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This is a meta discussion about the closure of this question.

It was closed as "primarily opinion-based," but I think this is the question to be asked and answered in order to make an informed opinion. The follow-on question, "should I used Meyer lemons as a direct substitute for regular lemons," might be opinion based because each person can weigh the pros and cons differently. However, in order to even make an informed opinion, one needs to know the pros and cons, and that's what the question was asking for.

Existing answers were a good fit for the question and not "oh, it's just personal preference" but instead identified objective facts about differences between the fruits. Why do we not want to allow more answers like that to be posted?

  • I'd like to note that none of the mods weighed in on that one. We did, however, discuss it at length starting here: chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/27826009#27826009. Look at that. If you choose to edit the question, we can still reopen it – Jolenealaska Feb 29 '16 at 11:50
  • I'm sorry that we were not as tactful as we would be if we speaking to you instead of to each other, but seeing the conversation warts and all might actually help in this case to point out the concerns – Jolenealaska Feb 29 '16 at 11:51
  • Thanks for the link. One of the issues I can see there is at 11:23a where you point out potential improvements, and Jefromi inaccurately says a suggestion like that was rejected. As noted in a comment on Catija's answer here on meta, what I declined was to turn the question into something that was exclusively about the flavor difference between the two fruits, which would not make for a good question because then it's only asking people to describe flavors in words, which is notoriously difficult and hard to intuitively understand (esp. compared to just tasting the ones in my kitchen). – WBT Feb 29 '16 at 16:08
  • Also you are right when you said "I guess this conversation is almost an answer. " There's a lot of good answer material in there. – WBT Feb 29 '16 at 16:09
  • @WBT Okay, what you rejected wasn't exactly the same as what was said in chat, but it was very similar. The impression we all had was that you were very focused on what substitutions were good or bad, and not interested in the actual (flavor) difference behind it. So much of what was said in that conversation and what's in the two answers besides yours really is more just about what the difference between the two fruits is, and that's what I was trying to encourage you to ask about. – Cascabel Feb 29 '16 at 16:51
  • By the way, you have a flawed premise here. The existing answers weren't a good fit for the question as asked ("pros and cons"), but they were a good fit for the question you were trying to ask. Everyone here is quite happy to have more answers like those; the close votes were a response to what was written in your question, not to the idea of answers like that. – Cascabel Feb 29 '16 at 17:12
  • @Jefromi hence all the requests for others to edit according to the specific words that express the intended meaning in this community, because the ones I picked clearly failed. – WBT Feb 29 '16 at 20:34
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Personally, what one person considers a "pro" or a "con" is an opinion.

Let's use apples as an example...

Person A really likes Red Delicious.

Person B really likes Granny Smith.

For Person A the "pro list" for an apple might look like:

  • soft flesh
  • predominantly sweet flavor

And the "con list" might look like:

  • firm flesh
  • sour or tart flavor

As you might guess, someone who prefers Granny Smith would have the exact opposite list.

There's no objective way to say which of these is "correct" or which is a "pro" or "con"... because taste is subjective.

If the question, instead, asked something like this

How would I need to adjust a recipe if using Meyer Lemons instead of the standard lemon called for in the recipe?"
"I can't find Meyer Lemons. What do I need to do to substitute regular lemons instead?"

... these are more objective questions.

