6

We're starting to see a pattern emerge of people turning "Is X effective?" into "What are the pros and cons of X?"

I think this is a good direction to go generally. Providing a list of pros and/or cons is (more or less) objective.

Some examples:

My question is, should the pros and cons lists be separate questions?

On Christianity.SE*, we have a general rule that such questions ought to be split into two. Although the nature of questions is somewhat different, usually asking "What is the theological reason for X?" followed by the counter-part question, "What is the theological reason against X?"

How do we want to handle these situations here?


*Although the questions on Christianity.SE are generally less objective than even here. On Christianity.SE, this rule tends to apply to questions of doctrine, where there are multiple possible interpretations. "Does the Bible say X is a sin?" is better asked as "What is the Biblical argument that X is a sin?" and for the other side, "What is the Biblical argument that X is not a sin?"

While such a distinction certainly is possible here ("What is the argument that X is beneficial to language learning?" and "What is the argument that X is not beneficial to language learning?"), it may not be helpful here, where holy wars (literally or figuratively) are less common over disagreements.

  • Hmm - I'm currently thinking of taking it on a case by case basis. – Andrew Grimm Apr 6 '16 at 12:26
  • can you explain why in Christianity SE splitting into two questions is prefer than combining them in one? – Ooker Apr 11 '16 at 8:13
  • @Ooker: I've added a little context. I hope it's helpful... I can expound further if necessary. – Flimzy Apr 11 '16 at 8:17
  • I'm not sure what your last paragraph is. Doesn't it contradict to what you say in your own answer? – Ooker Apr 11 '16 at 8:23
  • @Ooker: I don't think it contradicts it. It indicates that it's an open question. – Flimzy Apr 11 '16 at 8:36
  • Theological reasons ≠ pros and cons. If Christianity.SE didn't do that, their already very long answers would get even longer. – intcreator Apr 18 '16 at 16:58
  • @brandaemon: They're arguments for/against a position, typically. The LL equivalent is pros and cons. I offered that as a point of similarity, not as a rule that must be followed everywhere. – Flimzy Apr 18 '16 at 16:59
4

Just one question, so that someone can simultaneously see the pros and cons of the topic in question. It doesn't make sense to split apart the information and make people move from one post to another to get all the information.

If there's too much to fit then the question itself is too broad and could be narrowed. But assuming both pros and cons fit then they go well together.

4

One, absolutely.

Restricting a question to pros or to cons is meaningless, and questions should generally be worded in a way that avoids requiring answers to be arguments for a particular position. Most answers will include both pros and cons. Good answers will seek to explain in which circumstances the pros are more important and in which circumstances the cons are more important. For example, with a separate question for pros and for cons, how do you express “X is more effective for adults, Y is more effective for children”?

In fact, even framing in terms of pros and cons is somewhat problematic. Things rarely fall on a one-dimensional scale. Answers should not be railroaded into classifying every element as “pro” or “con”. For example, “studies have shown no statistically significant difference” isn't pro or con.

  • I'm curious how you would suggest wording such questions to avoid the pro/con dichotomy. – Flimzy Apr 11 '16 at 8:13
  • 1
    @Flimzy “What factors make X more effective”, for example — allowing for factors that have different influence in different scenarios. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Apr 11 '16 at 20:38
0

A "pros and cons" questions falls into a "comparison and contrast" mode. Even though there are two parts, they are basically one question.

-4

Two questions please

My initial thought is that splitting them up allows for easier voting. Someone may have a negative experience with X, and therefore be able to provide a solid list of cons, but few or no pros. Another person with a different experience may have a solid list of pros, and few or no cons. By putting these in a single question, it could make for two "correct answers."

Focusing on the positive or negative aspect alone may also lend itself to more objective thinking, rather than each answer trying to provide a "balanced view."

So my preference is to split them into two questions, likely with links between the questions.

  • Having more than one good answer isn't a problem. Many Stack Exchange sites don't have singular 'correct' answers for their questions. Part of the value of the site is that you can see different answers and how people valued them. – SuperBiasedMan Apr 6 '16 at 9:40
  • While some sites may have multiple "good" answers, they aren't generally diametrically opposed to each other. – Flimzy Apr 6 '16 at 17:54
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    Focusing on the positive or negative aspect alone may also lend itself to more objective thinking, rather than each answer trying to provide a "balanced view." - I understand your point, but in my (subjective) opinion, focusing only on one extreme would lead to subjective thinking – Ooker Apr 11 '16 at 8:11

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