I have noticed what seems to be a strong political bias in votes on politics.stackexchange in general and, more importantly, in [on hold] votes. I have following questions concerning that:

  • What is the process to challenge [on hold] votes?

Though my question What could the UK stand to gain from the attempted assassination of ex-spy Skripal? is absolutely symmetrical to the question What would the Kremlin stand to gain from killing the ex-spy Sergey Skripal? and seems equally useful, it has been voted [on hold] by several individuals for what I see as obviously bogus reasons.

Me and another person, who already had answered the question have edited it multiple times in order to avoid further doubts about its validity and compliance with Stackexchange's policies. However while the other question is considered perfectly valid and received a +48 score, there is no way to unset the [on hold] status of my question and there is absolutely no reaction from the [on hold] voters after the questions has been edited several times.

I have tried to include the reasons for the validity and compliance of the question in the question itself (under "SIDE NOTE"). What is the normal procedure for dealing with an unfair treatment of a question? Where can I put an argumentation for the validity of a certain question or comment on the reasons given in an [on hold] vote? How can I cause a vote amongst users of Stackexchange, who vote considering the policies of Stackexchange and don't mute questions following their own political beliefs, affiliations, etc.?

  • As I consider it a relatively clear case: Is there a way to call for moderator action on an issue like that? Is there a way to let a moderator check the validity of the reasons given in an [on hold] vote?

  • Is there a penalty for users supplying bogus reasons in their [on hold] votes?

Right now it seems that there is absolutely nothing I can do that would allow my question to get a fair treatment and a treatment according to the policies of Stackexchange.

In the particular case I consider both questions equally useful and I think that looking at both questions and high quality answers to them could enable a reader to form a balanced opinion on the topic and not fall victim to propaganda from one side or the other.

Nevertheless, there is clearly the option to declare that both questions in some way violate Stackexchanges's policies. If however the question What would the Kremlin stand to gain from killing the ex-spy Sergey Skripal? is perfectly fine, I would expect a fair treatment for the symmetric question. In my opinion, allowing only one of the questions and deleting the other one would be allowing an abuse of the platform for propaganda purposes.

For a more systematic argumentation on the validity of my question, please read the "SIDE NOTE" which is currently in the question itself: What could the UK stand to gain from the attempted assassination of ex-spy Skripal?

  • 1
    Regarding “there is absolutely no reaction”: The question went through the reopen review queue as a result of having been edited. The review result (needs 2000 rep to view) was 1× reopen, 3× leave closed.
    – chirlu
    Commented Mar 31, 2018 at 11:41
  • It went to the reopen review queue again for having been edited. (I didn’t know that was even possible.) The review result this time was 1× reopen, 4× leave closed.
    – chirlu
    Commented Apr 8, 2018 at 15:02

2 Answers 2


while the other question is considered perfectly valid and received a +48 score

A +48 score does not mean a question is perfectly valid. A +48 score means that the question made it to the Hot Network Questions list. It would be more accurate to say that a +48 question is clickbait.

The questions are not symmetric since there is widespread belief that the Russians poisoned Skripal and no one except the Russians and their supporters claiming that the United Kingdom poisoned Skripal. One question calls for more information that both sides of the argument might find useful. The other supports a pretty threadbare accusation.

It's also worth noting that both questions tend to support the claim that the Russians did not poison Skripal. The +48 one in that it questions why Russia would want to poison Skripal. It's only its answers that tend to support the Russia poisoned Skripal narrative. The closed one in that it supports a bogus claim. Its answers would argue against a Russia poisoned Skripal.

A more neutral question might ask how we know that it was Russia and not a false flag operation. But as stands, the question assumes that the evidence pointing to Russia can just be wished away.

In general, I think that you had too high hopes if you wanted the question to be open. As a question, it was most useful in that it questioned whether the +48 question should be on hold. There is no serious argument that the closed question should be open. It's opinionated crap. It's like if someone posted "Why is the sky blue?" and you responded with "Why is the noontime sky orange?"

