I'm designing a complex robot and I've got some ideas that I want to get opinions on before beginning development. Is that OK, or should I make the question more answerable?

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1 Answer

up vote 19 down vote accepted

Questions asking for opinions tend to get closed as not constructive on most Stack Exchange sites.

The not constructive close reason says:

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or specific expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, see the FAQ for guidance.

Much better would be to ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face.

Ultimately though, many answers on stack exchange are more opinion than fact, and design choices are often informed more by convention and belief than by experience and experimentation, so we have to accommodate answers less rooted in fact. We do however prefer poeple to back it up. See the Stack Exchange Blog post Good Subjective, Bad Subjective.

How your question is phrased could very much impact on the perception of your question. For instance

  • What sort of arm should I use for my Robot?

implies that you want opinions. Whereas

  • What design considerations do I need to take into account when selecting an arm for a robot used under these conditions?

would be much more likely to be answered and voted up. Especially if you explain what options you have considered and what your concerns are about those options.

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I wish I could triple up vote this. You have cleared up so much for me, thanks heaps. –  Jordan Brown Jan 16 '13 at 11:26
    
+1 This is a great, concise answer to an oft-encountered issue... –  Jaydles Jan 16 '13 at 22:23
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"Ultimately though, many answers on stack exchange are more opinion than fact, and design choices are often informed more by convention and belief than by experience and experimentation" ... this is a key point, but is really poorly handled by the prevailing opinion in the SE meta community (that there is some magical dividing line between allowable fact-based questions, and unallowable subjective ones). SE sites would be much better if this small percentage of users just entirely stopped trying to police this. It's the war on drugs of the SE system. –  Nate Jan 30 '13 at 23:44
    
@Nate - I'm sorry but I disagree. If we don't have rules like back-it-up and reminders such as Good Subjective, Bad Subjective then we degenerate into a pointless free-for-all which is no better than your average web forum! The war on drugs is pointless, but it is the Raison d'être of a good stack exchange site to strive for good questions and good answers, and unlike many places on the internet, SE sites give the tools to the community to moderate themselves. –  Mark Booth Jan 31 '13 at 3:32
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