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This question - Why is the Muslim world focusing on Israel's conflict with the Palestinians, yet expresses virtually no interest in the Uighurs? - includes a meme in it. (I have also come across some rare answers that use it but don't remember them).

Should these be allowed, as political memes can be inflammatory and / or propagandic in nature, and detract from the main question?

Here's an earlier discussion on this subject - Do we hate memes at Politics SE?

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    I have no problems with memes in general. If they help clarify the post and are not offensive, then fine. In this case, the meme is grossly offensive as I explain in a comment on the post.
    – Ben Cohen
    Commented Dec 29, 2023 at 11:08
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    Sadly, my perfectly reasonable comment on the question has been removed. As this topics is for the purpose of discussing memes, let me post here instead. The meme in question states "Israel defends itself from the Hamas". Given the widespread, credible claims of war crimes by Israel during the ingoing conflict, the above claim is grossly insulting to Palestinian victims.
    – Ben Cohen
    Commented Dec 30, 2023 at 8:03

4 Answers 4

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I don't think it's about allowing or disallowing memes, it's about what purpose the meme serves.

In the example question you cite I think the meme is mostly used to make a political point. It's not needed to ask the question and it caricaturizes the situation through whataboutism and oversimplification.

I don't think we would allow this use of memes on other topics (e.g. the US election or the war in Ukraine) because it's divisive and distracting. So I don't think we should allow it here.

That said, it's not about allowing memes or not, it's about the content. A question asking about a specific meme can be on-topic but then that would be the center of the question rather than an addition. Background: Is it off-topic to ask about rationale behind political satire?

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  • I think this is spot on, the question is around each specific meme and how it is used.
    – Joe W
    Commented Jan 6 at 23:17
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    do you think the question would have gotten 65 upvotes without the image? the honest answer is probably not. There simply isn't that much there in the text. So while everything you say has merit, it's not the full story. Without the image, the question would be poor quality. It tells a story. And that's why it's an important part of the context of the question.
    – wrod
    Commented Jan 7 at 0:08
  • As for "whataboutism," that's built into the question. The appropriate way to deal with it is with an answer.
    – wrod
    Commented Jan 7 at 0:21
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    @wrod the question got that many upvotes because it made it onto the hot network questions list, how that happened is a different question but it's not because of the picture. Yes the whataboutism is built into the question but there's an answerable question nonetheless. The site is meant to be repository of useful Q&As on the topic of politics, not one that encourages adding edgy memes to posts to get more engagement.
    – JJJ Mod
    Commented Jan 7 at 0:26
  • @JJJ being "edgy" vs being informative are not orthogonal priorities. Their overlap is in not being boring. The image essentially makes the same point as the question, but in a more evocative manner. I don't think you can contribute its high upvote solely to it becoming a hnq. Also, the image is not inherently provocative. It's not more provocative than the question itself. If doesn't detract from the message of the question. It helps to communicate. That makes it an improvement in the quality of the question. And it makes its removal a reduction in the quality of the question.
    – wrod
    Commented Jan 7 at 0:31
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    The meme is not just divisive, it is offensive and insulting as I explain in this thread. An equivalent meme "from the other side" would describes the incidents of October the 7th as "Palestinians defending themselves". Would that be considered acceptable on this site? I don't think so.
    – Ben Cohen
    Commented Jan 7 at 7:52
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    @political_noob I'm not sure if it rises to the level of offensiveness that would warrant removal on those grounds. The equivalency you're drawing here is false, Israel does have a right to defend itself while Hamas was breaking all the rules with their terror attack. It's a bit like a bank robber who shot a cop arguing in court that he had to shoot because otherwise he would have been the one being shot. It's true, but it's still a false equivalency.
    – JJJ Mod
    Commented Jan 7 at 9:08
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    @JJJ that is not correct. The conflict did NOT start on October the 7th. In response to decades of oppression and human rights violations, Hamas carried out the October the 7th attack. In response to that, Israel began their indiscriminate bombing campaign. If Israel can use "defence" as an excuse for their human right's violations, then so can Hamas (In my opinion it is not a legitimate excuse in either direction).
    – Ben Cohen
    Commented Jan 7 at 11:28
  • @JJJ, you also haven't responded to my arguments for why it is insulting. You say "not sure if it rises to the level of offensiveness that would warrant removal". Why not? Given the well established human rights abuses carried out by the IDF (as attested to by impartial human rights organisations and even the POTUS), what could be more insulting to victims than to claim that this is mere "defence"?
    – Ben Cohen
    Commented Jan 7 at 11:49
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    @wrod even if it is true that the question attracted up votes because of the meme (not that you can prove it) why does that matter at all? The question itself is not impacted by the removal of the meme in question and the fact that it appears you rolled back the question 24 times in disregard to network rules on edit wars suggests that you are not a neutral party in this discussion.
    – Joe W
    Commented Jan 7 at 17:57
  • @JoeW I don't need to prove anything here. We are talking judgement calls. If the cartoon improved the ability of the question to communicate its context, then it improved the quality of the content. I think it clearly did. Again, it's a judgement call. But on the balance, I think it made the point more clear rather than less clear. If you disagree (and think it makes it into worse content), then you can downvote.
    – wrod
    Commented Jan 7 at 18:04
  • @wrod if it wasn’t for the multiple claims that the reason for the question getting so many votes was the meme and it would be extremely poor quality without it without it I might agree.
    – Joe W
    Commented Jan 7 at 18:49
  • @political_noob I don't think the comments here allow enough nuance to be debating all perspectives of the conflict. What I meant by saying it doesn't rise to the level that warrants removal is that I don't think it violates the code of conduct. In the reverse situation where someone posts a pro-Hamas meme it does, because then it's covered by the extremism clause of the CoC.
    – JJJ Mod
    Commented Jan 7 at 18:54
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    @JJJ, my point being that we have a mechanism for flagging posts as Rude and Absuive, so clearly this must be an acceptable reason for modifying / removing a post. I fail to see how a post could be more Rude and Abusive than this one, as it is essentially mocking tens of thousands of people and their suffering. If this doesn't reach the threshold, then I don't see how any post ever could?
    – Ben Cohen
    Commented Jan 8 at 22:12
  • Well in any case, what is the decision? The majority posting here think the meme ought to be removed even if our reasonings are different. Remove it then?
    – Ben Cohen
    Commented Jan 12 at 9:40
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I don't think the meme in question is inflammatory or offensive. However, its claims are inaccurate and it attempts to lead in a given direction. Which you can always do if you simplify and stupefy things long enough. Dr. Eli David is a relatively famous Twitter account with a large following so posting a screenshot of a tweet of his could be seen as promotion. For that reason alone I think the screenshot should be removed even if memes in general should perhaps not be banned.

