A user asked this today:

"Who negotiated the release of prisoners from North Korea"

And it was closed for being off-topic. Why? It seems like an objectively verifiable question to me. Was there a negotiation for the release of those prisoners or wasn't there? That's a yes or no question. If the answer is "we don't know", that's still an answer.

If there was a negotiation, who was the negotiating party?

If there was no negotiation, then there's plenty of room for argument as to whether it was a result of intimidation/pressure from Trump, or China, or whoever, but either way, it's perfectly reasonable to say that it's an act of goodwill by North Korea, which is also an answer.

The fact that Trump took credit for it is irrelevant. Of course he's going to take credit. So I don't see how this is off-topic.

I'm approaching this from the perspective of an uninformed 3rd party, which is what this site is supposed to be about.

  • Is there any evidence that 100% of evidence of any negotiations (or lack thereof) is publicly available? If not, the question isn't answerable using publicly available info and doesn't belong on the site, Trump or not.
    – user4012
    May 12, 2018 at 2:39
  • Also, regarding "good faith" VTC reason: a question that wasn't aimed at "gotcha, I wanna prove Trump lied" would have been worded as "what is the evidence of the process and exact reasons that people XYZ were released by DPRK". The only reason to mention Trump is to try to paint him in bad light assuming the answer is "there's no proof he negotiated that". (I won't even go into secondary problems, like an assumption that Trump deserves credit by creating a climate where DPRK decided it was worthwhile to release people)
    – user4012
    May 12, 2018 at 2:42
  • 1
    @user4012 That's why he asked the question. This is a question and answer site afterall.
    – user9790
    Jun 1, 2018 at 21:06
  • And just because one is sent to negotiate does not mean they weren't ordered to do so with specific goals and instructions.
    – user9790
    Jun 1, 2018 at 21:08

1 Answer 1


It's apparently contentious enough that it got reopened. But per the comment I left when voting to close the question, and echoing user4012's comment on your question, it is:

mind reading that can't be verified using publicly available sources

Aside: this site is unfortunately littered with this type of bad questions - and I feel it got worse since the 2016 US presidential campaign. It has grown to the point where even some old time users don't see the problem with them. It is a problem, because the more questions that cannot be answered in a reasonably objective manner grow in frequency, the more new users will think they're acceptable on this site. They're not, because they only invite speculative or partisan responses with up or down votes getting cast based on agreement rather than quality.

  • 1
    One thing the site is littered with is people that throw their hands up saying things aren't answerable, so you must be a mindreader. This happens alot. IMO this is a result of 80%, or maybe more, of the community having little grounding in the subject matter and more importantly the literature and methods. Whether something is classified and therefore mostly unknowable is another matter.
    – user9790
    Jun 1, 2018 at 21:04

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