I came across this question and answered it with a frame challenge that the statements the OP references are a rhetorical device more than actual beliefs. It's garnered some upvotes but wound up in the low-quality review queue. Two reviewers thought it was fine, one recommended deletion.

The would-be deleter and I had a brief polite conversation about it and neither one of us could find a definitive rule about this.

Are frame challenges acceptable as answers the way they are on some other stack exchanges? If so what are the stipulations?

  • I've looked around a bit to write an answer but can't really find good rules that won't open the door to challenging about any premise (which politics is much more prone to that other sites, I think). For example on Meta, I found the advice that the community will decide acceptability of a frame challenge through voting on a case-by-case basis, but that seems very prone to partisanship on this site. If you have an idea of how to avoid that, you can always write an answer or provide some pointers in your question.
    – JJJ Mod
    Commented Jun 13, 2019 at 12:15
  • @JJJ I'm not sure if that's an argument for or against: this site may because if it's nature need frame challenges that much more. A big problem in political discourse is that (per e.g. Chomsky) the unchallenged background assumptions constrain the debate, sometimes in ways that are undesirable. Commented Jun 13, 2019 at 12:18
  • Yea so the question becomes whether poorly framed questions should be handled at all. One could argue that's also a close reason (not a good-faith effort). Also note that this site is not for debate, but restricted to questions that are objectively answerable. I think frame challenge can be alright or even nice sometimes, but there would have to be some guidelines. In particular, the first question is: What do you want to achieve by providing a frame challenge answer? (in general, not in case of this specific question)
    – JJJ Mod
    Commented Jun 13, 2019 at 12:23
  • @JJJ good point. A poorly framed question may be (and probably frequently is) asked in good faith, but that doesn't mean we have to answer it (rather than close). I'm having a hard time thinking of a good reason to close the question that set this off though, even though I (obviously) challenge the framing. Commented Jun 13, 2019 at 12:26
  • If it's asked in good-faith then editing is also an option. I guess in your case, the frame challenge was better than editing because there were already other answers that would be invalidated had you changed the question substantially.
    – JJJ Mod
    Commented Jun 13, 2019 at 12:43
  • @FizzF oh sorry, I thought the top one was. My mistake.
    – Jontia
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 10:08

3 Answers 3


If someone flagged an answer like that for deletion, I would decline that flag almost 100% of the time.

As long as your answer looks like it's trying to help the OP solve his underlying problem(on politics.SE, it's usually to understand an issue) then you should be fine.

As for whether I would be inclined upvote or downvote that answer, however, is a completely different question.


I'm not sure if I would delete it or not. My issue with it would be that it doesn't look like an attempt to answer the question asked.

I think frame challenges are OK (I just did one to you, after all), but tying it back to the question asked explicitly e.g. to say "this question is hard to answer because these two terms you just used are a giant mess" would have made it better.

  • I assume you mean this one? Shouldn't you indicate that you're doing a frame challenge?
    – JJJ Mod
    Commented Jun 13, 2019 at 23:19
  • Well, I didn't think of it in those terms at the time. I called it a frame challenge here only because Jared Smith did.
    – Joe
    Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 1:25
  • Let's not get too bogged down in semantics. I was highlighting an issue with that question, Joe highlighted an issue with mine, we can drop the term "frame challenge" if we need to. Commented Jun 14, 2019 at 11:13

I wouldn't call that answer a frame challenge.


Roughly what proportion of people think that abortion should be allowed, even if fetuses are persons?

Your post:

Frame challenge: those are inconsistently applied, not just by society, but frequently by the same people.

So the question asks for something to be quantified. Your response doesn't attempt to quantify anything. Nor is it clear what frame you are challenging. Does the question claim that people are applying principles logically and consistently? If anything, it seems to be saying that they aren't. Your response is thus a reiteration of the assumption of the question, a frame reinforcement rather than a challenge.

Also, what do military engagements and legal executions have to do with abortion? Nothing. Which is part of what suggests to me that your real point was that this isn't the only policy area where people are inconsistent. But that's not the framing of the question. The questions asks only how many people take this seemingly inconsistent position on this particular issue. Pointing out that there are other people taking inconsistent positions on similar issues doesn't address that.

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