1. This is a long post. You are forewarned.
  2. Everything in this post is only based on . For the most part that is the only tag that I spend much time with, so I don't know if anything here carries over to other tags.
  3. Though this post is kind of in the form of criticism, I am not mentioning any individual users and no one should interpret this as an attack on anyone.


Over the last couple of weeks I have been scrolling through old closed Harry Potter questions, with a particular focus on questions closed as Primarily Opinion-Based. I nominated many of them for reopening, and my conclusion from this adventure was that there seems to be an issue with this specific close reason.


In total I voted to reopen sixteen questions that had been closed as Primarily Opinion Based. Out of these sixteen nominations, thirteen of them failed the review, that is to say that they received three Leave Closed votes and were removed from the reopen queue. Out of the remaining three questions, two of them passed the review only due to a moderator's vote. There was only one question out of the entire sixteen that passed the review by regular channels, that is to say that four regular users voted to reopen before three users voted to leave closed. Of the thirteen questions that failed the review, one of them was sent back to the queue a week later where it passed the review, and one of them was subsequently reopened outside of review.

The Problem

The issue here, in my opinion, is that every single one of these questions can be answered factually, in one of three ways:

  1. There is information X in the books which either explicitly addresses the question, or from which we can infer the answer to the question.
  2. There is information X in supplementary material which either explicitly addresses the question, or from which we can infer the answer to the question.
  3. There is no information in the books nor in supplementary material that explicitly addresses the question, nor from which we can infer the answer to the question. Thus, the answer is: "Unknown."

Given that each and every one of these questions can be answered using one of these three forms, it would seem to me that they were all incorrectly closed as Primarily Opinion-Based. It is thus puzzling that almost all of them failed the review when sent to the reopen queue. I would have thought that they would all be quickly reopened.

Now I understand that many of these questions are silly, or strange hypotheticals, or asking for details about things which have very little detail. Some people don't like such questions. However, I don't believe any of that makes them Primarily Opinion-Based. That perhaps makes them bad questions which should be downvoted.

What is Primarily Opinion-Based?

My understanding is that Primarily Opinion-Based means that the question is soliciting opinions. This can be because it directly asks for opinions, or because it asks about something with subjective criteria. A simple example of the former would be a question which asks:

Who is your favorite character?

Your favorite character is your opinion, thus the question directly calls for opinion-based answers.

A simple example of the latter would be a question which asks:

Who was the best teacher?

The "best teacher" is subjective because the question doesn't define what makes a teacher the best. It could be the greatest subject knowledge, it could be the greatest communicator, it could be the nicest person, it could be the teacher who has the greatest percentage of students pass exams, etc. Without objective criteria in the question, it calls for users to subjectively answer the question according to their own definitions of "best teacher".

However, any question which does not directly ask for opinions and does not use vaguely defined subjective terminology should be factually answerable in one of the three ways mentioned above. If an answerer chooses to answer such a question with an opinion, that is a problem with the answer not the question.

Even if a question asks about something where there is very little known information, that itself is not license for opiniony answers. The question could and should still be answered in one of the three ways mentioned above. For example, if a question asks what would happen in bizarre combination of two factors that we know very little about the answers should either state the known information and what can be inferred from that, or state that there is not enough information and we simply don't know what would happen.

To illustrate this, let us take an example of a decidedly non-opinion-based question:

When is Harry Potter's birthday?

No one has ever tried to get this question closed as Primarily Opinion-Based, because it is a simple factual question. However, if I happen to think that Harry Potter's birthday is not mentioned anywhere, what is to stop me from simply posting an answer that says:

I think his birthday is February 11th, because that is the day I read the book for the first time.

If anyone would post such an answer it would get heavily downvoted and possibly even deleted. This is because there is an implicit assumption when asking for Harry's birthday that you are asking for his actual birthday within the series, and not for someone's random opinion as to what his birthday should be. Similarly, then, for the bizarre combination of two factors that we know very little about there should be an implicit assumption that the question is asking for what would actually factually happen within the series, and not for someone's random opinion about what should happen.

In short, any question about Harry Potter is assumed to be asking for an answer in accordance with the facts within the series and not for anyone's random opinions, and thus should not be closed. Of course, if the question specifically says "what's your opinion about XYZ?" then it should be closed.


