14

Politics, by its nature, is a very controversial subject. We need to draw a distinct line on what will lead to a specific answer, and what will lead to controversy.

Things like "Are conservatives better then liberals" are obviously non-constructive, but how about harder questions such as "Is a democracy stronger then a republic?". Harder questions are sure to appear, so where should we draw this line?

11

The term opinionated just adds an accusational tone to what we generally call "bad subjective." If you're somewhat familiar with our history, you've probably already seen this blog post:

Good Subjective, Bad Subjective

It outlines quite concisely what type of questions — even those that have some element of opinion and subjectivity — that are a good fit for this site.

Guidelines for Great Subjective Questions

  1. Great subjective questions inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”.
  2. Great subjective questions tend to have long, not short, answers.
  3. Great subjective questions have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone.
  4. Great subjective questions invite sharing experiences over opinions.
  5. Great subjective questions insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references.
  6. Great subjective questions are more than just mindless social fun.

The blog post goes into much more detail and should be all-but-required reading for this site.

Most overly-opinionated questions will be likely be closed as not constructive. If you look at the description behind the close reason (below), it provides some pretty good guidance about when it should be used for questions that don't quite seem to fit:

not constructive
This question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or specific expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion.

If that describes the question you are reading, close it as not constructive. But when you come across a question that is not a good fit, please take the time to leave a thoughtful comment describing precisely why their question doesn't fit our particular style of Q&A.

For folks accustomed to traditionally forums, it's not always obvious how and why a Stack Exchange site works the way it does. We're the odd man out here. Our facts-only learning ethos goes against how most debate-driven, political discussion forums operate. Take the time to be informative and educational. We don't want to portray this site as a bunch of close-happy, censuring fascists, closing questions summarily without followup or helpful guidance.

1

I think the answer is does it incite debate? Will the answers be opinion oriented, even if fact driven? Or, most appropriately, does the question have a definitive answer, like: How do instant runoffs work?

  • 3
    Questions like "How do instant runoffs work?" clearly aren't opinionated. The challenge will be more with drawing the line with semi-objective questions – Casebash Dec 4 '12 at 22:59
  • @Casebash of course. That's another aspect to figure out as we go too. – Kevin Peno Dec 4 '12 at 23:02
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    Should we really be asking "is x stronger than y?" questions in the first place? – Mr. November Dec 4 '12 at 23:50
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    @Mr.November - only for x=shark and y=gorilla :) – user4012 Dec 20 '12 at 4:38
1

We want to ensure that all questions add to the site rather than take away from it and lead to endless argument.

For example, "Are conservatives better then liberals?" will end up with all of the standard kinds of partisan responses. However, "What are the main policy differences between conservatives and liberals?" can be answered in a neutral manner (with overly partisan responses being downvoted)

Also consider this recent question: https://politics.stackexchange.com/questions/60/is-the-current-democracy-a-kind-of-plutocracy. The answer comes down to philosophical opinions, not facts, so I would consider it too subjective for this site.

The most important point is that posts that argue their position well should be upvoted, even if you don't agree with their conclusion. Posts that argue their position poorly should be downvoted even if you agree with them

0

A problem with politics is that it really doesn't take much to set people off.

On one hand, this question did produce some useful information.

What are the disadvantages of first-past-the-post electoral systems?

On the other hand, people who think FPTP is fantastic might see that question and doubt the site's neutrality.

It would probably be best to be very cautious starting out, in this case.

  • 1
    Once a site reaches critical mass, things like this will be inevitable and unstoppable. I agree though that during the initial ramp up we should err on the side of caution to set the best possible example of what is expected. – Kevin Peno Dec 4 '12 at 23:03
  • I created a separate thread about whether questions should discuss advantages and disadvantages together. – Casebash Dec 4 '12 at 23:06
  • 1
    As I was the one asking the question linked I do believe that we should allow for some leeway where facts can be gathered even on opinionated questions, we should only watch out that those are questions that can be answered with facts and not with opinions – Sven Clement Dec 4 '12 at 23:24

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