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This is a pretty old question that came up in the active questions because someone updated their answer:

What is the best way to make a perfect fried egg?

It was originally asked in 2010, so long ago, but it seems wrong for the format of this site.

There are clearly a ton of different ways to make a fried egg, and what one considers "perfect" is extremely subjective, as the answers and comments show.

This question could easily be closed as "Too Broad":

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.

Or as "Opinion-based":

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 facts, references, or specific expertise.

Even with "specific expertise", there's no one "right" answer here, it's a matter of personal taste.

Additionally, on our "What not to ask" page (which is identical on every SE site, if I remember correctly), one of the examples of "bad" questions is "every answer is valid".

  • To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where …
    • every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite ______?”
    • your answer is provided along with the question, and you expect more answers: “I use ______ for ______, what do you use?”
    • there is no actual problem to be solved: “I’m curious if other people feel like I do.”
    • you are asking an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if ______ happened?”
    • your question is just a rant in disguise: “______ sucks, am I right?”

If you really think about it, this question could be easily rephrased as "What is your favorite method for making the perfect fried egg?"

And, technically, this question exactly follows the style of the second example "your answer is provided along with the question, and you expect more answers."

Now, I'm not trying to open a can of worms here... and maybe the community is OK with this question and others like it because, essentially:

Almost every cooking process has multiple "best practices", and what one person prefers may be different than another so we are OK with ignoring the "every answer is valid" rule because, without them, we'd have much less to talk about here.

But, if that's the case, how different is that then something like "What is the best cookie dough base?", which is essentially a recipe request question... but really still falls into the techniques category.

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I think this question is actually fine, taken as a whole. The title was bad - it said "best" - but the question went on to define exactly how the egg should be. So I edited the title, and hopefully it'll be good.

From a quick skim, all the answers are about making eggs the OP wanted, but of course if anything doesn't look right, just flag it.

Looking at the other examples, I think things are still mostly fine (I closed one of four). Something like "What is the best cookie dough base?" without elaboration is indeed ill-defined (best for what? by what standards?), so it's broad and subjective, and I would vote to close without hesitation. But these questions all have specific problems they're trying to solve. As you say, they may have multiple good solutions, but that doesn't necessarily make them too broad. Even in the nice neat world of programming this happens, and so many questions on Stack Overflow have multiple solutions too.

The onion question has ended up the worst by far, though it's more about the kinds of answers people thought were reasonable to provide than the question itself. ("use white onions not yellow" - seriously?) I'll try and take a pass through and clean up anything I can. (It now only has 21 answers, definitely a lot of redundancy still, but a lot cleaner.)

The coffee maker question is actually the one that looks worst to me; it seems close to being acceptable but when you look closer, the criteria are "there are ten of us we want good easy coffee" and it's asking about everything, not just the machine. So it's closed now.

Bottom line, I think the question we should ask ourselves is whether we're able to provide a useful resource to people who might find the question later. If someone wants to crush ice and doesn't have an ice crushing machine, they can look at that question and find an answer that'll work. If someone wants to buy a coffee machine for work, they can look at the answers to that question and maybe get an idea or two but they'll still be lost.

Of course, some questions are definitely too wide-open, but I think the examples you found are well short of the line. I wouldn't be surprised if you also find some old questions that escaped closure merely because we were more lenient in the past, though, so if you come across them, feel free to flag or otherwise raise the issue.

  • I know it may be difficult to see them due to the plain text color and link text color similarities, but what about the other example questions linked in my question (third paragraph from the bottom)? – Catija May 23 '15 at 21:18
  • Perhaps I made the question too specific when I'm really trying to understand the overarching "rule" on this type of question. – Catija May 23 '15 at 21:21
  • I indeed missed those links. At first glance they all seem to be okay (but could perhaps also benefit from cleanup): they define fairly clearly what they're looking for. I've certainly seen worse. – Cascabel May 24 '15 at 0:32

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