There are times when I'd like to know which way the community feels about something, so I post to meta and self answer with the options, so people can vote up the one they approve of. It had never occurred to me that there would be a problem with this until today, when my attention was drawn to this comment from Robert Cartaino (Director of Community Development for the Stack Exchange Network):
For future reference, please leave question to open discussion rather than posing all sides of the conversation yourself. If you have an opinion, you can certainly post it as an answer, but it is generally better to let everyone have a voice rather than pre-posting all sides of the conversation yourself. It's not difficult to infer what the community wants from the conversation while allowing for the possibility that there's an issue we have not considered. Polling is generally not a good substitute for discussion. Thanks. – Robert Cartaino♦
The link is to Wikipedia's page on this. There are some good explanations there on why polling can cause problems, but it also makes clear that polling is not forbidden, it just needs to be considered carefully when to use it as it is often counterproductive.
I'd like to see discussion here about when to poll and when not to poll on Stack Exchange as opposed to Wikipedia. As stated in the article, "Wikipedia is not a democracy", whereas Stack Exchange is very democratic in many aspects. I still think that many of the problems with polls will apply here, but I'd like to hear our community's perspective on roughly where to draw the lines.
I've raised this in particular because I've asked a few polling questions already, as have a few others, and I fear unless we discuss it, our example will lead to polling becoming an unthinking default, rather than an occasional tool to complement discussion.