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We recently changed the custom close reasons, and one of them reads:

The primary purpose of this question appears to be to promote or discredit a specific political cause, group or politician. It does not appear to be a good-faith effort to learn more about governments, policies and political processes as defined in the help center.

Personally I strongly dislike the phrasing of "does not appear to be a good-faith effort". The term "good faith" is defined as:

accordance with standards of honesty, trust, sincerity, etc.

Compare bad faith.

And if we follow the "bad faith" definition it gets even worse:

lack of honesty and trust

This phrasing seems like a personal attack on the user more than anything else, and is unlikely to be helpful in getting people to fix their question so it can be reopened.


I propose we rephrase this close reason to:

The primary purpose of this question appears to be to promote or discredit a specific political cause, group, or politician. It does not appear to be a constructive question to learn more about governments, policies, or political processes as defined in the help center.

I feel that this small change makes a huge difference in the tone, and is much more likely to motivate people to fix their questions. In my observations most of these questions are asked in good faith, it's just that people don't always understand the somewhat narrow format of the site.

Also see the discussion on the answer in which this close reason was proposed.


In addition, it might be useful to link to What types of questions should I avoid asking? as well; making the full phrasing:

The primary purpose of this question appears to be to promote or discredit a specific political cause, group, or politician. It does not appear to be a constructive question to learn more about governments, policies, or political processes as defined in the help center.

  • But then if we contrast "constructive" with its antonym, it's as if you're implying the person is useless or is actively trying to attack and dismantle the site. We can't very well go around doing that! – zibadawa timmy Aug 7 '17 at 21:19
  • This site explicitly tries to avoid subjective questions. The SE definition of "constructive" open rooms for subjective questions. But this SE site strives to be more restrictive in the kinds of questions it allows. – grovkin Oct 10 at 22:36
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I don't see this as an attack. In fact, I tend to see this as a course correction for the questioner. Because we're Politics, we have to be prepared for the skewed questions trying to masquerade as serious. As we've seen, people will gladly upvote and even defend bad faith things that fit their political view.

We need something stronger than

Please don't do this

without going as far as

We're on to you and your villainous ways

"Good faith" meets that criteria by letting people know that we're not going to allow rants that pretend to be serious. Furthermore, it links to a Meta discussion where people are talking at length about things they don't want to see in a question (community!). There's not a lot we can do about someone who feels that's a personal attack.

If we do change it, please don't link to the help center. We have 3 closure reasons that already do that.

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    How do you address the common dictionary definition that makes it sound pretty darn insulting? – user11249 Aug 5 '17 at 21:37
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    If we left it up to the asker to define it, it might be problematic. But we give them a link to a community provided definition in the reason. You're assuming someone will turn to the same source you did. We can't let a poor definition on the Internet be a reason not to use a term. – Machavity Aug 5 '17 at 21:54
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    A dictionary is not really a "source", but rather "documentation" of how words or phrases are commonly used (and thus interpreted) by people. And many other dictionaries – including the OED and Merriam-Webster – have similar definitions; you can't just handwave it away as "a poor definition on the Internet". – user11249 Aug 5 '17 at 22:01
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    True, but neither should we be held responsible if we provide you a definition and you go get your own and become offended – Machavity Aug 5 '17 at 22:12
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    Well, providing "your own definition" doesn't seem to work very well; the FSF has been trying for years with "Free Software" and it still causes mass confusion ;-) It seems to me that we should do our best and go out of our way to avoid confusion, especially in standard close reasons such as this. – user11249 Aug 5 '17 at 23:03
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I take the current wording of the close reason as being for situations where someone posted a question which isn't actually intended to ask a question, but rather to express some political view. In that case, I think it's perfectly fair to say that it's not a question asked as a good-faith learning effort, but rather an attempt to abuse the Q/A system as a platform for stating the OP's views.

As far as the definition of good-faith is concerned, it's the sincerity part that is being violated by such questions. Posting a 'question' that was really just meant to be a way to share your view, rather than because you legitimately want to learn the answer to the question is indeed not sincerely asking a question.

  • The intent of the close reason has been well received in a linked question. The ways to judge even have reasonable agreement in a linked question. Here the question is whether the phrasing of the explanation could be improved. – user9389 Aug 4 '17 at 2:19
  • @notstoreboughtdirt Right. My point was that the phrasing seems appropriate, since "rant in disguise" satisfies the definition of not being a question asked in good faith. – reirab Aug 4 '17 at 5:30
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I think we determined a slightly different definition of good faith rather than the dictionary definition when we discussed the word in this post

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