There is a question, albeit a poorly written one, that seeks to understand why Silvio Berlusconi is able to be "at the top of the food chain" in Italy. I can understand why people want to close it - it basically is a two sentence rant - but it does beg the larger question.

Are questions in the form "What contributes to the political power of X" on topic?

3 Answers 3


I would argue that well known political persons should be completely on target for this site. It is completely within bounds to ask, "Who supports President Obama," for example, because it gets to the nuts and bolts of politics.

On topic answers could appeal to:

  • polling data
  • SME's analyses (I would set the bar here as a pundit writes for a periodical with a circulation of 100,000+ or is an academic that has been referenced by others)
  • historical analysis

Note that it is objectively answerable as well - President Obama gets a lot of support from the young, from minorities, and from urban areas. I might rather clean all the bathrooms in Grand Central Station with my toungue than vote for the guy, but I can still objectively answer it.

Note also, I'm not saying "Candidate X is a jerk." I'm asking who supports him.

And finally, when I asked the question about the divisiveness of abortion in countries outside the United States, I got a fabulously informative answer. Essentially, I'm asking for the ability to ask the same kinds of question about foreign leaders.

As such, I would argue that if better written, personalities are completely on topic.

  • +1 for overall great answer. -1 for somehow considering a writer for a periodical an "SME". Being able to attract an audience to a media property an "expert" does not make.
    – user4012
    Jan 9, 2013 at 20:58
  • @DVK i'm trying to establish a threshhold for notability. Nate Silver is a pundit, Rush Limbaugh not so much. But Nate Silver isn't a PhD either. I'm definately open for better threshholds here! Jan 9, 2013 at 21:45
  • Nate Silver was noted before he was associated with New York Times. 538 was bought out by NYT once it was an established resource.
    – user4012
    Jan 9, 2013 at 23:11
  • 1
    @DVK But that just pushes the question back a level. Yes, I read 538.com before it was bought out, but what distinguishes Nate Silver from aany other wacko with a blog? I'd argue that the NYTimes (a widely circulating periodical) picking his blog up validated Silver's credentials... Jan 10, 2013 at 1:26
  • Well, there are some of us who almost gave up on Silver after NYT M&A, because it seemed to destroy his credentials. I gave him a benefit of a doubt and was glad of it, but he had to explicitly prove with subsequent writings that he didn't turn into a typical Pravda...errr...NYT flack.
    – user4012
    Jan 10, 2013 at 1:37
  • 1
    What distinguishes Nate from a wacko with a blog is the fact that he provides good math and, most importantly, that his predictions match reality. When he starts talking about politics, I tune his opinions out :)
    – user4012
    Jan 10, 2013 at 1:38

Questions about politicians and politically relevant personalities should be perfectly on topic. The reason should be obvious, I hope!

However, any questions on this site should respect our FAQ and in particular:

To avoid asking subjective questions where …

  • every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite ______?”
  • your answer is provided along with the question, and you expect more answers: “I * use ______ for ______, what do you use?”
  • there is no actual problem to be solved: “I’m curious if other people feel like I do.”
  • we are being asked an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if ______ happened?”
  • it is a rant disguised as a question: “______ sucks, am I right?”

That question solicits opinions and it is possibly a list question, so it's not a very good question (but an on-topic one!)


"What contributes to the political power of X" is asking for opinions so should be off topic.

Good Questions - "what notable achievements did X accomplish during their term?" - "What was Candidate X's position on abortion?" - "Has X ever publicly address scandal y?"

"Who supports President Obama?" is not constructive on its own. If the question were asked in context of a constructive question I might reconsider but as a standalone there is nothing to be gained but discussion(which is not constructive).

  • So, is analysis of polling data, or of pundits, just opinion? Jan 8, 2013 at 21:57
  • Statistics are facts. Explanations of why the statistics turned out the way they did is opinion. I Could see a question like what did Reputable Pundit X say about Y and what was their reasoning. That would be fine... until you ask if they were right Jan 8, 2013 at 22:18
  • 1
    I think "who supports" was meant as "which demographics support" which is asking for facts (polls).
    – user4012
    Jan 9, 2013 at 20:59
  • @DVK _ if the statistics are asked for explicitly I have no problem. If not then I think it invites discussion and i do have a problem with it. Jan 9, 2013 at 21:02

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