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This is the question in question, quoted for your convenience:

What specifically did Hillary Clinton say or do, to seem untrustworthy to Americans?

I am not from the US but I keep reading that Hillary is perceived as untrustworthy. I tried looking for the things she actually said or did to earn this image, but I can't find many.

So I'm looking for a list of verifiable things that she actually said or did, to earn her this image (without judging whether or not she deserved it).

So far, what I've found are the

  1. the email controversy,
  2. the pneumonia episode,
  3. her changing position on gay marriage, and
  4. her changing position on free trade.

What else is there?

As you can see, it's soliciting the creation of a list, with a thin veil of "verifiable things", presumably for us to vote-on in a sort-of "poll".

This is one of those classic "list questions" that Stack Exchange long ago had to deal with. A "list question" is actually short-hand for a class of off-topic question, which SE Community Manager Shog9♦ defines as follows:

It's... Shorthand. For straw-polls, GTKYs, discussion threads and the like. Questions that are geared toward creating responses, not answers... It arose before we had these nifty Meta-filter-derived bullets in our FAQs:

To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where …

  • every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite ______?”
  • your answer is provided along with the question, and you expect more answers: “I use ______ for ______, what do you use?”
  • there is no actual problem to be solved: “I’m curious if other people feel like I do.”
  • we are being asked an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if ______ happened?”
  • it is a rant disguised as a question: “______ sucks, am I right?”

This list seems very applicable to this question:

  • Every answer is equally valid (can these opinions even be validated?):
    • "What's your favorite thing or things Hillary did to make you not trust her?"
  • An answer is provided along with the question, but expects more answers:
    • "I use this list for evaluating trust, what do you use?"
  • This isn't really a problem-solving site, but you get the idea:
    • "Some people don't trust her, I’m curious if other people feel that way."
  • Very-open-ended and these answers are very hypothetical.
    • "What are the possible reasons people don't trust her?"
  • I wouldn't call this a rant, but it is pretty close.
    • "Some people think Hillary is untrustworthy, are they right?"


To be honest, I'm not even sure a good scientific study is even possible for a question like this. Among those who think her untrustworthy if polled, stated reason(s), perceived reason(s), and actually reason(s) could be very different things. Not that it really matters, as none of the existing answers come close to this level of objectivity.

One of the alleged reasons is a list of lies that she supposedly told, of which #4 reads as follows:

Sir Edmund Hillary – Seems Clinton can’t even bring herself to tell the truth about her own name. She claimed to be named after Sir Edmund Hillary, one of the first men to climb Mt. Everest. One small problem though, the explorer didn’t climb Everest until Clinton was 6 years old.

So many problems...

  • There is no related information on public perception to this incident.
  • Is there actually anyone who would point to this and say "that's why I distrust her"?
  • Is this list a good list, if silly mistakes like this make the list? Or is this just some silly internet list inflated with nonsense to be larger?
  • The fact that he climbed Everest 6 years later doesn't actually even prove that she wasn't named after him.
  • Is it really a "lie" if you were genuinely mistaken about something that happened when you were a small child?


If we accept questions like this, what's next?

  • "What things made people say Obama/Bush/Clinton/etc. was a bad president?"
  • "What things make people mistrust Putin/Queen Elizabeth/Kim Jong-un/François Hollande/etc.?"
  • "What are Trumps's/McCain's/Romney's/Cheney/Gore/etc. most sexist comments?"

This seems like a bad precedent to set.


To be clear here, I'm not saying that there aren't people who think Hillary is untrustworthy, or that the question of why people think she is untrustworthy is a bad question to have (it actually seems like a good, if extremely broad question to ponder). The problem is, the question being asked here is neither, and it's just turning into some superficial master-internet-list. For this list to be useful towards answering these questions, these lists need references for why these particular lists may make people find her untrustworthy. Why do they outweigh the hypothetical list of everything else done in their life? I expect a list of lies and wrong-doing can be made about most people in politics, what makes the lists being posted significant compared to those lists of people considered trustworthy? Which items contribute the most? What studies were conducted? Anything? These lists certainly aren't telling me why she is considered untrustworthy.

These types of problem answers were also addressed by SE a long time ago in Good Subjective, Bad Subjective with "Guidelines for Great Subjective Questions"; here are some relevant ones:

1. Great subjective questions inspire answers that explain "why" and "how". The best subjective questions invite explanation. If you're asking for a product recommendation of some kind, you want answers to contain detailed information about the features and how they can be used, and why you might want to choose one over the other. "How?" and "Why?" has more lasting value than a bunch of product-feature bullet points or a giant enumerated list, no matter how extensive. In contrast, the bad subjective questions let answerers get away with hit-and-run answers that maybe provide a name and a link -- but fail to provide any sort of adequate explanation, context, or background.

5. Great subjective questions insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references. Opinion isn't all bad, so long as it's backed up with something other than "because I'm an expert", or "because I said so", or "just because". Use your specific experiences to back up your opinions, as above, or point to some research you've done on the web or elsewhere that provides evidence to support your claims. We like you. We want to believe you. But like Wikipedia itself, {{citation needed}}. And good subjective questions make this clear from the outset: back it up!


Personally, I think this question qualifies as "primarily opinion-based", "too broad" (infinite possible answers), and generally off-topic as-per Shog9♦'s reasoning.

So apart from the unsuccessful trip through the review queue, why is this opinion-list-making question still open?

