Somebody just asked Why did Jemima Goldsmith divorce Irman Khan?, which at least 4 closers feel is too low a question for Politics.SE -- their rationale is probably quite idealistic or academic. (Please note: I've zero interest in Irman Khan's divorce.)

Yet in this world scandals and improprieties involving politicians as often as not have real political impact:

  • Voters are deeply interested in scandals of the famous, (whether rightly or unfairly), and their votes are demonstrably influenced by news of a scandal.
  • Scandals can lose elections.
  • Scandals cause resignations.
  • Scandals can affect the stock market.
  • Scandals can devour governmental processing hours, not unlike a Denial-of-service attack.
  • Suppressing scandals often causes politicians to tell big lies, hire fixers, distribute bribes, beef up security, and God knows what else.

Scandals can be weaponized:

  • used as blackmail that influences the entirety of some political careers. A politician with a secret can become their blackmailer's drone.
  • a witch-hunter can accrue power by rooting out scandals.
  • a simple personal scandal often makes an excellent distraction from some more complex policy-based bit of mischief.
  • and vice-versa, some large public effort, (like a war perhaps), can be used as a distraction from some troublesome personal scandal.

Gossip and scandal are not to every person's taste, but is it wise to categorically bury them?

  • 4
    Surely you aren't suggesting gossip ought to be generally on topic.
    – user9389
    Jul 27, 2018 at 18:20
  • @notstoreboughtdirt, No, a political question forum should neither be a TMZ nor a true crime forum. But politics are the work of people, and people's personal lives can have profound effects on their work. So when one of the parties involved has political power it's politics. If they were our contemporaries, Henry VIII's spousal misdeeds should be on-topic, but not Henri Landru's.
    – agc
    Jul 29, 2018 at 2:45

2 Answers 2


When are questions about scandals on-topic in the general case? In my opinion, two things need to be true:

  1. There is actual evidence of a scandal. There need to be concrete accusations made by other politicians or political media. Otherwise we will end up with "please find me some dirt on X" questions, which really serve no purpose other than to discredit X.
  2. The scandal must either be about political misconduct or have the potential to have political consequences. Keep in mind that different moral standards apply in different cultures. So an allegation of private misconduct which would end a political career in one country might be irrelevant tabloid news in another.

I am not that familiar with politics of Pakistan, but I really doubt that Why did Jemima Goldsmith divorce Irman Khan? is of much political relevance:

  1. their divorce isn't even recent news. It was 14 years ago.

  2. there doesn't seem to be any concrete evidence that there is an actual political scandal brewing here. Just a vague tweet by his ex-wife.

Unless there is some visible political threat to Khan's position from his past marriage, that question falls into the category of celebrity gossip.

  • "Please find me some dirt on X" questions sound rather like "Please write me code to do X in language Y" on StackOverflow -- but there nobody blames language Y, they blame the questioner.
    – agc
    Jul 29, 2018 at 2:26
  • @agc And? That's what we do with dirt-seekers, too. Your analogy is basically nonsense. Are you trying to rephrase "please find me some dirt on X" as "help me to discredit X using Y=gossip" as if that were a valid equivalence to the SO situation? Aug 23, 2018 at 14:56
  • @zibadawatimmy, The last sentence of moderator Philipp's answer categorically rejects celebrity gossip from the domain of politics.
    – agc
    Aug 23, 2018 at 17:22
  • 2
    @agc No, it rejects irrelevant or unsubstantiated celebrity gossip from the domain of Politics.SE. Big, big difference. This is not a site for engaging in the act and processes of politics, however this may be done in various places. It is a Q&A site for solid questions with factual, verifiable answers (with a fudge factor here because the subject is politics). Aug 24, 2018 at 6:22

While I'm not sure I'd put it here, a line must exist.

Weather or the stock market also affect elections, but I suggest only questions related to that aspect of them are appropriate here.

Asking about some particular group's perceptions of the fact or particulars of a divorce may be relevant to how politics works out but I think the why isn't by itself relevant.

A slight rewording would satisfy me while still being answered with very similar information, like "what is the mainstream reaction to Khan's divorce"

  • Where the mainstream reaction is based on a non-factual or dubious source, it would be far less useful to readers here than the actual facts, or information about the complete lack of actual facts. In such cases where some fact-free or trivial but potent rumor stalks the land, answers about the rumor's origins, folkloric content, (if any), and likely beneficiaries might be useful.
    – agc
    Jul 28, 2018 at 11:13

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