9

A user recently posted this question asking about what steps President Biden has taken so far to address climate change: On what steps from ecology plan have Joe Biden's administration already made progress?.

There isn't anything wrong with the question per se, and we've had many other questions asking about a politician's accomplishments or their success at keeping their promises, but I wonder if it's too early in Biden's term for such a question to be useful.

It's definitely on-topic and objectively answerable at this point, but would we then have another identical question every few months? Sure, people could edit or post new answers as the years go on, but the Fastest Gun in the West Problem means that the first answers are always going to be on top. In a way, this seems like the same kind of issue as list/recommendation questions on Stack Overflow: where answers are possible, but will require constant updates or would quickly become out of date.

I definitely don't think these kinds of questions should be banned, or are off-topic, but I think it's worth discussing how early is too early for these questions and how to deal with the inevitable updates and changes as time goes on.

6

I think it would be possible to ask such question while state a clear point in time for when the question applies. For example:

What did President Bob Bobson accomplish on (issue) after one year in office?

What did President Bob Bobson accomplish on (issue) during his first term?

What did former President Bob Bobson accomplish on (issue) during his presidency?

What did former President Bob Bobson accomplish on (issue) after his presidency?

Such questions would remain timeless, as new answers could be posted later based on historic information the other answer authors were not aware of.

Regarding when it's too soon to post another one of such questions: I think we should leave that to the judgment of our users with the privilege to mark questions as duplicate. When there were major developments in month 16 of Bobsons's presidency, then it might be worth pointing that out by opening a new question. But when there were no major changes since the last question, then the question can be closed as a duplicate.

1

It depends on what the question is about. If it is about something that the person can directly control it is probably safe to ask about it sooner. However if it is about something that the person does not control directly it is probably better to wait.

If you look at the question that you referenced there is a lot of it that is outside of his direct control and he needs congress or others to take action. Considering that Republicans can stop almost anything they want in the senate with the filibuster it makes it hard for him.

In the end I think what matters is how much of it is in the persons control and how much do they depend on others to get it done.

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I personally think that such questions should be asked multiple times, with a date to make them not duplicates. What this would look like is:

  1. May 2021, the question is asked, saying “what has Biden done up till this point (May 2021)
  2. 6 months later it is asked again, and asked “what has Biden done up till this point (November 2021)”

And so on. This was it lets recent answers rise to the top, preventing the FGITW problem.

Note: this is meta so don’t be hesitant do vote based on wether you agree or not.

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