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So, in general terms I am not sure when something is primarily opinion based here on UX.SE as UX is not an exact science, so every question is at some level opinion based. The skill lies in approaching the question in an objective fashion trying to cover as many facets as is necessary.

To be slightly more specific I came across this question and considering the top two voted answers I would definitely not say those answers are opinion based. Sure, there are some poorer answers that mostly just express one sided and/or unsubstantiated opinion, but even considering all answers those are in a strong minority, yet none the less a moderator saw fit to finish closing the question. Additionally it was decided that a question like Why do washing machines have windows? is on topic which makes it even more confusing.

  • I'm a huge fan of broadening question scope on SE, so just wanted to add my support for your thoughtful question. – tohster Mar 2 '15 at 18:46
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This is an ongoing discussion and something that I hope will change in the near future. You're right that most questions in UX will inherently be subjective, and so many good questions will rely on subjective answers. They key for me is whether the reasoning behind the advice is shown vs. someone simply stating that X is better than Y.

I would personally consider the question you linked on why keyboards are still the predominant input device to be an acceptable question. However many of the answers are unsuitable, in that they are mostly opinion without communicating any real UX principles or revealing the reasoning behind them. In those situations though, I think we should focus on rather deleting purely opinion based answers than closing the question because many users tend to give opinion based answers to it.

  • +1. I might recommend making a practice of downvoting opinion-based answers rather than deleting them outright, to encourage newer users to contribute answers based on facts and research. – David Mar 10 '15 at 21:59
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The difference between the washing machine question and the keyboard one is that the washing machine question is theoretically correctly answerable. For example it is conceivable that in history some machines had windows and others didn't and the ones that didn't had lower sales, so they eventually were phased out. Or that there is a legal requirement for health and safety that they be like that for some reason. If such information exists then it could be referenced in the answer and the answer would not be subjective at all.

The keyboard one is pure speculation. "Why hasn't the world changed yet" is a pure blue-sky question. All the answers are basically be unfalsifiable, and there is not any solid evidence that any of those answers are the reason for the situation.

Don't forget the question is 'Why are keyboards still the predominant input device?' meaning it is requesting the reason. The answers would be fine if the question were 'why do you think' , but if that was the case it would be clearer that is is wholly opinion-based.

For the record, I don't really like either question. Neither of them are especially useful, unless you are a washing-machine designer (in which case the question would be better if it were 'should my top-loading washing machine have a window', rather than the "What's the deal with this?!?" question that it currently is).

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    I disagree with the idea that the washing machine question is only relevant to washing machine designers. The top answer includes giving user a sense of control, enjoyment, and the utility of the same design (a window) in different use cases (clothes and dishes). Seeing that analysis applied in any context has value for those learning UX. I think questions should be judged on their utility to those studying the practice of UX, not just the utility of the narrow context of a question. – Charles Wesley Mar 2 '15 at 15:46
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    @CharlesWesley In that case the question should be amended. It is written purely from a 'hmm this is weird, what's up with that?' viewpoint. I'm sure some information around that topic is interesting and of use, but the way it is written it's not really a useful post (just a popular bikeshed one). – JonW Mar 2 '15 at 15:50
  • Just a sincere question, from the top 1 or 2 answers, which things do you consider opinion based? Are things like "the learning curve is relatively linear" opinion to you to? – David Mulder Mar 2 '15 at 20:58
  • @DavidMulder It is opinion based because it is the posters opinion that these things are the reason keyboards are still the primary input tool. The answers are all lists of things that are good about keyboards, but nowhere do they give evidence that those things are the reasons. – JonW Mar 2 '15 at 21:26
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    @JonW Wow, in that case I believe you should lead by example and delete the majority of your answers... if not all... – David Mulder Mar 2 '15 at 21:47
  • @DavidMulder That is a bit of a spurious comment. If you can find an answer of mine where the question explicitly asks for a reason for something existing and I have answered with just a 'perhaps its because of X' with no evidence then you may have a point. I may well have done so, but not to my knowledge. – JonW Mar 3 '15 at 12:47
  • @JonW: I never bothered to come back to this question, but now by chance stumbled upon it and saw your comments. It's funny how you suddenly in your last comment made your stance a lot more specific (only about 'why does feature X exist' questions, rather than about opinion based answers). I mean, take this question ux.stackexchange.com/questions/37511/… , it's clearly asking for opinion and you clearly state yourself that you're giving an opinion. I mean, I think it's a fine answer, but bad per your rules above. – David Mulder Nov 17 '15 at 15:29

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