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Some months ago I had posted a question in the line of "Which mathematical papers should be translated?" which soon after got voted to close because it was deemed to depend on opinion. I'm not trying to get the question reopened (I knew it would be dead after in some replies it was tried to render the question ridiculous); I rather would like to know, whether "opinion based" questions couldn't be acceptable after all.

My motivation for this questions is, that there are different meanings of the term opinion and I think only some are inappropriate for MO, namely those that are aimed at confrontation, betting, superstition or discrimination. Opinions that I would see as acceptable would be advice, recommendation or judgement based on experience. My impression is however that those differences are sometimes brushed away to quickly and I would like to know, whether others also see the need for a more fine-grained treatment of "opinion based" questions.

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    $\begingroup$ In general, on SE sites which strive to be question-answer sites with answers being grounded in fact, questions whose answers are necessarily opinion-based are deprecated (they can lead to arguments, as witnessed on many an internet discussion board, e.g. just about any IMDB discussion forum). There are some gray areas, which we see time-to-time at MO. $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Apr 9 '16 at 12:57
  • $\begingroup$ Opinion-based questions tend to lead to lengthy discussions which many, if not most, people don't find worth reading afterwards -- at least not as much as to-the-point questions and answers. A question / answer site like MathOverflow (and to some extent also the other SE sites) aims at gathering information which is useful for future readers, and not only for the participants of a present discussion. $\endgroup$ – Stefan Kohl Apr 9 '16 at 15:47
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    $\begingroup$ @StefanKohl I agree in the case that "opinion" means "who is right"; on a forum like MO it should however be possible to let people express various opinions from which the poster of a question can draw conclusions for her/himself. $\endgroup$ – Manfred Weis Apr 9 '16 at 15:56
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One should read through the Stack Exchange documentation for discussions on why questions asking for opinions are discouraged. I want to point out that sometimes it isn't opinions that are wanted, but characteristics, and that similar questions can be good for MathOverflow.

Going off the title about translating papers, specific answers will have a limited lifetime ideally: should the community agree in 2020 of the list and the languages, by 2050 they will be translated or not, and I believe many of those answers will become invalid. Something that would last much longer and be more useful to the MathOverflow community would be characteristics of papers, for example number and nature of citations to the paper. Then people who wish to embark on translation have something to use. The list of characteristics may in turn be founded on opinion, but if accompanied with rationale, will be more of an asset to the MathOverflow Corpus than an old "favorites" list.

Gerhard "Or Old Not Favorites List" Paseman, 2016.04.09.

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