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Based on this Meta post it seems that the feeling is that there should be a dedicated Meta post discussing whether the specific question Why are there so few bedrooms in the Burrow? should be closed as Primarily Opinion-Based or not.

So here it is:

Should the question Why are there so few bedrooms in the Burrow? be closed as Primarily Opinion-Based? Or should it be reopened?

  • The question has been reopened. – Rand al'Thor Apr 12 at 15:13
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    So while all answers saying "open" are currently negatively scored, there are currently no answers explaining why it should be closed. Would somebody perhaps like to bring their reasoning on the matter to the table in the form of an answer? – Mithrandir Apr 14 at 21:04
  • @Mithrandir Your answer is now back at a positive score. – Alex Apr 16 at 4:50
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It should be reopened.

We have a very clear policy on questions that can't be answered definitively using existing canon questions: They're fine. They are not primarily opinion based. If we don't know the answer, that's an answer in itself. Just answer "we don't know why", and that's that. We can also look at canon sources and make reasonable guesses - "There wasn't enough room in the house for more bedrooms." "It's very common for siblings to share rooms in any case." "They didn't have the money." Whatever answers you can come up with.

But it's not primarily opinion based. Closing it as such runs directly contrary to our established policies on questions for which there is no explicit canon answer.

The question gives an explanation as to what's prompting the question - the number of floors in the house. It concludes that there are at least four. In this case, the question asks, why are there so few bedrooms, given so much space?

This can be answered in a few different ways. You can analyze existing canon sources and come up with an answer, or you could find a statement by JKR, or, if neither of those works, a "we don't know" answer would also work. None of those things are opinions. Yes, having an answer that is based on perhaps subjective readings of the text may sound a little opinion-based, but if we closed every question like that we'd have no site left. And so, since we have a policy of not closing questions that don't have a definite canon answer... this should be reopened.

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    Just because you can throw “we don’t know” at it doesn’t mean the question doesn’t elicit opinion... a question should be closed as opinion based if it elicits opinions, and it should be left open because it doesn’t. The closure of a question should not be determined by the fact an answer can say “we don’t know”. – Edlothiad Apr 11 at 21:08
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    @Edlothiad - It's almost as bad as "because magic" :-) – Valorum Apr 11 at 21:26
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    @Edlothiad So what questions don't elicit opinions? – Alex Apr 12 at 0:19
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    @Kevin Why would beginning a question with “why” make it Primarily Opinion-Based? We probably have thousands of “why” questions. – Alex Apr 12 at 3:20
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It should be edited and then reopened, or re-asked if we don't want to invalidate the existing answer. But the question in its current form is unacceptable and should remain closed.

The question as it currently stands is ambiguous. It could mean any of these:

  1. Why did J. K. Rowling choose to put so few bedrooms in the Burrow, given the story constraints?
  2. Why did Molly and Arthur Weasley choose to put so few bedrooms in the Burrow, given the existing space?
  3. Why would anyone make that choice, given the existing space?

(1) and (2) are both valid, on-topic questions (which may not have answers), at least as far as I can tell. (3) is POB speculation. The question needs to, at a minimum, clarify that it is asking (1) or (2) and not (3). This might be accomplished by saying something such as "I am looking for specific evidence of why [Molly and Arthur / J. K. Rowling] decided to have that many rooms, with quotes if possible."

The only answer is currently answering (3). It contains no references to the specific decision-making process of the Weasleys, and in particular it does not quote either Arthur or Molly, nor does it talk at all about J. K. Rowling's rationale. That this is a highly-upvoted answer to the question makes it borderline, IMHO, but I would still put it on the "remain open" side of the fence, because answers do not make questions off-topic. Nevertheless, the question must be clarified to rule out further answers of this sort.

