I got into a "comment war" on the following question

Does Israeli law permit a government to impose a blanket ban on its citizens to prevent them from leaving the country? - Politics Stack Exchange

my objections were that the question was entirely built around what looks very much to be disinformation (the "comment war" consisted merely of my repeatedly asking its OP to provide proper sources):

Nearly half a million Israelis have left the country since 7 October, according to data from the Israeli Population and Immigration Authority.

Israel’s Zman magazine reported that 470,000 Israelis have emigrated from Israel and it is not known if they will return at a later point.

Now, this number of 470k seems entirely fishy. Without it this question, while certainly valid - does Israeli law allow it to force citizens to remain? would seem rather pointless (most countries do not have that right in peacetime).

But with it, this looks very much like a vehicle not to genuinely ask about Israeli political and legal systems, but rather to falsely depict Israel as a sinking ship that everyone is leaving.

To give an analogy, consider the following question:

"Since politician X is a pedophile, can he barred from running for office?"

Now is this the same question, and does it deserve the same treatment if:

  • politician X is a pedophile

  • politician X has been accused but not convicted of being a pedophile

  • politician X isn't seriously being considered of being a pedophile.

In the last case, is it unreasonable to repeatedly ask the OP to provide serious sources about the accusations (and disregarding over-biased publications), especially if the claim is being made that these allegations are coming from official sources, but no links to those official sources is forthcoming?

I would call this kind of question a straight out aim to discredit and the pedophile claim would have to be edited out. Just like the fake numbers do not belong in the question.

How is this not request clarification or suggest improvements ?

As it is the basic, and extremely false, premise of the question isn't even indicated to be problematic anymore.

  • 1
    Was that comment specifically called out as not requesting clarification/suggesting improvements? It looks like the entire discussion was just moved to chat for simplicity.
    – Giter
    Commented Apr 18 at 0:11
  • @Giter The first time, yes, a bunch of comments was moved out together. Then I added back a comment basically point out that requesting sources was a request for clarification/suggestion for improvement. That second comment, which was not part of a "bunch of stuff to be moved for simplicity" got removed again, leaving again just the moderator's dont-clutter-comments message. Commented Apr 18 at 0:46
  • So basically, I can leave this pushy Q as is. Or edit out the claim about mass emigration which the OP has never satisfactorily substantiated (the relevant Israeli agency has in fact not published emigration numbers for a while and the world would have noticed if so many Israelis were getting out). But it does seem to be less drastic to just ask for sources. Rather than editing out the core part of a question, even if it is deceitful. Commented Apr 18 at 0:52
  • This question ought not to have been deleted. Why would a close not have sufficed?
    – Ben Cohen
    Commented Apr 20 at 14:02

2 Answers 2


I suggest it is helpful to go back to the mission of this site. The mission is to build an archive/library of knowledge that will be useful to others, in the format of questions and answers. As the help site says, "It is not a place to advance opinions or debate, but rather for exchanging objective information about the policies, processes, and personalities that comprise the political arena."

What should you do if you discover a question that appears to be designed to advocate for a political cause? If so, that isn't contributing to the mission.

If you discover a question that doesn't appear to be contributing to the mission and isn't in line with the purposes of the site or the rules/guidelines established for this site, then appropriate responses might be one or more of:

  • Flag for moderator attention, and ask them to close the question as a violation of the site policies and expectations regarding questions: A full and objective description of good faith?, https://politics.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic

  • Vote to close (or flag for closure), if you have the reputation to do so and you believe the question warrants closure.

  • Downvote.

  • Edit the question, to focus on the core that does contribute to the site's mission. For example, focus on the objectively answerable question, remove faulty premises or what sounds like advocacy, word everything from a neutral, third-party perspective, and generally bring the question into line with what is appropriate here.

In some cases, it could be appropriate to write an answer and explain what about the premise was faulty (though it might be important to also answer the question, too). See also Does Stack Exchange allow for answers which question the validity or stance of the original question?.

Leaving a comment to ask for evidence for a claim made in the question can be another option to consider. But I encourage you to be realistic with yourself: in that specific situation, do you expect it to work? My experience is that it's often possible to form a reasonable guess at whether that's likely to lead to a positive outcome. If it's not, maybe focus your energy on one or more of the other approaches.

As a last resort, if none of the above have worked, you can write a post on Meta and ask what should be done about the question, or make your case for what action you believe should be taken.

I got into a comment war on the following question

Please don't do that. If you find yourself about to enter into a comment war, please take a minute to pause and consider your course of action. A comment war is a sign that things have gone off the rails, and my experience is that in those situations, it is unlikely that posting one more comment is going to get everything back onto the right track. Instead, I suggest that one of the steps above is more likely to lead to an acceptable outcome.

Related: How do you answer a question whose premise can be improved?.

  • 1
    I did all of these except edit the question or flagging it. I don't much like to over-modify people's posts from their original intent. The moderator could easily have removed the contentious claims, but merely deleted the comments as "not a request for clarification or request from improvement". Commented Apr 17 at 20:07
  • 4
    @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica, perhaps this might an opportunity to become more comfortable with editing posts and/or flagging them for moderators?
    – D.W.
    Commented Apr 17 at 20:34
  • Well, I went and edited it. It's pointless to flag to a moderator, since, by the premise of this question, a moderator intervened on this question - twice - already. Maybe we'll get an series of edit rollbacks out of it. I just really prefer avoiding changing posts overmuch from their original intent. It's one thing to smooth over some minor unnecessary promotion or discredit from a post. It's another to remove a core part of it, even if pushy. Commented Apr 18 at 15:23
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica, I'm not sure whether you are asking about this one specific question, or about the situation in general. I have been answering about what to do in general. I understand your preference to not edit, but in the Stack Exchange model, editing is considered appropriate and desirable, so you might find the platform isn't designed to optimize for your preferred approach. You always have the right to disengage and leave things be without doing anything if taking action doesn't sit right with you. It's your call.
    – D.W.
    Commented Apr 18 at 16:20

The question was (as of now it is deleted) problematic for several reasons.

  • One is that it was based on false claims, and ridiculous assumptions (that the country's whole population would run somewhere out of fear of war - not even the actual war. There might be some antisemitic belief hidden behind that Jews are more cowardly or something like that.)

This however could be easily addressed by explaining under which conditions and when Israelis cannot leave their country (like in many countries, in times of war Israel limits exit to those subject to the military service; and in a small country it is quite easy to prevent people from exiting by shutting the main airport.)

  • What appears more difficult to deal with is that the question invites yet another thread of Israel-bashing: one can play with the search to convince oneself that tag israel is used about 5 times more frequently than tag hamas, and that the latter nearly always occurs in conjunction with israel. If searching for word israel anywhere in the post, the search enginbe simply defaults to the tag - out of the excess of entries, although it does give finite results for hamas (834), gaza (944), and even usa (2,725). While, as many like to point out, criticizing Israel does not constitute antisemitism per se, the obsessive criticism or singling out only Israel for criticism do.

Perhaps, one could envisage measures raising standards for the question about Israel: e.g., via wiki explaining basics of the conflict, restating the major (US, European, UN) positions regarding the legitimacy certain actors (Israel, Palestinian Authority, Hamas), requiring deeper prior research, etc. (I am trying to suggest objective measures, as I am personally against moderators deleting Qs. on the basis of their opinions, which remain their private opinions, even if highly qualified ones.)

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