The Nature of Politics

Unlike topics like those covered in SO, Physics, Biology, etc. Politics tends not to have a unique answer to everything. A communist, a fascist, an anarchist and a neo-liberal won't see the world in the same light.

It is inherent to Politics and there isn't much that can be done about. But one could also say that the variety of opinions is what makes Politics so fascinating. Politics is plural.

Political science exists. However, it is often hard to separate oneself from one's opinion about a subject. This is also something that needs to be accepted. Politics is often partially opinion-based.

Depending on the definition one goes with, it could be argued that Politics affects everyone, everyday, in many aspects of their lives. As a consequence, Politics is often important enough to fight for.

The Risks of a Site Like Politics.SE

Stack Exchange is a network of sites aimed at providing the best answers to everyone questions. One can read that post about subjective questions. And politics is a complex subject, where many people are looking for answers.

Due to the previously described nature of politics some issue may appear, for example:

  • vote contests: one answer presents one view on a topic, another presents the opposite view, and people upvote one and downvote the other on opinion-ground alone.
  • conflicts: politics often lead to physical conflicts, wars, etc. And sometimes those are brought back to the site, as an extension of that conflict. Most of the discussions involving Middle-East and Israel are illustrations of that conflict.
  • speculations: Conspiration theories are growing through the Internet. There are many reasons for that, and it's way beyond the scope of this post to analyse them. But we probably don't want to be propagating those.
  • Political rants or Political tribune: for different purposes, people may be tempted to try to prove a point publicly: explain their ideology, complain about the latest law, etc. That is neither a question, nor is it an answer. And those should not be on Stack Exchange.

Politics Does Not Stand Alone

Within the Stack Exchange Network, Politics isn't the only site which is subject to endless debates, flame wars or discussions. In that respect, it might be interesting to see how those deal with those problems. Amongst others, we have

  • Skeptics has a tendency to attract very speculative subjects and possibly conflictual topics. They try to keep the site clean, and quite successfully so, by having a rather strict discipline. This is summarised in the help section and a meta post (and related posts). And they are actively enforcing that discipline.
  • Religious sites. Religious communities tend to be diverse and they sometimes conflict with one another, even within a "single religion". So I'm not a member of any of those, but for example,

Those sites were ordered alphabetically.

Defining a Scope and Quality Requirements

The scope and quality required on a site is decided my the community and can only be enforced by the community at large. Not from our moderators alone, and much less from me alone.

To give an example on how the scope can be discussed by the community, one can take a look at Worldbuilding (disclaimer: I am the author of that summary).

Now, What Do You Want to Do?

Concerning overall quality, and scope, you'd be more

  • "Don't change anything, you guys1 are great!"
  • "Nah, it's ok... maybe a little more up/downvotes."
  • "Nya something should be done, but not sure what."
  • "Ok, those posts sounds great, when do you get started?"
  • "Ah! Forget it you guys2 suck anyway"

It would be nice to read your opinion on that. And it would be even more appreciated if some arguments were provided.

1: I'm probably not one of them then. 2: I might be included this time.

  • 1
    I think one thing that could definitely help is for veterans of this site to try to steer questions towards more objective premises. Don't just say this is off topic or too opinion based. Give them an alternative of how to phrase the question in a way that asks for something objective. If you can do this with an edit, I think that's ok too.
    – lazarusL
    Apr 1, 2016 at 15:48
  • 1
    I also think we need to have a discussion of what is downvote worthy. My opinion is that things should only be downvoted if they are factually inaccurate. If you say Donald Trump argues this, but don't have any evidence and I know he has argued otherwise, then that's a downvote. If you don't like the answer someone gives, but you can acknowledge that it's a valid representation of what many people believe, then post an opposing answer explaining why that line of thought is wrong and give examples of people who make that argument, don't downvote. But that's just my 2cents.
    – lazarusL
    Apr 1, 2016 at 15:52
  • 2
    @lazarusL I disagree, People need to be much more brutal with their down votes, and this goes for the entirety of Stack Exchange. As someone who frequently uses existing Stack Exchange content for research, it's super annoying when highly up-voted answers don't have useful content, or they don't have anything to make me confident that they're correct. Apr 1, 2016 at 16:06

1 Answer 1


The main way we enforce quality on Stack Exchange is through our up and down votes.

Moderators can clean up non-answers, overly inflammatory answers, and unimportant comments, but since we are not omniscient, we are usually not qualified to decide correctness of an answer, so we usually leave that up to the community.

The purpose of upvotes and downvotes is to distinguish between useful and unuseful, questions and answers. Usefulness is subjective, but you ultimately own your own vote, so you get to be subjective about it.

You are allowed to vote for almost any reason that you want, but in case you want some sort of guidelines here are some things that I personally take into consideration:

  • Is the answer easy to understand?
  • Is the answer, clear, concise, and to the point?
  • Is the answer correct?
  • For a person who doesn't already know whether or not the answer is correct, can the be confident in it's correctness after reading it? (sources are a thing that can cause this condition to be met)
  • Does the answer solve the actual problem that the OP needed to be solved?

The Entirety of Stack Exchange needs to be a bit more strict about their upvotes and down votes. When doing research, there is nothing more annoying then finding a bunch of answers that you can't have confidence in. I wish people would stop awarding A's for effort, and instead be a bit more "greedy", and vote more based on whether or not an answer actually improved their own understanding, or, if they already knew the answer, on if it would have improved their own understanding had they not already known.

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