I recently asked the following question: Would Saul actually have killed Samuel if he found out that Samuel had annointed David King?

It was put "on hold" as "primarily opinion-based." I believe that this is incorrect.

First, I will agree that this question does not have a clear-cut right or wrong answer. You could defend either answer from the text, and there's not a clear way to definitively settle the question.

I do recognize that this is a Q&A site, not a discussion board, but, at the same time, not every interpretive question has a clear-cut right or wrong answer. We could lose legitimate content by not allowing that kind of question.

Also, at the text of the close reason:

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.

The problem, then, is when answers will be based on unsupported opinions rather than facts. Not having a clear-cut right or wrong answer does not, in and of itself, make a question primarily opinion-based; rather, "primarily opinion-based" means "answers fundamentally can't be defended with evidence" - there's no basis to say that one answer is "better" than another. Given that the accepted answer offers multiple quotes from the text in support of his answer, clearly that's not the case for this question.

TL;DR The most important factor for determining whether or not a question is primarily opinion-based is whether you can defend answers based on specific evidence or not, not whether there's a clear-cut right or wrong answer. The linked question isn't primarily opinion-based because answers can be defended with evidence from the text.

1 Answer 1


Conceptually the point you've made in this meta question makes sense, but the specific instance cited doesn't match your argument.

First let me point out that you've accepted an answer that's basically nothing but a logical fallacy. Your question asks for whether something was justifiable based on their situation at the time, then accepted an answer that does nothing but use later events to rationalize the earlier case. This suggests to be you weren't actually interested in using interpretive methods to arrive at an answer and just wanted to hear some discussion on the idea.

Second, the question waffles a bit on what you're really asking. Are you asking about what-if scenarios? These are pretty universally the realm of speculation and not hermeneutics to solve. One can speculate in an informed way but strict hermeneutics of a text won't have a whole lot to say. Or are you asking something specific about what the text tells us about what a given character's knowledge was at a point in time? This could be reasonably analyzed and proposed answer argued in a post. But you haven't clearly framed the question on that basis.

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    +1 Exactly this: "Conceptually the point you've made in this meta question makes sense, but the specific case of your question doesn't match your argument here."
    – Dɑvïd
    Commented Dec 26, 2017 at 19:37
  • @Dɑvïd So why did he push for the deletion of my answer when the issue was with the question. The answer was only a response to a supposedly flawed question. So why delete the answer???
    – user20490
    Commented Dec 27, 2017 at 11:40
  • @user20490 Deleting answers on closed question is something we frequently do to keep things tidy. First they often give the asker the impression that they can keep asking questions like than and they suggest to new visitors that similar questions might get answers. Especially on opinion-based questions they also tend to stir up controversy as the usual mechanisms (posting competing answers and ranking them via votes) don't work on closed questions.
    – Caleb
    Commented Dec 27, 2017 at 12:22
  • If not fixed, the question will eventually be deleted anyway (automatically even) so the focus needs to be on getting the question fixed. If it is fixed and re-opened then any answers that address the current form of the question can be undeleted (and new ones posted). One rule about editing posts is that you don't want to obsolete existing answers, but on closed posts that doesn't apply and removing them helps free people up to imagine what can be done to fix the question.
    – Caleb
    Commented Dec 27, 2017 at 12:24
  • @user20490 - you may find this meta question helpful in this regard. Commented Dec 27, 2017 at 19:09
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    For me, the issue was this: Are you asking about what-if scenarios? These are pretty universally the realm of speculation and not hermeneutics to solve. - that is wholly speculative and hypothetical making it primarily opinion based. I agree in general it is not primarily opinion based if evidence can support the answer, but it is impossible to properly support a hypothetical what-if thought excercise. A million different things could have happened, but that's not what happened so it doesn't really matter and is immaterial and not value as an answer. Commented Dec 27, 2017 at 19:12

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