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    I'd be interested in understanding why you don't consider it offensive? As I have explained many times, given Israeli war crimes, what could be more offensive than claiming that it is merely "defending itself"?
    – Ben Cohen
    Commented Jan 12 at 9:58
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Yes, if the meme is relevant to the question it should be allowed to stay. It is also possible that the meme could be the reason for the question in the first place. I would say this is also true for answers as well.

However if the meme isn't relevant to the quest (or answer) then it should be removed.

In the case of this question I think the meme is part of the question in comparing different situations.

Update: While I don't see an issue with the meme I happily approved a suggested edit to remove it as the question isn't impacted by the removal of it.

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    1) The question isn't about the meme at all, as is obvious. 2) The question is fine (in fact better) without the meme. How are you going to judge if a question with an inflammatory meme is made in "good faith" when it doesn't support your worldview?
    – sfxedit
    Commented Nov 28, 2023 at 22:13
  • @sfxedit 1) But that doesn't mean it can't be included 2) I disagree, I don't think it is better or worse with or without the meme 3) I don't see it as an inflammatory meme. If you think it is an inflammatory meme you should flag it for moderator attention instead of just asking a general question if memes are allowed.
    – Joe W
    Commented Nov 28, 2023 at 23:46
  • @sfxedit Don't forget you always have the option of doing an edit to remove it with proper explanation of why and flagging for moderator attention if it is added back in.
    – Joe W
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 0:02
  • You miss the point - I am asking whether there is a clear cut policy on usage of memes here. Are you saying it is fine here, as your personal opinion, or that it is as a policy rule? Sure, I can edit and remove the meme saying "political memes aren't allowed here in Q&A". You (or anyone else) may re-edit and add it back saying you disagree with me. Ultimately we will be back here, even if a mod interferes, to seek clarity.
    – sfxedit
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 13:42
  • I've taken your advise and flagged and voted to close the question. Let's see how that pans out.
    – sfxedit
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 14:01
  • @sfxedit I posted it as my opinion and depending on how people react to my post it may or may not be considered how we deal with them on this site. As of now there is a total of 4 upvotes and 1 downvote so there is no real decision yet.
    – Joe W
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 14:50
  • @sfxedit I think you misunderstood what I was saying, if the main issue with the post is the meme why not edit that out and deal with flagging if it gets added back in?
    – Joe W
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 18:48
  • 1) I did not want to start an edit war in the absence of a clear cut policy. 2) I also think it is better to inform and let the user itself correct the issue, as this educates them and makes them better informed about the rules here. 3) I drew attention of the mods to the post by flagging it so that moderators can observe everything and offer clarifications and / or better guidelines.
    – sfxedit
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 18:57
  • @sfxedit That is why I said edit it a single time and flag it if it gets added back in. Also if you are voting to close it only because of the meme isn't it better to remove the meme so you don't need to vote to close it? And if you are not voting to close it just because the meme then the meme isn't the problem with the question.
    – Joe W
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 19:08
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – sfxedit
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 19:18
  • @sfxedit I really don't care to continue it in chat, I gave my opinion in the answer and some advice in comments and I don't have anything else to say on it.
    – Joe W
    Commented Nov 29, 2023 at 21:20
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    @political_noob In the case of this question you proposed an edit to remove it which was approved and should have resolved the situation. It seems a massive rollback war happened and the post is now locked.
    – Joe W
    Commented Jan 6 at 22:48
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Yes, this is not that different (if at all) from the historical tradition of political cartooning.

While it can add to an advocacy bent of a question, or an answer, as long as it's not out of line, it should be an acceptable subject matter on this site.

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  • Very good point.
    – Joe W
    Commented Dec 4, 2023 at 19:31

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