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I found the question Revolutions in statistics for the last 50 years? is both argumentative and will require extended discussion.

I think we should not construct our site upon that type of question. Note that if we continue with it, it will get a lot of answer, hence a lot of visibility (activity=visibility).

Note: also 3 people with rep>500 choose to answer and did not vote for closing this certainly means that I am a bit too sensitive with subjectives question ? Am I :) ?

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  • $\begingroup$ I agree. I have already voted to close. $\endgroup$ – svadali Aug 19 '10 at 14:19
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I think a grace period (of let's say - 1 day) should be given to such questions. If no interest is shown by the community - it should be closed. Otherwise, we might be getting a good discussion.

If the proportion of "free discussion" will accumulate to several a day - I would say this is a bad policy - I don't believe it will get there easily.

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  • $\begingroup$ Do you mean that a question is good if it gets answers from the community? $\endgroup$ – robin girard Aug 19 '10 at 13:09
  • $\begingroup$ I believe so. It means that the community saw the question as worthwhile answering. Or do you think I am missing something? $\endgroup$ – Tal Galili Aug 19 '10 at 13:11
  • $\begingroup$ humm... maybe I'm not of that community... more seriously, I think the site, "the community", is not that stable and we need further discussion like this one to know what we want. I really think it is too early to rely on the primary instincive actions of the mass ;) $\endgroup$ – robin girard Aug 19 '10 at 13:43
  • $\begingroup$ @Tal By the very nature of subjective questions they will get more answers than any other question. I am not at all sure we should use this criteria as a means to decide what questions to allow. $\endgroup$ – svadali Aug 19 '10 at 14:15
  • $\begingroup$ I like Tal's suggestion. It seems like a nice compromise -- the question did gather some clueful answers of use to the wider community, but it can be closed later to prevent degeneration due to its subjectiveness. $\endgroup$ – ars Aug 19 '10 at 17:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Srikant: I'm totally confused why the CW aspect doesn't settle this; check out the jokes and quotations thread. Why is that OK? (BTW, it may be time to close those threads ...) $\endgroup$ – ars Aug 19 '10 at 17:56
  • $\begingroup$ @ars The CW aspect does take care of the rep issue but I would much rather prefer the site to be dedicated to asking and answering precise statistics/ml/data mining questions. See my answer for why I feel that way. There are lots of other places where you could ask discussion questions: blogs, forums etc. The jokes and quotations thread were in the initial days and perhaps once in a while such threads are fine. But, if we want to attract and retain the real experts (e.g., the likes of Andrew Gelman then we have to keep the serious stuff on top. $\endgroup$ – svadali Aug 19 '10 at 18:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Srikant: OK, I understand where you're coming from. I think I'd still favor a compromise along Tal's suggestion. Or at least a more flexible/tunable parameter: if the incidence of such questions spikes, clamp down harder; but if it's low, then let them stand for some small window of time (<= 1 day). $\endgroup$ – ars Aug 19 '10 at 18:25
  • $\begingroup$ @are Sure. we can take them on a case-by-case basis. Everyone needs a break from the serious stuff. :-) $\endgroup$ – svadali Aug 19 '10 at 18:31
  • $\begingroup$ By the way, my comment about 'real experts' does not mean that we do not have real experts in our community right now. I am sure there are several. I just used Andrew Gelman's name to make a point. No offense intended to anyone. $\endgroup$ – svadali Aug 19 '10 at 19:33
  • $\begingroup$ I want to add another consideration: People are easy to get offended when their post is being closed. If it is a duplicate, that makes sense. IF the question is off topic, that makes sense. If the question is to the topic, but subjective - I am not sure it serves our website in stopping it from staying on top. The other reason for the criteria that I proposed is that it is easier to close questions then to answer them. If a question get answered (let's say) by high reputation contributers, that means to me that it might have value. Even if personally I will miss it. $\endgroup$ – Tal Galili Aug 21 '10 at 18:20
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I agree with you, as I said in my comment, but it's borderline. It's borderline because of the usage of the word "Revolution" in my view (beyond that, it's basically ok). A question like "why is bayesian statistics the best" is an obvious candidate to close, and I would do so immediately as a moderator.

I would vote to close this one, but feel on a question like this that the community should decide. A vote to close from a moderator results in the question being immediately closed. I will vote to close once there are 4 other votes.

At the end of the day, "good answers to a bad question > no question".

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    $\begingroup$ I do not agree with "good answers to a bad question > no question" because it accepts that the author of the question did not try to make it better I would say "good answers to a bad question < good answers to a good question"... it depends on the ambition we have for the quality of the site... $\endgroup$ – robin girard Aug 19 '10 at 13:52
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with Shane's answer. If it wasn't for my moderator "super vote", I would have closed this question. $\endgroup$ – csgillespie Aug 19 '10 at 13:58
  • $\begingroup$ I also down-voted the question and won't reverse unless it's improved. I do believe that there is a potentially valid question here, just not as it is currently presented. $\endgroup$ – Shane Aug 19 '10 at 14:23
  • $\begingroup$ Now I am convinced that it should be close; so virtually we have 4 closing votes. $\endgroup$ – user88 Aug 19 '10 at 15:08
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There is a class of free-discussion topics, and they fill this "blogging/forum" part of SE. I think they should be left as CV as soon as they are able to raise some valuable discussion in community -- reading answers may then lead to some interesting discoveries.

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    $\begingroup$ why not using a chat-room for that ? I feel a much more focused question would greatly increase the quality of the answers and the possibility of interesting discoveries. $\endgroup$ – robin girard Aug 19 '10 at 13:19
  • $\begingroup$ I disagree with using the software as a blog/forum. It is far easier to ask questions that are appropriate for a blog/forum and I am afraid that good quality questions will drown if we encourage questions such as the one Robin linked to. $\endgroup$ – svadali Aug 19 '10 at 14:20
  • $\begingroup$ All right, it really looks like this question is not going to be useful at all... $\endgroup$ – user88 Aug 19 '10 at 15:07
  • $\begingroup$ I've made an appropriate change to my answer. $\endgroup$ – user88 Aug 19 '10 at 15:09
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The software that we have is very good for precise, focussed questions but not as much for 'subjective' discussion type of questions. The reason why it is not good for discussion is because of the voting mechanism, the comments/answers get sorted out of sequence.

Another point to note is that it is very easy to ask discussion type of questions. While making them CW does reduce the opportunity for gaming the rep system the sheer volume of such questions that can be asked can drown other types of questions. Thus, I am of the opinion that we should discourage these types of questions.

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  • $\begingroup$ That is true, but the software is primarily driven by the community. Good question asking is a skill for which everyone is not in possession. We have many tools at our disposal: we can vote to close, we can comment and make suggestions such that the question would be improved (assuming that it's within scope), we can down-vote, etc. $\endgroup$ – Shane Aug 19 '10 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Shane - yes the process should be community driven but I am resistant to the idea of using the software for blog/forum type of questions. Of course, if the community (i.e., the majority) feel otherwise please downvote my answer. I will not take offense. $\endgroup$ – svadali Aug 19 '10 at 14:35

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