It seems to me that the underlying issue is that the answer to many of the questions would be: "Unknown". For whatever reason, this seems to be causing people to vote to close such questions. Some evidence for this are the several comments to some of these posts explicitly stating this:

This question appears to be off-topic because it is about a potential possibility. We don't allow "What if...x" questions that have no way to be answered definitively.

Not interesting exactly, no (and it may be a duplicate?), because it smacks of knowingly asking an unanswerable question. I hope I'm wrong. Anyway, if you read FBAWTFT you'll see that Phoenixes do eventually die -- they are not immortal. They just live very long lives. As to ashes, how do you know what happens behind the veil? Maybe there would be ashes and Fawkes would live on in a different plane of existence. Or maybe he would just die and be gone forever. I think it would have to be one of the two. It's not named the veil of death, AFAIK. Isn't it just The Veil? If so, huge difference.

You are right -- we don't know how natural death comes to a Phoenix and it's why I say this is a knowingly unanswerable question. I feel a VTC is appropriate. As to JKR saying something, paraphrasing isn't good enough -- for a JKR quote, I would personally like to see the quote fully sourced with a link (not to the HP Wikia, but a direct source) and the quote provided in the answer. It is called The Veil in the books (just as Mandrakes are called Mandrakes, not Mandragora, in the books). While YMMV, I prefer sticking to canon terms.

(My emphasis)

I think answers to this question will be purely speculative. There is probably no canon answer to this.

very speculative, bordering on opinion-based. I shall wait to see if there are any close votes

I flagged because I interpreted "is it possible...could have been" as a hypothetical (answers for which are going to boil down to opinion/speculation), not an invocation of canon. Happy to concede that it's answerable with canon if interpreted as such, which I see one answer has done. Bellatrix's answer below is good, well-written and well-sourced, but it does just boil down to "it depends on X and Y qualities (for which we have no canon evidence)", which to me is not the mark of a good question.

Questions 1 & 2. I think the rest are all going to be opinion-based; Rowling has said on at least one occasion that the Hat has never been wrong

It means there's not going to be a canon answer. Logical speculation is of course on-topic, but I'm leery of it in this case; I have my doubts that it's going to be good-quality speculation. Of course I'd be happy to be proven wrong

The problem with closing a question as Primarily Opinion-Based because "there is no canon answer" is that you can't know that there is no answer without knowing the answer. That essentially means that the close vote is being used as an answer. But real answers can be incorrect. When they are incorrect they can be downvoted and other answers can be posted instead. When the answer is in the form of a closure, it can't be downvoted nor can any differing answers be posted. The only way to (somewhat) objectively determine if "there is no canon answer" is to post an answer saying that and see how it fares.

Additionally, it is clear that no one has a perfect knowledge of all the source material. There are times when users, even "experts", will think that there is no answer when in reality there is. Even questions which seem to ask strange things often have an answer.

Particularly when it comes to "why didn't X happen?" type of questions or similar variations, people may assume that it wouldn't be addressed in any sources since it's something that hasn't actually happened. Yet there are such questions which do have explicit answers. For instance:

Why didn't Harry continue Dumbledore's Army sessions in the Half-Blood Prince?

Someone might think that we can't speculate as to why Harry didn't do something, yet this question is explicitly addressed in the books (as the posted answer demonstrates). Or this question:

Why was Hermione not in Ravenclaw?

One might argue that we can't speculate as to why Hermione wasn't sorted into a different house, yet the posted answer cites a quote from the book where this is directly addressed. In fact, a similar question is closed as Primarily Opinion-Based.


In addition to everything mentioned above, there are several Meta discussions where the conclusion appears to be that such questions are not Primarily Opinion Based.

Should all questions without explicit canon answers be closed? says that they should not be closed.

Are answers that state "We Don't Know" acceptable? says that they are acceptable.

What do we do with this question that doesn't have a current answer? says that we leave it open.

Are questions without enough data 'unanswerable'? says that they are not unanswerable.

Unless there are other Meta posts that I'm missing which state that these kinds of questions should be closed, it seems fairly straightforward that the site policy/consensus is that such questions should not be closed.

The Posts

Here are the sixteen questions that I voted to reopen:

Why are there so few bedrooms in the Burrow?

