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I haven't been very active on LinguisticsSE until recently, but it seems as if, judging from the meta discussions, that this SE is having trouble bringing in traffic, despite the fact that it is a very interesting topic. It seems like a lot more traffic could be brought in by allowing questions that encourage discussion. I use SO, SU, ELU, MathSE, CompSciSE, and LingSE for all questions specific to these topics, but for every other topic, I use Quora. Now, they have a much different setup than SE, namely one that allows any kind of question, including extremely subjective ones.

We've all heard the saying "Never talk about religion or politics" because it can always start an argument, but the funny thing is, on Quora, even a question like "What's the best religion?" doesn't cause problems. These sorts of online Q&A communities mostly have intelligent users that aren't going to be offended by others' views like that. On that particular question, every answer was a long, detailed explanation of their own religion and why the answerer's belief system worked for them.

A system that allows subjective questions would certainly be viable on a site like Linguistics StackExchange. Imagine is someone asked "What's the easiest language for a native English speaker to learn?" If this question stipulated that respondents must cite reasons why, I'm sure there would be 5 or 6 answers with detailed explanations as to why an English speaker's mind would be able to absorb a particular language easily.

The most important thing to note here is that this sort of question would bring in traffic. There are dozens of lists out there ranking other languages by "difficulty," but without any specific criteria in sight. Questions like that would surely drive more people to this site through the search engines.

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We can't because this site belongs to the StackExchange network and it has different rules than Quora. I don't know the exact rules there, but a choice was made for this network and we have to abide by it.

I understand that some topics are more inclined to this type of discussions but we can't really choose.

In any case, I must add, we can... fool the system. I'm not saying going against the rules, but playing with them. I've often seen in the past questions that could have been subjective but they were open and answered and all. What happened? The wording. That's what changed everything.

Often you can ask a subjective question but according to the way you do it, it becomes a great question or a very poor question. I suggest you read this blog post, Good Subjective, Bad Subjective. It explains the reasoning behind the decision of putting this kind of discussions out of our sites, but it also explains how you could ask something that could be subjective but it's really not, check the chapter "Guidelines for Great Subjective Questions".

If your question cannot be "re-worded" for this purpose, you can also use our Chat. :)

I'm going to tag your question (others can still contribute, if they want, with answers), but I appreciate your interest in our site. If you have any ideas on how to advertise our site, I'd be happy to hear them. Alternatively, you could present them and discuss it with us, in our monthly Linguistics Meeting.

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  • +1 we should definitely encourage people with "discussion" questions etc to bring them to chat. It would also be good if we had a place to recommend linguistics "forum" sites for such questions, since people often don't grasp that we are a Q&A site and that there's an important difference with those and forums. (On travel.SE we often recommend "flyertalk" and "Lonely Planet Thorn Tree" as good forums relevant to the travel.) – hippietrail Aug 10 '12 at 6:55

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