I recently asked this question: Which airport has the lowest circling MDH?

I have discussed my question with another member, specifically regarding whether or not the question is appropriate for this site, or instead if it is opinion-based—whether primarily or in part. If pertinent, that discussion can be found below the question and in this chat room.

If I am understanding them correctly, I would sum up the arguments against my question as follows:

  1. Finding that one ultimate, verifiable answer will be difficult given the obscurity of the data in question,
  2. While facts can be cited in the answers, the question amounts to an invitation to a contest of opinions, and
  3. The question invites multiple good answers, which goes against the SE model which looks—ultimately—for one canonical, good answer.

I recognize that finding that single, ultimate answer is difficult, I also think it should be possible. In recognition of that difficulty, and to better define the parameters of the question I edited it to include the following:

I am looking for any factually based answer that offers a likely candidate for the status in question.

I did this thinking—among other things—that this would clarify that I am looking for actual facts in answers, not opinions. On the other hand, perhaps adding that clarification has made the situation worse by opening up the question to any reasonable answer, not just the one, ultimate answer.

I will also note that a somewhat similar question has been asked and well received: Which civilian airport has the most runways?. At least some of the arguments against my question could also be applied there.

I am not here to defend my question. Instead, I am looking for clarification on what sort of question is appropriate here. Is the sort of question I asked too opinion based? Is it poor form to invite multiple answers which may or may not provide that verifiably ultimate/correct/canonical answer?

I respect this site's purpose, and if it is best that I change—or even delete—the question, I am willing to do so.


Given the discussion, I have chosen to edit my question to limit its scope and render it definitively answerable.


3 Answers 3


As I'm the one who VTC, I'm playing the devil advocate, but only after emphasizing your positive spirit and great openness.

I think the categorization of your question as "asking for opinions" is real, an opinion being the belief that something is true, but without demonstration nor possibility to verify.

  1. The answer can't be final as you cannot demonstrate no lower MDH exists, due to the lack of single repository and the difficulty to scan all national repositories. Said otherwise, the answer's author believes no other MDH is lower. If a single repository existed, the answer could be provided and the question would be a good one.

  2. The process to provide a good answer to this type of question is incremental up to infinity (well in practical, as there as so many approaches with MDH in the world): Someone comes, like you did, with a first answer, the best in his/her opinion or knowledge. This approach is possibly superseded by a lower one found later. The process continues up to infinity.

You acknowledged the incremental ("contest") aspect in your own answer, so I guess you won't challenge it. If you don't, whether it's appropriate to VTC boils down to the first element: Is it possible to build a global repository or does one already exist?

My opinion is that this is not the case. You proposal to limit the scope to the US is a good one. I believe this is possible to access (whether publicly or by someone with privileged access) such repository and provide the final answer.

This question wouldn't ask for opinions:

  • Is there a circling approach with a MDH below 361 ft, which is the one for Point Hope (PPHO).

Now for the second and different topic: Comparison with existing questions.

We say in French: Comparison is not reason ;-)

The other question is also based on opinions but hasn't been closed. You demonstrated this aspect yourself: An answer was selected (based on the opinion that it was the good one), and the day after you came with a better one. An the process could possibly continue.

Again this is a separate topic without link to the main one.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I appreciate your reasoning, and I think I am inclined to agree with you. I will consider changing the question to narrow the scope to only what might be found in a single database (e.g., the USA), or to the question you suggested, "Is there an MDA lower than that at PPHO". Thank you. $\endgroup$
    – J W
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 20:12
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ That is true. I will have to consider carefully. $\endgroup$
    – J W
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 20:32
  • $\begingroup$ Judging from the two reasons you proposed, I would conclude that the question is on-topic but poorly constructed for the site. As such I would down-vote it rather than VTC. $\endgroup$
    – kevin
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 16:30
  • $\begingroup$ @kevin: You introduce a new element: The question is on-topic. But I didn't say it wasn't, so this part is "not relevant" to the discussion. You say the question is poorly constructed, it doesn't qualify for a VTC, only for down-vote: I have to disagree on both points. The question is clear, there is no reason to have the OP losing rep points. It just needs to be reworked to allow only answers that can be demonstrated as correct/wrong. Holding a question only prevents answering until it is reworked. No rep loss. So I think it's ok to VTC (for "opinions", not "off-topic"). $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 20:59
  • $\begingroup$ The original intent of the OP was to look for an answer which applies worldwide. Limiting the scope to US is a workaround for a technical limitation (US has a database), but violates the OP's intent. Further on (1), there are many questions on SE whose answers change as time evolves, especially technology questions. The specific problem here is that it is hard for an online community to find out the answer, not the answer relies on personal opinions and cannot be objectively determined. Even if it's VTC, the reason would be too broad. $\endgroup$
    – kevin
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 21:16
  • $\begingroup$ The case "the answer relies on personal opinions and cannot be objectively determined" applies to this question. Remember the question is formally "to find the lowest circling approach MDH in a database" (because you cannot know it ex nihilo). Without the appropriate database, providing the reference of an approach will be exercising one's opinion that this is the correct answer, but this cannot be objectively determined. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 21:31
  • $\begingroup$ I think I can see where our views diverge. Yours is "without a database, the only way to come up with an answer is using one's opinion", while I argue that the answer "is a fact which is objective but cannot be determined given insufficient information". I understand your point though, I just don't agree with it. $\endgroup$
    – kevin
    Commented Feb 7, 2017 at 22:56

I wouldn't VTC. It does ask for a single, specific, correct answer. If you asked what the highest altitude airport in the world it would have a single answer. The problem is it might be difficult or impossible to verify that any answer is correct. In other words, of the thousands of airports in the world there's probably no way of knowing that there isn't another one out there with a lower MDH. But I wouldn't say that's a VTC reason.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Perhaps I should narrow the scope to the USA? Once someone gets ahold of the database and does some analysis it could be definitively answered... $\endgroup$
    – J W
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 2:04
  • $\begingroup$ That might make it a little easier. Still not sure if it could be verified as correct. It would have to be some place in the desert. Really flat with no obstacles or trees around $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 2:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It is my understanding that the FAA has a database of all the approach data, and that database is available to the public. I don't think it would be too hard. The lowest example I know of is only 11 ft above the limit of 350 ft and is actually on the coast of Alaska, but also therefore flat. $\endgroup$
    – J W
    Commented Feb 4, 2017 at 4:42

Consider the following questions:

  • Which airport has the longest runway?
  • Which airport has the highest elevation in MSL?
  • Which airport has the largest number of gates?

These are all valid questions on the site.

The problem is that the answer to some of the questions in this form can be very difficult to verify, such as:

  • Which airport has the shortest runway?
  • Which airport has the narrowest runway?
  • Which airport has the lowest decision height for ILS approach?
  • Which airport has the steepest glide slope angle?

The question is valid: it is on-topic and not opinion-based. It just happens that a valid question can have answers whose correctness cannot be guaranteed or verified, as there is no official source for all airports worldwide.


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