We talked in other questions about "Questions that are asked to make a point, rather than to get an answer". In order to make that a concrete discussion, let's consider a specific question:

What is the ratio of people who weren't able to keep their health insurance versus gaining insurance on the Obamacare exchanges?

Some points to think about:

  • The title of the question is in the past tense, and seems to imply that people have already lost their healthcare. in the body of the question it talks about 'estimates' while tacitly admitting that nobody has actually lost their healthcare yet. Sensationalist title.
  • The questioner already seems to know, in his/her own mind, the answer - that there will be lots of people who lose their healthcare. He/she actually writes "millions of people will have lost their healthcare"
  • The question brings in 'disadvantages' of the thing that is being questioned (ACA) which are not really relevant to the question - problems with the website and premium levels.
  • The original post talked about "people who lost their health insurance", when all the references were about people who were forced to upgrade their health insurance. Since changed to "people who weren't able to keep their health insurance", which is better but still a little misleading.
  • The OP is an experienced user. This isn't due to not knowing how things work here.
  • Very high sarcasm levels
  • The question is borderline on topic anyway, since it is asking for speculation about the future.

Answers from the OP or others welcome.

  • 1
    In my experience, user1873 is an exceptionally skilled rhetorical orator; far more than the moderators give them credit for. Unfortunately user1873 uses this skill to polarise the site, so we must either accept the cost of moderating an ideological stack exchange, or we "balance" the site through ideological tug-o-war, or we eject otherwise insightful and informed users. Oct 25, 2013 at 2:49
  • I actually agree with you about @user1873 s capabilities. However, despite my quoting this question, it was intended to be a starting point and I don't want to make this about one user. Let's instead consider a hypothetical user who fits your description. The question then becomes not whether they are capable of providing information and insight, but whether they actually do. Vast skill is useless to us if it is truly and only being used to polarize the site. Oct 25, 2013 at 3:04
  • It reminds me of a manager I knew who had some of the best social skills I've ever seen - but used them for self-gain. Suffice to say, half the team quit or migrated within a year. Oct 25, 2013 at 3:09
  • 2
    @DJClayworth - The question sucks that does not mean the SE sucks. I can ask a crappy question on any SE. That question is being punished with downvotes the system is working just slowly due to the low traffic level of this site. Oct 25, 2013 at 4:54
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    "Answers from the OP or others welcome." Huh, answers to what? Are you asking a question? As an American, I was taught to treat the government with high levels of sarcasm.
    – user1873
    Oct 25, 2013 at 5:03
  • I can fix the tense of the title/body. I wasn't sure how to phrase it, since the estimates are in the past, but the losses won't likely occur until Jan. 1. You are free to disagree with what "keep their health care plan means," (when people who had unlimited data plans with AT&T, but then made a change to their plan an were forced to "upgrade" to a different limited plan, would you consider that as them still being able to "keep their plan") Would it be misleading to say a forced upgrade still allowed people to keep the health care plan they had (since the ACA specifically outlawed it)?
    – user1873
    Oct 25, 2013 at 5:14
  • I don't know the ratio. NPR said millions, I am assuming they were using some CBO report, but they didn't source it. Even if that number is accurate, you cannot get a ratio without the Exchange enrollment numbers.
    – user1873
    Oct 25, 2013 at 5:17
  • I will remove the $2,500 savings from the question (it deserves its own question) I agree it isn't relevant. The website bugs seems very relevant to me, I am curious why you don't think it will have an effect on enrollment numbers. I have been hearing reports that some want to push back the individual mandate,.because it seems wrong to penalize people for not buying insurance when the website is so broken they can't buy insurance.
    – user1873
    Oct 25, 2013 at 5:20
  • It's funny that the only questions that are asked to make a point seem to be raising objections if they are brought to make a point beneficial to the conservative point of view. Makes me wonder if the real concern is with that type of questions, or a specific viewpoint.
    – user4012
    Oct 25, 2013 at 22:57
  • I'm happy to consider bias from any side. As far as I'm concerned all bias should be treated equally. Oct 27, 2013 at 20:22
  • @dvk we're all out to get you, DVK. It's a conspiracy. Wait. I've SAID TOO MUCH!
    – user1530
    Oct 29, 2013 at 2:27
  • @DJClayworth, you haven't updated this "question" to actually ask anything that could be answered. Is their something you want an answer to, or were you just trying to make a point (the irony is lost on me)?
    – user1873
    Oct 29, 2013 at 2:32
  • @DA. - if you recall, a couple of months agfo, you all DID gang up on user1873's question saying it was crap... and YOU posted a mirror version of it to make a point... except NOBODY ganged up on your mirror version. Forgot?
    – user4012
    Oct 29, 2013 at 5:15
  • @DVK remember that one time you brought up an anecdotal one-off to make a broad generalization? :) (But yes, I was disappointed that my bad question wasn't seen as bad)
    – user1530
    Oct 29, 2013 at 5:24
  • @DA. - I can bring countless other examples. Any question and answer that appears useful to one side gets immediate set of UVs, no matter if good or bad. Any one that appears bad looking for that side gets immediate DVs, where equally bad questions to the other side get a pass.
    – user4012
    Oct 29, 2013 at 5:26

2 Answers 2


Preventing people from intending to make a point from their question is something that we cannot enforce.

