This site is about politics, and it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to be unbiased and objective when asking/answering questions on certain topics in politics.

What thoughts have been made and what actions have been taken by the moderators of this site to ensure that such a bias doesn't lead to questions/answers that, while they may disguise themselves as objective, are crafted to push a certain political agenda, be that through intentionally misleading statements, or through subconscious biases?

To give a current example of such bias, take the hot question: What is the meaning of "Cancel Culture"?

The OP asks a rather simple question: what is it? The only objective way to answer this question is to provide the intended meaning used by the majority of people who use that term. I think we all know who that is and I think we all know what their intended meaning is. One may not like it, one may not agree with it, but that is the only way to answer the OP's question.

However, the top-voted answer with 40 upvotes currently does not contain that answer, rather it states what the answerer believes what cancel culture is "really" all about. Which, by the way, I don't disagree with, I think the answerer makes some fine and accurate points.

But none of those points actually answer the question. The meaning of "cancel culture" is NOT "justified when I do it, cancel culture when others do it". In fact, that statement is illogical since it is circular: how can the definition of cancel culture contain a reference to cancel culture!?

Yet clearly the answer was accepted by the community, despite completely failing at answering the question objectively.

  • 9
    Note that the question you linked to became a hot network question, which means it receives a lot of attention from people around the Stack Exchange network who are not regular participants on Politics Stack Exchange. So the voting on this question and its answers does not necessarily reflect the typical attitude of this community. – Philipp Mar 15 at 13:56
  • If you don't like the extra commentary/context provided in a an answer, you're welcome to DV, which I suspect you did, as that answer has exactly one DV right now. OTOH people asking (very) narrowly tailored question is one way to push something, e.g. "How do you call it when John Kerry beats his wife?" (I'm not suggesting that he does, just giving an example of how a q can be made overly narrow like that.) – Fizz Mar 15 at 14:08
  • 1
    Also, that question should actually have been closed earlier as it has a wide divergence between its title and its last line "confusion" as expressed by the OP. But as it's usually the case with hot-button topics here, lots of (rushed) answers were just looking for an outlet for their take on the matter of cancel-culture; "damn the torpedoes" if the OP's question is clear or not... – Fizz Mar 15 at 14:56
  • 3
    N.B. You haven't told us what you think the correct answer is to "the intended meaning used by the majority of people who use that term". A quick search fails to find any surveys. Anyhow, if you think you know the answer to that according to some modicum of a scientific method, by all means, write your own answer instead of just criticizing another here. – Fizz Mar 16 at 1:50
  • See bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-55959135 in particular which discusses how incongruent the talk of "cancel culture" has become. – Fizz Mar 16 at 1:58
  • 4
    The meaning of "cancel culture" is NOT "justified when I do it, cancel culture when others do it" - Why do you believe this statement is illogical? The behaviour it represents is illogical, but it is exactly what happens. – Jontia Mar 16 at 10:26
  • "[THING-A] is nothing like [THING-B] because [REASON]. Anyone who claims [THING-A] is like [THING-B] is guilty of [THING-C]." Repeat until you win the argument because the opponent fell asleep. – barbecue Mar 16 at 13:37
  • 6
    He did objectively answer it in his first paragraph though. To paraphrase, "It is a term to describe the phenomenon of pressuring individuals or companies through the media when you disagree with their views, often in the ethnic/sexual orientation/religious/political spheres." Is that not at least an attempt at an objectively correct answer? – TKoL Mar 16 at 17:52
  • Which answer are you referring to? You've linked the Q – Azor Ahai -him- Mar 19 at 17:14

While I personally don't think that the answer is necessarily the best answer provided so far (I personally didn't vote on it and upvoted a different one), I don't agree that it does not answer the question. It starts with:

A new*, deliberately pejorative, term to describe an old phenomenon, that of pressuring individuals or companies through the media when you disagree with their views, often in the ethnic/sexual orientation/religious/political spheres.

This reads like a straight-forward definition of a term to me. Whether it's a "good" or "correct" definition is another topic.

The rest of the answer provides examples, explains how the term is usually used and by whom, and when the term started to appear in political discourse.

Sounds like an answer to me.

By the way: When you believe that an answer to a question does not answer the question, please flag it as "Not an answer". That way it ends up in the review queue. When enough users with 1000+ reputation agree with you, the answer gets deleted.

