I've just asked the question:

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a politically appointed vs. permanent Civil Service?

... which I found very difficult to write in a way which was

  1. Not partisan in itself.

  2. Not likely to incite partisan debate.

I'd welcome attempts to edit the question into shape; I'd also appreciate any tips that more experienced questioners can offer on framing a question that (while I think it's a valid one for the site) is in danger of soliciting opinionated responses.

1 Answer 1


These questions for List Of Things are not constructive per se. We should not allow that, it will harm our site in the long run, and cleaning this up later will be more difficult.

Recommended reading: The problem with list-type questions.

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    Those advantages/disadvantages questions where upvoted regularly before the beta. Thus I suspect that there is interest in them. We should only enforce deletion if they can be answered with a single wikipedia link ;) Dec 9, 2012 at 14:30
  • Votes and views do not constitute good questions.
    – fuxia
    Dec 9, 2012 at 14:38
  • I referred to http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/25906?phase=definition I do think that we should allow leeway for questions where there is not yet an established list (such as a wikipedia article) but that we should enforce deletion wherever questions solicit only a wikipedia link as an answer! Dec 9, 2012 at 14:44
  • @toscho I don't think it's really fair to describe the "advantages/disadvantages" type of question as a shopping list question in the specific context of politics.se - the phraseology may be poor, but it's really an attempt to ask "how might someone argue for or against X" (legitimate for this site IMO) while being cautious not to appear to incite debate.
    – user97
    Dec 9, 2012 at 14:44
  • What is perceived as an advantage depends on the effects for the judging person. This is not constructive. We made this error (allowing list questions) on wordpress.se too, and now our most popular question is an embarrassing collection we cannot delete anymore. Really, we should focus on specific, constructive questions and keep everything else out.
    – fuxia
    Dec 9, 2012 at 14:50
  • @toscho but these kinds of questions aren't "what is the best X" questions, and they aren't attracting list-style replies. Anyway ... I'm concerned that this is now heading away from the topic of my question: essentially "how to write an advantage/disadvantage question well" - to one that already exists: "Asking about advantages and disadvantages isn't a list question" (and in fact is currently the top-voted question on meta). Maybe it's better to take further debate there?
    – user97
    Dec 9, 2012 at 15:11
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    Whether they are list-type questions I don't know, but I also think that questions on advantages/disadvantages are suitable questions. One may objectively research what arguments are commonly cited; example on climate change skepticism. Therefore I think those should be fine.
    – gerrit
    Dec 9, 2012 at 15:33
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    My point (my answer) is: There is no way to avoid opinions on these questions. This isn’t just hypothetical, I see that every day on other sites.
    – fuxia
    Dec 9, 2012 at 15:37

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