And frankly, making a point is a perfectly valid reason to make a post on this site. I've done it before, even though the audience that I was intending to make a point to was not visitors of this very website.

I've asked that question because I had a vague understanding that the same civil liberties issues regarding the PATRIOT act actually got worse under Obama, but I didn't have any real details to back it up, that's what I was looking for in the question.

The problem comes when you begin making the political argument within the question itself.

You don't need to tell people that Obama said that people can keep their own health care.

  • It doesn't help people come up with an answer to your question.
  • It doesn't help future visitors match the question to their own question.

It's completely unnecessary.

When your question is of the form:

  • Some guy said X
  • My question is: How wrong was this guy.

You make your bias very clear, and neutral parties are going to be able to pick up on that bias.

When people notice clear signs of bias, they won't take you seriously, and they won't take the site seriously.

  • 1
    Questions that are simply an exercise in polemical rhetoric or "sniper questions" as I call them, are prone to all the problems of game-theory and iterative prisoner's dilemma. A zero-sum game and not really the point of an informative policy-wonk site. Oct 25, 2013 at 6:27
  • 1
    Yes, well put. It's not so much that a point is wanting to be made, but that people use the question to imply an answer. It's no longer a question but becomes a rhetorical opinion piece. We don't need moderators to necessarily delete these types of question, but they could use some serious editing.
    – user1530
    Oct 25, 2013 at 20:05
  • @LateralFractal - this site stopped being an "informative policy-wonk" site a while back, when everyone started voting along their ideological persuasions. I've seen answers that OP admitted to being answering wrong question being upvoted, just for being politically "right".
    – user4012
    Oct 29, 2013 at 5:17
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    @DVK Then once AffableGeek is back from their weekend ministry work, I think we all need to sit down in meta.politics.se and rehash out precisely how we manage this site's content. Because currently it isn't working. For if this site becomes yet another partisan forum, it loses all distinctive value versus the rest of internet; and I for one will drop it like yesterday's garbage. Oct 29, 2013 at 5:28
  • @dvk you saw one question like that.
    – user1530
    Oct 29, 2013 at 5:31
  • But, yes, this is mostly just a partisan sounding board site...these days coming from primarily one user. (I'm not surprised by that. Seems to be the nature of politics and the internet).
    – user1530
    Oct 29, 2013 at 5:32
  • @DA. - you mean you never posted any partisan posts?
    – user4012
    Oct 29, 2013 at 13:20
  • @DVK I've only made two posts...one being that failed attempt at trying to purposefully be partisan to show how ludicrous the overtly partisan-to-make-a-point posts are.
    – user1530
    Oct 30, 2013 at 2:10
  • @DA. - I include answers in "posts". Stack Data Exchange table terminology :)
    – user4012
    Oct 30, 2013 at 11:08
  • @DVK - I don't know. You tell me. I try to stay relatively objective but I'm sure I've leaned in a direction on occasion. I do know that I haven't resorted to excessive use of adjectives as some have. :)
    – user1530
    Oct 30, 2013 at 13:53

It is my observation and my opinion that the general American political dialog has become a cesspool of biased language and unsubstantiated arguments on both/all sides.

It is my hope and my belief that Politics Stack Exchange can become a sewage free political discussion zone.

To make my hope into a reality this beta site needs to establish a strong standard that all Questions asked here should make every effort to avoid biased language or rhetoric and that all questions which do not adhere to this standard should be flagged as poor and require rewriting either by the OP or by other editors willing to de-bias such language.

This meta-PSE question seems closely related to my meta-PSE question. On that question one of the answers might be useful here so I am going to quote it with credit to user @Philipp:

Priority number one of this website is to spread knowledge about about governments, policies and political processes through objective questions (see help center)

It is not a platform to promote political agendas.

When a question is unnecessarily one-sided and loaded or includes an unnecessary rant, it should be fixed by rewriting it in a more neutral tone and removing the ranting so only the actual question remains.

I think this concept should be developed into strong guiding policy for this site, and now is the time to do so while the site is still young enough to form its own cultures and standards

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