If we can't talk about the advantages and disadvantages of different policies we risk this site merely becoming an encyclopedia or dictionary. Most policies have a reasonably sized list of generally agreed upon advantages and disadvantages.

List questions are more like: "What countries have implemented these policies?" or "What is a good change to the budget to save money?". These questions have an almost endless supply of answers, and it's hard to answer them in a way to do them justice.

Here's one example people are talking about at the moment: What are the advantages/disadvantages of a mandatory voting system?

3 Answers 3


I'll stick my neck out a bit here and say that questions such as this could be good provided that answers could theoretically be supported with citations, history and other facts. Just as Programmers SE asks that people post answers backed up by their experience, answers to this type of question should be able to be validated beyond the strength of one's convictions or opinions.

A fantastic answer to that question would not just summarize the arguments for and against compulsory voting, but also describe how it's worked and changed things in practice in the countries that enforce it.

Answers like:

I personally feel that compulsory voting is horrible because moderates are typically uninformed and just pick a candidate at random

... are far from useful. However, if you have actual data that indicates the above - the answer ceases to be an opinion:

In the People's Republic of Atwoodistan, compulsory voting unearthed strong evidence that moderates simply choose candidates randomly. The effects included ... .... ....

I agree with Casebash that unnecessarily partisan responses should be down voted, and I'd extend that to say that questions that are likely to only receive that type of reply, or pure opinions should be closed as not constructive. However, in this case, useful answers have appeared, and there's a clear potential for even better answers to be posted.

This seems to be more of a question on how 'good subjective / bad subjective' should be interpreted (well, more implemented) here.

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    I agree. If we require hard facts like Programmers.SE, or at implement "Good/Bad Subjective" like Programmers, I feel that would work extremely well.
    – JKor
    Dec 5, 2012 at 22:29

I say this is very uh, shall we say 'shaky' ground:

  • Flame wars. One political parties advantage is another’s disadvantage. What if parties get into it? Cue lots of debate, which could end up being an issue.

  • List questions. The advantages and disadvantages are very subjective, for a number of reasons, including the ones I listed above. For example, certain policies - I can list advantages and disadvantages. For example, with this question:

    • Mandatory voting laws cause many things:
      • Disadvantage: Because they have to vote anyway, why bother doing any research on the candidates?
      • Advantage: For some parties, having a ignorant populace works in their favor.

uninformed just didn't sound right.

(I could go more in-depth, but lets not turn this into a answer on that topic right now)

Now, that's the first thing that popped into my head. 3 others agree with me, so I'd like them to voice their opinions as well.

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    The solution to avoid flame wars is for everyone to state their answers in a neutral fashion. ie. Don't bring the question into talking about Democrats and Republicans when the question doesn't ask about it. If someone posts an unnecessarily partisan response, downvote it
    – Casebash
    Dec 5, 2012 at 2:16
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    @Casebash I've seen people on other SE sites not do that over 2 years after a linux distro changed a (albeit fairly major) part of the desktop. I only shudder to think of the mess politics.SE would be if we allowed stuff like this. :(
    – jrg
    Dec 5, 2012 at 2:29

I have to agree with jrg that this is shaky ground. If we put in the FAQ that answers should be nonpartisan and if we enforced that, we could keep this under control.

Another possibility is that we could require disclaimers for answers that are noticeably partisan, like how on other SE sites how it is required/strongly recommended that people who promote their own products state that they are the producer of that product.

Overall, following one of these rules will get us better answers overall, but following the second will lead to more of a discussion-style where there could end up being 2 best answers that only differ in partisan perspective, and the accepted answer being what the original poster agrees with, not necessarily the best answer.

Therefore, I propose that we aim for my first suggestion, but we can always use the second as a fallback.

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    I'm not a big fan of filling the site with disclaimers that somehow make overly-opinionated answers somehow more fitting for this type of Q&A. It just gives license to filling posts with rants and soap box answers. If the answer cannot stand alone on the basis of its merits, saying "...but this is based solely on my opinion as a pundit for {X}" doesn't make it any better a fit for this kind of site. Dec 5, 2012 at 20:51

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