Take this question, now deleted, so only visible to those with 2k privileges.

Someone posted the following infographic to reddit before it was quickly deleted some time ago. But I think it's important to thoroughly refute such questionable material.

(Edit: basically, the infographic stated that blacks and latinos were budgetary welfare queens, held up by white contributors.)

Far as I consider, Reddit had the good sense to delete it, good for them. This isn't a news article, politician or expert speaking, which would, maybe, make it good for Skeptics. As written up, this infographic is just racist meme material, that's all.

As far as I am concerned, in the guise of "let's shoot it down" - notice that the the OP made no such effort on their own - we have a "let's discuss" instead. Leaving it looking like an "aim to discredit" question, of a particularly rude nature, which should be closed and summarily deleted, just like any other such question.

Edit: just to be clear, as per title, I am less interested in the merits (or not) of this particular assertion (i.e. tax and welfare percentages) or of its phrasing (which was rather offensive) than I am about the whole idea of posting the question via the roundabout "let's prove this is wrong".

  • 1
    As a note the image that was linked to no longer exists and the question itself has no info about what was on the image making the question useless now.
    – Joe W
    Jun 1, 2021 at 19:01
  • good point. I didn't realize the image would go. Jun 1, 2021 at 19:02

5 Answers 5


In this specific instance this behavior is a dead ringer for a known troll that crops up every once in a while. Specifically, the inflammatory image or link the user supposedly stumbled over with the request to "refute" it for the greater good. Here's a brief sampling from a quick regex looking for the word "refute", if you checked the contribution of each individual username you'd find plenty more.

https://metasmoke.erwaysoftware.com/post/289831 https://metasmoke.erwaysoftware.com/post/271954 https://metasmoke.erwaysoftware.com/post/202699 https://metasmoke.erwaysoftware.com/post/158912 https://metasmoke.erwaysoftware.com/post/95113 https://metasmoke.erwaysoftware.com/post/51750

  • 1
    I thought so myself as soon as I read the Meta question, but I've been told it's not a good idea to let trolls know you're onto them, as it gives them a chance to change their MO so they'll be harder to detect next time.
    – F1Krazy
    Jun 2, 2021 at 16:15
  • Acceptance doesn't necessarily mean that I fully believe the OP had that in mind. However, IMHO. the end result would be identical if SE.Po generally starts tolerating toxic statements "in order to refute". I.e. the question should sink or swim, regardless of whether it was posted normally or to be debunked. Or, if someone really believes that an assertion has problems, let them start on their own, credible, debunking as part of the overall post. And even that is opening the potential for a lot of crap to be posted. Jun 2, 2021 at 16:41
  • 6
    @F1Krazy Nah, because this is the opposite effect - the community needs to be on the lookout for the type of behavior outlined by GGMG-he-him. Whether or not this particular OP had that intent when posting the deleted Politics question I referred to. Trolls may find another way in, but at least this one will be harder to pull off. Jun 2, 2021 at 17:03

I deleted the question after it was flagged as rude/abusive.

The main reason that the rude/abusive flag holds is because it contains a racial slur (the orange text on the left), which I won't repeat here. This could have been resolved if the question was framed on the figures in the sources without the picture ever being mentioned. I don't think it's reasonable to ask that level of editing from our community because it's quite a lot of work to get the relevant figures and make the calculations.

Another reason I think it's a questionable line of inquiry is because it puts the spotlight on racial inequality. Do we really want posts here to make tax collecting and government expenditure into a racial issue? That could be a tricky code of conduct issue as well, as it contains the clause:

We don’t tolerate any language likely to offend or alienate people based on race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion — and those are just a few examples. Use stated pronouns (when known). When in doubt, don't use language that might offend or alienate.

If we look at taxes and expenditure then of course there are going to be groups who pay in more and other group who take out more. Is it appropriate to make that into a race issue or will that inevitably lead to posts that are 'likely to offend or alienate people based on race'?

  • If you’re not sure if that’s a CoC violation you could always bring it up on meta, or maybe the teachers room. Jun 1, 2021 at 19:35
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    @EkadhSingh I have no doubt that the picture contained a CoC violation, that language was quite clear. The second reason is more abstract, so it's harder to make a definitive ruling on the abstract case. See for example the I know it when I see it expression. But yeah, when we come across such edge cases we'll definitely consult with other mods.
    – JJJ Mod
    Jun 1, 2021 at 19:42
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    "puts the spotlight on racial inequality" I thought that per se is considered nowadays trendy in the US, as long as one mentions "systemic racism" or "past oppression". Seriously: I think inequality of outcome between ethnic groups is theoretically uncontroversial issue. (the contentious part is discussing causes or some of logical consequences)
    – Shadow1024
    Jun 1, 2021 at 19:51
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    @EkadhSingh For context: it was decided that the image was such a blatant violation of the Code of Conduct, that the image got purged from the server. That's not something a moderator can do, only the SE team can. That's why you won't be able to see it. I can vouch for the image being offensive.
    – Mast
    Jun 2, 2021 at 6:20
  • 1
    @Shadow1024 What pushed a lot of people (including CMs) was not the comparison, but the terminology used. Referring to a racial group as "parasitic" crosses a line
    – Machavity
    Jun 2, 2021 at 19:06

