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In comments on a question related to fake news, a moderator responded to my edit trying to narrow the question with the following:

The problem with this question is that this is a question&answer website, not a discussion forum. We are here to explain how politics and political processes work. We are not here to brainstorm new solutions to political problems. This doesn't really work with the Stack Exchange system. So you might want to bring up this topic on a more discussion-oriented website. – Philipp ♦ 3 hours ago

Perhaps I misunderstand the limits of this forum, I would think that questions calling for brainstorming of solutions (technical or political/economic) would be acceptable.

On StackOverflow, software developers ask questions that prompt brainstorming solutions right? There may not be a single "right" answer, but expert input on directions that might prove helpful seem welcome there.

  • Why don't you go on Stack overflow, lay out some project goals, and ask how you would go about designing that project, and see how that works out for you. – Sam I am says Reinstate Monica Nov 20 '18 at 20:40
  • Problem questions are different from how to design a project. Some of the highest scoring questions on Stack Overflow lay out a problem and simply ask a question on how to address it. E.g. Is there a way I can build the list adapter easily row by row, where I can resize on the fly (bit wise)? at stackoverflow.com/questions/477572/… there are multiple good answers. – Burt_Harris Nov 20 '18 at 21:14
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Such brainstorming questions have several problems.

  • There are no "right" or "wrong" answers. When you are asking for a technical solution on Stackoverflow, then you can try out the answers yourself and come to the conclusion "doesn't work, -1" or "does work, +1, answer accepted". But that doesn't apply to answers to political problems. Unless you happen to be a high-ranking politician yourself, you do not have the power to simply "try out" solutions and say which work and which don't. And if you want to start a political movement, then "some guy on Politics Stack Exchange says it would work, and it got 17 upvotes!" is unlikely to be a convincing argument to get politicians on your side.
  • Which answer raises to the top is based on political bias. To take the question linked above as an example, the already posted answers neatly represent (from oldest to newest) the social-democratic approach ("undermine the business model through taxation and regulation"), the libertarian approach ("free market might solve it if people are educated enough, and if it doesn't it's the price we have to pay for liberty") and the authoritarian approach ("give someone the power to forbid it"). Which one is the "best" approach? This depends on your own political leanings and ideals. Now you could say "Let's make this a popularity contest and let the votes decide!" But now the best answer will be skewed by the majority political view of our community. The top answer would not necessarily be the answer which is the best written, the one which would objectively have the best results or even the one which would receive the most votes if our community were a more representative sample of the population.
  • They attracts partisans. A recurring problem on this website are people who participate with the goal to spread their ideology. We want this community to inform about politics and political processes from a neutral and non-evangelizing point of view. So these people are not welcome here. However, such open questions are very attractive to them, because they can easily be used as an excuse to write an answer which promotes a specific point of view.
  • While I agree with all of these points as true, and agree with your ultimate conclusion, I'm not convinced point #1 is a reason to consider a topic out of scope. Things like untested constitutional theory and potentially reviewable case law lead to answers that are theoretical but relied upon frequently in the community. – LearnWorkLearn Nov 28 '18 at 4:59
  • Philipp, are you saying that only questions with right and wrong answers are in scope? – Burt_Harris Dec 1 '18 at 4:06
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    @Burt_Harris This alone is not always a definitive criteria for a question being inappropriate for a Q&A site, but it is a very strong sign that it might be. – Philipp Dec 3 '18 at 17:42
  • There does need to be a way to determine a "best" answer, even if it's not a right/wrong issue. See Good Subjective, Bad Subjective. The answer needs to be supported by evidence and/or experience. – V2Blast Jan 1 at 19:26

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