# Should subjective questions be closed?

I think this questions are off topic (they might fit in CogSci).

The first asks if brightness is physichological, which of course is true.

Is light brightness subjective or can it be quantified?

Why do we feel the passing of time?

Subjective questions are closed; but neither of these are subjective. The first is a terminology question (it's phrased badly but I guess it could pass).

The second is a physics question, though some of the answers are biological.

• Could the first question edited something like: "What is the relationship between brightness perception and physics?" – jinawee Sep 29 '13 at 12:52
• @jinawee Yeah, that would work. – Manishearth Sep 29 '13 at 12:59
• The second question is about the Lorenz factor in time dilation! How could it have any relevance at CogSci?? – Nathaniel Sep 29 '13 at 13:45
• @Nathaniel Ah, I determined that from the answers, because they were talking about the "feel" of time and all. But yeah, at second glance it's on topic here. (Sorry, a bit rushed at the moment) – Manishearth Sep 29 '13 at 14:00
• @Nathaniel "Why do we feel the passing of time?" Not a physics question (it's like Why do we feel temperature?). "Why do we feel the time is changing with increasing speed $d\tau=\gamma^{-1}dt$?" is probably a duplicate (I'm sure there is some answer explaining time dilation). "In other word why Lorentz factor (or scientifically relativistic velocity function $\gamma_v$,) affect over our feel of time?" should be just deleted. – jinawee Sep 29 '13 at 17:43
• @jinawee I think the main issue with the second question is that it's badly written, so it's hard to tell what's being asked. I suspect it's not actually about our subjective feeling of time at all, but rather about how the Lorenz factor can affect the local passage of time as measured by clocks etc. But then again I'm not sure, and your interpretation might be right. So really it should be closed as "unclear what you're asking" until that gets cleared up. – Nathaniel Sep 30 '13 at 0:53
• @Nathaniel I agree that the main problem is a bad redaction. And you have to add the probably no effort to improve the question by the asker. – jinawee Sep 30 '13 at 10:17

I'm always uneasy when these types of question get closed. The problem is that for us, as experienced physicists, it's obvious that they have a strong subjective element - but for a novice this isn't obvious at all, and so it seems to the OP as if they are asking a physics question.

For this reason I think the correct thing to do is to write an answer explaining the specific reasons why the phenomenon in question has more to do with biology and perception than with physics. A good answer along these lines will be helpful to other physics novices as well, and hence it's a constructive thing to have on the site.

• That's really not what answers should be used for, though. What you're suggesting here is akin to abandoning the close system and posting close reasons as answers instead. The entire point of closing is to help educate people on what is an on topic question (in our case: what is a physics question) and what is not; it's designed with the understanding that it may not be obvious to the OP in advance that their question is off topic. (This is why the close system was recently redesigned to be friendlier and more informative.) – David Z Sep 29 '13 at 19:32
• @DavidZ I think there's a difference between "it's not obvious that this type of question is off topic" and "it's not obvious that the causes of this type of phenomenon are not physical." I'm not suggesting that we should just write the close reason in an answer, which would be silly. I'm suggesting that in specific cases where it takes physical knowledge to know that something is not physics, that specific physical knowledge can productively be put in an answer. – Nathaniel Sep 30 '13 at 0:44
• Consider which is more likely to be useful, for both the OP and future visitors: a generic close reason along the lines of "we expect questions to be about physics", or a detailed explanation of why the phenomenon in question falls outside the domain of physics. In the former case no-one learns anything, and the OP goes away confused, whereas in the latter we get a useful contribution to the site's content. – Nathaniel Sep 30 '13 at 3:17
• But in the latter case we also get a precedent for allowing an off-topic question on the site. So you have to consider whether the value added by allowing one particular question and answer outweighs the value lost by all the future off-topic questions people will ask because they saw that one, and all the arguments other people will have about whether their questions are off topic because they see the one that is allowed. – David Z Sep 30 '13 at 4:19
• @DavidZ ok, that's a fair point. I suppose I'm proposing that such questions should be on topic (assuming they also fit the bill in all other ways, of course), but I'm aware such a proposal is unlikely to go anywhere. – Nathaniel Sep 30 '13 at 9:13