Is it possible to use Polyjuice Potion or Occlumency to mess with the Sorting Ceremony?

What would happen if Muggle weaponry was used against Voldemort? Would he die or stay alive?

Is it possible that Lily Luna Potter could have been sorted into Hufflepuff?

How much would the knowledge of Harry's dream have helped Dumbledore?

Could the Sorcerer's Stone have extended Dumbledore's life in The Half-Blood Prince if it was not destroyed?

Would it have been possible to trap Lord Voldemort in Professor Quirrell's body?

What would happen if two wizards made each other a Horcrux? Would they be invincible?

Can new Houses be added to Hogwarts?

Will summoning a swarm of insects block the Killing curse?

Why didn't Voldemort hide his Horcruxes using Fidelius Charm?

Veil of death: no escape for a Phoenix?

Would Nagini have become the master of the Elder Wand?

Could the Elder Wand have healed Neville's Parents?

What would happen if Voldemort kept creating Horcruxes?

What would happen if you drank Polyjuice Potion made from a werewolf?


Another factor to consider is that in almost every instance I left a comment either stating that the question could be answered factually (or in some cases already had fact-based answers) or linking to the above four Meta posts which show that such questions are not considered Primarily Opinion Based. The few times that I did not leave a comment were where there was already a comment from someone else. Here are the comments that I left:

I'm not sure what is opinion-based about this question. Indeed the current answer is quite fact-based.

This question does not seem to be Primarily Opinion Based. There does not seem to be any reason why there couldn't be a perfectly factual answer to the question. If you know Harry Potter so well that you know that there is no answer, then that is the answer.

What is opinion-based about this question?

"Not the mark of a good question" is not the same as "primarily opinion-based".

The current answer seems to be based on "facts, references, or specific expertise", rather than "entirely based on opinions".

https://scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1699/... https://scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3014/... https://scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/11273/... https://scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/11329/...

https://scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1699/... https://scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3014/... https://scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/11273/... https://scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/11329/...

This seems to be a fairly factual question as to how Horcruxes work.

How can Is there evidence in canon for or against the fact that summoning (or conjuring) a large swarm of insects on the path of a Killing curse will block it? be opinion-based?

I don't see a reason why this question couldn't have a fact-based answer.

"We don't know" is not an opinion. https://scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1699/... https://scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3014/... https://scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/11273/... https://scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/11329/...

I'm not sure why this is opinion-based. If you think that there is some information about animals and wand-succession that can be inferred from the existing corpus of Harry Potter, then post that information as the answer; if you think that there is nothing about animals and wand-succession that can be inferred from the existing corpus of Harry Potter then post that as the answer.

I would like to know if any likely conclusions can be drawn based on any precedents already set by the Elder Wand or healers. This seems like a straightforward fact-based question.

This isn't asking for opinions: https://scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1699/... https://scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3014/... https://scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/11273/... https://scifi.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/11329/...

And the pre-existing comments:

I'm unsure why this has received a close vote, especially since this is directly answerable from canon sources.

Lack of a canon answer is not a valid close reason

This question is primarily asking if a rule existed. This isn't primarily opinion based as we can say "Yes, there was a rule", "No, there wasn't a rule" or "We're not told or any rules but here's some evidence we have"

This question is not primarily opinion-based - the answer is based on the books.

In every single case, no leave-closed-voter left a comment. Now, of course, no one is ever obligated to leave a comment. However, that makes it a one-sided discussion. I don't know if voters have just not been reading the comments, or whether they disagree without good reason, or whether they disagree with good reason.

The Discussion

Based on all the above, it seems to me that there is clearly an issue with the over-application of the Primarily Opinion-Based close reason, and I think something should be done to rectify this. It does not appear to be merely a one-time issue; rather it seems that there is a widespread fundamental disagreement as to how to properly use this close reason. The point of this question is for people to post answers either disagreeing that there is a problem (preferably by responding to the specific points made) or agreeing that there is a problem and suggesting a solution. Please resist the urge to close this question as Too Broad, as it is not a question about sixteen different questions; it is a question about one issue, with sixteen examples to show that it is an issue, and I think it makes more sense to discuss the overarching issue in one post rather than have a separate Meta post for each individual question.

