I am wondering why it is that questions that are deemed to require opinions are closed or put on hold? But I am also wondering if there is any alternate ways/formats that these types of questions can be asked.

The reason I ask is because for example, I had long ago asked a question about comparing intro classes about algebra and analysis for example, and it was quickly put on hold.

I am fine with that of course, as it apparently was not fit because it needed to man opinions. But what is so wrong about these type of questions? Why is it bad to ask something that may require some opinions? I am just not sure why exactly it is not something allowed. I mean, no one is forced to comment or say what they think on any post. So what harm is really being done?

Would the best suggestions for this type of question just to be, not to ask them here, and try to find a teacher in real life for example?

Here is another example


Again, as I noted, I do not even know if it is a primarily based thing or not. And even minutes after opening, it already has votes to close, but with no explanation? I mean, I find the comments helpful, and such, so why should it not be allowed?



1 Answer 1


I voted too close as Too Broad, but primarily opinion-based certainly fits too:

Should I try to start with an algebra text and do as much as I can with that until I try an analysis book? Or should I do it the other way around? Or should I do neither of these and do all at the same time, or completely different books in general?

This is unanswerable. We don't know the student. We don't know their background. We are not going to check weekly on their progress and suggest corrective measures. The advice, however well-meaning, is just going to consist random shots in the dark, impossible to evaluate for correctness.

what harm is really being done?

I would not say that this one question will destroy the site if left open. But if such questions are allowed, there will not be just one. The problem with opinions is they are easy to offer. Everyone can chime in on the discussion of the color of a bikeshed.

Disallowing certain kinds of questions is how Stack Exchange differentiates itself from less focused sites (Y!A, Quora, reddit, etc). If you find that concrete, hard mathematical questions are less likely to get attention there than here... this is partly why.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Okay I understand, but what would be the issue if say there was a separate section for these type of questions? $\endgroup$
    – Quality
    Jun 8, 2015 at 5:45
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ There are no sections on Stack Exchange. You may be thinking of phpBB-based forums. $\endgroup$
    – user147263
    Jun 8, 2015 at 5:46
  • $\begingroup$ Okay and I would just like to add, it is not always so obvious to those with less experience what even is opinion based or not. Well of course many things can have opinions, but in general if a parent were to ask, should I teach my child first addition or multiplication, I think it would be fair to say the correct answer would be addition $\endgroup$
    – Quality
    Jun 8, 2015 at 5:48
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Quality You seem to be confusing "mathematical question" with "question about mathematics". While there is a greyscale in determining whether a question is "mathematical", it is apparent that the former is a strict subset of the latter. Questions on Maths.SE are expected to be "mathematical" rather than "about mathematics". $\endgroup$
    – Lord_Farin
    Jun 8, 2015 at 16:04
  • $\begingroup$ I see , all your comments and answers make sense. I don't know why it seems like just asking something here gets so many down votes :/ $\endgroup$
    – Quality
    Jun 8, 2015 at 18:52

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .