Because, even after reading a few resources, in particular on TeX.SE, I don't get it.

Is it applied in this stackexchange differently than in other SEs ?

I signed up 12 years ago and contribute now very rarely on TeX.SE, and I felt like a clueless newbie.

The TeX.SE community gave me quickly the hint I needed in comments to the first version of my question. I felt this was the end of the matter. I tried to put these comments together as an auto-answer.

Then my question was closed as "opinion-based" after two days

I deleted from my original question what could be viewed off-topic considerations.

The question itself is unimportant to me. The question can even be deleted if the editors feel like it.

But even the wording "opinion-based" has the taste of an offense or a misdemeanor. I don't recognize the inspiring spirit I felt when I SE started.

In my native language "opinion" is not a dirty word anyway, and perfectly compatible with digital technical communities.

Please enlighten me, I want to understand.

  • 9
    Note "opinion" in English is not a bad thing, and the internet has many discussion forums set up to allow opinions to be expressed. But the designers of stackexchange set up the mechanisms to discourage discussion and opinionated posts, and to encourage objective question and answer posts. It is their site, they choose the rules. So closing as "opinion-based" does not criticise the text of the post, it simply means it was posted to the wrong site. You edited the question and it's been re-opened, so it seems the mechanisms worked as designed. Commented Apr 22, 2023 at 9:12

3 Answers 3


When I find a question in the review queue marked for deletion because it's "opinion based", I usually ignore it, especially if someone has already given a reasonable answer. Even the question "What is the best editor?", which can easily raise a flame war, can get a reasonable answer: "The one you're most comfortable with, that does what you need."

By adding a few distinct requirements to the question, and a relevant example, answers may express opinions, but useful information can be shared. (The person posting the answer can always say "This is my opinion, but I share it because others may find it useful in xxx situation." In other words, give a hook to hang it on.)

Maybe this isn't an answer, but an expression of sympathy with your confusion.

  • I think this is part of the answer I needed. You have expressed concisely the mindset we need to benefit from each other's company.
    – ogerard
    Commented Apr 22, 2023 at 11:59
  • The reasonable answer "The one you're most comfortable with, that does what you need." indicates that the question might be about a subjective matter which in turn seems to be one of the criteria for an opinion-based question. | Best editor? Is that vim? Or is it emacs? I don't recall any more.... ;-) Commented Apr 23, 2023 at 19:46
  • @UlrichDiez -- For me, that answer is emacs, because I've used it for so long that the commands are "in my fingers", and I tend to type, and more importantly, make corrections without thinking. So trying to use any other editor or word processor, I usually simply destroy what is already there. (Never ask me to "correct" a Word file!) But other people have different needs and customs, so I will not say anything more than "this editor has these useful features", and let the person asking the question decide. Commented Apr 23, 2023 at 21:02

The question was closed based on the initial version (see revision 1). This contained a rant, or how you refer to it here "off-topic considerations".

The "opinion based" close reason used to be called "not constructive" with the explanation that "the question will likely solicit debate, arguments or extended discussion". That would be applicable here, you basically said (and later removed) "why is TeX Live so crappy in many ways" and the counter-argument would be "I like it the way it is".

The current close reason focuses more on opinions and only mentions that answers (as opposed to the question itself) will likely be opinion based, such as the example that Barbara gave of a "what is the best X" question. However, I think that the wording "not constructive" is actually more fitting, and that many people doing close vote reviews also interpret it as such, i.e., angry remarks about the quality of software do not belong on the site and questions containing those, even if there is also a genuine question being asked, should be closed.

However, after it was closed you edited out the rant part. From within the reopen queue I edited it a bit further to keep a clear separation of question and answer, which is another important consideration of the StackExchange model. Afterwards I thought the question was fine, and the answer that you gave yourself was useful, so I voted to reopen.

I'm actually a bit surprised that three people still voted as leaved closed because "the original close reason was not resolved". However, three other people voted to reopen:

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With a split vote like this the status of a question is not changed, so it is still closed now. I will ask in chat if some people can take another look at it.

Of course this whole process could have been prevented if you didn't include the rant in the first place, which may be worth considering in writing any future questions about workflow issues.

  • 1
    Thanks a lot for your intervention. "Not constructive" is clear to me and applied to the first version. Of course, my "considerations" were a rant and not a well written or well researched one at that. As a computer user, sometimes you get weary and just want things to work on a single click, in a GUI, without starting a hack and outguessing a complex legacy system, so you can paste the solution and go on with your life or your work. SE is great for that.
    – ogerard
    Commented Apr 22, 2023 at 12:05
  • 1
    Just as a followup: the question is now reopened. Commented Apr 23, 2023 at 7:53
  • 1
    Adding a "rant" to a question as an expression of current personal mood and criticism not necessarily based on objectivity adds something subjective/personal to a question. But that alone does not yet imply asking for opinions. Even if a "rant" is added to a question, I in most cases assume that asking the question is not motivated by the great desire of going on a rant but by the need of having the problem in question solved. The rant often is rather a side-effect which has to do with how the personal state of mood evolved while struggling with those matters that are seen as the problem. ;-) Commented Apr 23, 2023 at 20:50

"An opinion is a subjective matter, a judgment, viewpoint, or statement that is not conclusive, rather than facts, which are true statements." (Wikipedia)

Seems, those who run the site want users to lay focus on asking for facts and provably/demonstrably true statements and insights and experiences (e.g., about ways things are done, about ways things work, about experiences with specific workflows) rather than demanding subjective judgements that are not conclusive.

Notice the word "based":
I think a question being posed so that utterance of opinion is not mandatory but optional and therefore may or may not come along with the rest of an answer might be fine as long as asking the question on the part of the esteemed questioner is not motivated by a great desire of uttering an opinion/of going on a rant themselves.

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