  • Those of you down-voting this well-researched post without explanation are really playing into the stereotype that you will upvote anything you agree with, and downvote anything you disagree with, regardless of quality. – Alexander O'Mara Nov 14 '16 at 19:18
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    It's more than a stereotype. It's the officially suggested way to vote on meta – Sam I am Nov 14 '16 at 19:23
  • @SamIam This isn't really a proposal to be voted on. A question asking why it is open isn't useful? Anyhow, I have been observing this type of toxic behavior for a while now, taken so far as serial voting. – Alexander O'Mara Nov 14 '16 at 19:27
  • If anyone else want's to have a go at answering this, I would strongly encourage it. The current answer only attempts to address a small portion on the problem. I'd hate to see quality sacrificed for bandwagoning, quality is what defines Stack Exchange. – Alexander O'Mara Nov 15 '16 at 7:15
  • Man, this was a disappointing. Just an inadequate answer and more of this site's infamous band-wagoning. – Alexander O'Mara Dec 23 '16 at 18:01
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It may be the case that the question is soliciting a list, but Hillary Clinton definitely did have a reputation of being dishonest, and she had that reputation before the emails thing blew up, and before most of things that people like to point at nowadays to justify her reputation as being dishonest.

Despite the OP's intent, I believe that a question asking what in the world this reputation came from is a good question to have.


It sounds like you're getting confused by the fact that the subject matter has something to do with opinions. That's not related to what Opinion-based means. A question is opinion-based if it is asking for the opinion of the answer-writer.

The reason why we close questions as opinion-based are because we want to avoid answers that depend too heavily on the point of view of the answer-writer. An answer that depends to heavily on the point of view of the answer writer is undesirable because it is not readily consumed by others and it has a high chance of being straight up wrong.

This is not the same when the question is about an observable phenomenon where a notable group of people or a notable person has a particular opinion, and there might be an observable catalyst that occurred that might cause that opinion to form. They might even have a stated reason for having that opinion.

  • So... set the precedent of making questions to try to validate opinions people have? – Alexander O'Mara Nov 14 '16 at 19:15
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    @AlexanderO'Mara This isn't just someone's opinion. It's an identifiable part of her overall reputation. It would be different if Hillary Clinton didn't already have a notable reputation as a liar – Sam I am Nov 14 '16 at 19:20
  • I didn't say just someone's opinion. I'm talking about general opinions. There are a significant number of people who would say any of the past presidents were bad, or that any number of major world leaders aren't trustworthy. Where does it stop, and how do we make these good not list-making questions? – Alexander O'Mara Nov 14 '16 at 19:23
  • @AlexanderO'Mara The distinguishing factor is that the author of an answer should be able to provide something other than his/her personal opinion. If you're asking about the opinion of some notable person or some notable demographic, and not the opinion of the person who's answering your question. It's fine. – Sam I am Nov 14 '16 at 19:28
  • That seems very strange to me. Can you show me somewhere else on Stack Exchange where answers based on someone's opinion, even those of authority, are good question/answer pairs? I'm imagining a question on coding style posted to Programmers SE with answers trying to use Richard Stallman's coding style, or Microsoft's coding style, or Google's coding style as justification all being useless opinion-based questions. – Alexander O'Mara Nov 14 '16 at 19:35
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    @AlexanderO'Mara I'm not entirely sure. The other SE I'm active in is StackOverflow, and that's different than Politics.SE because questions in StackOverflow commonly have a problem that's being solved by the OP. – Sam I am Nov 14 '16 at 19:40
  • FWIW, I actually don't think questioning why people find her untrustworthy is a bad question to have, I just think a pile-on-all-the-bad-things-anyone-says-she-did list-question is possibly one of the least productive and most-toxic one-sided ways to go about trying to answer it. Perhaps you have some ideas about how to rephrase the question? I'm at a loss on this one. – Alexander O'Mara Nov 14 '16 at 19:50
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    @AlexanderO'Mara Well, if you feel so strongly about it you can suggest an edit to that question – Sam I am Nov 14 '16 at 20:01
  • Well, if I knew how to fix every question that has problems, I would never need to use the flag/close feature. :) You seemed to think there was a question worth saving here, so I though maybe you had some ideas on the matter. – Alexander O'Mara Nov 14 '16 at 21:17
  • I'm not sure about the definition of who's opinion on these more-subjective SE sites, so for sake of argument, let's suppose "expert opinion" is a valid opinion. Are the existing answers achieving that level of quality? Is this question not still too broad? – Alexander O'Mara Nov 14 '16 at 21:59
  • @AlexanderO'Mara As far as an "expert opinion" goes, I'd be careful about asking for an "expert's opinion" when the expert you're referring to about is an abstract and undefined expert. Tacking on "What do the experts say" on an otherwise opinion-based question is entirely a cosmetic change. – Sam I am Nov 15 '16 at 16:31
  • Well, yeah. That's why I'm not convinced questions based in opinion are really answerable, even if the opinion is not the opinion of the poster (of course, naturally those posting answers will tend to cite opinions they happen to agree with, sort-of like saying "GNU Coding Standards is the best, and Richard Stallman backs this."). But don't get hung-up on opinion-based, that's just a subset of the issues with this type of question. – Alexander O'Mara Nov 15 '16 at 17:11
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    @AlexanderO'Mara Just because an answer is about an opinion doesn't mean that the answer is an opinion. A notable feature of cases like these, is that an answer can be correct even if the opinion that it's about is incorrect. – Sam I am Nov 15 '16 at 17:21
  • That was never in question, answering the question is theoretically possible, and the reason doesn't even have to be logical. But in the interest of moving past this one sticking point, let us assume that "answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise." does not describe the answers being posted, or that "primarily opinion based" is not even a close reason. We still have the issue of being incredibly broad and open-ended. – Alexander O'Mara Nov 15 '16 at 17:42

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