One of the 7 questions every site must answer is an understanding of what is on topic for this site. I’m introducing this question to collect answers for our FAQ.

2 Answers 2


This SE is for answering objective questions about Politics. It is not a place to advance opinions or debate, but rather for exchanging objective information about the policies, processes, and personalities that comprise the political arena. If you can't back it up, it's subjective. For purposes of this site, we define politics as:

The end result of conflicting egos working themselves out through matters of policy.

This means, the following items are on topic:

  1. Matters of Policy: Central to the idea of this site are the nuts and bolts of policies introduced by governments, presumably for the welfare of their citizens. As such, asking about the tangible benefits and costs of legislation is on topic
  2. Working Themselves Out: Processes are central to legislation is made. Questions seeking to understand the rules and processes by which policy is made in various legislatures or ruling bodies (inside and outside of the United States!) are wholly on topic
  3. Conflicting Egos: In just about any policy of substance, there are particular personalities that are central to its understanding, as well as demographic data about supporters and opponents of legislation. Asking “Why is [insert person here] such a jerk?” is clearly off-topic - the answer is highly subjective, but asking “What groups of people tend to support X in her implementation of policy Y?” is answerable using polls, punditry, and other verifiable and reproducible sources.

If your question is rooted in one of these three pillars of politics, you’re probably on-topic. If your question (or answer!) is subjective, opinionated, or just not about one of these three things, we humbly suggest you look elsewhere for an answer to your query.

  • Just out of idle curiosity, is that definition your own, or plucked from somewhere?
    – user97
    Feb 15, 2013 at 20:06
  • 2
    It is my own definition. I came up with it in College about 20 years ago, on the spur of the moment - but I've long been satisfied with it :) Feb 15, 2013 at 21:02
  • “What groups of people tend to support X in her implementation of policy Y?” may be on topic but it is not constructive. There is nothing constructive about building a stereotype. Feb 20, 2013 at 16:31
  • @Chad - It can be constructively answered. [cite: Nate Silver]
    – user4012
    Feb 21, 2013 at 20:46
  • @DVK - Yes bad questions can have great answers... that does not make them great questions Feb 21, 2013 at 22:03
  • @Chad - the point is that your claim that it's a bad question is wrong.
    – user4012
    Feb 21, 2013 at 22:13
  • @DVK - No just because it can be answered constructively does not mean that the question itself is constructive. It can also be answered in a not constructive manner. It is a bad question. What color people make better slaves? What religion produces the weakest soldiers? They are not constructive. Feb 21, 2013 at 22:20
  • @Chad - ALL questions can be answered non-constructively. The difference is that a good question can be answered constructively (e.g. an expert can tell a correct answer from incorrect) and a bad one can not.
    – user4012
    Feb 21, 2013 at 22:21
  • @Chad I would suggest you refer back to the question " Are personalities on topic?" question. We hashed this out there, and there seems to be consensus. If you disagree, I would heartily recommend a different answer. In either event, the comments are not the place to have this discussion! Feb 21, 2013 at 23:22
  • @AffableGeek - That does not mean that questions do not need to be constructive. I really think each of those 3 bullets should be their own answer. I think you have 2 good bullets and one really really really bad one Feb 22, 2013 at 14:20

I haven't been to the site for some time and coming back I notice a lot of questions which are not factually answerable, highly subjective and usually not contribute to the better understanding and not "make internet a better place", but just rehash existing arguments or express an opinion in the form of a question.

So I think we need to declare questions that can not be answered definitely to be off-topic. I.e. questions like "What opinion adherents of X usually hold on subject Y?" may be OK, because there could be documents, articles, etc. written by prominent adherents of X that shed light on their position on Y. But questions like "Why politician X did Y?" or even "Why politician X/country Y wouldn't do Z?" should be out unless there's a reason to assume there can be a definite answer to it and not just conjectures and guesses based on one's personal preferences and prejudices. Otherwise the site devolves into a political flame forum, and there are enough of those already out there.

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