I know that SE's rules always talk about use facts, academic papers, valid data and to speak with events that happened. But since I'm seeing lot of people talking about (try to talk more specifically) events didn't happen but wants more explanation, would be OK if we allow to create hypothetical scenarios? Have you ever talked about this?

Usually, when it comes to these kind of questions, I vote for closing for opinion-based primary.

  • 1
    Seems useful to me as politics is largely about hypothetical scenarios. While policies implemented by governments are based on real events, they aim to create a desirable hypothetical situation or to prevent problems that might occur without such policies in place. Commented Jun 11, 2016 at 19:49
  • I was thinking to develop some exercises of future events. For example, how to deal with the ISIS solution or the oil crisis, how the holocracy will impact in the democratic system in 5 years or so.
    – nelruk
    Commented Jun 12, 2016 at 6:50

3 Answers 3


In short there should be no separate "hypothetical tag," but if we are serious about addressing political issues, then simple forecasting is a major part of that. In fact, this strikes at the core of a question which I asked previously, which is about increasing the Political Science on this board.

Forecasting is a basic function of Political Science. If you look at this quarter's edition of the American Political Science Review (APSR, the flagship journal of Political Science), no fewer than five titles are explicitly predictive! It is true that some people argue that Political Science is bad at predicting things, but within the discipline itself, it remains an open question and many argue that in fact, we're pretty good at it. The accuracy of the predictions is immaterial about whether or not this is a core facet of Political Science, and even social science generally, which it is.

There have been noted failures, such as the inability to predict the success of Donald Trump, but there have been a number of successes as well. Directly related to the question which spawned this answer, which is international security related, John Mearsheimer predicted with uncanny accuracy the outcome of the Gulf War. Again in 2002, most leading experts were absolutely correct in assessing when and how the invasion of Iraq would go.

This is not an invitation for WAGing, but instead is an argument that people should be able to make answers, with well considered historical facts, trends and theories of behavior to back them up. There will likely have to be a lively discussion about what is actually reasonably possible to forecast, given available information, and many answers will have to be policed for quality. Frankly, it will be difficult for people who are not professionals to do correctly, at least up front, but it will be possible. Allowing these kinds of questions is important, however, because preventing even reasonable forecasting means that the most interesting questions of politics are unanswerable, and essentially this is a dead site walking.

In some ways, this is just a matter of "style" but style is important in this case. As was shown in the terrorism question, you could reasonably recast the question into one which is about factual history, but that is an inferior question for three reasons: First, that question is not likely to attract searches on that topic from search engines, or even on SE at large because the title is focused on historical analysis. Second, it hides the motivating issue in the body of the question, making the overall question much more dull.

Finally, and in my opinion most importantly, forcing questions to be recast in that was is imposing a way of communicating about political issues that is foreign to popular, professional and academic discussion. When asking about what would happen in the future, people are not expecting a crystal ball prediction, but a reading of what has happened in the past and a reasonable extrapolation from there on what is likely although not guaranteed to happen. No one, anywhere, ever was thinking to themselves about terrorism at the EURO, and then said in their mind "I wonder how past high-profile events have dealt with terror attacks" unless forced to. SE's advantage in every thriving stack is that it allows casual users and novices to communicate easily with experts, and forcing everyone to use verbiage they would never use to convey their meaning establishes a barrier to usage which makes the site less valuable.

In the end, there does need to be a robust discussion surrounding what are acceptable predictions here on this site. Furthermore, norms need to arise regarding the theoretical assumptions and empirical statements that should surround predictions. This all needs to take place in another question. Nonetheless, this is a basic feature of Political Science, and is a dire need which politics.SE can and should fill.

  • So, as a fast conclusion I can write hypothetical scenarios always and if I have enough elements to conclude that answer. Am I going in the right side?
    – nelruk
    Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 19:41
  • If I follow your meaning, yes. Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 19:48

A good rule of thumb is to see if you can imagine a concrete and complete answer.

If a user will probably have to be guessing in order to answer your question, then it will probably be closed as opinion based.

As for creating a Hypothetical tag, The answer is probably going to be no. Throughout the SE network, the popular opinion is that meta tags aren't useful.

  • So I can answer like a hypothesis but only if I have all the sources I need to justify my answer, right?
    – nelruk
    Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 19:39
  • 1
    @nelruk a hypothesis is literally by definition a kind of guess. If you ask a question that can only be answered with a hypothesis, it might be too opinion-based Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 19:50
  • @nelruk as far as sources are concerned, that has more to do with the answer than it does with the question, and questions seem to be the topic of this thread, not answers. Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 19:53

Can we create a tag about hypotetical scenarios about things that didn't happen?


Certainly we could, but I don't think that we should. Either the question is already on-topic and we shouldn't segregate it or the question would currently be off-topic and I'm not sure that we should allow it.

This seems like an invitation to "rant here". We already have too many rants posing as questions. Giving them increased cover seems contraindicated.

In terms of this specific question, I would be fine with reopening it in its current form. But I don't think it was a good question in its original form.

  • So I changed it to its current form, but I believe that it was just as valid in its original form. A core function of Political Science is predictions about the future. See my answer below. Commented Jun 13, 2016 at 15:45

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