I posted a question asking "What is a rigorous definition of a 'strong Brønsted-Lowry base'?" (noting that the usual glossary definition of "strong base" was that it "dissociates completely", but that can't be right for a Brønsted-Lowry base because a Brønsted-Lowry base is defined by proton acceptance, not dissociation): what is a rigorous definition of a Brønsted-Lowry "strong base"? (glossary definition seems wrong)
This question was closed as "primarily opinion-based", which didn't seem to make sense to me. (Presumably chemists generally agree on what the definition of a 'strong Brønsted-Lowry base' is, and even if there are multiple accepted definitions, the question still has a factual answer, where the factual answer is: there are multiple accepted definitions, and here they are.)
But the oddest thing to me was that the site displays a message saying it was closed as "primarily opinion-based" by five different users. It seems unlikely that all five of the users reached this conclusion independently! I don't know what the UI looks like from the point of view of those users, so which of the following best describes the most common situation (across all Stack Exchange boards, not just chemistry):
- The five users separately and independently reach the conclusion that the question was "primarily opinion-based".
- One of those users initially flags the question as "primarily opinion-based", but this action is visible to the other users, and there is an unwritten rule that if one user does this, the other users will jump in and do the same thing to back up the first user.
- One user initially flags the question as "primarily opinion-based", and explicitly asks the other users, "Hey gang, back me up on this and close the question as opinion-based as well", and that's what they do.
(I think this distinction matters quite a bit, because in a recent blog post the management at Stack Exchange was asking what they can do to make the site more welcoming to newcomers. Regardless of how hard experts try to be "polite", one of the most off-putting things to me is when insiders create the false appearance of "consensus" against an outsider opinion -- "Hey n00b, all these people agree that you're wrong, so you should listen" -- when all they did was agree to form a coalition, rather than arriving at that conclusion separately and independently from each other.)