One reason not to close the +48 question is that while the question is slanted one way, its answers are inherently slanted the other way. So the question casts doubt on Russia's involvement in a borderline ranty way. But the answers unequivocally support Russia's involvement, canceling the question's bias. Your question is even more ranty, encourages a widely debunked conspiracy theory, and supports even rantier answers supporting said conspiracy theory.

  • Regarding “a more neutral question”, this one might fit: Are there any facts according to which the Russian government is responsible for the chemical attack in Great Britain?
    – chirlu
    Commented Apr 1, 2018 at 16:54
  • 2
    It makes no sense to count the NATO countries showing their solidarity with the UK against the countries that support Russia. A display of solidarity is a purely political decision and doesn't add credibility or evidence to any claims. Your criticism is primarily based on your personal views on the issue and in general, as you seem to consider the claims spread by the UK as somehow more trustworthy.
    – A. Froster
    Commented Apr 1, 2018 at 18:54
  • I want to point out, that there is currently indeed absolutely no evidence of a Russian involvement. And if there had been, the answer to my original question would be the perfect place to put it. So far there is no conspiracy theory. There is the UK claiming something and some countries blindly following it by showing their support. Employing your "metaphor", we could put it this way: The sky is neither blue nor orange at the moment. We don't know what color the sky is, though you seem to have a strong opinion on that issue.
    – A. Froster
    Commented Apr 1, 2018 at 19:00
  • By the way, it turned out that my original question was "how we know that it was Russia and not a false flag operation" and it was deleted. This is exactly why I have asked this meta question, because it seems that questions on SE are muted for political reasons and not because they contradict SE's policies. It seems that there is always somebody who doesn't like the question or possible answers to it and has great suggestions about how the question should be put instead, which however doesn't prevent it from being deleted again after another [oh hold] vote citing similar bogus reasons.
    – A. Froster
    Commented Apr 1, 2018 at 19:41
  • @A.Froster: “A display of solidarity is a purely political decision and doesn't add credibility or evidence to any claims.” – Supposedly, the UK presented secret evidence in order to convince their allies.
    – chirlu
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 7:32

On hold can be ended by a moderator or by 5 votes from users with enough reputation (it currently has 4). There is nothing meaningfulness limiting arbitrary use of those powers, but they are only gained through being part of the community for a while.

This is the place to suggest something was done incorrectly, or to complain about unfairness or abuse.

The difference in score is probably mostly an artifact of the Russian question getting onto the hot network questions list.

The difference in closing is probably due to the consideration of which viewpoint is viewed as fringe, several governments have suggested the Russians involvement, but I don't think there has been any official finger pointing at the West (I only read English language news). This makes an asymmetry; "Why did this happen?" vs "why would it have happened if...?".

I'm of the opinion the first can produce useful answers from official or noted speculation, but the second will produce personal speculation which is discouraged here. I admit it not a clear line, and the community doesn't seem to have a strong consensus one way or the other though.

  • First of all, thanks for the response. However I want to disagree with the points made about the supposed asymmetry. I am not sure if the policies of SE demand that, but mutual accusations do exist: In my question I have cited a source with the title: "Russia in shocking claim Salisbury spy poisoning was 'TERROR ATTACK carried out by UK'". The accusation that is referred to in the article was brought forward by a Russian government official during a meeting to which the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had summoned all foreign ambassadors and which was devoted to the attack on Skripal.
    – A. Froster
    Commented Mar 30, 2018 at 23:42
  • Also: Other countries, as members of certain coalitions of countries, have shown their solidarity with the UK. However, displays of solidarity do not add any credible evidence for the accusations made and it has to be left to personal judgement, whether such a display adds credibility to the claims. If we leave all personal beliefs aside, we currently have no way to know who is responsible for the attack. Also there is no way we can regard one version of events as the "official" one and the other one as a "fringe" version or "hypothetical".
    – A. Froster
    Commented Mar 30, 2018 at 23:48

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