I recently posted the question Why did Theresa May propose a free vote on fox hunting in her manifesto? and it had a mixed response.

On the plus side, there was a decent answer and upvotes. On the other hand, my question attracted 4 close votes for being 'opinion based'.

If we compare my question to What are Theresa May's views on LGBTQ+ rights?, the second question had no close votes.

My question is, how can we determine what is opinion based and close worthy compared to what is not?

  • One factor that I've observed is that questions with upvoted answers are usually less likely to be closed
    – Panda
    Jun 17, 2017 at 0:45

2 Answers 2


First of all, you need to keep in mind that our community consists of people, and people don't always act consistently. With borderline questions it can often be a matter of luck which questions the community lets open and which it closes. Everyone's personal decision if they vote to close or not can be influenced by appearance of the question, current mood, group-think mentality (already got 2 close-votes, maybe I should VTC too) and other factors. We should all try our best to decide objectively and independently what to close and what to leave open, but unfortunately nobody is truly immune to subconscious factors affecting their judgment.

But if I look at only the rational factors, then the difference between these two questions might be that the second question asks about "What is [politicians] positions on [issue]?" while the first asks about "Why is that [politicians] view on [issue]?"

Questions about political views of someone can usually be answered by citing public statements or pointing at past actions a politician took.

But if you ask for the motivation of a politician to follow a certain agenda, then you run into the problem that you can not read their minds. We can never truly know what a person thinks. Maybe it's truly their believe that it is the best course of action? Maybe they have a personal interest in the issue? Maybe they are representing the interests of a well-donating lobby? Maybe they are pandering to their voter base? Maybe there are party-internal reasons? Maybe it's a strategic stance they just take so they can give it up in exchange for a concession on a different issue? Maybe they are mind-controlled by aliens? Without reading their mind it's impossible to tell what their true motivation is, because they would never admit any reason but the first while on record. All we can do is speculate. And speculative questions are usually considered primarily opinion-based.

What you could ask, though, is "What reasons did [politician] state for taking [position] on [issue]?", as this can be answered by citing statements they made. Whether or not to believe these statements is up to the reader.


Asking Why a person did something is far more likely to be opinion based than asking what they did. What they did is asking about facts. You can even ask what they have said, but just because they said something does not make it true. But this site is about facts not opinions so while asking what they said is not asking about the truth of why they did something it is a fact that can be backed up. The actual why can never more than opinion.

However, asking why a group of people did something is less opinion assuming that group has an open policy. For instance its really pretty easy to explain why the DNC is trying a full frontal attack on Trump. While you can not say what each individual member thinks as a group they usually put out something explaining why they are taking action or making a statement. But asking what they "Really" want goes back to personal opinion. Any time you are trying to read motives beyond the stated motives that is going to descend into opinion based.

However you can ask why people have certain opinions. There you are asking what reasons exist that cause the reaction of the negative opinions(but you should probably link something that claims said opinion). The reasons for opinion may not even be based on something that was done just a fear of what will be done. That is a valid reason. But that is not asking why a person does, just what reasons a group may have.

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