When it's not immediately obvious why you raised that flag, then you might also want to add a comment to the answer explaining the issue, so the reviewers can better follow your reasoning and the author can take it as constructive criticism.

  • 3
    FWTW, all the other answers to that q frankly looked worse to me (and I 've consequently DV a few of them): they were either rambling too much or were even more biased. So I can't quite upvote this answer of yours for that reason... – Fizz Mar 15 at 14:22
  • "please flag it" - heavily upvoted answers are unlikely to be deleted and certainly discussing it on Meta would be a much better way to draw attention to it and get some other points of view on the issue. – NotThatGuy Mar 25 at 1:41

The only objective way to answer this question is to provide the intended meaning used by the majority of people who use that term.

By all means: find the objective survey that establishes how the majority of people use the term. I couldn't.

What's easy enough to find is expert opinion that backs up the answer you say is not objective:

In that usage, "cancel" refers to a pretty unremarkable concept, says Nicole Holliday, assistant professor of linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania.

"It is used to refer to a cultural boycott," she said. "We've had the term 'boycott' forever and ever. It just means, 'I'm not going to put my attention or money or support behind this person or organization because they've done something that I don't agree with.' That is not new, that's very old." [...]

But as the concept gained popularity, concerns grew, particularly among media and political elites, about the threat of online mobs shutting down speech. That perceived punitive atmosphere came to be known as "cancel culture," and people on the left were often accused of perpetuating it. [...]

But now, even to some who decry "cancel culture" as a problem, the phrase has been overstretched to defend people like Marjorie Taylor Greene who have expressed offensive and violent views. [...]

Language gets stretched like this all the time, Nicole Holliday of the University of Pennsylvania says. In fact, there's a term for it: "semantic bleaching."​

"Semantic bleaching" has happened for nonpolitical words, like "literally," and more political phrases, like "politically correct" and "woke" (a word NPR's Sam Sanders eulogized in 2018).

As with the word "cancel," both of those terms went from their original meaning to being political weapons used by people claiming concerns about free expression. Political correctness, for example, was an in-joke among liberals before it was a political cudgel. "In the '70s and '80s, it was originally used by leftists kind of to make fun of themselves," Holliday explains. "By the time it entered the mainstream in the '90s, everybody was using it as sort of an attack. It wasn't any longer in the community that it originated in. And then I think we're seeing the same thing kind of with 'cancel.'"

That seems to me not very different from the answer you criticize. Of course, experts could be wrong and the "silent majority" uses the term in some more specific way. Again, find the survey (or whatever counts as objective data to you) and post your answer.

Oh, and some data!

Two [mid-2020] polls from Morning Consult suggest cancel culture is not quite the energizing idea Republicans think it is. In one from late July shared with BuzzFeed News, 46% of adults surveyed had never heard of cancel culture; 18% were “not very familiar” with it. In the other, conducted for Politico, registered voters were read a definition: “the practice of withdrawing support for (or canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive” and “generally discussed as being performed on social media in the form of group shaming.” No broad consensus emerged. A plurality of respondents, 44%, strongly or somewhat disapproved, 32% strongly or somewhat approved, and 24% had no opinion. Nearly half, 46%, believed cancel culture had gone too far. Democrats tended to be more favorable than Republicans.

Can you make your objective answer out of that?

A more recent (Feb 2021) YouGov poll finds that

Two-thirds of registered voters (69%) claim to be very or somewhat familiar with the term “cancel culture”, or the practice of boycotting people who voice unpopular or politically incorrect opinions. Republicans (67%) and Democrats (66%) are similarly likely to say they are familiar with cultural deplatforming, while three-quarters of Independents (78%) say the same.

Note however that this poll (also) provided them with a def, so this doesn't really help with your idea of an objective survey of usage, as this spoon-fed a def to the respondents:

Lately, some have been talking about "cancel culture," the practice of boycotting or deplatforming people or groups who voice unpopular or "politically incorrect" opinions. How familiar or unfamiliar would you say you are of the term "cancel culture?"

And there's also a q how big of a problem the respondents think it is...

Cancel culture is selected as an important issue by only 11% of registered voters, ranking 17th out of 20 issues.

which maybe it helps with the "implications" part of the OP's question, assuming you want to consider this an implication of the (unspecified) kind the OP was thinking about.

You must log in to answer this question.

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