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Note that the below post is not a proposal for the specific rules to be put in place but just an inquiry with appropriate background information and my feelings on how the site could change from such a policy.

If the community feels that such a policy would be beneficial then specific details can be fleshed out in subsequent meta posts.


Game design can be a very subjective topic. GDSE (all of SE?) encourages subjective questions and answers to be as constructive as possible given the following guidelines via the Help Center:

All subjective questions are expected to be constructive. How do we define that? 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.

On the Good Subjective, Bad Subjective post there is mention of a "back it up" principal that has been instated in other SE sites.

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

They talk about how “opinion, by itself, is noise.” They’re not saying that subjective opinions are to be avoided; they’re attempting to mold and shape their inherently subjective Q&A into something constructive, informative and helpful.

Game design is naturally a rather subjective topic and as a result it is very easy to ask subjective questions on the site which, more often than not, don't meet the above criteria. The subjective questions that get asked are often too broad or appear to be discussion oriented in nature. This results in questions (often times interesting questions) getting put on hold / closed as well as confusion in the community as to whether or not design questions are actually allowed to be asked on the site.

I think that by implementing some sort of "back it up" policy we could loosen up the rules a little bit on questions being asked and be more strict on the answers. I believe this could invite more interesting questions and answers into the site which I think could lead to increased user participation.

I would expect a noticable shift in site activity / moderation to be something as described below if such a policy were instated.

From an asker's perspective:

  • Less focus on phrasing subjective questions so that they fit perfectly in the above guidelines which would allow interesting questions that users like to answer to stay open and receive reputation on.
  • Less fear of down votes / closed questions simply because the question they have is subjective in nature / design related
  • Continued effort to keep the question as high quality and narrow in scope as possible, though some broadness may be more forgivable under such a policy

From an answerer's perspective:

  • More focus on providing high quality answers that are backed up by facts, references, and experiences rather than opinion
  • More effort put into answers to subjective questions due to policy that is in place which doesn't allow an answerer to simply throw up their opinion for quick reputation

From a voter's or moderator's perspective:

  • Increased moderation and voting on answers to subjective questions to make sure that answers are not just spouting off opinion which makes the answers more useful to users who would visit the site
  • Decreased down votes and close votes on questions simply because the question is subjective, broad in scope, or discussion oriented
  • Continued voting down and/or to close questions and answers that are not a good fit for the site - i.e. not all subjective questions should stay open just because the policy makes the rules a little looser than they currently are.

Such a policy could have some negative effects on GDSE as well

  • This would absolutely require increased moderation on answers. Currently it's easy to close questions that would encourage bad answers and such a policy would provide more opportunity for bad answers since some questions that may have been closed in the past could stay open under such a policy.
  • This potentially would create an even larger grey area of what types of questions are allowed vs what types aren't which could result in a confused user base and an increase of "but this was left open / why was this closed" meta posts. (potentially mitigated by a clearly defined policy but moderation is always subjective)
  • This does open up the site to questions which won't necessarily have a single best answer (I personally think this is ok but would be a big change and not the traditional SE way)

Do you think GDSE could benefit from such a policy to the point where it's worth having further meta discussion on it? Is it redundant with current SE policy and subsequently unnecessary? Or do you feel this would be an unwelcome change for a Stack Exchange site?

This probably goes without saying, but please do not vote on this question as your response. Create a new answer or vote on an existing answer you agree with.

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Question subjectivity causes the most trouble, in my experience, but I think the guidelines in "Good Subjective, Bad Subjective" and the [help] are sufficient. "Good subjective" questions usually get a citation on them indicating that we're looking for substantive answers backed up by references, at which point we usually delete answers that don't qualify.

I think it would be worth pursuing a more formal discussion of this policy, if only to provide a record of that discussion on meta so we can link to it when enacting it on subjective questions. I'm not sure that we actually need to formalize the policy and further than it already is, though.

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A strict "back it up" policy is hard on new users who end up running into the 2 link limit for <10 rep users on their first question or answer. On Skeptics Stack Exchange, where much of the value of an answer is in the sources it cites, it became nearly impossible for new users to contribute useful answers at all because a lot of questions need to cite more than 2 sources to cover all sides of an answer. The developers had to put in special coding for that site to disable the link limit.

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