I've read through the sample questions in the area51 proposal and I don't see any examples of questions that encourage users to share experience so I'm not sure if they are appropriate or not.

Here is an example:

Question: What is your best recovery after a goof-up?
Description: We all make mistakes, even Tiger Woods hits the ball in the trees sometimes. One of the things that makes Tiger a great golfer is his uncanny ability to get himself out of trouble. What mistakes have you made doing home improvement and what creative ways have you used to "get out of the trees"?

Would this be an appropriate question? Assuming it is, would it be worth posting something like this to encourage share experiences or it really not the type of question likely to generate interest?

It was this question about tools, that gave me the idea.

2 Answers 2


Great question, thanks for asking.

No, these types of questions are generally not appropriate. The Stack Exchange sites work off the principle that you ask specific questions that are answerable by experts on the subject. Each answer is voted on and the best answers rise to the top.

Those "share your experience"-type questions are commonly referred to as "polls" and are generally discouraged on these sites. Good questions (with good answers) are the product of expertise. Polls are usually just lists of random opinions and experiences.

Way more often than not, polls are just the low-hanging fruit that have been asked 1,000 times on every other forum. They're asked simply to start the conversation and shoot the breeze. That's not what we do here.

  • Thanks Robert. That's what I figured but just wanted to be sure. Dec 30, 2010 at 19:43

It's fine (encouraged, even!) to share experiences, but only in the context of a specific question.


Great subjective questions inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”. The best subjective questions invite detailed explanation. If you’re asking for a product recommendation of some kind, you want answers to contain detailed information about the features and how they can be used, and why you might want to choose one over the other. “How?” and “Why?” has more lasting value than a bunch of product-feature bullet points or a giant enumerated list, no matter how extensive. In contrast, the bad subjective questions let answerers get away with hit-and-run answers that maybe provide a name and a link — but fail to provide any sort of adequate explanation, context, or background.

Great subjective questions tend to have long, not short, answers. The best subjective questions inspire your peers to share their actual experiences, not just post a mindless one-liner or cartoon in hopes of being rewarded with upvotes for being merely “first.” Sharing an experience takes at least one paragraph; ideally several paragraphs. If I’m asking about how to bake cookies, don’t give me a list of grocery items: milk. butter. vanilla. eggs. There is virtually nothing I can learn from a short, static list of grocery items that make up a recipe. Instead, tell me what happened the last time you made cookies from that recipe! Share your detailed experiences, so that we all might learn from them.

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