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This is essentially a follow-up to the answers to Should we close questions structured like “What [compliments/does not work with] [XXX]”?, where my answer and Aaronut's answer (both highly voted) generally said that some pairing questions are okay, but they need to be specific, well-thought-out, and held to a higher standard.

But back on the main site, we're still often voting to close pairing questions. We've long categorized all "what goes with X?" or "does X go with Y?" type questions as off-topic, since they're often prone to devolving into subjective polls, with long lists of possibilities, and people remember that.

Given the voting on the previous answers, it seems clear that many of us want to allow some questions like that. And of course, even some subjective questions are okay, and it's surely possible to ask questions that don't encourage a list of 100 possibilities. So what concise, specific guidelines can we provide for pairing questions? What criteria can we use to decide whether these questions should be closed?

  • As you know I am open to liberalizing our rules, but I am not sure how pairing questions are different in essence from poll/opinion questions unless they come with some pretty strong restrictions that would be idiosyncratic to the individual question (what goes with lark tongue in the traditional Roman cuisine, for example)... – SAJ14SAJ Feb 15 '14 at 2:11
  • @SAJ14SAJ The details of that restriction are particular to the question, sure. But the characteristics aren't: it limits it to a smaller, more well-defined set of possibilities. Don't get too caught up in absolutes; slapping the poll/opinion label on things seems like a clear rule but it can be an overgeneralization. – Cascabel Feb 15 '14 at 2:14
  • My point is that I don't know how we would make actionable general guidelines for those restrictions. – SAJ14SAJ Feb 15 '14 at 2:29
  • @SAJ14SAJ Okay. But do remember, it doesn't have to be an ironclad list of objective rules. Pretty much anything about defining scope ends up being obvious for most cases and a bit debateable for some things in the middle. "Limited to a smaller, more well-defined set of possibilities" is really a decent start to an answer, I think. – Cascabel Feb 15 '14 at 2:31

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