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At this moment the question How can I stop playing notes and start playing music? has already 14 answers, yet the highest voted one has only two upvotes, 3 questions have 1 upvote, remaining 10 have score of 0.

These seem like clear symptoms of an opinion based question:

  • it's easy to express an opinion (rather than base an answer on facts and references), hence large number of answers,
  • unlike facts, opinions are personal and vary, hence people are unlikely to upvote answers of other people.

Questions:

  1. Why the question isn't closed? I wish the OP to get their answer, but if the answers are opinion based, perhaps they are not so valuable anyway, or maybe even misleading rather than helpful?
  2. If in turn we believe the answers are valuable, why they are not upvoted?

I haven't cast a close vote, and it appears to me that we're collectively breaking the site rules. Why?

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  • Tangential, but related discussion of interest: Questions with more answers than votes.
    – Aaron
    May 8, 2022 at 17:40
  • @Aaron possibly related, yes, but here situation is quite opposite. As of today the question has 8 upvotes, yet the 14 answers gathered 7 upvotes in total. May 8, 2022 at 19:15

2 Answers 2

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Why isn't the question closed?

Because both you and I — as well as everybody else on the site — has chosen not to cast a close vote. The moderators, though they do occasionally preemptively close question, tend to leave those decisions to the membership at large.

Even as someone who left an answer to the question, I agree with you that it clearly meets the criteria for "opinion based" questions that would otherwise be closed. But my feeling also is that this question has clear and specific value to the site and that while answers are opinion based, they also are experienced based, and by having a variety of them, different readers may find different solutions suitable to themselves.

This is stretching (at least) the spirit of SE sites, which are intended to be quick and clear Q&A posts. But our specific site is inherently opinion based, dealing as it does with questions of musical interpretation, for example. So there is an ongoing tension between which posts cross the line between okay-opinion-based and too-opinion-based.

If we believe these answers are valuable, why are they not upvoted?

Lack of voting is an ongoing problem on the site. Moderator @Dom has brought this up a number of times. I can't help but wonder, in this case, if the sheer number of answers, and the length of those answers, is a deterrent from even reading them in the first place. That would certainly be another good argument against this type of opinion-based question.

But to the larger issue of voting, consider the five members with all-time reputations above 50,000. There are five (myself included), and on average we collectively post 65 votes per month. That means of the five of us, we average about two votes each day.

As I write, Data Explorer reports 83,613 total posts (questions and answers) on our site. The site is a few days past its 11th birthday. So on average over the life of the site, we average 633 posts per month since the site was established, or about 21 posts per day.

So the 5 most prolific users (by reputation) collectively vote on one of every 10 posts.

A total of 378,559 up or down votes have been made since the site's inception. So the average post receives 4.5 votes either up or down. There are 61,357 users registered who collective make those 4.5 up or down votes per post.

Restricting that to users with reputations of 1000 or greater, there are 393 of us who have received approximately 100 upvotes to our own posts. We post, at the most (i.e., if no other users vote ever), just over 7 up or down votes, collectively, per month.