JJJ has addressed the issue of the question's use of a racial slur, and since I can't see the meme anymore (even with 20k+) since imgur has removed it, I won't comment on that. I'd argue, though, that the question would have been off-topic even if there wasn't a Code of Conduct violation:

Someone posted the following infographic to reddit before it was quickly deleted some time ago ... Are the numbers accurate?

Leaving aside the, this question is simply asking "Is this published claim true?" which is a textbook question for [skeptics.se] and should be asked there.

As has been discussed elsewhere on Meta, the fact that the question concerns politics doesn't make it inherently on-topic here. There needs to be a real political question, and a simple numerical fact-check isn't enough of one. If a politician or party was using this "fact" to argue for a specific policy, or if the claim was sourced and the question was focused on figuring out why the different soruces disagree, then it would be closer to on-topic. As a simple "Is this true?" question, then I don't think it's appropriate here.

Italian Philosophers 4 Monica mentions Skeptics and suggests that, since the claim is just an internet meme with no sources, it wouldn't meet Skeptics' quality standards. I agree, but the fact that a question is too low quality for Skeptics is no reason to have it here. StackExchange only works if question quality and scope are enforced, and we should strive to avoid becoming the poor-man's Skeptics


I would consider things like that out of scope of this site for 3 reasons.

  1. Generally people posting things like that don't care about the facts so a fact check won't stop them from believing it or spreading it.
  2. This could lead to a never ending list of things we need to fact check and debunk as there is a never end of these types of memes created
  3. At worst when we have these we are just spreading the lies and hate in those to other people who have not seen them before.

In the end questions like that don't seem to want to get an answer but serve an agenda. This isn't about the topic in that question but the way it was asked. If the question is asked in a way that doesn't include racist rhetoric it can be useful. However if it is just posting an image that includes racist rhetoric it should be clear that it is not an honest question.

  • 1
    -1 because you didn’t assume good faith in the asker, as you should (talking about point 1). Also, for point 2, every (successful) site has a never-ending list of questions, so for the reasons you mentioned that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Jun 1, 2021 at 19:34
  • Point 2 - not so bad, in practice one would run quite fast of talking points working in favour of this particular ideology and can be dealt with "already answered".
    – Shadow1024
    Jun 1, 2021 at 19:39
  • 3
    @EkadhSingh If there was good faith involved there would be more to the question than just posting a picture of a meme and asking if it is true or not. What I see in a question like that is an attempt to spread a mesage.
    – Joe W
    Jun 1, 2021 at 21:15
  • @Shadow1024 Even if we did mark them as already answered that wouldn't stop the noise.
    – Joe W
    Jun 1, 2021 at 21:15
  • @JoeW low effort, maybe. An attempt to troll, I highly doubt it. Jun 1, 2021 at 21:33

On face value - nothing offensive per se in asking to debunk something.

Just there were other issues:

  1. unclear title what exactly is being challenged - salvageable;
  2. somewhat looked that the author had an agenda and put little effort - poor but salvageable;
  3. Something in line of "reddit removed it" is not a good enough thing to make it notable, though if someone bothered one could find more notable sources for quite similar calculations concerning net fiscal impact of particular ethnic groups in multiethnic society (my idea was Alt-Hype or possibly AmRen) - poor but salvageable.
  4. 1-3 - being lazy, that clearly should have been corrected.
  5. The question was described as "openly race-baiting". Maybe, though one could say that a fully acceptable question concerning let's say wealth inequalities would be "openly class-baiting".
  6. I've seen question on less contentious issues being strategically downvoted just because of asking about taboo stuff, so presumably this question, even if asked perfectly, would be buried anyway.

As side note, I've seen only race realists daring to talk about this issue, while haven't seen much thorough analysis showing counter-arguments. So personally I'd find, had dealt more seriously, this question interesting.

  • 2
    Disagree. If you had a good faith question about budgetary impacts of race - which is incendiary of course - but might be of interest, then you would write it up yourself and link to some good research/articles. (Then - I agree with you there - you might still get downvoted for asking taboo questions). You wouldn't just post up a Gab talking point infographic, would you? Jun 1, 2021 at 19:26
  • A talking point that is saying some offensive things about certain people.
    – Joe W
    Jun 1, 2021 at 19:27

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