Note: for the rest of this question I will be shortening “primarily opinion based” to “POB”

see also

How do you tell if a question is POB or if it is asking for information from polls?

Example: this fairly popular question (at time of posting anyways) asks Iran is considered a democracy by the western world. It could be considered opinion based, because “This question is likely to be answered with opinions rather than facts and citations. It should be updated so it will lead to fact-based answers.” However, the question could also be answered with polls and/or what popular western websites say. Would such a question be POB?

Note that this applies to all questions like this, the example is not the only place where this appears

2 Answers 2


Some users here disagree that asking questions to be answered from a certain point-of-view (POV) should be on-topic at all. E.g. they think that "What is X's position on Y" is an off-topic question. Leaving that aside, which presently doesn't seem to be a majority opinion of users on this site, asking such questions obviously entails retelling the opinion/position of X on Y.

Such a question often enough admits a well-defined answer in the sense that X usually has a position on Y or maybe didn't express one. Even if X flip-flops or changes their stance about Y, e.g. that may be the case if one ask "what is the official position of country X's government on issue Y", which may change with a change in government (e.g. US position on the Paris Agreement) that can still be fairly objectively answered by recounting the changes in official position.

It's a bit more contentious when the question involves a broader spectrum of opinions, e.g. as you illustrated with "West's position on democracy in Iran". Still, the other meta-question you linked to doesn't exclude that such questions are answerable in a objective sense if there's reasonable agreement. On the Iran question, in my answer, I chose to illustrate the West's position with that of some think-tanks/NGOs from the US and [Western] Europe. Other answers which demurred with the West's position still didn't dispute that it's probably something like a consensus in the West, but [if you read their comments] they suggested that media/analysts from Arab countries, or from Russia, or from China would disagree with the West's perspective. That still doesn't make the question about West's perspective primarily opinion-based (POB), but if one asked "what is the world's perspective on democracy in Iran?" or just "is Iran democratic?" there may be a leg to stand on and argue that in that broader formulation the question is POB. (Still, one could reasonably summarize the competing positions even on such a broad formulation.)


As far as I can tell, opinion-based means that a proper answer to the question must include the author's own personal opinions. Is the European Union good for Europe? Was the U.S. assassination of Qasem Soleimani justified? What is Donald Trump's biggest flaw? Those questions are opinion-based. I would answer them no, no, and his narcissism. No one could objectively say whether my answers are right or wrong because it would just be my opinions.

The question you are referring to is asking about the opinions of others which I think is not opinion-based. It is very possible to answer the question objectively by reviewing opinion polls, declarations by international organisations, speeches by world leaders, and various "freedom indices". A correct answer would be one that fairly portrays Western opinions about Iranian democracy.

You must log in to answer this question.

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