(I know I have previously asked a similar question, but that one was more about people using the wrong close reason to close what might still be closeworthy posts, and it doesn't really cover the extent of the issue described here.)

  • 7
    I haven’t read all this yet and to be honest I saw this post coming a week ago but a few things to consider 1) answers should not generally make a post not close worthy most people will only review based on the question as the system intends them too as we see no answers in review. 2) considering the usual volume of stuff in the reopen queue you were flooding it, that can sometimes play a part in things as people get fed up of seeing a POB HP Q, not saying it should but I’m sure it does. Lastly, there is some overlap between POB and unknown.
    – TheLethalCarrot Mod
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 8:17
  • I haven’t read your comments yet but I will note I can remember seeing some that weren’t positive if even you thought it was answered in canon or if there was enough evidence to answer it. If the first voter doesn’t appear sure that will affect review.
    – TheLethalCarrot Mod
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 8:18
  • 6
    I mean, you're right, but this seems to be a duplicate of the several previous metas you've linked to. Is the purpose of this meta essentially to highlight some specific questions for reopening under the general policy that "answer unknown doesn't mean POB"?
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 8:33
  • 7
    Honestly, I think that the main problem be that you're trying to reopen garbage and the community is resistant to that. It's great that you have a different take on what 'opinion based' looks like, but the correct way to address that is by seeking consensus on Meta and having the community reopen these questions rather than going on a one-man crusade to flood the queue.
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 8:48
  • 8
    @Valorum If there's already a policy that questions with unknown answers should be reopened, then hitting the reopen button seems a sensible first step on questions that have been mistakenly closed, before going to meta (as he has now done).
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 9:04
  • 2
    @Randal'Thor The point of this post is not to reopen specific questions. The point is that either I’ve seriously misunderstood the previous Metas (in which case someone can explain my errors) or the site policy is being ignored on a large scale (or perhaps I’ve misunderstood the sixteen examples).
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 12:13
  • 1
    @TheLethalCarrot In fact, for most of them I do not have an answer. But the point is that me not having an answer doesn’t make the question opinion-based. There might be a real answer that I’m not aware of, or the answer is that there is not enough information to form a canonical answer.
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 12:25
  • 3
    @Valorum: Close votes aren't super-downvotes (wait a minute... you should know that by now!).
    – Kevin
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 22:02
  • @Kevin - I refuse to apologise for voting to delete crap questions that are off-topic. The goal here seems to be to keep as much of the crap open, so that it can attract low quality opinion-based answers that stink up the site and make us look like Quora or Yahoo Answers.
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 22:06
  • 4
    @Valorum: Whether they are off-topic or not, you need to focus on topicality specifically, and not on quality. Otherwise, you come across as a rule-breaker trying to manipulate the content of the site to suit your own personal preferences. (Note: I am not disagreeing with you about topicality. I'm just trying to help you stop losing the argument.)
    – Kevin
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 22:14
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Null Mod
    Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 15:01

4 Answers 4


I want to offer my viewpoint, about how I vote on questions like this. Sometimes I vote to close the questions, and sometimes I vote to leave them open. There is a judgement call involved, which is partially (but only partially) subjective.

The key issue for me is whether the question seems to be asking for a canonical answer that the questioner has either missed or overlooked, or whether they are trying to elicit speculation. If it is the former, the question is on topic; if it is the latter, the question is not. As I said, this is to some extent a judgement call, but there are some guidelines that can be applied.

For example, if the question is asking about basic characteristics of a work's setting, I think they are usually on topic. Asking whether there is really a war going on in Nineteen Eighty-Four suggests that the questioner may have missed one of the major points of the book, but it feels like a good faith query. Moreover, it is one that can easily be answered with, "We don't know," since the fact that anything that Winston Smith does not personally witness is unknown is a major theme of Orwell's book.

In contrast, when I see a question like (choosing the essence of one I saw in the front page today), What would happen if two wizards made each other horcruxes?, I cannot help but think the questioner is looking for unsupported speculation. The question does, probably, address an unanswered question about the Harry Potter mythos, but it seems to have been specifically conceived as dealing with an edge case that would not have been addressed by the existing media. This is the kind of question I would vote to close as being purely a matter of opinion.