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  • Wanted to get this posted, but will revise and make more concise. Feedback appreciated.
    – Aaron
    May 9, 2022 at 18:35
  • Why is close vote the solution?? At the end of the day, most facts are really just opinions. The diversity of opinions is exactly what makes SE great.
    – rfportilla
    Aug 3, 2022 at 14:52
  • @rfportilla Since my post is about keeping the question open and not close voting, and since my reasoning is exactly in regard to the diversity of opinion, I'm not sure where you comment is coming from.
    – Aaron
    Aug 3, 2022 at 15:46
  • @rfportilla what notes make up a C major chord is an opinion?
    – Dom Mod
    Aug 3, 2022 at 21:36
  • @Dom To be fair, the comment said "most".
    – Aaron
    Aug 3, 2022 at 21:50
  • I don't think that makes a difference IMO. When someone says facts are opinions, something has gone wrong in the conversation. I.E. you can look at the same data and have different conclusions, but the data is what it is. The conclusions can be based in opinion and inference, but it's not the same as a fact.
    – Dom Mod
    Aug 3, 2022 at 21:56
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    @Dom "When someone says facts are opinions, something has gone wrong in the conversation": More than with you there.
    – Aaron
    Aug 3, 2022 at 21:59
  • Let me rephrase since some people are having problems with my statement. Most "facts" that people are claiming to be facts can be argued on some level. If nothing else, there are certainly multiple presentations of the facts. We need to be less sure of ourselves and accept that multiple answers are ok.
    – rfportilla
    Aug 16, 2022 at 4:38
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    @rfportilla no one has a problem with multiple answers from multiple different approaches. Opinion based questions/answers are all equally valid which is very different than allowing multiple answers. You are also obscuring any discussions by trying to say nothing is objective and using facts the way no one would. There are objective questions and some less so on our site. We just don't allow questions that are completely subjective. You also seem to be arguing for multiple answers instead of questions that are completely subjective which this meta is not about.
    – Dom Mod
    Aug 16, 2022 at 12:58
  • @Dom huh? "Opinion based questions/answers..." I really don't get what you are saying here. Are you saying opinion based questions should be allowed or not? I am glad you are admitting that subjective is more like a spectrum than a binary. That was MY point. So how do you measure if something is TOO subjective for this site? Also, I don't know why you are accusing me of arguing for multiple answers." That's beside the point. I am arguing for letting the community decide whether the question is relevant and useful. Forget about subjective entirely. Why should that be policed?
    – rfportilla
    Aug 19, 2022 at 2:50
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    @rfportilla The community does decide. The boundaries have been discussed, decided upon, and continue to be discussed by the community. The boundaries are maintained by the community upvoting and downvoting, voting to close or keep open or to reopen after closing. The community edits questions to help them adhere to community standards. The whole point of SE sites is that the community decides as a community and polices as a community its own content.
    – Aaron
    Aug 19, 2022 at 3:16
  • @rfportilla that already happens. At this point I have no idea what you want you change anymore.
    – Dom Mod
    Aug 19, 2022 at 8:51
-1

Let me first focus on the issue of of policing opinion-based questions.

I don't think that opinion-based questions are bad, especially if they can guide someone to a solution they are comfortable with.

I believe SE works b/c of a diversity of opinions. Why would we want to reduce that? The OP can decide which, if any, of the answers/opinions answers the specific question. Moreover, people who come later may find value in other answers. Additionally, I have seen instances where the "right" answer changes over time. Many questions across SE are still relevant 10+ years and get updated as information changes. It's transformative AND explorative in this way. The best truths are arrived at through debate and deliberation.

Let's not diminish the site b/c short-sighted opinions on usefulness. By doing so, we run the risk of losing info that we can't easily recover. We risk being overly opinionated in answers we "like" instead of listening to the community. We risk alienating people b/c their answer/question got deleted. Is it worth it?

Second, regarding voting... I won't use this space to diagnose why engagement is so low, but I would not assume it's because of opinion based question. There are millions of musicians whom, I believe, would love to engage on a site like this. Why are they not more engaged? What is keeping them from being so? I would ask that the site administrators focus on that instead.

