I'm a fairly active user over on StackOverflow for my job/hobby and while I was at work this question popped up on my feed. It is something that I feel I have some expertise around. However, when showing this post to my co-workers, we both provided facts, life experiences, wisdom, etc. that were completely opposite of each other. One was pro debt, the other was opposed.

I checked the faq and the answers tag, but couldn't find anything on seemingly opinionated answers. On StackOverflow, code either runs (or is correct) or doesn't run (or is incorrect). I feel it's a more black and white area than Personal Finance. I am aware that Primarily-Opinion Based questions are off topic for this site. But Primarily is the word that is tripping me up. Personal finance can sometimes be, well, personal.

Before I start answering questions - Am I allowed to give answers, that may seem opinion based to others, as long as I explain my reasoning, provide facts/data, etc.? or are the questions that would lead to such an answer be deemed "off topic" and therefore inappropriate to leave an answer

1 Answer 1


There are questions regarding math and taxes which are facts. If I answer correctly, no one would argue, only perhaps offer a better articulated answer. That's easy.

Then there are the questions that ask for "what am I missing" such as those that want to buy a house. Even if the numbers work, members might offer details the OP might be missing. In that case, you can tell me my house is too big, but can't argue the new roof just cost $24K. These might be the tip of the gray area, where opinions come into play, but the answers are still fact based.

The larger gray area is pretty gray. Some of those questions slip through, other are closed. To your point, if the question remain open, the answer should be fact based. Some members have a strong opinion. One feels you should never buy a new car. Others would say to only buy a new car with cash. Neither position is a fact, but both members present theirs with enough detail that both answers garner points. We each have our own risk tolerance. For example, I say that one should prioritize matched 401(k) deposits, even ahead of paying off debt (so long as the debt payoff has a sound plan). Others say pay debt 100% before investing a dime. I can justify my decisions, math, numbers, etc, but in the end, it's my choice, and I respect those who disagree and choose a different path. I retired at 50, so I must have done something right. Still there are those who think early retirement is insane..... I could go on.

In the end, if you feel you have something to contribute, do so. As with other stacks, good answers are voted up. New members that start to answer old question but done any any idea/fact not contained in other existing answers are, to be blunt, annoying. On the other hand, there are 1537 questions with no upvoted or accepted answers. Those are worth addressing, along with other recent questions. Looking forward to seeing you participate.

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    Thanks. Nicely explained. The key like you mentioned is "choice". It doesn't make it primarily opinion based. There are some that are purely speculative and those are classified as such.
    – Dheer
    Commented Feb 11, 2019 at 16:29

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