I was looking at this question earlier

Sortable table or spreadsheet with full, detailed 2017 UK General Election results for every constituency

And couldn't fit it within any of the following 3 categories which suggest it's on-topic in the help centre:

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

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

Just to clarify, Macroeconomics is specifically on-topic. Most public policy questions involve economic matters, so if you just need to understand

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.

The question essentially is Find me X piece of data in Y format. I personally feel that such a question should be off-topic as it doesn't really ask a question or fundamentally add value to the site, even though it may be political in nature, as it simply a demand for data rather than an explanation supported by data. These questions seem to rather than inform users about the topic act as point-me to a source outside of this site.

Indeed I've come across a couple of such questions (e.g Where can I find the Senate amendments to Bill C-6) in the past which rather than ask for an explanation ask for pure data, and I was wondering if they were on-topic.

3 Answers 3


I feel such questions should be on-topic; I don't see why they shouldn't be. There's even a tag for it: .

I personally feel that such a question should be off-topic as it doesn't really ask a question or fundamentally add value to the site

I don't really see how "where can I find X" doesn't "really ask a question"?

As for "fundamentally add value", that's fair enough; this is why you can downvote ;-)

You can also add the to your ignored tags.

  • 1
    I think that might be a too generous interpretation of "reference request". This should be for (presumably) published information, which the asker has already made a good faith effort to locate, with a reasonable suspicion it does exist, and has come up lacking (either they found nothing, or they feel there should be better resources than what they've found). Asking for scientific studies that concern a particular theory or voting behavior, or an expository work comparing and analyzing particular views, etc. sound appropriate. Something that can be googled by a novice in 10 seconds is not. Jun 23, 2017 at 7:58
  • 2
    I generally don't like links to references because they can break (e.g. due to site restructuring). But I do think links can be useful. Maybe there should be a rule that reference answers need to explain how the reference was obtained (so if the link breaks, people can re-run the steps). Mar 17, 2018 at 14:10
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    Yes I agree, any answer that explains how to do something is always a (much) better answer than just a "click this link"-answer @JornVernee
    – user11249
    Mar 17, 2018 at 14:21

They shouldn't be on-topic.

I don't really see how "where can I find X" doesn't "really ask a question"?

It's not a question about political processes, though. A better analogy isn't SO's "Gimme teh codez", but this closure reason

Questions asking us to recommend or find a book, tool, software library, tutorial or other off-site resource are off-topic for Stack Overflow as they tend to attract opinionated answers and spam. Instead, describe the problem and what has been done so far to solve it.

A very similar problem is the "Gimme the stats" questions like How many non-combatants have been killed by the Islamic State? There's no actual question there, it's purely asking for someone to give stats. But this is what sites like Google are for. It's lazy at best. There's no political angles to these questions. Worse is they do tend to draw in spam or low quality answers (and that will be a growing problem as time wears on).

I would propose a custom closure reason similar to SO

Questions asking us to only find statistics, metrics or other off-site resources are off-topic for Politics.SE as they tend to attract opinionated answers and spam. Instead, ask questions about political institutions and policies, where statistics would make sense in an answer.

  • 1
    "political processes" are not the only criteria that makes something on topic here. But actually the statistics are actually the result of a political process and the results of an election are definately part of that process. And I think helping users find those resources is an actual constructive use of the site, as compared to the many why is this questions that are really not much more than arguement threads. Jun 19, 2017 at 15:55
  • I can't quite see how a request for a data source can lead to opinionated answers. Either the resource has the data is it does not. Unless accuracy is a concern and there are fake datasets for whole elections out there?
    – Jontia
    Dec 29, 2020 at 0:22

This seems like a "Too Broad" question to me. It's comparable to a "Give me the codes" question on Stack Overflow.

If it already exists somewhere, that's one thing, but if it doesn't then the answerer would have to do quite a bit of work in order to satisfy the specific demands of the OP. That makes it too broad.

In light of the fact such a spreadsheet apparently did already exist, and some people have already found such a spreadsheet, and posted it as an answer, I wouldn't consider this specific question to be a problem, and would probably leave it open.

However, you should still be weary of questions like it. They are very likely to be too broad.

  • 3
    it's comparable to a "Give me the codes" question on Stack Overflow. This is true, but there is an important difference: Stack Overflow gets about 8,000 questions every day. There are currently 4,448 total questions on the site. So our entire four and a half history represents about half a day of activity on Stack Overflow. One important reason such questions are off-topic on SO is that there are just far too many of them to possibly answer. We don't really have that problem.
    – user11249
    Jun 10, 2017 at 18:18
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    The sortable table criteria is very much gimme da codes. But the question could easily be edited to just ask where to find the raw election data that can be easily imported into a spreadsheet is not. That would be part of the accountability of the political process. Jun 19, 2017 at 15:57

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