The Help Center explains the "primarily opinion-based" close reason like this:

primarily opinion-based - discussions focused on diverse opinions are great, but they just don't fit our format well.

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than on facts, references, or specific expertise.

The blockquoted text "Many good questions..." is also what we're clicking, every time we select to close a question as "primarily opinion-based."

It looks like Are there cases where vi is the only option? may be about to be closed as primarily opinion-based. It has four close votes right now.

While I can imagine ways to radically alter that question to make it primarily opinion-based (for example, if it had asked for situations where vi is the best editor), I have not managed to think of any reasonable explanation for why the question as Luis asked it is actually primarily opinion-based.

Imagine you're in a situation where you must edit a file. Fill in the details however you like. Maybe there are editors besides vi available, and maybe there are not, but is whether or not there are actually a matter of opinion? (You might be able to contrive a bizarre situation where people would disagree about whether or not editors besides vi are available. But does this arise naturally?)

In order for Luis's question to be primarily opinion-based, things would have to be more extreme than that. The task of determining if vi is available would have to be so subjective and practically unverifiable that answers to a question about it "will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions..."

To a small extent, people disagree about what constitutes an editor. In the sense we talk about text editors in this century, does ed count? Is a text processing language an editor? This small layer of ambiguity can be explained in a fact-based way, though, and it has been in some comments and answers to the question.

Of course, if there were many practical scenarios where vi is the only available editor, and the different scenarios didn't share other significant common characteristics, the question could be considered too broad. Does anyone think vi being the only available editor is a common situation with numerous unrelated causes? "Primarily opinion based" is the only close reason voted so far on the question.

To argue against something, one must understand it at least a little bit. I'm actually not confident I'm right about this, because so far I can't imagine why four people would think this question is primarily opinion-based. Maybe reviewers haven't been paying sufficient attention, or maybe there are great reasons to think this question is opinion-based of which I'm oblivious, or (and I am guessing it's this) it's something in between.

Is this question primarily opinion-based? Feel free to answer either way, but I'm particularly interested in answers disagreeing with the opinion I've expressed here and stating explicitly how they are consistent with the meaning of "primarily opinion-based" quoted above.

Of course no one is obligated to justify themselves here and now. But it's a popular, well-upvoted question with multiple well-upvoted answers. This is the kind of question that attracts reopen votes.

  • 1
    Looks like a language/interpretation problem to me - I voted to close it as "opinion based" because I did not get the implication that it really could be the only available editor. I read "The only option" as "I would not use anything else for the task, because..." - so it was a question of opinion (and maybe habit).
    – guntbert
    Commented Aug 28, 2014 at 20:15

2 Answers 2


This question can be finitely answered with technical evidence and backing.

It's not off-topic for being opinionated.

Ultimately you could probably write a better question along the same lines that didn't specify vi (eg "What is the lowest common denominator of editors in Ubuntu?") but I'm not sure that's something that the current question really lends itself to, especially not with the current answers.

So yeah, it's a bit of a weird question but it's fine. I'll be casting my vote to reopen as soon as I can.


The qi of the question is this phrase:

In what case scenarios is vi the only option to create, edit or modify a file.

Now, can you objectively list all case scenarios where vi is the only option? Yes, you can, and is a rather short list, where the only answer is "where is the only editor installed in the system" which is without doubt the only correct and technically accurate answer (and even so is incomplete, I will explain later why). Now, does this question actually invite this answer? No. Which violate the second part you quote:

answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than on facts, references, or specific expertise.

This is evident when you find this kind of answers suggesting other editors or something wildly related to the topic of the question which seems to not apply for Ubuntu.

Questions where technical accuracy is asked should be explicitly said so, as you can see how people asks for a technical accurate explanation where any other kind of answer will become invalid, a good example of such case is this one, spawned of a discussion generated in this site, were the OP categorically said "What are the technical obstacles that doesn't allow OSX to be installed in a PC?" rendering any non-technical backed answer invalid. The OP in the question in question, fails to do this.

Now, I know is very difficult for non-native speakers word a question in a way that it would be for everyone, not just 2 or 5 individuals, understand correctly, heck I'm victim of this causing the most bizarre misunderstanding, that up to date, still haven't been cleared up despite my best efforts, but for that people learn and edit. So, instead of asking if the question is opinion based or not, or defile community decision that understood that the question is "opinion based", why nobody has taken upon the task of editing it to dispel such doubts? I don't feel confident of accomplishing this, so I casted a close vote, so it's task of OP or another member of the community to reword the question into shape so it could be in eyes of anyone that read such a question that is not "primarily opinion based".

Now, going to another topic, why isn't "where is the only editor usable in the system" a complete answer? Because it's based on the assumption that someone removed nano, which is a important package, hence the system ask you really want to remove it, the same with coreutils package, or if someone damaged all tools that allows you to edit a file (which, being realistic, you can with sed, tee, grep, cat, head, tail, the shell, edit a file, through not interactively). Sadly, nobody seems to have answered that way.

  • 1
    Well I disagree. Not only are people interpreting the question correctly but the answers it is getting are technical in nature. You linked to a couple of them but they're really no more opinionated than any other post. More than that, suggesting that a reversal of the closure would be "[defiling the] community decision" is a little silly. Only one "side" can vote at a time. I'd have defiled 5 people's opinion and when the question is +20 vs -1, I think I'd have the community opinion on my side.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Aug 29, 2014 at 11:09
  • 1
    As it happens, it was already +4 to reopen by the time I got back to it so while normally binding, my vote wasn't particularly special today.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Aug 29, 2014 at 11:10

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