I wasn't too sure if I was better to ask here or on the Stack Overflow meta (since it also serves as the Stack Exchange meta site), but after reading the accepted answer of this similar question on Meta Stack Overflow, I thought I should ask here.

I got into a (rather calm) argument with Diago, who's probably an all-around great guy, since he's a moderator on both Super User and Meta Stack Overflow (and here; hello Diago!) The problem, I suppose, is that he more readily sees subjectivity where I don't.

In my question What's the difference between i5 and i7 in MacBook Pros?, I exchanged several comments with him. He decided to close it because it appeared subjective and argumentative to him.

When I disagreed, he told me I should read the FAQ. I did, and I did not find any offending point. My question was about computer hardware, and was not a shopping or buying recommendation since I already own a MacBook Pro with an i7 processor. I did not realize this could be in question until he mentioned it a few comments later.

As of the subjective side of the question, as I wrote above, I still don't see it. I mean, what I asked for could be (and was) answered in terms of numerical facts–where's subjectivity when all there is to do is to compare numbers?

Besides having my question closed, I was also accused of misleading readers into believing the i5 processors offered in MacBook Pros are hyperthreaded. However, I genuinely believe they are, as does MacWorld, MacWorld UK, The Mac Observer, PCWorld, Tech Radar, Apple themselves (scroll down to the Hyper-threading paragraph) and probably a myriad of other sites I'd know if I visited more than the first page of Google results for macbook pro i5 hyperthreading. Intel does list mobile i5 processors with hyperthreading, so it seems possible that Apple uses them.

This is even the actual reason of my question: I was surprised that i5 had hyperthreading, and I was left wondering what i7 had better than i5 since both are hyperthreaded dual-cores.

So, what should I do? Was I being subjective, wrong and stubborn from the beginning, or was there a misunderstanding and the question deserves to be reopened (even though it's already answered)? How can you determine if a question is subjective, even before trying to decide if it's a "good subjective question"? Is there a way I could edit my question that would leave out any kind of subjectivity there could have been? (I've already edited it a few times, even after it's been closed; if you're curious you should have a look at its history.)

  • possible duplicate: meta.superuser.com/questions/1045/… Oct 17, 2010 at 5:48
  • You asked for an exact comparison between two very specific products, which you seem more then capable of researching yourself (especially given the level of thought you put into this question). So yes, you were being subjective, and this is not the type of question that belongs on SuperUser (it is what internet forums are for, however). Feb 28, 2011 at 19:35
  • @Breakthrough Is there a badge for commenting on 4+ months old questions? I don't think your intervention added anything useful to the already-dead discussion.
    – zneak
    Feb 28, 2011 at 20:08
  • @zneak That is why I posted it as a comment and not an answer. Feb 28, 2011 at 21:03
  • @Breakthrough You seem just as stubborn as me! Excellent. There are so many things I'd like to argue about that I'll have to split that into several comments. First, I don't see how communication and search skills are related. As of my search skills themselves, they are fairly good when I know what to search; but the Apple specs for the laptops did not allow to differentiate the i5 from the i7, and didn't give away the technical name, so I had no idea what to search for. The Intel link was provided by a nice guy who answered.
    – zneak
    Mar 1, 2011 at 3:23
  • @Breakthrough Then, I don't see either how my communication/search skills relate to the subjectivity of my question. You most likely made that out and I can't see any trail of thoughts by which this could make sense. Even if what you meant is that I was probably able to find the answer by myself (in which case you could have used a better way to express it), there is no rule against that, and it's certainly not called a "subjective" question anyways. Besides, most people ask questions because they believe people know outright, not because they don't think they can find on their own.
    – zneak
    Mar 1, 2011 at 3:30
  • @Breakthrough And finally, as you're 7k reputation away from reading deleted questions, you most likely haven't got your hands on the initial discussion. Taking an accusative stance knowing as little as you do seems pretty unwise. I'd also like to add that I don't see why it's better to post pointless comments than pointless answers. Neither do anything useful. You just can't get downvoted for comments.
    – zneak
    Mar 1, 2011 at 3:31

3 Answers 3


For the record. This question is now deleted.

To answer your direct question

If you disagree with a moderator you can:

  • Email moderators directly. Their contact info is normally in their profiles.
  • Post on the meta specific website, in this case here. (Which you have done)
  • Email [email protected] if it is a case of abuse or more serious not resolved from the above.

With regards to the particular question

Kronos already made it fairly clear why I closed it, asking for opinions or why something vs something else is better is by nature, subjective. This means that at some point someone is going to find it on a Google search, which incidentally is pretty much within an hour of it being asked with regards to SU, and it is going to start a flamewar. Whether a question has an accepted answer or not is irrelevant. The point is that the question will be found by a group of users we do not want on SU.

Our role as moderators is simple. Do what is best for the community and the site as a whole. In some cases, some questions get closed because they will attract the wrong target audience for the site.

You may not agree that comparisons are discussions, but I have yet to see a single question on SU that hasn't turned into one, and they are considered not acceptable.

The problem is you made a few assumptions posting the question that was incorrect.

  • Super User is not a discussion forum.
  • Because there is an accepted answer no one will view the question again.

