I think, if we could somehow reinforce a community discipline of having consistently good subjective answers, and heavily punish those who provide bad-subjective answers, it could work. Assuming that the SE employees are willing to open their minds and give us a chance at it, of course.
I mean, many of my highest-voted answers on SuperUser, which have been acclaimed to be genuinely useful to many people, are partially or entirely based on opinion.
I think saying "No opinions allowed on StackExchange - ever!" is extremely myopic and will ultimately end up being too selective, leading to an eventual exodus from the SE network by its userbase to places where opinions are allowed. That's why I get the distinct feeling that, at least, Spolsky and (ex-)Atwood are willing to accept some degree of subjectivity -- at least that is what I gleaned from their blog posts.
The challenge will be to police a community and a Q&A site which will be comprised almost entirely of questions that are:
Time-limited, meaning that the information will become outdated over time as prices fluctuate, product offerings come and go, and the industry moves from adopting a new technology, to using it, to then abandoning it in favor of the next thing;
Highly subjective, and experience-based, meaning that, while we can cite facts from specifications sheets and such, the site will probably not consist mainly of questions about "What does the spec sheet say about X?" -- I mean, come on, we can google that stuff; we don't need a Q&A site for that. So the few pieces of objective information that will be called for / cited on this site will be used as a part of subjective opinions. Opinions which may be rooted in facts as a point of reference for drawing the author's conclusion.
To accomplish this, the moderators (both diamond and otherwise!) will need to be very assertive towards people who answer subjective questions with short, pithy phrases like "Meh" or "It's really good" or "I hate it, I've had a bad experience with it".
What we are essentially looking for here is good-subjective. Good-subjective involves the author of the answer taking the following steps:
- Gather information. This is super-important. You need to gather some facts that form the basis of your informed opinion.
- State the relevant factual information which you gathered in your answer. It's often helpful to state the facts up front, and leave your argumentation/opinion for later.
- Argue in a way that does not directly rebut, attack, cite, or refer to other answers or comments. You can argue against specific opinions that you might think are being expressed which you happen to disagree with, but saying something like "unlike @somequixotic, I think the Foobar Bazizzler is a really great device because ..." is out of bounds, while something like "It is often said that the Bazizzler has trouble mandiblating, but I found that a quick tweak to the positronic manifold can mitigate this to a large degree." is just fine.
- Avoid comment wars. If you and some other poster are having a difference of opinion in comments, the best thing is to take a step back, take a 5-minute breather, then gather your facts and attempt to post a well-reasoned answer that follows the persuasive writing best practices, as well as, if you want, attempting to anticipate the possible objections to your opinion that the other guy might have (but without referring to him or his opinions directly!).
Those of us who've been through college, especially liberal arts majors or those who took a few liberal arts courses, might understand the process of persuasive writing that we are taught. I think that answers that call for an opinion on this site can still be extremely useful, on-topic and can even have a lasting appeal for the wisdom they espouse, if the answerer follows the persuasive writing process.
We'd have to really work hard to educate our community participants in these tenets, or the site would devolve into Yahoo Answers. I'm not saying it's impossible, and in fact I hope we get the chance to do it, but it's going to be a tough sell, because the SE employees tend to be fairly cynical about human behavior, and they might see this as "doomed to fail".