The most popular answer to this question is

Question answer

The answer is not supported at all, has zero analysis, and is mostly supposition ("I don't think it has ever been contemplated, and therefore is unlikely" is one of the most logically contradictory statements I have ever seen). It's just telling some folks what they want to hear. And the site is attracting those that want to hear it. It's not rude in any way; the answer is well, frankly stupid pablum. Any suggestions on what can be done?

  • Might be a silly question, but if you believe the answer to be very low quality, have you flagged it as such?
    – F1Krazy
    Sep 17, 2019 at 13:42
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    As a first step, I've removed the question from the "Hot Network Questions" list.
    – yannis
    Sep 17, 2019 at 13:42
  • I'm not sure if we had a [meta]question whether answers require sources, but we did have one on the sources themselves politics.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3840/… Some of the bandwagon dynamics of SE voting (what's on top gets voted more) are probably at work here, besides bias. I think that answer was posted first. (And writing the first thing that comes to mind surely takes less time than finding quotes from experts, so the former kind of answers often get posted first.) Sep 18, 2019 at 4:16
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    Actually, some 7 years ago, yannis posted a question about backing up answers with sources: politics.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/40/… Sep 18, 2019 at 4:25
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    @Fizz perhaps it's time to review that policy. As we've seen over the past 7 years, fact-free politics based on what people want to hear doesn't necessarily lead to the best decisions (or in this case answers).
    – JJJ Mod
    Sep 18, 2019 at 5:30
  • The problem is worsening. politics.stackexchange.com/questions/45652/… not only the question is incoherent but the answers aren't much better either
    – user9790
    Sep 19, 2019 at 0:06
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    If you want to see another example: this comment says basically "you didn't read properly" and it has upvotes, but the answers don't, even though the comment is not only rather rude (flag declined) but also clearly wrong to a number of people who even explained based on the source why... Sep 20, 2019 at 9:51

2 Answers 2


In a subsequent comment to your question, you mention this other question, saying:

The problem is worsening. [...] not only the question is incoherent but the answers aren't much better either

To be clear, I agree the question isn't great.

But however incoherent it may seem to you, and however laughably trivial it might be to those who might be both able and willing to answer it coherently, the surest way to ensure that no one will provide a coherent answer is to close vote it.

To me the question seems sensible. It's the kind of thing a teenager or a young adult might ask when trying to understand whether they're going to drink the libertarian cool aid during their rebel years or see straight through that BS and move on from the get go. It's a simple, perfectly clear question at that ("What stops this from happening?").

And yet, you criticize it here as having zero analysis and chose to close it.


As to your original question, as the comments relayed, there have been a few questions in meta over time to discuss whether we want (credibly) sourced answers or not. The consensus until now, for better or worse, has been that we do not. And that means sophisms have a place on this site -- those that you agree with and those you do not.

Speaking personally I would welcome changing this. Chiefly so that our handful of trolls don't end up with 10k+ reputation. But that's just me. (And it's probably too late.)

  • The zero analysis points related to the prior Answer. The worsening comment is to a question that is extremely poor, shows no research by the asker, almost a naive complete ignorance of corporations and governments, a complete hypothetical with no basis in fact. And the consensus you mentioned is contradicted here politics.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/40/…
    – user9790
    Sep 19, 2019 at 17:57
  • You regularly see the comment from Mods too. There are more than one q on this, but this one is usually seen as authoritative.
    – user9790
    Sep 19, 2019 at 18:07
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    @KDog: FWIW what I'm mostly seeing is that your question has as many downvotes as upvotes, and your willingness to engage in a conversation on the topic appears to break down to downvoting the only answer you got without addressing what prompted me to answer, and nitpicking about which meta question is most authoritative on the straw you managed to grasp at. So we'll probably just have to agree to disagree. Sep 19, 2019 at 18:11
  • I would say JJJ and Fizz brought up a similar point on updating that policy. That I am all for. If you want to elaborate on how you would change that I would change my vote.
    – user9790
    Sep 19, 2019 at 18:24
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    @KDog: As I implied towards the end of my answer, I'd be wholeheartedly embrace demanding "(credibly) sourced answers". But it's not my sole decision to make. Sep 19, 2019 at 18:33
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    @KDog Yea, I think a previous argument was that trolls can just find sources anyway, even from disreputable sources. That's true, but at least readers can then judge sources rather than vague claims. The use of vague claims is common for reputable users, myself included. Sometimes you're writing away and things are hard to back up. So having a rule to back up nontrivial (subject, but so be it) claims would be useful regardless of concerns.
    – JJJ Mod
    Sep 19, 2019 at 18:34
  • I think we are in agreement here. Just like in US judicial reasoning: Cont>Constitutional precedent>Treaties/secondary sources>English Common Law and practice> legislative history/intent we could have
    – user9790
    Sep 19, 2019 at 18:39
  • @KDog: Methinks you should put the question to a community vote by opening a (well researched) new meta question without picking on specific questions. You'll get my vote if you mind the "credible" in credible source. Else, refer to what JJJ said. Sep 19, 2019 at 18:42
  • Case Law>Primary sourced (Const, Declaration, Fed Papers)>Government sourced research>Think tank/academic sourced research>Newspaper articles>Opinion articles>wikipedia
    – user9790
    Sep 19, 2019 at 18:43
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    The problem with any sort of hierarchy like that is that it flies out of the window when you've a certified liar at the helm in the UK and in the Us, on a backdrop of deep fakes becoming mainstream. IMHO the only sensible criteria should be more like: well regarded scientific article > well sourced news article > everything else. Sep 19, 2019 at 18:49
  • Opened the meta question Denis
    – user9790
    Sep 19, 2019 at 18:55

Overwhelming majority of the people who study math do not troll each other over disagreements.