As for my personal comments, they were just that my personal comments, and in themselves proves that the question was subjective, as I did not believe the finding where correct or even complete. Here is another personal comment:

I have yet to find a user that will ever agree that their own question is subjective, and as much as I respect their opinion, in some cases what is better for the community and the site is much more important

  • 1
    Well, I don't think you need a subjective question to have wrong facts, whoever had them. Also, if you consider that comparisons are necessarily bad for the site, no matter what they compare, then perhaps it would be a good thing to write it in the FAQ. That would give people like me something useful to read when pointed there. :/
    – zneak
    Oct 17, 2010 at 15:30
  • 2
    Besides, I did not assume Super User is a discussion forum. I really do not understand how my question could induce discussion of anything that is not a fact. The i5 to i7 transition in MacBook Pros is a no-compromise deal: there is no feature the i5 has that the i7 doesn't. The problem was to find the features the i7 has that the i5 doesn't. Neither did I assume no one would ever look at the question again. Would it still be visible, I certainly would not be ashamed that someone stumbled upon the answer we got.
    – zneak
    Oct 17, 2010 at 18:40
  • 5
    @zneak. My final words on this and with all due respect to you I repeat: I have yet to find a user that will ever agree that their own question is subjective, and as much as I respect their opinion, in some cases what is better for the community and the site is much more important Oct 18, 2010 at 9:18
  • It's okay: what I meant is that I did not ask a subjective-like question on purpose. This last comment was targeting the you made a few assumptions part of your post. Please don't pretend you read my mind: I posted this question in good faith with respect to how Stack Exchange sites work. I'm sure you can see I'm convinced I did. Your assumptions about my assumptions are out of place and no one likes to be treated like someone you can see through. (Also, should anything good come out of all this, I still stand by my first comment.)
    – zneak
    Oct 18, 2010 at 15:29
  • @zneak ... Comparisons can be a useful tool, but when done correctly, and most of the time, it's not. It's filled with opinion and "this is better than that". If one must ask a somewhat subjective question, this guide is the best to follow. Oct 18, 2010 at 16:08
  • @KronoS: Can you help me determine which guidelines were not met by my question?
    – zneak
    Oct 18, 2010 at 17:22
  • You simply asked which was better. Oct 18, 2010 at 17:30

As parts of this question may have already been answered in the above commented link, I will only add a few things to what they have said. First off if a moderator closes a question and other feel that it was closed for the wrong reasons, those with voting power can reopen the question. Yes some moderation can be "subjective" itself, but also realize that most if not all moderators are doing their best to keep Super User and the SU users best interests in mind.

Subjective questions are highly moderated for the reason of keeping the SU environment a clean and clear question/answering site. Opinionated questions not only clutter the site, but can also misdirect the those asking the question with differing and almost endless opinions. In your case the simple question "what makes the i7 better" is where I feel it makes the question subjective. Possibly rewording the question would help the overall goal of yourself and the SU community.

As I am not Diago and cannot speak for the exact reasons of why he closed the question and so therefore this is my personal understanding of the situation.


One of the themes I've seen over and over is that the moderators act in a way that demonstrates their "power" rather than trying to foster what's good for the site. This behavior is consistent with the Usenet of old and most ironically is completely contradictory to what @Attwood @codinghorror has been ranting for years. He's all about "the community, community, the community decides, ...fostering a friendly environment" and so on.

I have 2 suggestions for the moderators which I think are low effort but high value:

  1. Just answer in a little more friendly way. Writing a curt/abrupt message often comes off as rude and can piss off the user. Simply - be softer and more friendly. I can't imagine anyone would dispute it should be that way. If there's disagreement from the moderators that their words are that way, I still say try to soften it up a bit and keep cognizant that this concern exists in the community. "Community...community...community".

  2. Many of the explanations for closing the questions are weakly explained. I'm not necessarily saying that their reasoning is wrong, just that it should be explained in a way that leaves the poster feeling that they are satisfied in the end. Certainly if the poster posted an inflammatory message or was a total dbag then that's a different story. But unlike parents telling their children "no because I said so" when the child asks for something, adults are entitled to a more reasonable answer. Simply - think about how you would feel if given the same answer. Put your self in the person's shoes.

  3. When there's a really thin line between whether the question is appropriate for the forum not not, how about just let it go rather than risking ticking someone off. Why pick the battle rather than making an issue out of it. Is the spirit of the forum really going to devolve if there's such a thin line between whether the question is appropriate or not?

  • 6
    Typically when I close something, I assess whether I feel the user has put in sufficient effort composing the post. If it's below some magic threshold, I just deal with it and move on. If it's above it, I'll leave a comment and try to guide the user in the right direction. As you can see, we don't always get it right, we sometimes 'punish' a user (that had no ill intentions), we're just humans too you know. But I still think that the quality of our site is more important than the feelings of 'certain' users. If they think I made a wrong assessment: come to chat and I'll explain why :-)
    – Ivo Flipse
    Feb 25, 2011 at 17:44
  • 5
    Moderators don't go around picking fights. We're there to quash such. Also, someone is never going to be happy or pleased at how something is worded no matter how softly softly you try.
    – random Mod
    Feb 25, 2011 at 17:48

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