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  • You seem to be equating closing and deleting questions.
    – Aaron
    Aug 3, 2022 at 15:48
  • 1
    @Aaron there is not so much difference. If a question is closed early, only the fastest guns get to write their answers. Aug 3, 2022 at 18:19
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    @user1079505 There's a huge difference. Closed questions can be edited and (voted to) reopened by a wide swath of users. Deleted questions are not even visible to most users, and the process of undeleting is more difficult.
    – Aaron
    Aug 3, 2022 at 18:22
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    No one is saying debate, opinion, or deliberation is bad, it's just not the point of the main site which is oriented towards more objective questions and answers. As someone who went through a ton of music sites before finding this one, opinions and debate muddle a lot of info. Keeping things more objective allows better use of the site and make things like voting more useful. A purely opinion based question has meaningless voting as all views are equal. I know this system isn't for everyone, but the community shaped it this way for a reason.
    – Dom Mod
    Aug 3, 2022 at 21:08
  • @Dom, I understand what this community is trying to do. But conversations like this just poke holes in the plan. We will likely disagree right up to the point of this site failing. I don't believe requiring questions or answers to be "objective" is a rational or even desirable solution. At the risk of sounding dramatic, it creates a tyranny where only a few get define what is useful, and everything is muted or deleted. StackExchange should be driven by the community.
    – rfportilla
    Aug 16, 2022 at 4:44
  • @rfportilla it is community driven. They community came up and guided the site's policies and coming in 11 years after the site started and calling what the community decided "a tyranny" is ridiculous. See my last comment again. We are focusing on what's best for creating a library of questions and answers like all the other SEs instead of focusing on any question posted. And I think you completely missed what the point of only allowing more objective questions is. There can be multiple answers on objective questions, it's just the subjective questions can have almost any answer.
    – Dom Mod
    Aug 16, 2022 at 13:08
  • Think "What guitar should I buy?" vs "What are the basic elements of a ballad?". Any guitar can recommend their favorite guitar in the first. The second while allowing many answers is confined and while not having completely object answer is not open to just opinion.
    – Dom Mod
    Aug 16, 2022 at 13:12
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    I also need to say, you are not "poking holes" in anything. Part of the meta is about shaping and clarifying the site and you need the community behind an idea before anything changes. This site won't completely change because you say "I don't think opinion-based questions are bad" which the community itself is not saying they are bad as I pointed out.
    – Dom Mod
    Aug 16, 2022 at 13:16
  • First, let me say that I am continuing this conversation b/c I hope it is a useful debate. Second, from my perspective, yes this does poke holes b/c there seems to be a small group making the rules, not a community. The community votes by voting for questions and answers. Then a moderator closes or deletes the question. That is heavy handed administration, NOT community driven. This is why precisely why I don't use this site anymore. I am sure I am not the only one.
    – rfportilla
    Aug 19, 2022 at 2:24
  • Back to the point, "What guitar should I buy?" is a bad example because the reason it's bad has nothing to do with being subjective. It's bad b/c it relies entirely on the asker's taste. By the very nature of the question it is only applicable to the one person. We cannot hope to answer this type of question for every individual who might ask. However, if the question were "What should I look for when buying a guitar", that would be more relevant to a wide audience while also being subjective. Would this also be considered a bad question?
    – rfportilla
    Aug 19, 2022 at 2:36
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    @rfportilla "What should I look for when buying a guitar?" would be perfectly fine, and we have fielded a variety of questions along those lines. For example How do you identify a good acoustic guitar?.
    – Aaron
    Aug 19, 2022 at 5:14
  • @rfportilla you are missing that even if a mod closes a question, the community can reopen it and vice versa. Mods also don't just delete content when closing it in most if not all circumstances. Mods don't act on their own opinion they act on the community's decisions on meta. I feel like you don't quite understand the processes on the meta and what power the mods/community has.
    – Dom Mod
    Aug 19, 2022 at 8:50
  • You also are in general aligned with site thoughts on the "What guitar should I buy?" which we do get and we do close for being too subjective. I think there is a disconnect here I'm not sure how to get over with you. How you think the site should work and how the site actually works is very close with just the sticking point being something about subjectivity, but it's not very clear especially when you point to multiple approaches to answers being subjective and you're not giving examples of things that would be closed by the site and you think should stay open.
    – Dom Mod
    Aug 19, 2022 at 16:35
  • Well, maybe I am missing something. How would I vote to reopen a question?? Is it just voting the question up or is there a special place privilege?
    – rfportilla
    Aug 23, 2022 at 19:26
  • Try to understand that as a casual user, my first experience here was questions getting closed even as people were answering them. It was a huge turn-off. The ONLY reason I am even here is b/c I am hoping to raise some awareness of that negative experience. I am a huge fan of SE, but the attitude at the music SE has been not great. And btw, "What should I look for when buying a guitar?" is explicitly off-topic according to the rules of this site. That is part of why I am a bit sensitive.
    – rfportilla
    Aug 23, 2022 at 19:28

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