Sometimes a question gets closed/put on hold for being opinion based. Fine.

But sometimes people comment on your question and say "you should revise, this is opinion based". So you revise? Only to find another user has answered the original question.

So should we think like "a question is not opinion based unless a moderator thinks it is? And the it gets closed." I think so; I think this should be solely up to moderators to decide. It's like a band. The Boss makes the rules and tells the others their roles. Accept or get kicked out.

Any opinions on this?

2 Answers 2


IMHO, if any user (non-moderator) comments that the question seems opinion-based, you should take that as food for thought and see if you can tweak the phrasing. If a moderator or a high-rated user does so, their opinion should probably have a little more weight (but not be taken as absolute truth! - use common sense!)

If question is put on hold, either by a popular vote of five, or by a moderator, that's basically an ultimatum to rework the question. Putting question on hold is not same as closing it. Because we are pretty liberal here, the question will most likely be reopened if the new version passes the grey area even by an inch.

If one person says the question is opinion-based, and other people answers it - that doesn't necessarily mean the original question was alright. It just means the original question had a valid point in it - that some people could relate to - but also has some phrasing problems - that other people found misleading. IMHO, in this case the question should still be rephrased, if possible in such way as to preserve the validity of the answers.

  • I see and agree. Also better to think stuff more through before asking. I'm learning and you get to practice patience, win win Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 16:28

Whether to ignore a comment?

If someone comments "this is opinion-based", that comment has 3 audiences: the OP, other users, and moderators.

Anyone can do three things with such a comment: ignore the comment, edit the question, vote to close the question.

People other than the OP may be more reluctant to edit the question, e.g. because we don't want to turn it into a different question which the OP didn't want to ask. For that reason, it's better if the OP asks themselves whether they can improve their own question, even if other people don't edit it.

What does "opinion-based" mean?

My own criterion for what's too opinion-based comes from Good Subjective, Bad Subjective, i.e.

The folks at Moms4mom owned up to the subjective issue and came up with a set of principles to create useful subjective discussions on parenting: the Back It Up! Principle. Back It Up! means that your answers must be based on either:

  • Something that happened to you personally
  • Something you can back up with a reference

An answer that begins with "this sutta says..." or "my teacher told me..." counts as a reference, and plenty of questions about practice can be answered based on some personal experience.

I did close one question which seemed to be asking, "If the Buddha were here today would he use Twitter for teaching?", because I thought that couldn't be answered using references nor using personal experience (and so, any answers could be no more than mere/idle opinion).

Are moderators The Boss?

Not exactly.

I think that moderators are meant to be agents who reflect a community consensus/opinion. For example our Moderation policies for Questions was based on this discussion with the members of the community who wanted to discuss it. In a mature site moderators are elected (not appointed), presumably based on their ability to implement a communal consensus.

On this site in particular, I think that users tend not to vote-to-close or down-vote questions (i.e. the majority of questions are acceptable to the community).

So if anyone does criticize a question it's worth at least considering their criticism.

I guess it works that way in a Band, too: if anyone doesn't like something, it's worth listening: otherwise you won't get harmony and a full sound, participation.

Furthermore, even now a question can be closed by 1 moderator or by any 5 sufficiently reputable users. On a mature site with many users it's easier to get 5 votes-to-close (on a beta site with fewer users it's harder to accumulate 5 votes, so moderators are relatively more active). That doesn't mean that only moderators are important, it means that moderators are trying to act as a proxy for community consensus.

When can I comment on a question?

Anyone can comment on a question:

  • To explain why they think it ought to be closed
  • To suggest (identify) any specific improvement[s] which could be made
  • To ask some question about the question, if the question or the OP's intent is unclear

Answers to the question are better posted as answers rather than as comments.

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