  • 2
    Interesting approach. The problem with it, however, is that it requires voters to speculate both as to a poster's intent and as to the likelihood of the question being addressed in existing sources of information. In the example you chose, for instance, voters might think that it is unlikely for such a case to be addressed anywhere and therefore vote to close. However, even if the particular case is not addressed, it is still possible to have enough information to answer the question. I.e. we can apply known information about Horcruxes to this new case and answer it, as indeed Bellatrix did.
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 4:53
  • 4
    @Alex: Actually, I agree with Buzz here. Some of these questions are firmly in the "Gorilla vs. Shark" category IMHO. See discussion here for how this applies to SFF in particular.
    – Kevin
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 21:51
  • @Kevin I don’t see anything in those links that would seem to exclude these questions. Is there something specific you had in mind?
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 0:05
  • 1
    @Alex: Counting down from the top of your list, #2-4, 6, 7, 14, and 16 all seem to have "no factual/rational basis to [ answer ] on" as in my second link. So I would VTC those.
    – Kevin
    Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 0:22
  • @Kevin What makes you think they have “no factual/rational basis to [ answer ] on?
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 0:54
  • 4
    @Alex: #2-4, 14, 16: You can't just pick two random nouns and ask how they interact, without some basis in canon. That's what Gorilla vs. Shark is all about. #6, 7: Openly speculative, the asker clearly knows perfectly well there's no answer.
    – Kevin
    Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 0:58
  • 1
    @Kevin I don’t think I understand what you mean by “basis in canon”. There is no a priori reason why any of those questions couldn’t have been addressed in the canonical corpus of information. And even things which aren’t directly addressed can often be inferred from the sum total of information we have. That’s precisely the reason to ask here. If you’re a casual Harry Potter reader you might not have all the information about Horcruxes at your fingertips. But someone else might, and that person could construct an answer. If it turns out that we don’t know, them that’s a fine answer.
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 3:26
  • 1
    After some thought, I've downvoted this answer because whether OP wants to invite speculation or fact-based answers seems a poor criterion to use for closing. If someone asked "when do you think Harry Potter's birthday was?", would we close that as opinion-based, or would we edit it to "when was Harry Potter's birthday" and provide the canon answer?
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 18:53
  • @Kevin I already mentioned it below your answer, but for the record, the updated version of SFF-specific Gorilla vs Shark policy is here.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Feb 16, 2019 at 18:55
  • @Randal'Thor According to the last paragraph here maybe we would even close "when was Harry Potter's birthday" because someone might think that that's something "that would not have been addressed by the existing media".
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 0:07

I definitely agree with your take on this matter and would like to thank you for preparing such a comprehensive take on this issue.

Over time the POB rule has been diluted from it's original form into "We don't know the answer so let's POB" it. Science Fiction and Fantasy is not like mathematics where there is only one correct solution. Here we are allowed to speculate and even disagree with the author!

Thus speculative questions must not be instantly sent to the close queue. Each and every question in the list of questions you tried to reopen is a valid question with no canon source to explicitly answer them but it is possible to answer them using logical conclusions from source material.

  • If it is a problem, what should be done about it?
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 4:07
  • 2
    but it is possible to answer them using logical conclusions from source material. To me, this is what makes them Opinions... different people can make different arguments from source materials and come to different conclusions. Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 4:56
  • 2
    @Ward Many answers require some degree of interpreting a text. I wouldn't think that makes them opinions. Note that the close reason says: Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. (My emphasis) These types of answers would seem to fall under the category of being based on expert experience, or being based on facts, references, or specific expertise. <cont.>
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 5:26
  • <cont.> But even if you disagree with that, it still wouldn't make the questions Primarily Opinion-Based; It would just make those answers opinion-based answers.
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 5:26
  • 1
    The chain of reasoning in the answer to the "why so few bedrooms in the Burrow" struck me as very good, very compelling. But to me it's still an opinion, even if it's supported by very good reasoning. Someone else could come along and pull out different references that lead to a different conclusion. Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 5:42
  • 1
    @Ward Then that person can post a new answer and the community can evaluate the answers. By the very nature of the topic of this site, many questions will not have one definitive explicit unarguable answer. Aside from the technical sites, most sites on the network are like that. Part of the reason why questions can receive more than one answer is so that people can evaluate conflicting approaches and vote on which one amassed better evidence, even if it can't be an airtight philosophical proof.
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 5:48
  • 4
    @Ward If you think answers that make good arguments directly from canon sources are "opinion-based", that begs the question of what you think isn't opinion-based? If good reasoning and canon sources are as opinion-based as pure opinions and guesswork, we might as well shut down the site.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 8:04
  • 1
    @Randal'Thor That's a strawman argument, I never said that... Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 9:10
  • 3
    @Ward Then what do you mean? In this comment you equated "answer[s] using logical conclusions from source material" to "Opinions", because "different people can make different arguments from source materials and come to different conclusions".
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 9:12

