Take a look at this question. Is the U.S. still a democracy now that the President lost the popular vote?

Time and time again these type of questions turn up. The asker is basically a government illiterate. Can we make a requirement that questions display at least a beginning understanding of the nature and role of the function of government, and those that don't are out of scope?

3 Answers 3


That is a good example of a "Rant in Disguise" question.

In essence looks like a question that is not posted in good faith, and is intended to make some point(or in this case, I'd call it a "zinger" and not a "point")

I usually close these questions as "Unclear what you're asking", because that's what replaced the old "not a real question" close reason, and it a question asked in bad faith is not a real question.

On the flip side, if you think a question is asked in good faith and that the op really does have a poor understanding of government, then it's a perfectly valid question, and you should answer it.

When you answer it, do your best to Correct the actual misunderstanding that the OP has. If you were to assume that the example answer was asked in good faith, then you should explain at a high level how the electoral college doesn't always reflect the same results as the popular vote, and explain how an electoral college system might be considered a democracy.

One of the reasons for a site like this is to improve people's understanding of government.


Theoretically, lack of research is a basic reason to downvote questions (see the hover-over text on the question's DV button), and should be liberally employed (political puns intended) to enforce higher quality and well researched questions.

This is SE's intended mechanism, and works reasonably well on most objective-subject sites (with some major failures in cases of bikeshedding on higher-view questions).

Practically, on Politics.SE a large enough portion of people vote their political preferences instead of post quality that this mechanism is severely undermined (2 poor quality downvotes are drowned out by 5 "Down with Trump" upvotes, especially on questions with higher view counts). This isn't a problem of right vs. left wing (both sides do the same - it's human nature), however, it's more visible and impactful on the left wing leaning questions simply because there's more potential left leaning voters across SE (and overwhelmingly so for cross-network-visible questions on HNQ).

There's no constructive solution to thus problem I can think of, short of restricting site scope to actual academic and politically neutral questions.


I think that the opposite attitude is appropriate. There are no such things as dumb questions. There are questions that may be vague, have been previously asked and answered, may be in the wrong place, may not have any answer, or are as noted in another answer "a rant in disguise."

But, if someone is just "government illiterate", then a short, clear answer with a single reference (or even without a reference if the answer is obvious to anyone who is government literate), is the appropriate and constructive course of action, not shutting down discussion simply because someone doesn't yet know enough to ask a more sophisticated question.

You must log in to answer this question.