I've noticed a couple of questions lately of the format "If you support policy X, shouldn't you support policy Y?" Examples include a question asking "If the disabled can vote, why shouldn't minors be allowed to?" and "If we are trying to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons, why not Israel?".

It seems to be these questions aren't actually questions, and that OP is just using them as a platform to make an argument. The former thing does not necessarily imply the latter in these cases, and a genuine question wouldn't presume they do as a premise. Furthermore, there doesn't actually seem to be a way to answer them genuinely as a) we can't know everyone's motivations for holding certain political ideas, and b) OP is unlikely to be satisfied with an answer other than "You're right, that makes no sense!"

Currently I'm voting to close these as "primarily opinion-based", as they just constitute argument rather than a question. Is this the appropriate reaction? Or is there a way to give the OP the benefit of the doubt and post an actual answer that I'm not seeing?

  • If a question is truly a poor question, then it's also usually either unclear, too broad, or opinion based. If you can't confirm that it's either of those, maybe you should think harder about the question. If you still can't associate one of those properties to the question, then It's probably not a bad question. Aug 9, 2015 at 21:14
  • @SamIam I've been voting to close as "opinion based".
    – Publius
    Aug 10, 2015 at 1:57

2 Answers 2


I do think there is a useful type of question like this which would come in the form "Some people believe both X and Y (example). What are some explanations people who believe both of these things make to reconcile this specific case where those beliefs appear to be in conflict or seem inconsistent?" I think this is on topic because it falls under the category of better understanding a specific political argument, interest group, party, or ideology.

I just came across an example of this in the question "How do proponents of the “Living Constitution” view respond to the argument that it undermines democracy?" I gave it a hard edit to try to give it a more objective definition of what they were asking. In terms of the 2 objections:

a) we can't know everyone's motivations for holding certain political ideas

The question can be phrased to ask for prominent examples. A good answer would link a few explanations in political speeches, party platforms, op eds, books, ect. It doesn't give a comprehensive look at every justification, but it provides a lot of value for someone trying to understand an issue.

b) OP is unlikely to be satisfied with an answer other than "You're right, that makes no sense!"

I think it's pluasible that an OP could be trolling, but if we give the OP the benefit of the doubt, they could really want to understand why people think the things are unrelated or their premise is flawed. I think a good answer would be. Here's a person who believes X but not Y. This person sees X and Y as unrelated and pokes holes in the logic that people use to connect X and Y. I think a lot of people would find that very useful.

  • 1
    Even as is, it's a good question to anyone who's interested in logic or political philosophy. "X requies abc assumptions. NOT Y requires NOT-abc assumptions. How can someone logically believe in X and not Y when X implies Y?"
    – user4012
    Sep 4, 2015 at 0:32
  • FWIW, as the author of the "Living Constitution" question you use as an example, I would flag You're right, that makes no sense! answers as NAA. May 13, 2016 at 15:34

Your gripe with these questions seems to be that these questions aren't actually questions. We have a close reason for that. It's Unclear what you're asking.

the Unclear what you're asking. close reason is specifically for posts where you are unable to find out what the underlying question is. This includes cases where you suspect that there is no underlying question at all.

When you believe that the OP is not genuinely looking for information, or when you're unsure unsure what information the OP is actually looking for, then vote to close as Unclear what you're asking.

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