This doesn't seem to me to be a problem.

  • A wide variety of people voted to close the questions in the first place and it's likely that a wide variety voted to leave them closed when the showed up in review. It's too much effort to check all 16, but the first couple I looked at had 5 different close voters and 3 different leave closed reviewers, i.e. 8 different people thought it should be closed.

A lot of your post is about comments - your own as to why the post should be reopened and wondering why no one voting to leave them closed posted any comments.

  • Comments are not shown during a review, so no one reviewing would see your comments unless they clicked through to the actual post, which very, very few reviewers on any SE site do.

  • Similarly, there's no option to post comments while reviewing close votes. Someone would have to click through to the question or come back to it after reviewing if they wanted to post a comment.

Since the review system hides comments and discourages commenting, you can't expect comments to be a factor in reviews.

  • Regarding your first point, that's precisely why I think it's a problem. Regarding your second point, I see comments from Review.
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 4:04
  • If you have the "Revision" tab selected when reviewing, you don't see comments. Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 4:49
  • 6
    Just because lots of people voted to leave closed, doesn't make them right. We have policies and site scope; why not focus on whether or not these questions should be closed according to those?
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 9:25
  • 2
    @randal'thor - Unless I've misunderstood what OP is saying, it's that these are currently off topic and that he wants these sorts of questions to be on topic, hence changing the scope of the site not merely addressing what the current scope is
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 11:09
  • 7
    @Valorum If by OP there you mean Alex, then yes, you've very seriously misunderstood what he's saying (to the extent that I wonder if you actually think he's saying that or you're just strawmanning). He's not trying to change site scope; he's saying these questions are currently on-topic and should not have been closed. In fact, nobody on this meta thread so far has provided any argument for why they should be closed. Ward in this answer notes that a lot of people have voted to leave them closed, but without reference to any site policies regarding whether they should be closed or not.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 12:33
  • 2
    @Valorum I’m not sure if “OP” is referring to me or Ward, but if it is me then I think you have misunderstood what I’m saying.
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 12:35
  • 1
    @Randal'Thor This is running a bit into another, larger problem though, no? If a majority of users doing reviews feel that these questions don't belong on the site, does that mean that the voters need to change, or that the policy requires clarification from the community to align with what it wants? I agree that this doesn't really address that whole aspect of the problem; but it points at the community moderation aspect and how in some ways, that kinda drives the ship. That said, many of these questions also seem reopened now, presumably due to meta effect.
    – JMac
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 18:21
  • 2
    @JMac The statistics may be somewhat misleading since there is a core group of users who do most of the reviews. For instance, in the sixteen reviews that I initiated that are discussed in this post, two users contributed sixteen of the leave closed votes. In total there were only nineteen unique leave-closed-voters across the sixteen reviews.
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 19:22
  • 3
    @JMac This is a bit of an ongoing problem. There are certain issues which, whenever they come to meta, we always decide one thing, but then on actual posts in practice what often happens is the opposite thing. This is another case.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 19:26
  • 1
    And those same sixteen reviews had 12 unique reopen voters.
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 12, 2019 at 19:32
  • 1
    @Randal'Thor - It's because certain people feel very strongly about an issue when it comes up for discussion but then do next to nothing to actually police the site. I see the same siren voices complaining about our dupe policy over and over again on Meta, but I (almost?) never see those people posting comments or using their review privileges on the main site. It seems like it's very easy to make the case for setting a policy for other people to follow.
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 10:18
  • 3
    Then at the same time you argue he should have stopped reopen-voting once it became apparent that posts aren't getting reopened. So...ought he debate alleged contradictions on meta, or be reviewing actively according to what he thinks is policy, or both, or none of it? (Don't say it's the latter, though. ;-))
    – TARS
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 12:50
  • 1
    @Valorum I can't be certain exactly who or what you are referring to, but, since as far as I can tell there has been no discussion of the duplicate policy on Meta since the one I raised 7 months ago, you might be referring to me. For the record, then, since I received my gold badge almost two months ago I have closed more Harry Potter questions as duplicates than everyone else combined (unless there are a whole bunch of deleted ones that I can't see that would skew the results). In any case, not performing tasks does not equate to not following policies.
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 14:59
  • 1
    @Alex - I was referring to several others, actually. Your attitude toward dupe closure isn't ideal, but it's at least sane
    – Valorum
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 15:01
  • 1
    @Valorum I’ll take that as a compliment.
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 13, 2019 at 15:33