Overwhelming majority of the people who research science do not troll each other over disagreements (although they do have occasional heated discussion).

Even programmers will have occasional flame wars, but for the most part, they agree on overwhelming more than they disagree on.

Overwhelming majority of the people who practice law have norms on how to remain civil even though the legal system is adversarial.

Overwhelming majority of the people who engage in politics, in any way, troll each other. They make statements which they know to be false (but which they know may sway some people's opinions). Swaying opinions is the name of the game.

Now you have a site dedicated to studying politics as if it were a subject rigorously isolated from people's own emotional attachments. And the format for the site is the same as the format for other sites dedicated to studies in which disagreements are simply not as common as they are in politics.

And yet you are surprised that it does not produce the same results as those sites. It's because the subject matter which is being explored is practiced by trolls. Can it be studied without revealing everyone's own biases (which is what's necessary to keep it rigorous)?

To most participants it will present the Prisoner's Dilemma. Remaining rigorous, in the face of other reputable members acting like practitioners of politics, rather than like students of politics, feels like being the sucker in the Prisoner's Dilemma. So eventually everyone does from time to time descend into the gutter.

Even the moderators are not immune. Again, this isn't because the site lacks rigor compared to the other SE sites. On many occasions it's more rigorous. It's because the subject matter is practiced by trolls.

I am sorry if this doesn't feel like an answer, but in order to avoid a lack of rigor, you need different rules from the rules which guide studying of other subjects which are not (overwhelmingly) practiced by trolls.

Alternatively, you can follow the solution to this dilemma which was recommended by Joshua (of the movie War Games): the only winning move is not to play.

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    A very early suggestion of mine was that folks had to register with an ideology (prog, con, libertarian, other) and then have these only offset each other. 4 votes tallied per question. So you could have 4 highest ideological responses each get some real estate. Make the mods register too
    – user9790
    Sep 29, 2019 at 20:44
  • @KDog many people are not that firm in their opinions.
    – grovkin
    Sep 29, 2019 at 20:47
  • And many people here get their news from The Daily Show. Neither condition helps the quality here
    – user9790
    Sep 29, 2019 at 21:02
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    @KDog who determines what the categories would be? And why would each category carry the same weight? That's like doing this on health.SE and giving doctors half the weight and quacks the other, as if they are equal branches of healthcare.
    – JJJ Mod
    Sep 29, 2019 at 22:46
  • @JJJ You don't have any political scientists on this site, or historians, or professionals pundits. You have 98 percent coders, and 2 percent that may have studies in a university setting. If you want to ban the coders as quacks, I am all for it
    – user9790
    Sep 30, 2019 at 10:12
  • @JJJ and I meant specifically majoring in Government or Political Science. If you majored in some other discipline, it doesn't matter.
    – user9790
    Sep 30, 2019 at 17:02
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    @KDog I don't really see why having a degree in those subjects would be that important. I agree that it may be a plus for answering some questions, but they too can write bad answers just like anyone else. Conversely, other people may be able to write good evidence-based contributions too. Note also that scientists are focused on narrow specialisations within their field, so in the broad range of questions here many won't have that much of an edge compared to informed readers.
    – JJJ Mod
    Sep 30, 2019 at 17:10
  • @JJJ you were just against quacks, and now support the unlearned. Maybe define quack?
    – user9790
    Oct 1, 2019 at 9:34
  • A quack is someone who pretends to have authority (e.g. as a medical doctor) when they do not have the corresponding qualifications. I am not against people without a relevant degree participating in answering (here or on the medical site) if they can support their reasoning with appropriate references. What I object to is putting them on equal footing with professionals. That's what (I think) you implied by saying those 4 ideologies should share equal voting power on this site. Answers should not be voted based on ideology but based on quality (which should be somewhat objective).
    – JJJ Mod
    Oct 1, 2019 at 9:53
  • @JJJ I don't see how my suggestion of conservative/liberal/moderate/other categorization would polarize into professional vs quacks, unless they all self-identified as other. Frankly, that would be a service in and of itself.
    – user9790
    Oct 1, 2019 at 13:29
  • @KDog I may have misread your suggestion thinking that it somehow tallies into one score. Even if the four scores stay separate, there's a lot of discussion on what the categories would be and how it's displayed (as many posts only get a few votes). It's an interesting idea, but I think there are practical hurdles (and of course SE won't bother implementing bespoke features for such a small site).
    – JJJ Mod
    Oct 1, 2019 at 16:48
  • @JJJ there is zero chance of answers not being voted on ideology unless one cannot figure out the poster's ideology from their answers. There is only 1 person on this entire site whose ideology I have not been able to figure out from their answers (luckily he is one of the moderators).
    – grovkin
    Oct 1, 2019 at 20:22
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    @JJJ as a possible fix, we could institute the requirement that anyone presenting an argument must be required to post the opposing side's argument. Anyone who is not even aware of the opposing side's argument should not be considered an expert on the subject.
    – grovkin
    Oct 1, 2019 at 20:25
  • @grovkin While I agree in theory, the practical problem is: who judges whether the other side's arguments are shown correctly? If those who judge have seen nothing but their own side's mockery of the other side, what will this requirement add? In the end, the only solution is either "one person, one vote", or "one person with the single vote."
    – Sjoerd
    Oct 1, 2019 at 20:38
  • @grovkin I'd put it differently. You can just write an answer saying group X has the following argument / reasoning. And that's only to somewhat ideological questions. Many questions (which I answer), e.g. on Brexit, are about procedure in parliament and on EU treaties. Those tend to be less ideological and more about finding where they are (e.g. in laws or as a custom). Of course there are opposing views and then it's mostly quoting that politician X has put forward this or that argument.
    – JJJ Mod
    Oct 1, 2019 at 20:38

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