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First I'd like to say that there are many topics on the usage of the word "best". But the question here is completely different. The question is more theoretical.

My answer is wikified, so instead of downvoting this question, suggest how to improve it. Show some real effort to improve this community

The question is: using the word best adds any kind of subjectivity?

  • Can you kindly explain the downvotes? – Revious Feb 12 '14 at 10:56
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    My guess (I obviously can't speak for everyone who downvoted): your question seems useless because it raises a point that isn't useful to discuss. Best is a useless word, not because it makes the question subjective, but because it is a subjective judgement that doesn't change the meaning of the question. Perhaps also because we've had this discussion before. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Feb 12 '14 at 14:49
  • @Gilles: the real and pragmatic issue is the perception that user will experiment when they will become downvoted for having used one word wich actually doesn't change in any way the content of the answers. I've tried to document it in different places: have a look here meta.softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/questions/363/…. Try to wear the clothes of a user being blamed since he had used the word "best" (which are the best software for doing X"...) – Revious Feb 12 '14 at 15:24
  • Askers are not blamed for using the word “best”. What they may be blamed for is for not having precise requirements — “best” not being a precise requirement. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Feb 12 '14 at 16:27
  • I agreed with 3 or four other meta here that there is some confusion on this topic. While they should be blamed only for not having precise requirements they are often blamed just for using the word "best". Best is often used in opinionable low quality questions but it's not the word that lowers the quality of a question, but the lack of specification for the criteria to be met to be considered "the best". If I ask you which is the strongest material on the world or if I ask which is the best material to reach some very strictly defined objective. There is no issue with the word itself. – Revious Feb 12 '14 at 16:38
  • @Gilles: Is more opionionable: "Which are the best material for implementing a superconductor?" or "Which are the materials having the more strong superconductor attitude?". The difference is in the specification, not in the usage of the word "best". I would consider it just window dressing. Do you agree? – Revious Feb 12 '14 at 16:41
  • “Best” for a semiconductor doesn't necessarily mean “superconductor attitude” (whatever that means, I think you picked the wrong English word but I'm not a physicist). It could be, for example, the cheapest material, or the most malleable material, within certain conductivity requirements. “Best material for a superconductor” carries no more information than “material for a superconductor”. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Feb 12 '14 at 16:58
  • I understand I've done some mistake in communication. The issue is that probably I've not clarified why I'm spending of this things. However if you agree I would stop speaking here and try to better express on a chat. – Revious Feb 12 '14 at 21:38
  • @Gilles: in the meanwhile have a look at this discussion: stackoverflow.com/a/14555422/196210. The first answer is totally opinion based. Totally. And it got 134 upvotes. SE is against opinions or against vague questions? And, at the same time, the usage of the word "best" means best for who, or means best for satisfying some criteria. Are the criteria specified? are they objective? And again, if I ONLY replace the word best with the word good something will change in the answers? ANd if I just remove the word best? Which kind of solution the people will give me? The worst?) – Revious Feb 12 '14 at 23:56
  • The point, in my humble opinion, is: when the final user see it's beautiful interesting and constructive answer blamed because he used the word "best" he may think that this community is moderated by people who believes to be better than him. I think some flexibility is needed. It's exactly the same feeling you would experiment if I'd start telling you about cognitive psychology to help you to understand the way in which your brain elaborates every conviction you have, and the reason why it's so hard for you to change your mind. Which kind of emotion would you feel? How would you judge me? – Revious Feb 13 '14 at 0:12
  • There are tons of users complaining on meta for question closed for duplication in a hurry, hurried downvote, and so on. Do you know the meaning of the word dychotomic? And do you know that the lack of flexibility is the base of most mental disorder? Do you think all this users are wrong in askyng for more flexibility? Are you able to put yourself into discussion? Are you able to wear other people clothes? Do you judge yourself emphatic? Do you know why human being don't want to change their mind? I don't know your opinion,but take into consideration that there are really many points of view – Revious Feb 13 '14 at 0:19
  • No; I know the meaning of dichotomy, if it helps. Citation needed. No idea what users you're referring to, are you claiming to speak for the silent majority? Yes; it's pretty apparent. Yes. Yes. Yes. I do. Do you have a point or are you just ranting? – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Feb 13 '14 at 3:56
  • I think asynchronous communication is not a good tool for me for trying to explain my point of view. Do you agree to meet in a chat? – Revious Feb 13 '14 at 8:55
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The word best dosen't really add anything to the question. In some cases there may be more than one answer that could suit the OP's needs. Sometimes the person answering might find that different tools may work better in different scenarios (like here, where I've posted two approaches to a problem).

I would expect that answers reflect the best of breed solutions to a problem the person answering knows of. However, "best" is best decided by the OP, and the next person with the same problem (who may find another solution is best) or the next person after that.....

So saying best is redundant. What is best is what works for you, and that is clearly subjective.

  • Of course best is redundant. But any language is full of redundancy. Would you like to prohibite / strongly discourage anything that is not strongly needed? Can you reflect on how many words in your answer were redundant? Why we should punish users for something that it's just window dressing?<br> And, at last, best is not what work for you. But what satisfies better the requirement. The specification for requirement may be based or not on subjective stuffs. Have a look at my answer: Not subjective is only "double blind placebo controlled study". Only phisics, mathematic are not subjective – Revious Feb 12 '14 at 10:56
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Most of people are saying that asking for the best software is subjective.

I see two issues in this reasoning:

  1. best doesn't mean singular. You can ask for the best 100 XXX of everything
  2. it's not the word best to add subjectivity but the criteria of choosing.

Let me explain my thought with an example.

If I ask: Which is the most effective drug with a termogenic effect?

The answer is not subjective, but the cost of obtaining really non opinion based answer is very intensive:
http://scholar.google.it/scholar?hl=it&q=termogenic+effect&btnG=&lr=

Not subjective = double blind placebo controlled study

And the question miss of specifying if they want to take into account how harmful are this drugs. But it's not the word "most effective" the problem. Is the lack of specification the problem.

Instead if I ask one of the following questions: Which are the best termogenic drugs Which are some good termogenic drugs Which are some termogenic drugs

The answer will not change in any way. It's just window dressing.

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