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    I actually don’t think it’s asking any of those. Consider that the question begins by demonstrating that there is a lot of floor space in the house (at least five floors worth) and then asks that that being the case, why were there only five bedrooms? I.e. why is a family of so many people squeezing themselves into so few bedrooms when they have so much space in their house that could be used for bedrooms. – Alex Apr 12 at 3:27
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    @Alex: How is that different from (3)? – Kevin Apr 12 at 3:29
  • It’s similar to 3 but without mentioning “anyone”. While such a question could exist about any case of such living quarters, the question specifies that it is asking about a specific case (which would therefore preempt answers that don’t cover this specific case). And the aforementioned point: it’s not just about number of rooms; it’s about number of rooms given the existing space. – Alex Apr 12 at 3:35
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    @Alex: I do not see how that is a materially different question from (3). (3) is specific to the Burrow as well as the question which you describe, and the word "anyone" is just a convenient shorthand for "This situation does not make sense to me, does it make sense to you?" But, edited. – Kevin Apr 12 at 3:39
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    As Alex said, the question is not actually asking any of the things you're positing. It's asking "how can we resolve the contradiction between a five-storey house but only five bedrooms". The existing excellent answer then goes into minute detail, with quotes that demonstrate, in a factual and TOTALLY NOT OPINION-BASED MANNER how the seeming contradiction can be resolved. – Martha Apr 12 at 3:50
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    @Martha: A person might choose to have five bedrooms with five stories for any number of reasons. It's certainly not a physical impossibility (unlike, say, Hogwarts). So it is not a contradiction at all, and therefore entirely a matter of opinion. – Kevin Apr 12 at 3:52
  • @Kevin If we're on the same page about what 3 is then I don't see the problem. The answer doesn't cite any sources about anyone's choices because that is not necessary to answer the question. The question falls away on its own if we can show that there was not in fact more available space for bedrooms. – Alex Apr 12 at 3:53
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    Flagged Martha's comment as unkind. @Alex: The fact that you believe your answer is a good one does not make the question on-topic, any more than it would make the question off-topic. My last paragraph goes both ways. – Kevin Apr 12 at 3:55
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    @Kevin The issue is not whether my answer is a good one or not. My answer could be entirely wrong. So could all the other 280 answers I've posted. Whether an answer is good/bad or right/wrong is something for the votes on the post to deal with. Given that the question doesn't ask for opinions, and the answer is entirely based on factual statements in the books, there doesn't seem to be a problem here. – Alex Apr 12 at 3:58
  • @Alex: I've already explained my position. I'm not going to repeat it at you ad infinitum. – Kevin Apr 12 at 4:01
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    @Martha If you cannot discuss this calmly then you need to take a break. – Null Apr 12 at 14:24
  • I don't see why this answer is so poorly received. It's perfectly valid! – Voldemort's Wrath May 4 at 15:55
  • @InventPalooza It’s not so poorly received. When you get to 1,000 reputation you’ll be able to see the vote breakdown; there are actually eight people who agreed with it. That said, I disagreed and downvoted. I can’t speak for anyone else who may have done so, but I explained my objections in the comments. – Alex May 5 at 19:34
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The question should be reopened. Nothing in the question indicates that opinions are being sought. Of course, anyone could always post an opinion as an answer, but anyone could do that to any question. If we're afraid that for some reason people will post their unsolicited opinions, there are ways to deal with that. When people post unsupported opinions, downvote them. They will quickly get the message that this site is not looking for opinions to be posted as answers. If there is a particular problem with new users posting opinions, questions can be protected to prevent them from being able to post. There is no need to go around closing questions because people might post opinion answers.

That does not mean that the Primarily Opinion-Based close reason is useless. Some questions do ask for opinions, either explicitly or implicitly. Explicitly, by asking "What's your opinion?" or "Who's your favorite...?" or "How would you write the ending?" or other similar types of questions. Implicitly, by asking questions that do not contain enough information to have an objective answer, such as "Who was the best teacher?" (we don't know what definition of "best" is being used) or "Was Dumbledore moral?" (we don't know whose definition of moral to use).

