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I recently answered this meta question about falling number of accepted answer with my opinion that its not necessarily a bad thing that there is no single canonical answer to all questions on this site.

On some StackExchange sites, such as StackOverflow, there is often one canonical correct answer. On some sites (I'd argue this being a good example) there may be multiple, non-conflicting acceptable answers

However this reminded me of a comment made by a diamond mod on an older answer of mine

This would be improved by adding information for typical jet aircraft (see other answer)

I questioned whether this was a good idea, and he responded

One of the goals of the site is to revise answers to make them better, so that ultimately we have that "one perfect answer" the the question. It's the wiki part of the site, and the way that it is now, neither answer completely answers the question. For what it's worth, I would not have added a second answer (since it is not a complete answer) but would have edited yours

So, by way of continual improvment of this great community, what are some opinions? Should we take the StackOverflow line that "Opinion is bad" and therefore should strive for one canonical good answer - or, like me do you prefer that this community is full of opinion and experience and therefore multiple answers are a good thing.


I should clarify one point - I may not be using the best examples above - they are simply what made me think of this. In the case of the answer ive linked it could be that I should have updated my answer to have the full information, rather than leave a question which clearly has a canonical answer in two parts. Some part of me likes that I shared the rep with another user.

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  • $\begingroup$ I think it's pretty well specified in the guidelines that the answers are not supposed to be opinion and questions that can only be answered by opinions are flagged. I have noticed that people are a lot more free with their opinions in the comments than in the answers. Sometimes a lively discussion occurs in the comments. I've always wondered what the mods think of that. Will those comments eventually be removed? $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Sep 11 '15 at 18:42
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    $\begingroup$ @TomMcW As long as the comments are civil we really don't care. If they're adding value to the answer they'll generally stick around forever. If they're not adding anything they'll get purged when one of us isn't feeling particularly lazy :) $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Sep 12 '15 at 3:04
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think that the two ideas are mutually exclusive. One canonical answer can also contain opinion and experience, it doesn't have to be split across multiple answers. The idea is that someone can find the question and then read the accepted / most upvoted answer and get the most complete / best answer that we have instead of having to read a book with sometimes differing opinions. If someone has something minor to add (whether based on experience or not) then they can edit it in to the existing answer, or add a comment suggesting that the author include it. $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Sep 17 '15 at 17:13
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By comparing questions on Meta to questions on the main site you are comparing Apples and Zebras:

  • On Meta, particularly in questions, a diversity of opinions is a Good Thing.
    This is a site for discussing the Aviation Stack Exchange community and experience. Folks will have different opinions on how the site should function, what sort of questions we should/shouldn't tolerate, etc.
    The consensus of the community (shown by voting) broadly defines the site's policies.

  • On The Main Site there should (at least in theory) be one "best" answer.
    This post should obviously answer the question asked, and it should also ideally provide the "Why" behind the answer, which leads people to further research and learning on their own.
    In a perfect world the person asking the original question would upvote this answer and mark it as "accepted" so that it's always the first answer people see as they scroll down the page.

In the Stack Exchange Q&A model there may be multiple answers that provide more information, or address the question from a different standpoint than the "best" answer. These answers should be upvoted or downvoted appropriately to rank them in order of quality, but the idea is still to have one canonical answer for each question (with others as additional resources).

Note that a good canonical answer may be an opinion, or it may contain certain elements that are opinion based, but should be well supported (by facts, regulation, or a strong underlying rationale). (See here for some examples - the answers all have slightly different opinions on how to enter a traffic pattern at an uncontrolled field, but each is well supported.)


The "Opinion Is Bad" party line is designed to give a rationale for rejecting insanity (if you want an aviation specific example of this, think about how terrible it would be if we let people post their unsubstantiated opinions on -- the site would be overrun by chemtrail conspiracy theorists!)

It also provides a bright line for questions that are "Primarily Opinion Based" (for example "What's the best headset?", "Do you prefer low wing or high wing airplanes?", "What's the best airliner?", "Do you think the A380 is ugly?", etc.) which are a poor fit for the Stack Exchange model (Question & Answer).

If these questions can be answered generically (e.g. "What is the best headset?" => "How do I choose an aviation headset?") they should be rephrased in more generic and answerable terms so as to not be "primarily opinion-based" and thus able to produce a single canonical answer. If they can't be reworked they're really better suited to a discussion forum (which Stack Exchange sites are explicitly not intended to be).

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  • $\begingroup$ I think you misunderstood something. I wasn't comparing meta and main questions. Obviously that would make no sense $\endgroup$ – Jamiec Sep 12 '15 at 10:41
  • $\begingroup$ The meta question I referred to was asking about falling number of accept votes on the main site $\endgroup$ – Jamiec Sep 12 '15 at 10:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Jamiec Ah, I read your question as comparing multiple answers on the main site vs here on meta for some reason. The core of my answer is still applicable though: "Opinion-Based questions with multiple contradictory answers on Meta are fine, but on the main site they're probably a Bad Thing" $\endgroup$ – voretaq7 Sep 12 '15 at 13:35

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