3 Answers 3


Many of those questions are along the lines of "Was this a good decision, or a biased decision?" To be blunt, these questions are inappropriate for every Stack Exchange site, with the possible exception of MSE and site metas. Evaluating whether a decision was due to bias or not is not a question that has a correct answer; we can't tell what someone was thinking when they wrote a decision, because that would require reading their mind. Evaluating if a decision was just is entirely opinion-based; I don't know what sort of objective answer you'd be looking for there.

Almost all the questions you linked were of that sort: was this decision good or bad, or just or unjust, or biased or unbiased. This question is simply not one with an objective answer. Your questions like "what are some decisions regarded as wrongly-decided" might be better, but it's a list question, and list questions aren't allowed on any SE site. Your question on how to evaluate quality of decisions presupposed that "quality of decisions" is an objective concept; it's not. Asking about who is more skilled likewise has no objective answer; "skill" is an extremely ill-defined concept if you want objectivity, and "who's a better lawyer" is pretty much one of the most pure opinion-based questions there is. Asking about outcomes has measurable aspects; asking about skill (without some objective measure you give) does not.

Basically, many of your questions ask to evaluate a court decision. We can't do that. That requires discussion; this is not a discussion site, and the whole structure of SE sites is designed to resist discussion.

Basically, before asking a question, think this: "If two people post separate answers, and those answers disagree, what does it mean for one to be more correct than the other?" For "Was this decision just," there is no "more correct" or "less correct" one; if a decision was fair or not is just a matter of pure opinion.


So the questions are interesting. But they're not really answerable in the SE format.

  • Did bias or racism affect the majority in...
    I don't know. No-one knows. Well, maybe they do. The answer is either I don't know because I'm not one of the majority judges or Yes, but only because people really can't be biased and racism is so entrenched in the world that no decision is entirely free from it.
    I'm guessing neither of these were what you wanted.
  • Are public access barristers more skilled than solicitors?
    Your question was removed. I don't know which jurisdiction you mean. But remember that in split systems, although the skills that solicitors and barristers have will certainly overlap, they're not identical.
    Any answer on this is going to be pretty vague, as in maybe, sort of, but depends. And as far as I know, there's no objective or standardised skills grading for barristers and solicitors, so we probably wouldn't be able to answer it empirically.
  • Unilateral closures
    Moderators' votes are always binding, and so if a question should be closed, moderators are so empowered to close it unilaterally. In fact, they can't even just vote to close like a regular user.
    I assume you object to unilateral closures for some reason, but as it is, there's nothing a moderator can do to avoid it apart from not moderating, which is... well, a little nonsensical.
  • Desiring objective answers
    It's not that all questions that invite subjective answers are bad. In fact, some of them are good. But you need to do more than just want objective answers - your questions need to be answerable and supported by some kind of reference.
    For instance, the two types of questions I've addressed: the first, I'm sorry, but I see no way that this could be supported by evidence or a reference. Perhaps there is, but those people who know how just weren't fast enough in answering. But I doubt it.
    The second type I could almost see the merit in, but then it's about phrasing the question in such a way that a empirical answer is possible. A question about skill is going to invite unfounded opinion, even with evidence: what skills are important, what makes them more or less skilled, do they need the same skills, do all skills contribute equally or are we just comparing some of them?
    It is possible to phrase it in a way that invites evidence-based answers: Where can I find success rates of public access barristers as compared to solicitors? I don't know. But remember that we're trying to answer your question, not your intention. As appropriate as your intentions may be, if the question doesn't reflect that, it's not going to be perceived the right way.

As I said in a comment on https://law.stackexchange.com/q/688/10

This question sounds like the subject of a dissertation, or expert panel discussion. I'm always inclined to err on the side of leaving open (or reopening), but in this case can you at least hint at how a good answer might plausibly fit within the size and scope of SE answers? E.g., can you narrow the scope of the question? Or can you point to a similar question anywhere that had a good answer that fit in a few pages? Or are you looking for a bibliography of reviews of that opinion (better than what is already offered on the Wikipedia page)?

The problem with the questions asking whether a court's decision was biased is not just that they're opinion-based, but perhaps also that a "good" answer couldn't possibly be given in SE, and furthermore that far better answers almost certainly exist elsewhere. For example, on divided opinions I would start with the minority opinions of the court itself. But yes, at their root they are extraordinarily opinion-based because the court itself produced opposing and unreconciled opinions! This isn't a debate site, so when a question clearly lends itself to two answers of equal quality but diametrically opposing content one expects it to be closed.

I would not have voted to close the question comparing public-access barristers to solicitors because I know there are objective studies that address the question. If nobody volunteered to do the research for you, and you didn't post an answer, I might have agreed it should be eventually closed because finding those studies online is easy and that might indicate a lack of effort on the part of the asker.

  • I VTCed the public access barristers one because "more skilled" is subjective. I highly doubt those studies were about which was more skilled (as opposed to, say, who had a higher effectiveness rate).
    – cpast
    Jun 21, 2015 at 5:11
  • @cpast: Correct: the studies I've seen compare outcomes. If I had gotten to the original question I might have tried to salvage it by noting in a comment or answer that "skill" is subjective, but that one objective surrogate that has been studied is "success in trials."
    – feetwet Mod
    Jun 21, 2015 at 13:21
  • @cpast Thanks for your feedback. Would you please link to those aforesaid studies?
    – user89
    Jun 22, 2015 at 14:57
  • @LePressentiment: Here's one from the first page of search results for U.S.: americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/publications/…
    – feetwet Mod
    Jun 22, 2015 at 17:25
  • Does that PDF relate to my question? To clarify, in the UK, public access barrister' does NOT mean 'public defenders' or concern anything from a public legal service. A public access barrister' can be privately hired.
    – user89
    Jun 22, 2015 at 18:36

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