Generally speaking, if a question can be answered objectively then it is not Primarily-Opinion-Based. To clarify something that was discussed in comments to another answer, a question is not not Primarily Opinion-Based because you could post a "we don't know answer". A question is not Primarily Opinion-Based because it can be answered objectively without opinions. It just happens to be that sometimes the objective answer is that there is not enough information in the existing material.

The above being the case, when we see a question that already has an answer based on objective material we already know that the question can be answered objectively (unless the existing answer wildly ignored the actual question).

It is important to remember that just because an answer is not an opinion that doesn't mean that the answer is correct. And on the flipside, just because an answer is incorrect that doesn't mean that it's an opinion. We have hundreds of questions that are not closed as Primarily Opinion-Based that have conflicting answers. It is the responsibility of voters to use their upvotes and downvotes to try to determine which answers are right/wrong, good/bad, or better/worse.

Now let's look at this particular case. The question author began by trying to prove that there were at least five floors in The Burrow. The author then continues and says "This being the case" before asking the question. That indicates that the question is predicated on the premise that there are at least five floors in The Burrow. If we didn't know how many floors there were then there would be no question.

The actual question then asks why there are so few rooms. Given that the premise of the question was that there are at least five floors, the question is assuming that five floors should reasonably contain more than five rooms. This seems like a fair assumption – as far as I know most normal houses fit more than one room per floor.

So now we have to decide whether this is Primarily Opinion-Based. Well, did the question explicitly ask for opinions? No. Did it implicitly ask for opinions? No. Is it possible that someone might post an opinion? Absolutely. But that possibility exists for every question, and we don't close them all. Can the question be answered objectively? Certainly. In order to answer the question objectively, one need only search through the existing Harry Potter material for an explanation as to why there are so few rooms given the amount of floors.

This explanation could theoretically be any number of things. There might be some source that shows that the Weasleys liked being squeezed together so they deliberately only had a limited number of bedrooms. There might be some source showing that that's how the house was built and it's impossible to change it. There might be some source saying that there's a maximum number of bedrooms a house can have.

The key here is to find the relevant sources. They may be scattered throughout the series, they may be buried in external material, or there may not be any sources that address the issue. If someone does find relevant sources then a good answer can be posted. If someone can't find relevant sources, the question doesn't magically become "what's your opinion?" The question remains "what is the factual reality within Harry Potter?” and the answer might be that there is not enough information to determine that factual reality. That is also not an opinion.

Of course, if someone is going to post an answer arguing that there is not enough information, a simple "we don't know" is not very helpful. One can explain at length why we don't know, or how we know that we don't know, and one can perhaps focus on certain details that we might know.

Now if we look at the existing answer we see that it is based on a collection of sources throughout the book series. The answer attempts to address the question by undermining the premise that five floors could and should contain more than five rooms. The answer does this by trying to show from the books that the floors of the Burrow were decidedly not like the floors of a regular house. Instead the floors were simply individual rooms that were added on to the house over time. If that is true, we can see that there is not in fact additional floor space that could have been used for more bedrooms, so the question falls away.

The answer doesn't pretend to answer all possible questions about The Burrow. One could still ask why they didn't add on even more rooms as additional floors like they did with the current rooms. But that would be a different question, and it would have a different answer.

Now, it is entirely possible that the explanation given in the answer is not the correct explanation. To that end, voters should carefully analyze it to see if it is compelling, and upvote/downvote accordingly. If it is found to not be the correct explanation then someone else can find a different explanation. But that has nothing to do with whether the question is Primarily Opinion-Based.

So in sum, the question is not Primarily Opinion-Based because it's not Primarily Opinion-Based. The existing answer merely confirms what we could already have determined on our own – that the question can be addressed based on facts from the books (and perhaps other material). By closing a question such as this one, we potentially prevent people from getting good answers to their questions.

The question should therefore be reopened since the current close reason does not apply to it.

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