  • Either of those lists would be useful answers to understand the differences between the two and why one might or might not want to substitute one for the other. Further, aspects like "this one produces a lot more juice" or "that one is hard to work with for XYZ reasons," that's not really an opinion likely to vary a lot between users, and such answers are clearly possible on the question under discussion. – WBT Feb 29 '16 at 0:39
  • @WBT But you can't call one list a "pro" list and the other a "con" list because different people consider them pros and cons... – Catija Feb 29 '16 at 0:40
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    I mean either person's list of pros AND cons. It is the identification of differences, not the label "pro" or "con," that is the essence of the answer. – WBT Feb 29 '16 at 0:41
  • But you're specifically asking people to innumerate what "pros and cons" are... and that's not helpful at all because then people just argue about which items are "pros" and which are "cons". Some person may dislike Meyers because they don't like the flavor of mandarins... or some may never use lemon because it's too sour for them... everything in the comments on your question lead to this... the first comment was a recommendation to reword your question "what are the differences"... but you seemed disinclined to follow that guidance... now the question is closed. – Catija Feb 29 '16 at 0:43
  • The first comment wanted to turn the question into something that was exclusively about the flavor difference between the two fruits, which would not make for a good question and is not what I was seeking to learn. That is the transformation I declined. – WBT Feb 29 '16 at 0:47
  • Either of my two suggestions (or both) would be better versions of your question, if what you really want to know is how to substitute for them. "Pros and cons" are utterly opinion based. – Catija Feb 29 '16 at 0:48
  • I also encouraged people who thought they could improve the question to edit, because clearly I cannot by myself write a version of this question others find acceptable. If you think you can reword it to something more acceptable, go for it. Personally, I think I'm capable of taking any other person's labeling of something as a pro or con with a grain of salt, and I think others can too. I also know that just because some people have different tastes, doesn't mean I should automatically reject something they classify as an improvement or step back, esp. if they back it up w/more than 'taste.' – WBT Feb 29 '16 at 0:49
  • It's not my job to save your question from being closed... You're the one complaining that it's been closed. I'm just trying to explain my reason for voting to close it. – Catija Feb 29 '16 at 0:55
  • ...and I'm just trying to explore that reasoning further, because I think you missed the point of the question. It may also be that any question dealing with food could simply be closed as having an element of subjectivity to it, because there's so much variety in how people prepare food. Where's the line on this site? Hence this meta discussion. – WBT Feb 29 '16 at 0:58
  • @WBT If I understand correctly, all of this trouble is because I said flavor difference, and you want to know about non flavor differences too? I'm sorry the way I said it threw you off so much. I'll probably go ahead and edit as you asked, and reopen. The point here is that we'd rather not solicit opinions in the first place, even if you are capable of evaluating those opinions. There's really not much disagreement here: all of the many aspects of answers you're saying you like are discussions of differences, not pros and cons. – Cascabel Feb 29 '16 at 16:57
  • "It is the identification of differences, not the label "pro" or "con," that is the essence of the answer." This is pretty much exactly the point I tried to make very early on, to encourage you to edit to ask about differences and not pros and cons. It sounds like I misunderstood your response and you were actually totally okay with that sort of rewrite. I should've looked more closely at your response, where you said "pH or some compounds etc. might lead to different reactions" - I was lumping all of that under flavor (pH is sourness, and compounds are aromatic). – Cascabel Feb 29 '16 at 17:10
  • @Jefromi - yes, it was your emphasis on flavor, and flavor only, that seemed to me to be the focus of your comment. To me, flavor is subjective, hard to describe, and hard to understand descriptions of, and I currently have both fruits in my kitchen available for tasting or other uses. pH and the other example attributes (original 2nd paragraph that you edited out) seem more objective and while they might affect flavor, they are not part of at least my concept of what "flavor" is. – WBT Feb 29 '16 at 20:44
  • @WBT Well, sugar concentration and pH are indeed more objectively measurable and not flavor per se, but the resulting sweetness and sourness are definitely part of most people's concept of flavor. I didn't mean to exclude anything when I said "flavor differences", and certainly meant for sweetness and sourness to be included. – Cascabel Feb 29 '16 at 20:53
  • Correction, since this turned out to a big deal: sweetness and sourness are determined by chemical makeup, with sugar adding sweetness and reducing sourness, and acid adding sourness and reducing sweetness. The degree of sourness contributed by acid does depend on acid concentration, and pH (along with acid type) determines that concentration. "pH is sourness" was meant to describe that correspondence, not to totally equate the two. – Cascabel Mar 5 '16 at 2:24
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I could go either way on this one. What I'd really prefer is to see the question edited a bit and reopened. (And I've now done this, since the OP seems to in principle be okay with it.)

You really were asking an opinion-based question: when you ask for pros and cons, you're unfortunately asking for people's opinions about what's good and bad. Different flavor pairings (within reason) are just different, they're not objectively good or bad. The main reason there are decent answers is that your question was overlooking how big the acidity difference is, i.e. it's not just a subtle flavor difference.

You might notice there's something in common between the two answers besides yours: they describe the differences in flavor, and mention a bit about what that means you might use each in. They're not really directly answering the opinion-based question you posed.

I did very early on suggest refocusing your question on the actual differences, and thus avoiding asking so much about good and bad. I really do think that'd have been a big improvement. The existing answers would still make perfect sense on that revised question, and you wouldn't be leaving it open to opinionated answers like "the flavor of meyer lemon pie just works better".

So as for whether it should've been closed, I dunno, maybe, maybe not - I'm content to let the community vote, no need for a mod to lay down the law there. But you could easily turn it into a much more objective question and still get what you're looking for.

  • The two other answers on that question (i.e. not mine) are better answers than mine. If you think there's a more objective way to word a question that fits the answers and could fit others like them, please go for it (this invitation is open to any reader of the comment, not just Jefromi). – WBT Feb 29 '16 at 15:57
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I almost closed it myself, and while I decided to see what course it will take, I stil, think this is the best thing.

The first problem is that it can really be mistaken for a flavor question. That is, it invites answers like

You cannot make a Meyer lemon meringue, as the taste really doesn't pair well. Meyer lemon lemonade is great though, the sweetness fits better than regular lemon.

And that is the kind of answer we don't want. Indeed, if the question had asked for flavor pairings specifically ("Lemons go well with honey, but do Meyer lemons go well with honey") it would have been a clear cut case for closure.

I asked you for clarification, and you noted that you would like to learn something about the interaction with ingredients. That part doesn't have a "subjective" problem, but it does have a "too broad" problem. There are thousands of ingredients out there, and thousands of recipes. Enumerating all possible interactions will fill books.

I know that you tried to preempt that problem by saying that you want to know what it depends on, but it depends on thousands of things. In the end, it doesn't even make sense to try to write answers, as you will only know if you can make the substitution after you've tried it and liked the result or not. If it were a single recipe, then a few pointers might have been possible, but that still wouldn't have been sufficient for predictions. But for all possible recipes in the world? Not really doable.

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