The proper use of comments is constructive criticism. If you see a question or answer with inaccuracies, or can contribue information to improve the question or answer, feel free to post a comment.

Comments shoud not be used for:

-"+ 1 Thank you": The upvote serves the same purpose. At a minmum, if a thank you comment exists, upvote the comment and question instead of adding your own thank you.

-"You are wrong.": The downvote serves this purpose. If you are not going to speificially point out what is wrong, don't comment, or better yet, post your own answer with the correct information.

-"Your tone is.../your source is biased.../You are...": Attack the content of a post, not the source. Ad Hominem attacks are a logical fallacy to dismiss an argument without finding any actual errors with the information presented.

-"I don't think this is on topic": The close button servers this purpose. Arguments for on-topicness should be directed to [meta].

Are Politics.SE users unaware of the proper use of comments?


4 Answers 4


I'm not quite sure if this meta question was a question or a rant wrapped as statement wrapped as a question; but I'll answer it, in so far as a non-question can be answered*.

Are Politics.SE users unaware of the proper use of comments?


I see. You want elaboration for your... ahem... question.

When I have the slightest expectation of the questions or answers being cleaned of their rhetorical tricks or fuzzy fluffy ambiguity - this is what my comments address, no more no less; reactions to said criticism notwithstanding.

Now, I can not say I don't get dragged down to the level of beasts in the field when the commentary is either 1) flat-out ignored; 2) argued incessantly on the basis of Equivocation and Fallacy of the Beard; or 3) applied but with no effect on future conduct so it ends up between contest of stamina between partisan warriors and boring policy-wonks wishing the keep the site neutral.

To tackle user1873 and DA's debate from a different angle:

Some people consider that politics is a zero-sum game of opinion and mind-share. Indeed some people consider polarised bickering as "democracy" at its finest - instead of at its avoidable worst. This attitude should be strongly discouraged and penalised; because it will (if it hasn't already) turn politics.se into a free floating morass of opinions wrapped as facts and then voted on like a bleeding popularity poll - as if this is a meaningful substitute for neutrality in the first place.

I can not seem to convey this distinction to a highly active minority of the participants - because if they had to chose between an "enlivening" partisan tug-o-war (a subreddit forum spun into the disguise of Q&A site) or "boring" site of applied political science - they would drop off the site entirely.

The voluntary nature of internet participation means that unless the conduct expected of participants is stated very clearly and enforced consistently, we get precisely the worse excesses of highly polarised and highly active minorities in a voluntary electoral system replete with informal physical and intellectual disenfranchisement of the un-polarised majority.

* Non-questions are of course, all the rage in this version of politics.se.

  • Just so you know: If you later feel you have lost some zero-sum game of partisan patty cake and decide to delete the meta question as has happened for comments and some questions on the main site - I am keeping an offline copy nowadays. Casinos don't let you reset the take, so if I'm obliged to play zero-sum games with phantoms on the internet I'll do the same. Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 0:22
  • I probably shouldn't say +1 as my comment, but I can assure you I like this and wouldn't delete it. I think you hit the main issues. I try to be rather judicious in my use of deletions, but reserve the right to be Leviathan when needed. Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 15:07
  • @AffableGeek It wasn't moderator deletion I was worried about. :-O Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 21:28

Comments are absolutely appropriate for the following things:

  • "Your tone is...". Bad tone hurts neutrality and degrades the site. Therefore it is appropriate do downvote. If it is appropriate to downvote, then it is appropriate to explain why the downvote was cast, so that the poster can not repeat the error. Otherwise people might get the idea that they are being downvoted for their political views, or being persecuted for some reason. "Attack the content, not the source "is not helpful when it is the tone and not the content that is the problem.
  • "Your source is biased." For the same reason. How will anyone learn if they keep getting downvotes that are not explained?
  • "This is not on topic". Sometimes more explanation is necessary than what is available in the close vote.
  • I am not sure why you think a biased source is an issue, even if the content of the source isn't wrong.
    – user1873
    Commented Nov 23, 2013 at 20:37
  • A biased source is bad because it's biased. That's pretty basic. If the content happens to be correct, then there will be other sources for it that are not biased. You should cite those instead. Commented Nov 23, 2013 at 22:06
  • I don't have faith that that basic axiom is true.
    – user1873
    Commented Nov 23, 2013 at 22:37
  • 1
    @user1873 The reason you post sources is for when people don't believe you, so you can defer to your source. When there are problems with your source, than people still won't believe you, and it will be as though you didn't have a source at all Commented Nov 24, 2013 at 7:52
  • @SamIam, "When there are problems with your source", you see this is where I disagree with you and DJ, bias is not a necessary or sufficient condition to conclude a source is bad/wrong. I couldn't care less if Nazi Germany said they killed 6 million Jews, or if Amnesty International said that Nazi Germany killed 6 million Jews, or Jewish Federation of North America said Nazi Germany killed 6 million Jews. I have no control over what people believe, I can only defer to my biased source and how they calculated it. If people don't believe the source, that is their issue.
    – user1873
    Commented Nov 24, 2013 at 16:25
  • You are utterly missing the point. If the ONLY source for the Holocaust was 1944 Soviet press releases, then no reasonable person would believe it. And if you make posts here with only biased sources as references you should expect to be disbelieved and downvoted. Claiming that certain things are true based only on biased sources discredits this site, and the community will discourage that. As for "I can only defer to my biased source", that would seem to amounts to a statement" "I will believe my sources even if I know they are biased". Did you really mean that? Commented Nov 25, 2013 at 14:34
  • @DJClayworth, absolutely. I couldn't care less if a source is biased, I only care if they have the right answer. If someone uses a link to Rush Limbaugh's website that shows Obama's Hawaii birth certificate, I would not discount their answer that states Obama wasn't born in Kenya. I will believe their biased sources, even if I know they are biased. You can continue to discount/downvote them because you find them bad/wrong, that is your prerogative.
    – user1873
    Commented Nov 26, 2013 at 7:53