No, because we already decided that (some of) these questions are off-topic quite a while ago.

In this policy, we determined that:

The problem with Shark vs. Gorilla questions isn't that they ask to compare two different things. It's that there's no factual/rational basis to compare on, since there's no in-universe information to base the answer on - only personal subjective opinion.

Many of your linked questions are blatantly Shark vs. Gorilla. For example:

You've also objected that two of these questions have "good answers," but we also decided that's insufficient:

Whether or not it's Primarily Opinion-Based is completely irrelevant here (on reflection I'd close as "unclear" or "too broad"). As [Valorum]'s answer shows, it's actually not POB given the right circumstances, but that's the problem: [Valorum']s answer is one of those answers that "can make any assumptions they like", one of the "hundreds, all different".

I tried to bring this up with you in the comments, but you refused to acknowledge the problem. Clearly, some of the questions you linked were bad closes, but we cannot have this discussion in good faith when you're lumping in good questions with bad ones. Narrow your list, and you might convince a few people. Otherwise, it's just going to turn into the usual Meta back-and-forth with nothing accomplished and everyone continuing to vote the way they want to.

  • 2
    The first sentence of the linked Meta post says quite explicitly: The problem with Shark vs. Gorilla isn’t that they ask to compare two different things. Involving a comparison doesn’t make questions opinion-based. Comparisons that can’t be evaluated based on factual/rational evidence makes questions opinion-based. All of these questions can be evaluated based on factual/rational evidence. In fact, the third example you cite has a definitive answer from Bellatrix based solely on canonical evidence.
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 7:05
  • @Alex: The fourth item on my list does not compare two items. The second policy I linked involved a scenario identical to the one with Bellatrix. So both your objections are specious.
    – Kevin
    Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 16:13
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    If it’s not a comparison then you mist be arguing that it is Gorilla vs. Shark because “there’s no in-universe information to base the answer on”. But you still have not said how you know this to be the case. This is particularly important because two of the very four examples you give contain good answers from Bellatrix that are based solely on such information.
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 16:20
  • 1
    And the second Meta post you linked doesn’t seem very relevant. It’s talking about questions that are not properly defined. Indeed it states explicitly that subjective/objective is not the issue and the question is not Primarily Opinion-Based; rather it is Too Broad or Unclear.
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 16:32
  • Regarding the edit: The good answers demonstrate that there is factual/rational evidence, contrary to prior claims. The issue with Valorum’s case wasn’t about the answer per se. It was that the question was ill-defined so that there could be no true answer. All the examples here have very specific questions so I don’t think that post applies here.
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 14, 2019 at 17:48
  • 2
    I have to downvote this because you appear to have misunderstood our GvS policy. As it says in the very paragraph you quote, comparison ("vs") isn't bad per se. In fact, 3 of your 4 examples have been reopened because there is canon evidence available to answer them (just look at their answers).
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 15:58
  • @Randal'Thor: It hardly matters. Looking at the voting on this meta Q and the top-voted answer, it's obvious that this argument is going nowhere anyway. Which is exactly my point: The OP's question is too broad and controversial to accomplish anything.
    – Kevin
    Commented Feb 15, 2019 at 17:24
  • 1
    @Kevin We can't not discuss things just because they're controversial. As for broadness, I explained in the question why I don't think it's too broad.
    – Alex
    Commented Feb 17, 2019 at 6:29

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