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There are a number of opinion-based, discussion-oriented questions on this SE, some of which (like this one, the closure of which prompted this post) have attracted a significant number of upvotes and several quality answers. And yet, despite the community's evident interest in such questions, many of these questions are closed on the basis of the site's content guidelines.

There is a blurb on every SE two-minute tour page which reads:

This site is all about getting answers. It's not a discussion forum. There's no chit-chat.

Taken at face value, that would seem to settle the question.

So my question is twofold:

  • Do you think that the content guidelines on this SE are just boilerplate, and why?
  • Despite what the content guidelines actually say, would you personally prefer it if this SE allowed opinion-based discussion similar to that thread that was recently closed?
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  • \$\begingroup\$ I edited your question because it's not just "a small number of moderators" closing opinion based questions, for example, your question. And removing the remaining bits of arguments from your question. \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHouse Sep 15 '14 at 23:25
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We already allow some sort-of opinion based discussion:

Some subjective questions are allowed, but “subjective” does not mean “anything goes”. All subjective questions are expected to be constructive. What does that mean? Constructive subjective questions:

  • inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”
  • tend to have long, not short, answers
  • have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone
  • invite sharing experiences over opinions
  • insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references
  • are more than just mindless social fun

For more detail, read about our guidelines for great subjective questions and blog post about how real questions have answers.

An argument for opening the site to "opinion-based discussion" is an argument for "anything goes". "Anything goes" fills the site with junk.

The reason this site is so great is because people can come here for informed, valid and useful answers. Allowing opinion based discussion allows answers that have no backing in fact or experience.

We should keep the site rules as they are. Allowing subjective questions as described above, but not opening the site up to anything more lenient. Take the opinion based discussion to a more appropriate site, it's not what stack exchange is about.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Other than perhaps its title, the question that you closed earlier today conforms to all of those guidelines. \$\endgroup\$ – Kevin Krumwiede Sep 15 '14 at 23:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KevinKrumwiede Read the question again. It's clear the OP is after opinions: "Would it be fun if I center my game around the concept of getting to know your characters/champions, instead of serving all stats readily to the player?" \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHouse Sep 15 '14 at 23:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's no different in that regard from any of the questions deemed good questions here: meta.gamedev.stackexchange.com/a/904/51736 \$\endgroup\$ – Kevin Krumwiede Sep 15 '14 at 23:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yep, a lot of older questions fall outside the current guidelines. The site was still learning how it wanted to operate. There are a lot of questions on the site, we don't go back and remove all the old questions that no longer fit the guidelines. \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHouse Sep 15 '14 at 23:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ So where are these "current" guidelines? The guidelines you linked in your answer predate that list of "good" questions by a couple years. If this is evidence of the site "learning how it want[s] to operate", it appears that community opinion is evolving away from the guidelines you cited. \$\endgroup\$ – Kevin Krumwiede Sep 15 '14 at 23:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ The current guidelines are found in the help and meta. There are certainly different ways to interpret the rules of the site. Questions like this one help narrow the interpretations. You only think the site is evolving away from the guidelines because you're interpreting the guidelines differently than most other people on the site. \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHouse Sep 15 '14 at 23:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would not assume that my interpretation is common if not for the long history of other users expressing similar opinions, being told they're wrong by a small cadre of die-hard rule-followers, and shortly thereafter ceasing all participation on GDSE. This site's great potential has been destroyed by heavy-handed moderation. \$\endgroup\$ – Kevin Krumwiede Sep 15 '14 at 23:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ That's right, brand new users to the site find that it's a site with a great community, with knowledgeable people. And who wouldn't want to pick the brains of that community with opinion based questions or polls? However, the reason the site is so great, with a great community, is the rules. Changing the rules breaks the site and diminishes the community. \$\endgroup\$ – MichaelHouse Sep 16 '14 at 0:05
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Based on their subject matter, I think it's undeniable that some SEs were created for opinion-based discussion. A prime example is the Role-Playing Games SE, where the content is almost entirely opinion-based and everyone likes it that way. Another example is the English Language & Usage SE, where it could be argued that every question is opinion-based.

The reason such SEs exist is because the user communities on SO and the SEs that are topically well-suited to the Q&A format are valuable assets to Stack Exchange, Inc., and it would not be in the company's interests to drive those users to other sites when they can easily satisfy demand for the discussion of related (or at least correlated) interests that are not as well suited to the Q&A format.

I think this SE was intended to be one of the opinion-based SEs for the simple reason that if it were not, there would be no reason for it to exist at all. There is nothing unique about game development that separates it from programming in general. If the boilerplate content guidelines are strictly observed, then there is no question that can be asked here that could not also be asked of the much wider audience on SO.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Whether or not a SE was intended to allow for <insert variation of subjectivity> to be allowed is irrelevant. The actual site policy is defined by the community and meta. So far, a meta proposal to loosen the policy on acceptable opinion/subjective questions that doesn't blatantly flout overall SE policy, is actionable and clear, and which has achieved an overwhelming majority vote in favor has not emerged. \$\endgroup\$ – Josh Sep 16 '14 at 2:58

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