In a comment to this answer @Danny Beckett notes that

The problem is, personal experience and word of mouth sounds a lot like a personal opinion

I can have had a certain (work) experience (e.g., a certain company with certain internal guidelines), but that does not necessarily mean that I also have an opinion on the subject (within the frame of the example, I might don't care about the content of the guidelines, I will follow them without necessarily be happy or unhappy with them) or, viceversa, I might have an opinion not based on any experience.

My question is, where is the boundary between opinion and experience?


3 Answers 3


Sometimes you can't really avoid answers based on experience if the question is to be answered. The close reason for "primarily opinion based" even includes this snippet: Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience.... However, I feel that it should be stated in the answer when there is no data to back it up. "In my experience...." or "In my 15 years in the aviation software industry...." Starting a comment with something like this tells the reader that you aren't saying that all things are like this, but rather that it is common based on what you have seen.

Not all questions have a nice little study or survey filled out by the manufacturer that can be used to back up an answer with hard data, but experience in the field doesn't make it any less valid.

For instance, if Bob Hoover himself came on here and answered an aerobatics question based on his experience, I doubt that too many people would question it, and it is very likely going to be helpful to people in the future.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ understood, thanks. I will edit my answer to include your suggestion. $\endgroup$
    – Federico
    Apr 29, 2014 at 13:19
  • $\begingroup$ Basing an answer on experience in the field doesn't make an answer less valid, but it does make it less reliable, and less generalizable than other types of sources. $\endgroup$
    – user2168
    May 5, 2014 at 14:44
  • $\begingroup$ @Articuno Hence the reason that I suggest adding that fact into the answer so that everyone who reads it understands the basis of the answer. :) $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    May 5, 2014 at 14:46
  • $\begingroup$ Could I suggest this change? "but basing an answer solely on experience in the field doesn't make it any less valid. It only makes the answer less reliable and less generalizable". $\endgroup$
    – user2168
    May 5, 2014 at 15:06
  • $\begingroup$ @Articuno That depends on the answer. Some answers based on experience in the field would be very general in nature. I.e. "Most tricycle gear airplanes that I have flown use nose wheel steering, although a few have castoring nose wheels." That's pretty general. :-) $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    May 5, 2014 at 15:55

No, no, no, no, no, personally experience is not opinion. I'd go so far as to say that in this particular forums case, it is the preferred way to answer questions. If there is already an online resource available to answer a question (and most rules and regulations are online), then what would our point be? Link centralization? A one stop FAA/EASA search bin where we provide links but no further interpretation based on our own experience with the rules?

Sorry, I get a bit passionate about this lately... It seems like a lot of stacks are becoming "link centralizers" which is a bad trend in my opinion. That's what google is for...

Anyway, the whole point of SE is for experts to come out and answer questions based on their knowledge and expertise. That will, almost universally, come down to that expert having experienced the situation before and having successfully navigated it. I would not only say personal experience is okay, but I would very strongly encourage it. If that personal experience is considered to be invalid, other experts will vote it down. Again, that's the point of the SE system...

Anyway (steps off soapbox) I think I'm done. Apologies for the ranting :).

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I agree completely. Often, experience is what is required to understand or apply the regs - it's not just limited to practical expertise. We want to encourage people to use their experience to provide better answers. $\endgroup$
    – egid
    May 2, 2014 at 6:23

NO, experience is different from opinion, because it is fact based. Empirical is the word that was developed to describe INFORMATION / DATA collected assystematically via experience.

EMPIRICAL "based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic."

It is not a question of being fact or opinion, it is a question of being scientifically produced information versus a non-verifiable impression.

For example, no theory or logic pressuposes that Man would fly, yet fly he does. Empirical = experience.


You must log in to answer this question.

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