In the comments for JoeTaxpayer's answer to this question about the "appropriateness" of assigning extra credit homework, some users have begun to discuss down-votes that seem to be based upon opinions presented in the answers, not upon the quality of the answer.

On Christianity.SE, with questions of a religious nature, you can imagine that this might be a significant problem; however, it's not (anymore). On that exchange, questions that seek subjective truths are considered off-topic. Suppose that that same rule was enacted here. For example the question,

Is it appropriate to assign an extra-credit homework question on the next lesson?

solicits an opinion, and so would be considered off-topic as a truth-based question. Answers to the question cannot be neutral, and must present the answerer's opinions about whether or not that is appropriate. Some users might consider answers that are not in accord with their own strongly held opinions to be "bad" answers, and down-vote them. Answers with many votes appear to visitors to be the de facto (community-) accepted answer. On the other hand, the question,

What are some arguments for and against assigning an extra-credit homework question about the next lesson?

does not solicit an opinion supported by arguments, but asks for arguments for and against doing that. Since a complete answer would be neutral, this question is on-topic. Partial answers, even if presenting only arguments for or against, are doing exactly that and need not be interpreted as opinions. It is more likely that dissenting voters, for this question, will up-vote strong arguments either way, and silly or invalid arguments will find their way to the bottom of the stack. The most complete and thoughtful answer will rise to the top, which in this case would include arguments on both sides of the fence. In the example question, JoeTaxpayer's answer contains an excellent argument against the practice in question, but since the question solicits opinions, his answer comes off simply as a strongly supported opinion, and the popularity voting is underway. I would really like to see that argument included in an answer to the the "on-topic" question I gave above.

Note: New users on Christianity.SE often become (very) frustrated when their first few questions are closed for this reason, because they tend to ask subjective moral or theological questions. Mine were, and I was. But as I explored and learned more about the site, I understood that the site's purpose and aims were not congruent with my presumptions. Some users will not give it that second chance.

  • $\begingroup$ @JoeTaxpayer please read $\endgroup$
    – Andrew
    Apr 6 '16 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ +1 for a well reasoned approach, as was your own comment for the DV you gave my answer. Your post here, as well as your comment to my answer on the cited question offer good advice on how to improve both questions and answers at SE. Unfortunately, the uncommented DV will remain an issue. I've seen great, factual answers at Money.SE (my 'home' stack) get DV where clearly not called for. $\endgroup$ Apr 6 '16 at 16:38
  • $\begingroup$ @JoeTaxpayer Yes, the uncommented DV will remain an issue, since new users will DV what they will. Many un-commented DVs, if it is a real problem here, may be a symptom of poorly scoped questions. $\endgroup$
    – Andrew
    Apr 6 '16 at 17:07
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    $\begingroup$ What is the actual question here? I see one in the post title, but maybe the OP could edit the body of the post so as to include what, precisely, is being asked. (I can't tell if it's literally the title question, or something like "Should we implement the suggested approach here, where (e.g.) appropriateness is off-topic but (e.g.) arguments for/against would be on topic?" or ...) $\endgroup$ Apr 9 '16 at 3:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Trying to pare this down: What opinions exist? (objrctive, unless for example X is an opinion is a subjectve judgement) versus Give me your opinion (subjective). Probably the same range of answers except more opinions can be included in the objective version! (Since people can include opinions other than their own.) $\endgroup$
    – timtfj
    Dec 12 '18 at 0:59

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