subjective questions AND answers should be allowed and treated equally and fairly.

  • Downvoting because you disagree with the answer is perfectly within the intended design of the StackExchange model, so "people should not be downvoting subjective answers just because they are opinions" doesn't hold much water. Anyone can downvote anything for any reason, just like they can upvote anything for any reason. You'll notice that in that situation I explicitly downvoted things instead of voting to close the question as I thought that was inappropriate.
    – Rahul
    Sep 15, 2010 at 20:35
  • @Rahul - Completely disagree with your statement here because you were very inconsistent with your downvoting. Since you were downvoting exclusively because the answers were opinions, shouldn't you ave downvoted EVERY answer there that was purely opinion? Sep 16, 2010 at 17:45
  • No, I downvoted answers I wanted to downvote based on how I felt about those answers, which is how anyone should downvote anything. Consistency is not something I consider when voting on something.
    – Rahul
    Sep 16, 2010 at 21:55
  • I personally reserve downvoting only for harmful misinformation that may misguide somebody when trying to find an optimal solution. If I confidently know that the answer that is posed is incorrect or inferior I will comment about it and if the poster doesn't correct or withdraw their statements I will consider downvoting next. As for subjectivity, I don't really care although I think many computer-geeks like myself prefer objective questions and answers.
    – jpierson
    Feb 3, 2011 at 2:19
  • Personally I believe that MORE THAN HALF of the discussions on this site are pertaining to what kind of question is asked, or some nitty gritty garbage about how the grammar is bad (more often then not as a form of rebuttal once someone disagrees with them). How about we answer questions and give useful opinions rather than act as holier than thou question police. Seriously. Apr 28, 2011 at 17:19
  • @Matt - How about you use the site as intended. This is not a discussion site. Simple as that. Apr 29, 2011 at 1:14

2 Answers 2


Notice the google questions got 27 answers and 4500 views and a ton of up votes. Plus the question got answered beautifully in a way that helps UX thinkers of every variety.

The audience loves questions like that and the result is very positive. Im sick to death of this argument. Subjectivity is USEFUL on this site for this content.

  • 1
    Any comment on the negative vote... No? Thats funny.
    – Glen Lipka
    Dec 13, 2010 at 4:54
  • 1
    The Google question was the start of a GREAT discussion, but of course some people here feel that if we color outside the lines in the smallest way, that it's a "bad question, move this question, wrong forum" etc. I have seen some people comment more about policing than actually responding to questions which is very sad. Apr 28, 2011 at 17:22
  • 1
    Totally agree. Darn question nazis. Comment your disagreement when you see it. I feel sometimes people dont speak up.
    – Glen Lipka
    Apr 28, 2011 at 20:47
  • @Glen & @Matt - You both need to learn that this is NOT a discussion site. It never has been, it never will be. It is a question and answer site. It says so right in the FAQ. If you don't like it, go somewhere else. It'd be nice if we had a moderator that actually enforced the rules of the site, but until that happens, I guess we will have to put up with this garbage. Apr 29, 2011 at 1:12
  • 1
    I have no idea why you keep trying. Just try and ignore everyone who thinks you are wrong. It will make you happier. You are wrong. Try it now.
    – Glen Lipka
    Apr 29, 2011 at 5:39
  • 1
    @ Charles, the only responses I ever see you giving are complaining about rules and whether or not someone should post. Why don't you just try and say something productive. Apr 29, 2011 at 11:12

I don't think there is a "subjective police" nor is there an explicit or necessary rule currently being enforced about subjective questions (the FAQ mentions them, but the FAQ is inherited from StackOverflow and very much in flux as we're in beta - I certainly don't take it as final right now). Since UI is full of topics that can only be discussed by forwarding an expert opinion, it wouldn't make much sense to ban subjective questions.

What we should address in the FAQ is how to determine whether specific subjective questions are appropriate for this site. I feel like "why are Foursquare tweets not annoying" is referencing a broader pattern, eg. why do people find Foursquare tweets annoying or not, which implies a design trend or expert opinion that can be extrapolated from behaviour or experience. But asking users of the site directly for their opinions on something, such as the Google Instant question, where it basically comes down to people posting answers centered purely around whether they like the new site or not, isn't something I think fits in the model.

Overall, I think StackExchange UI should be about creating knowledge, and just hearing 5 different people tell me about why they like or dislike a site doesn't really add value. You can't boil "creating knowledge" down to a rule in a FAQ. You have to look at it case by case.

Like I said in the Google Instant question, we should continue to ask questions about questions and be critical of each question asked so that we can continue to form (even after the site launches and we have a FAQ) the site. Everyone's feedback is important throughout this process.

  • "nor is there an explicit or necessary rule about subjective questions" - you should read the FAQ for the site some time. It does have rules about these things. That's the point I'm making here. Either the FAQ needs to be changed or it needs to be enforced. Sep 16, 2010 at 17:47
  • 1
    I'll rephrase that, as I wasn't referring to the FAQ, I was referring to our current use of the site.
    – Rahul
    Sep 16, 2010 at 21:56
  • 2
    Our current use of the site should be following the FAQ - that's where the "rules" of the site should be defined. The point still remains - either the FAQ needs to be updated or we should follow the FAQ on deciding what to close/change/move/etc. Sep 17, 2010 at 14:21

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