I asked some gender issue related questions recently, among them if there is any truth to the perception that men are funnier than women and if women have more of a barrier to being successful in acting than men.

These questions were closed for being too subjective, however I don't think that is right.

It is true that these issues are subjective to a point, but it is also possible to quantify them in objective terms and discuss what may be indicated, or what we know now.

For example, the humor issue between men and women has been discussed a lot and some studied have been done, indicating that the issue is not inherently subjective. A discussion of the accuracy of the commonly held perception and seeing what data we have would be beneficial.

Likewise, for the acting question, we could look at the number of roles available to men and women, the types of roles, recognition by various bodies to see if there are any discrepancies. If it is equal, it would be harder to say that women have less opportunity than men.

For any subjective issue we can quantify it objectively and discuss what we know now or what the data may indicate. I would propose that this be the accepted way of dealing with questions that are too subjective, or editing them so that this approach is possible.

  • 3
    The people answering questions shouldn't have to deal with a poorly asked question. Don't make them try to quantify it objectively. It is your job as the asker to ask the question in an objective manner.
    – MrHen
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 20:43
  • The problem is not with asking about a subjective issue in an objective way, but rather whether or not it is considered acceptable to do so. Commented Jan 11, 2012 at 3:20
  • I don't understand. Acceptable to do what?
    – MrHen
    Commented Jan 12, 2012 at 5:18
  • Subjective issues tend to be frowned upon on this site. I feel that they should be allowed if examined as objectively is possible. You say that the person asking the question should quantify the subjective issue objectively, which is fine. In my experience when doing that it is still frowned upon asking questions about subjective issues. So I am asking, is there any issue with asking subjective questions if they are quantified as objectively as possible. The acting question is a good example of the type of question I would like to ask,I feel questions of that sort do have a place on this site. Commented Jan 16, 2012 at 9:48
  • In my opinion, questions that are asked objectively should be accepted (all other things being equal.)
    – MrHen
    Commented Jan 17, 2012 at 14:38
  • So rather than closing an issue for being subjective, perhaps moderators could assist in framing the question objectively? I say this because I have tried to do this in the past which only ended in frustration, as the question was dismissed as subjective despite the fact it could be examined objectively. Commented Jan 19, 2012 at 4:27
  • The burden is (and should be) on the asker. Obviously, helping the asker is a good thing but at the end of the day it is your responsibility to prepare your question objectively. There is a natural gray line somewhere between subjective and objective... so I feel for you in the sense that it is not always obvious how to proceed.
    – MrHen
    Commented Jan 20, 2012 at 23:14

2 Answers 2


The problem with your questions is, that the person supposed to objectively judge is biased to women/men. You can ask are more women funnier than men and simply count it, but for what purpose? Is grey more white or black - depends on definition. Same with your other question, a man cant apply for a female role. Highly self-biasing...

More important, how does a answer on one of these question REALLY enlarge your knowledge from a practical pov, it builds a temporal prejudice, not more, not less.

What can you do with this information? This question behind questions asked here i miss the most...

I dont know if you get upvote points given before a question was closed, if yes, than SE system has another big failure for skpetics.SE because more phantasm/nearly rhetorical questions will arise

I think the FAQ has to be enlarged as there is no STICKY possible, to try to show what scientific method can actually answer. But i doubt the FAQ is watched often by newcomers...

  • for the funny question, you could look at male comedians vs female comedians, then questions if there is a barrier to success that may explain the discrepancy... I think you may have missed the point of my question, in that it is possibly to quantify subjective issues objectively, and this should be encouraged. Commented Jun 14, 2011 at 22:39
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    You're persistently pro-censorship because you fear that the answer, even a true answer, might be mis-used.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 3:32
  • @chris Exactly, censor/close questions not objectively answerable and creating false-positive causalities. What wrong with this??? Alot of psychology, gender, human group behaviour related questions here are googling of verificating web articles. Not all psychological disciplines are real hard science. So one has to be cautios, what questions to permit on these delicate topics. Otherwise this site gets a place for pseudo-science. On the decapitation question where many good critical comment, despite it got voted up! Still beta here... Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 16:01

This isn't an argument: it's just contradiction.

  • The topic is subjective.
  • No: it's objective!

I think humour is subjective. It's also probably locale-specific. Did you mean all women? American women? Middle-class? Are American women funnier than Australian women? Are 20th century New York women funnier than 19th century Parisian women?

Perhaps you can "quantify it objectively", but I don't think I can (and my guess is that other people can't either). If you think they can, then you might have explained how as part of the question.

  • How is it a contradiction if I admit the issue is subjective, but should be dealt with as objectively as possible? To make it simpler we could restrict it to US Women, and then look at various criteria to try and quantify it. In any case this meta question was not specific to the question I asked, that was just an example. Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 3:56
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    "then look at various criteria to try and quantify it" - In that case it becomes a discussion about how to make sense of the question. These sites depend critically on the original question: if the question isn't meaningful/objective then it's not worth answering. Especially if it's "argumentative" as well.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 4:00
  • @Sonny On the topic of 'subjective' you ought to read "Good Subjective, Bad Subjective".
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 4:01
  • @Chris that's what I suggest in this meta question. Rather than close a subjective question as "subjective and argumentative" why not try to deal with it as objectively as possible, and then close questions that are in fact only subjective AND argumentative? Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 4:09
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    @Sonny Because a question that's not objective isn't worth discussing? Because these forums are for Q+A, not for discussion? Because the existence of a meta question about subjectivity doesn't cause subjective questions to be any more answerable than they were originally?
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 4:15
  • +1, this is a Questions/Answers site, not a discussion forum.
    – user288
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 9:28
  • @ChrisW There are many issues worth discussing that are subjective, and giving the most objective answer possible would be useful in many cases. Showing what the data we have shows vs perception. How do you not get that? Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 13:55
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    Sonny - If the question is subjective and argumentative then there's no such thing as the 'most objective answer'. Instead you get "Here's a semi-related fact!" .. "No! Here's a contradictory fact that has a different relationship to the question." I'm not saying that discussion is bad but TPTB have decided they don't want to see it. See What kind of questions should I not ask here?
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jun 15, 2011 at 14:16

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