19

I've seen the term used, multiple times, in comments, as a reason to close a question, and in general I do not disagree with the closure. However, the official reason for the closure is never because "this is a push question."

I have my opinions on what a "push question" is, but providing them would make this a meta push question. It might be useful to have a discussion on what exactly a "push question" is, and why they are bad for this site.

2
  • You don't want to be a metapusher? I think at least gentle metanudge questions are perfectly fine and a good way to use meta; it's perfectly okay to mention one's position within a meta question.
    – uhoh
    Mar 5 at 3:20
  • 1
    @uhoh - While I had an idea what the phrase "push question" meant, I wasn't quite as I hadn't seen the phrase used outside of Politics.SE. My intent was twofold: To get someone to clarify the meaning, and to describe why push questions were inevitably closed. We have recently seen a spate of "push questions" at SpaceExploration.SE by a user appeared to be pushing a conspiracy theory regarding the Mars Perseverance rover. Many of those questions were massively down voted, closed, and some were even deleted. Mar 5 at 9:17
15

Simply put it is a question that already knows the answer that it is looking for or more specifically is a question that is looking to support the position of that author and does not care about any answers that does not support that belief.

A simplified example of a push question would be asking if something is true and providing evidence of why the author thinks it is true. When it is provided in the question instead of an answer it is perceived as pushing the beliefs of the author instead of looking for an answer even if that answer could turn out to be not what they believe.

2
  • I agree with this (+1), but I'm going to wait several hours, maybe even a day, before I accept it as the answer. Feb 7 at 15:40
  • @DavidHammen That is a good idea as there is still plenty of time for someone to come along who is more elegant and may provide a better answer. :)
    – Joe W
    Feb 7 at 16:22
12

The close reason for this ("the primary purpose of this question appears to be to promote or discredit a specific political cause, group or politician") was proposed here. In the simpler terms mentioned there, such questions are a "rant in disguise".

If I were to make finer typology of such questions:

  1. The most obvious case is when someone posts a (really) long question that's largely filled with one-sided arguments in some dispute/controversy. And the question itself is (thus largely) perfunctory to the goal of making their position known in detail. The actual question could be something like "am I right?" It's hard to link to still live questions like this because most get deleted, but here is a meta discussion on one such question (which has some extensive quotes from the original question, so low-rep users can get a clearer idea.)

  2. A less obvious case (i.e. more debatable) is when the question isn't a long rant and actually admits a precise but trivial answer (e.g. something you can find in seconds on Google, or a generic answer that would apply to many other similar situations), but the whole point of the question seems to be to raise awareness to a particular incident, event or occurrence. (To give an [alleged] example, such a question is being discussed here; the question itself is not deleted, but was heavily downvoted. And here is another on a question that was at least in part closed for this reason.)

In general, you can kinda get a feeling that the above two are happening when the OP resists (e.g. rolls back) edits that would make the question shorter (i.e. less of an answer in itself) or not so biased/particularized (if that is actually appropriate).

  1. Probably the least obvious (and thus most debatable) case is when the question, rather than being almost perfunctory, tends towards the opposite end of the spectrum, i.e. being too broad and the OP accepts a "fringe answer", i.e. one with few upvotes relative to other answers. I say this is most debatable because the dynamics of Stack Exchange are such that short quips that are low-effort to produce often enough get more votes than more detailed answers. So whether a low-vote answer is fringe content-wise is not actually that evident from votes alone. It may a be a bit more evident when the accepted answer has a high number of upvotes and downvotes, i.e. that it's probably itself a one-sided answer that was being sought. Additional signs for this scenario may be that the OP starts arguing at length with answers in comments or that the OP edits the question to refute answers after they are posted. Such a question was discussed here at length here (and so was its accepted answer). Perhaps in the same vein, see discussion on a question where (good) answers came from different angles. (Arguably, in its original form this question could have fit under class #1 above as well, even though the argument wasn't exactly belabored.)
4
  • One solution to issue #3 is to not always have the selected answer be at the top of the list. Some StackExchange sites do do this. I don't know what algorithm they use to decide that the selected answer should not be displayed at the top, but I have seen it. I however don't remember which of the many SO/SE sites I participate in do that. Feb 8 at 4:41
  • @DavidHammen: only self-answers are not always on top. Alas I made a proposal for other answers on big meta (based on DVs), but it was (heavily) shot down. N.B. there's a "perennial proposal" there that is actually upvoted, but it will probably never be implemented.
    – Fizz
    Feb 8 at 4:45
  • That's unfortunate. I've seen multiple questions where the questioner has accepted a blatantly wrong answer written by someone else. Feb 8 at 4:50
  • 1
    A recent example of type 2 was a submission today along the lines of "Has X happened?", which would be resolved by a simple yes/no check of Google News. Feb 20 at 20:46
6

Another kind of push question is an argument described as a question. Here at politics.se we ask for questions that can be answered objectively, and people occasionally try to sneak in an argument by tacking on an objective question at the end of their post. This question is often just pretence and is superfluous to the rest of the post, and the answer is often obvious or uninteresting.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .