I'm a big fan of SE in general, and I've been amazed and pleased that a politics site can exist and work well.

Today I have finally joined and asked my first question here. I've tried to be as objective as possible with the concept and wording, but it may or may not have tripped an off-topic point.

I was accused of asking in "bad faith" and being a crackpot (though the second comment was later deleted) and I think that's a little bit extreme to presume of a new user's first question without first asking for clarification or adding a helpful suggestion or caution.

Each new SE site is different and has its own distinguishing cultures and practices as well as definitions. If my question is off-topic, would it be possible for someone to expand on the complaint there and help me understand what's actually wrong (if anything), how to improve the current question (if possible) and how to avoid pitfalls in the future?

I've tried to further elaborate on my question in comments there, are they insufficient or missing the point of the close voter?


  • 3
    There is a meta thread on whether 'bad faith' is good wording.
    – user9389
    Aug 13, 2017 at 22:36
  • @notstoreboughtdirt thanks for the link. I think this site is an admirable experiment! In the case of my question (linked above) I still don't understand how an attempt to discredit could even be perceived. Some cases are obvious I am sure, but an attempt to assign an unverifiable motive should be differentiated from attempt to discredit. Hidden motives and agendas are real, and not necessarily sinister by default. I can see that my question should be closed because I was asking to hypothesize something unverifiable, but I'd still like to better understand the "attempt to discredit" part.
    – uhoh
    Aug 14, 2017 at 4:07

1 Answer 1


Your question is off topic for several of the available "Close" reasons (emphasis all mine):

  1. Questions asking for the internal motivations of people, how specific individuals would behave in hypothetical situations or predictions for future events are off-topic, because answers would be based on speculation and their correctness could not be verified with sources available to the public.

  2. 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.

  3. This question does not appear to be about governments, policies and political processes within the scope defined in the help center.

  4. Primarily opinion-based
    Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.

And per the help center:

Politics Stack Exchange is for objective questions about governments, policies and political processes.

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.

  • OK then, my question is clearly off-topic. If I had sufficient reputation I'd vote to close as well. I appreciate your taking the time to assemble all of this in one place, and I'll take the time to review carefully. While many of the points can be found elsewhere, it's helpful to have it all here where it can be pointed to in the future. Thanks!
    – uhoh
    Aug 12, 2017 at 5:32
  • 1
    @uhoh: You're welcome. And welcome to the Politics SE. :-) Aug 12, 2017 at 5:33
  • 1
    @uhoh - Another thing is, there has been a very regular stream of widely speculative and woefully off-topic questions since the US elections went into full swing last year, and yet more of the same since Trump took office. Just about every controversial statement Trump makes generates one or more questions that can't be answered without speculating to a large degree. This is unfortunate in my opinion: new users end up having the impression the stuff is on topic, which in the long term is detrimental to this SE's quality. Aug 12, 2017 at 5:46
  • Yep, I did notice that, and so there may be a recent and necessary vigilance/hypersensitivity. I think this site is an amazing demonstration of SE at its finest, in that the protocol can make even a site on politics work despite it being wide open to the entire planet (or most of it at least, not sure about a few of the corners). On another note, I was thinking of deleting my original question just to avoid attracting noise or too many down votes. A few are fine. Do you see any benefit to me leaving it there?
    – uhoh
    Aug 12, 2017 at 6:01
  • 1
    Methinks delete it. (Best I recollect, downvoted closed questions and downvoted questions with no answers automatically get deleted after a while anyway.) Aug 12, 2017 at 6:07
  • As a followup to this comment I should just ask here as well. I'm still flummoxed by the "attempt to discredit" label on my question (still available, linked above). I did ask to hypothesize about an unverifiable motive which I can see as off-topic, but unverifiable motives and hidden agendas are very real, and saying a group or individual might have one is tantamount to saying they may be human. Where does "discredit" come in here? Who might I be perceived to be discrediting?
    – uhoh
    Aug 14, 2017 at 4:36
  • I'm asking because if I can't understand this well enough, I won't be able to avoid this perception in the future. In short, I can understand how 1, 3, and 4 might apply, but I do not see yet how 2 would be seen to apply to my original question. Thanks!
    – uhoh
    Aug 14, 2017 at 4:39
  • @uhoh It's "promote or discredit". Your question was a glorified invitation to spell out and promote unsourced claims and conspiracy theories. Aug 14, 2017 at 9:19
  • 1
    OK so "attempt to discredit" has been slightly morphed into "glorified invitation" but how do you support this objectively? We often close questions if their answers are likely to be primarily opinion-based without having to make any accusations of intent, but you seem to be doing exactly this. It's not a conspiracy theory, but it is an unsupported theory none-the-less, and in this case it is just plain wrong. Can you answer in any other way than some variation of "I know what you are thinking and/or trying to do here"?
    – uhoh
    Aug 14, 2017 at 9:42
  • In space exploration SE there is a certain, very repetitive pattern of questions of the form they faked the moon landing and this photo proves it, right? They get closed fairly quickly and usually politely because the premise is based on falsification of an overwhelming body of evidence. However, questions of the form why doesn't this shadow look long enough will often still get an answer, rather than an insta-accuation of "bad faith". My purpose was to vet an interesting and admittedly naive theory and I think that's extremely clear...
    – uhoh
    Aug 14, 2017 at 9:55
  • ...so I'm stilly trying to understand why you believe that number 2 applies to my question. Why do you say my primary purpose appears to be to promote or discredit a specific political cause, group or politician. How could I have better make my primary purpose clearer, so that you do not think it is to promote or discredit? More importantly, how can I do it in the future? Can you explain an objective, non-telepathy-based test such that a third, independent party could apply it objectively to future questions? As an aside, please pardon the Trumpian dot-dot-dots :-)
    – uhoh
    Aug 14, 2017 at 9:58
  • -1. Specifically, because accusing someone of #2 is precisely the same kind of mind-reading that's discouraged for good reason, unless it's crystal clear (and it wasn't crystal clear in this case - it's a legit speculation, since nation states DO exactly what the question theorizes, using nation X's military activity to gauge technical details about the hardware/capabilities of nation X - most recently, of Russian hardware in Syria for several last years). If you stick to "this question can't be answered without speculation" it offers a constructive and non-accusatory reason.
    – user4012
    Aug 14, 2017 at 14:02
  • @user4012 That is probably a better answer for me to accept than the buffet offered here.
    – uhoh
    Aug 15, 2017 at 15:15

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