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A couple days ago I asked this question: ‪Has Biden apologized for saying a neoconfederate organization had many fine people?‬.‪ The close reason given was “‬The primary purpose of this question appears to be to promote or discredit a specific political cause, group or politician. It does not appear to be a good-faith effort to learn more about governments, policies and political processes as defined in the help center.”

But in actual fact my question isn’t intended to discredit Biden at all; as it happens I’m a Biden supporter. It’s just that I saw (a shortened version of) the clip that’s the subject of my question being shared by a lot of Trump supporters on Twitter as a way to attack Biden. So I decided to track down the original video and ask a question to find out if Biden had apologized or expressed regret for his remarks, and thus if Trump supporters were unfairly attacking him. So how do I prove that my question was asked in good faith?

This Meta answer gives a series of criteria a question should meet to be considered as posted in good faith. The problem is, I think my question already meets all the criteria:

  1. Be Serious: My question was asked in earnest, without sarcasm or other forms of humor.
  2. Defensible viewpoints: My question has links to reliable sources.
  3. Be careful of highly partisan sources. I quoted no partisan sources.
  4. Explain your question: I provide a great deal of context, including describing the organization and mentioning whose speech Biden was referencing, and where and when Biden made his remarks.
  5. Avoid bad (opinionated) assertions My question was not premised on any opinionated assertions.

So what else can I do to demonstrate good faith? Provide evidence that I’m a Biden supporter and not a Trump supporter?

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  • 4
    I vote we eliminate 'bad faith' as a reason to close. It's impossible to know someone's intentions. – Chloe Aug 25 at 3:30
  • "The primary purpose of this question appears to be to promote or discredit a specific political cause, group or politician." - this is a super-vague double-edged sword definition. One could argue the question at politics.stackexchange.com/questions/56597/… is an attempt to 'discredit'. Who gets to determine what constitutes 'discrediting'? What's to stop a person of a particular political persuasion abusing this to close down questions they feel presents their side in a bad light? – SSight3 Aug 25 at 9:13
  • I don't think this problem of bad faith assumption is unique to Politics.SE or even to SE itself. Good luck. – Stop Being Evil Aug 26 at 3:12
  • @SSight3: I don't think we should eliminate that, I think we should make it more specific (e.g. make it about leading questions, or questions which appear to presume a particular political viewpoint). That would be easier for everyone to understand, while still keeping out a fairly wide swath of "bad" questions. – Kevin Aug 31 at 16:22
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I don't think you can every prove good faith – no matter what rules or advice we give, there will be concern trolls who are happy to abuse them. I think the best thing you can do is interact with the people reacting to your question and work hard to address their concerns.

Generally, it's a matter of switching to a neutral-point-of-view, removing leading questions, and dropping explanatory information which pushes a certain point of view. Even if you don't think it's necessary, making those changes shows that you're willing to take other people's opinions into account and are more interested in asking your question than pushing a point.

In the case of your question, though, it's not as simple. All I can do is point out why I thought it was a bad-faith troll question, which can hopefully help you understand why people voted to close it:

  1. The topic of the question is a 30 year old quote with no direct current relevance. It's hard to imagine why you would ask about this other than to bring it up to imply that Biden is racist. I'm not sure how to fix this. I'd probably say no questions like this should be on-topic unless they're relevant for another reason – otherwise we'd be flooded with questions bringing up and asking about every unsavory thing Trump has said, and none of those questions would be useful either.
  2. Asking "did he apologize" is a leading question. It implies that, of course, what he said was racist and in support of the confederacy. You do mention towards the end the context that was Biden opposing the UDAC, but the title strongly implies that he supported them and should apologize. Changing the title to be less leading, something like "Has Biden commented on ...?" or "Has Biden explained what he meant by ...?" might be better
  3. This is very specific to your question, but by focusing on the "very fine people" in the title, my first thought was that this was an effort to equate this with Trump's comments about the white-nationalists who murdered a woman in Charlottesville, where he stated: “You also had some very fine people on both sides”. I probably should have commented on that directly, to give you a chance to explain or change that, rather than assuming ill of you, but if I'm being honest, this was the part that convinced me you were acting in bad-faith.

So, what's my advice for you? Probably the 2 things I'd recommend in retrospect would be: 1) mentioning why you were asking the question up front (usually I don't like too much of this, but your real reasoning is better than the assumption that you were just trolling through Biden's speeches looking for something you could call racist) and 2) picking a less inflammatory title and doing a better job of keeping the context up front.

None of this is mandatory, though. You are free to write anything you want, however you want it, and we're free to vote as we desire – that's how Stack Exchange moderation works. But, hopefully, this post will help you see your question through others' eyes and help you understand why it got the response it did.

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  • I think part of the issue is that some of the signals that seemed to show I was asking my question in bad faith were reflections of the fact that the Trump supporters who unearthed the clip did so with the intent to attack Biden. In particular I think they scoured decades of footage to find something that they could compare to the “very fine people” line. In any case, I just edited my question title to make it less inflammatory. – Keshav Srinivasan Aug 20 at 3:41
  • I will second divibisan on his 3 points, they match, pretty exactly, my thought process upon reading this question. (I am not a Democrat, nor am I a Republican) ... I choose, whenever possible, on merit (best person for the job, no matter the job) – CGCampbell Aug 21 at 21:15

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