I note this comment chain under this question, where I try to help @mins refine the scope of a question, and the response was both negative and argumentative.

At what point does the fundamental premise of the SE model -- questions with objective answers, and sometimes even 'best answers' -- get abandoned and an SE site get turned into a discussion forum or a popularity contest? These are some of the comments after I asked for more clarity in the question.

@mins I have not downvoted, I think there is a good question here if you add more to it. There is the problem of how to measure things that don't happen, though, which makes your lead in title almost impossible to answer. Further improving your question, is your scope Canada, the US, the whole world? What is the scope of your question? Who do you think is collecting this data and posting it somewhere? – KorvinStarmast

@KorvinStarmast: I'm a bit fed up of comments like this, it's not constructive and even ridiculous (I say mayday and no one hears. Is it an emergency?). Do what you want. My question is clear enough. – mins

@mins Lastly, your source is anecdotal evidence, though based on his calling/profession, I think his comments are worthy. As to I'm a bit fed up of comment like this If you can't take constructive criticism, stay off of the internet. FFS, I'm trying to be helpful here. – KorvinStarmast

It's a perfectly clear and adequately specific question, that's not merely answerable, but has a quantifiable answer. The real problem with the question is that it asks something related to flight safety. Unfortunately many people here are allergic to such questions, and need to have them shut down as quickly as possible. – Daniele Procida

@DanieleProcida: Yes, I know the site... and the names! I'm here to have fun, not to get points or pretend to be a serious guy, but some act like if we were the NTSB and the world was depending on our discussions. Thanks for the support. – mins

@RonBeyer Is one of your colleagues just unlucky than the other, or does one just have a higher "mayday threshold"? I'm sure there are guys that would squawk 7700 for a hangnail and others that would reluctantly call pan pan after a wing fell off, and then only if the ops manual required it – TomMcW

@mins not answerable as asked. I invite you to review what the premise of Stack Exchange is: objectively answerable questions with a (possible) best answer. I try to help you, and you pout. Not well played. This is not an internet forum. – KorvinStarmast

@DanieleProcida If it's answerable, then show your work, show your evidence, rather than showing your empty words. I notice no answer by DanieleProcida. – KorvinStarmast

Obviously, some disagreement here, but the over-sensitivity was begun by an SE veteran with high reputation who cannot seem to abide by the fundamental format and site premise. A question offered in chat to find out "what's the problem here" was blithely ignored.

In all seriousness, when one of our high rep users can't handle the format upon which SE is built, and gets all upset when assistance is offered, I will ask just what is reputation on this SE site indicative of?

Further that point, has Aviation.SE chosen not to embrace the Back It Up! principle?


2 Answers 2


The scope of the question and what is being asked seems clear enough to me, though it could be said to be broad (basically, the scope, as I understand it, is all pilots who didn't have someone shooting at them.)

Granted, this question is asking more for views based on anecdotal evidence than those based on statistical evidence. I could understand if someone cast a close vote for "mostly opinion-based" or possibly even "too broad," though I'm personally not planning to cast such a vote myself.

I do agree that mins' first comment that you've quoted in the question here is probably overly harsh. That said, I'd say the same of your question title here and some of your subsequent comments that you've quoted in the question. Let's please all remember that the Be Nice policy comes before the others.

As far as the 'premise' of StackExchange, please keep in mind that not all SE sites are equal. Some are much more strict in their objectivity requirements and others are less so. Generally, each site's community ends up making this determination for their site, especially on the smaller sites. There is no SE-wide policy banning asking for expert opinions, which is what this particular question seems to be doing. Indeed, when you try to vote to close a question as being too opinion-based, the description text will remind you that

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than on facts, references, or specific expertise.

Personally, I'd say this particular question falls close to the edge between the "good question that generates some degree of opinion based on expert experience" and the "almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise." I think a reasonable argument could be made either way, but I personally lean towards not closing it. At any rate, posing the question certainly does not suggest that the user "does not understand the premise behind the SE model."

The fact that the lines for what should qualify for the different close reasons can vary significantly by site is largely why the privilege to cast close votes is site-specific, rather than being granted across the entire SE network. It takes some time on a particular site to learn where the lines are or should be on that particular site and, even once you do, there is still some grey area where experienced users may legitimately disagree. This is why we have votes for closing and reopening rather than having them be closed or reopened by a single user. And, of course, having Meta available here allows us to discuss what should and shouldn't qualify in areas where disagreement may exist.

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Excellent analysis. Thanks for supporting openness. Furthermore I believe an interesting answer will get out of this question, though it may take more time than usual. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Oct 17, 2017 at 18:31

What is reputation on this SE site indicative of?

There are a fair number of highly voted posters here whose knowledge is not challenged.

I'm certainly not one of them though. You get a high reputation if your questions or answers are appreciated by the readers, not because they are intrinsically good, or accurate. It's democracy for the best and the worst.

At what point does the fundamental premise of the SE model -- questions with objective answers, and sometimes even 'best answers' -- get abandoned and an SE site get turned into a discussion forum or a popularity contest?

You are trying to make the site better, but look at highly voted questions like Do pilots really wear “pilot's watches”?, Is this plane landing or departing? or Has there ever been a plane not controlled from the nose?. These question may not have "a best answer", or may not have "objective criteria", but they are fun. You won't change that, as the site is by the users and for the users, not for a small group of people who sometimes don't like the way it goes -- a group which by the way I would belong to if it existed, even if sometimes I also post funny questions.

The only solution is to post more questions that are in your scope of interest.

I invite you to review what the premise of Stack Exchange is: objectively answerable questions with a (possible) best answer.

It's your opinion this question is not answerable with an objective answer. And in mine, you have been contradicted already by the existing post.

It's an interesting answer which could probably support the idea that in a small number of years, maybe 10 or 20, any pilot statistically declares an emergency. So this seems to backup the surprising statement of the Transport Canada inspector, a statement which by the way I have no intention to challenge. Many people here like to be surprised, including me, we upvote surprising posts!

I try to help you

No worry friend. It didn't cross my mind you would not try to help. And I know it's also the case in this meta thread. Which I discovered by accident -- hum... by accident, but not in an emergency though :-)


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