Are Politics.SE users ignorant or apathetic of the purpose of 'Add a comments'?


I will say, however, that "Attack the content of a post, not the source*", if we decide that needs to stand, would indicate that Politics is not a fit for StackExchange.

In politics, facts go hand in hand with the source--at least in many of the types of questions that are being posted here, where a quote from a pundit is used, then followed by a tangentially related 'fact'. There's the presumption that if the 'fact' is correct, so must the pundit's quote--and that's where the above rule will make this site rather pointless.

*-I assume by 'source' we're referring to the source of the quote, not the person posting the question. Personal attacks against the person posting are likely not constructive.

  • Are inaccuracies from pundits a problem in questions? Why can't any incorrect facts in the Question from pundits or tangents be addressed in peoples answers? How is Politics.SE different than other SEsites in this regard?
    – user1873
    Commented Oct 30, 2013 at 21:39
  • Verifying pundits claims is a perfectly good example of what Politics.SE should be doing.
    – user1873
    Commented Oct 30, 2013 at 21:43
  • I don't visit many SE sites that heavily quote pundits. So I don't know how to compare that. As for validating pundit claims, that's one thing. But that's different than quoting a pundit, then asking a tangental question about a particular fact or figure.
    – user1530
    Commented Oct 30, 2013 at 21:46
  • Yes, it is different. You havn't explained why it is a problem. Why can't Answers address inaccuraies of quoted pundits? You are free to attack claims of quoted pundits, I dont see it as constructive to say, "Your source is a Kenyan communist / Conservative racist that wants to eat babies, so it shouldn't be trusted." It would be better to attack the claims of the pundits instead. Does that make sense? Or does that rule make this site pointless?
    – user1873
    Commented Oct 30, 2013 at 22:12
  • I don't know that we want this site to become a Rush Limbaugh and Pierce Morgan 'fact check' site.
    – user1530
    Commented Oct 30, 2013 at 22:37
  • I am unsure how that desire addresses the ability to address innaccuracies in Q/As.
    – user1873
    Commented Oct 30, 2013 at 22:59
  • @user1873 pundits are always going to be seen as inaccurate by a chunk of people. There's no 'winning/right' answer for those types of questions. Hence, not a good fit for SE.
    – user1530
    Commented Oct 30, 2013 at 23:59
  • I am sorry you feel that way. I prsonally have no issue with the source of a claim,"I don't care if Cruz/Obama says the sky is violet, he isn't a climatologist." I would just post a picture and verify it myself. Why does there have to be a winner? What is wrong with two competing answers both existing on the site, and people upvoting what information they found the most useful?
    – user1873
    Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 0:12
  • 1
    "What is wrong with two competing answers" = It's not that it's wrong in general, it's that it's the antithesis of the StackExchange format.
    – user1530
    Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 0:22
  • 1
    The fundamental issue here is that this is NOT a site on which to have a political argument. It is a site on which to ask questions that can be factually answered, and to provide factual answers to them. Commented Nov 25, 2013 at 15:52
  • 1
    Your opinion is crap! And I can say that because Sam I Am said that "comments are fair game for anything that doesnt warrant an answer" doest that help things... Commented Dec 6, 2013 at 16:51

They are apathetic to or in oppostion of the appropriate use of the comments.

The problem is the moderators have made a conscious choice to abandon the zealous moderation of comments to keep a constructive tone. As evidence:

Comments are fair game for just about anything you want to say that doesn't warrent an answer. - Sam I am♦ Oct 31 '13 at 20:16

As a result this SE has decended into a partisan bickering match. Where attempts to advise on what is objectionable about an question or answer are openly attacked with ad-hominim insults. This SE is about as useful as the Jerry Springer show and I wonder every day whether or not the SE Management will recognize that this train wreck is not going to get better and kill the site.

  • The site quality has aready improved immensely.
    – user1873
    Commented Jan 22, 2014 at 21:54

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .