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This question seems to have actually just been after the view of Amnesty International in the United States, but since the question implied a perceived liberal bias in the country's views on the topic the answers quickly became partisan and nonconstructive.

My question is, should we have a blanket rule of encouraging users who explicitly or implicitly imply views for one side of a debate or the other to rewrite their questions removing the partisan concerns?

In this instance, the question would be generalized to: "How is Amnesty International viewed in the United States?" rather than, "Is Amnesty International considered a liberal organization?"

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Good answers, in general, are those that have lots of non-partisan facts and analyses, and are clear in their use of partisanship when stitching them into a coherent narrative. By and large, to the extent that fact-laden and coherent answers that actually deal with the asked question should (and I think are) be voted up.

Questions need to elicit facts. If assumptions and partisan readings are pulled out as such, I think its ok - its giving a context in which something should be answered. What needs to be non-partisan, imho, is the desired criteria for an answer.

Imagine the following: (And please note - I most assuredly do not watch Fox News, CNN, or MSNBC!)


Q: Is the US media biased?

As a devoted follower of [Fox | CNN | MSNBC ], I regularly hear complaints that my network is hopelessly [right | left] leaning. Personally, I don't see that. [Rachel Maddow | Bill O'Reily] always tell it like it is. They report all the facts, and don't skim over what [the other guy] says.

So, what is the case that [my station] is biased? Is there a statistical analysis that would show this to be the case?


Notice how the partisan context of the question actually affords a means by which the question can be answered. It acknowledges the bias of the question asker, and admittedly, sets me as the contrarian up to know I have to be really solid, if I'm going to refute it.

The question can be asked an answered with a proposed bias as well:

Q: Is [Fox News | MSNBC] [right | left] biased?

So, what is the case that [my station] is biased? Is there a statistical analysis that would show this to be the case?

A: According to the [Insert Think Tank here], [News Org] is rather [left | right.]

Take, for example, [MSNBC uses the term 'anti-choice' as opposed to 'pro-life' x% of the time. | Fox News is 58% more likely to use the words 'radical left' than 'extreme right' in regular commentary].

Yes, you can leave out the perceived bias, or you can include it. Either way, the onus is on the answerer to use more objective reasoning to either support or attack the claim, using facts, not opinions.

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The problem with the question proposed, is that it was asking a different question than the way it was worded.

  • In the United States, is there any significant "opposition" against Amnesty International?

  • (for example) are there any significant political groups or pressure groups that denounce reports from Amnesty as "liberal bias"?

  • Is the human rights group Amnesty International perceived as liberal in the United States?

The first question is tied in with the OP's statement, "I've never seen political opposition against Amnesty International, except from a few governments with a questionable democratic record." They are trying to associate neo-conservative's who oppose AI with people with, "questionable democratic records." This sort of statement is poisoning the well..

The second question about denouncing AI because of liberal bias seems an unnecessary specification. Can only conservatives oppose AI? What if AI was involved in a scandal like the UN with sex for food? If it had, I suppose answers could clarify that it has been denounced for other reasons. This question isn't bad in itself, but the Q&A format only lends itself to single questions and answers. The OP should either ask if AI has been denounced as having a liberal bias, or is perceived as a liberal organization, not both.

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I think in general practice this is the right approach, and would have helped out this question quite a bit, however, I am afraid that a blanket rule risks deflating the effectiveness of some questions that require an accurate description of one side's argument in order to be of value to the questioner.

Questions of the sort "It is my understanding that party X believes Y. However, this seems to conflict with party X's belief Z. In what way does party X reconcile these distinct opinions?", for example, would not get to the root of the questioners inquiry if rewritten:
"What are the common arguments for and against beliefs Y and Z?" Here a particular partisan take on the question is required to answer appropriately.

  • The question makes sense to be asked in general terms, however the answer may be split between the parties if that makes sense. I could easily see a situation where U.S. support for XYZ depended not only on political parties, but sub-groups within those parties. It makes little sense not to divide the U.S. into broad groups rather than saying "The U.S. both supports and opposes XYZ at the same time". – kleineg Aug 6 '14 at 17:33
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Politics is inherently partisan. It's going to be hard to avoid.

And just 'citing facts' isn't a way around that either, as one can certainly cite facts, but still implement partisan editing of the data.

It'd be best for anything partisan to simply state that it is. Alas, I'm not sure that will work out well, either.

Ultimately, I guess I'm not sure politics makes sense for SE. I see a lot of Q&As that solicit comments that clearly point out partisan aspects of the wording and/or conclusion, but that either leads to people getting highly defensive and/or the comments being deleted, so you're just left with an answer that is somewhat partisan.

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My question is, should we have a blanket rule of encouraging users who explicitly or implicitly imply views for one side of a debate or the other to rewrite their questions removing the partisan concerns?

Encouraging: yes. Forcing: no. Sure, you can ask someone to make it more nonpartisan, but you don't have to. If a post has merit (it can be answered, doesn't violate the Code of Conduct and it is on-topic) then it can stay as it is.

If there is a small part that is violates the CoC that could be removed or rephrased by editing.

This question seems to have actually just been after the view of Amnesty International in the United States, but since the question implied a perceived liberal bias in the country's views on the topic the answers quickly became partisan and nonconstructive.

My answer still applies here. If the answers have merit (by the same criteria as above) then they should stay. If they can easily be edited to satisfy the criteria that should be done and otherwise it should be down voted or deleted.

Especially in American politics questions easily become partisan because there are only two main parties. The highest voted question on this SE is about Obamacare and it also mentions mr. Trump. The highest voted question is well-supported and helpful to those interested in the question. So I wouldn't be too worried about it.

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