9

We just got the question "Is Obama going to shutdown the internet?" and despite the title there is a more or less objective question in there, namely if there are any plans to create a "kill-switch" for the internet in the US.

We can obviously not know what Obama thinks, but there were enough reports in the media about this issue that one could formulate a reasonable answer to this.

Now, the question is if such political questions are on-topic?

Some more example questions I just came up with:

  • Was Obama really born in Kenya?
  • Did Obama create "Death Panels"?

It's accidental that my examples are about Obama, it's just the first widely-known examples I could think of.

If we decide to allow those kinds of questions we should think hard about where we draw the line. I really don't want this site to become political, it can only work if it stays non-partisan and reasonably objective.

5

I expect questions to be kind-of in these general topics:

"I see hypothesis being stated as fact. I am skeptical about it."

or

"I see hypothesis being stated as not a fact. But I am sure it is"

So in politics you could argue "are there death panels" as a question, as you could state some source that claims there is, probably with evidence, and then check out if it would be logical to be skeptical about it or not. All sorts of conspiracy theories could very well be ontopic, and many of the political question can be those.

But one should draw the line, I think, at things that can't deal with facts. So, In my opinion:

Ontopic:

  • It is technically possible some internet kill-switch is made?
  • Are there currently death panels? (providing some links to claims that are made that you can actually be skeptical about.)

Tricky:

  • Are there currently plans for a kill-switch. (tricky one, most likely to be "unknown", but I can imagine a situation where there is some discussion/evidence for one side or another that could make it ontopic)

Offtopic:

  • Is politician X ruining the country.
  • Is political party a bad thing for the economy
4

I'm torn about this since the "Has capitalism failed?" question was posted. A good argument could be made in favor of it but I am worried about how it could easily devolve into madness.

Maybe it's best to leave that kind of questions to the proposed Politics.SE.

  • 6
    The Capitalism question is blatantly off-topic IMHO, there is no objective answer to it. There is certainly an interesting discussion to be had about it, but this is not the site for it. I'm more interested in borderline questions that are somewhat political, but about specific claims made about political subjects that have objective answers. What I am thinking of is debunking political "myths". – Mad Scientist Mar 6 '11 at 5:15
  • @Fabian: I only mentioned the capitalism question because it made me think about which sciences should be on-topic. I agree that it should be closed because it's too vague and subjective. – Borror0 Mar 6 '11 at 5:17
  • Fail is not even an objective scientific words. Does capitalism lead to higher percapita income yes. Does it lead to democracy yes. Does it lead to equality of power yes. Does it lead to happiness for all? No. Source is milton friedman. Does it lead to political stability, arguable. – user4951 Nov 15 '11 at 1:49
3

Some topics are going to be validly skepticism, but relate to politics no matter how much we try to avoid it - like AGW.

However, outside of those few I see it as best to avoid pure political questions (those where the primary questions is about politics) for two reasons.

  1. They tend to focus on American politics, but not all of our users are American.
  2. They are going to create high emotive and hostile environments with flame wars. Most people don't enjoy that and will leave.
  • 2
    Out of the top 20 users, only four are from the United States and if Solus is American, that brings it to five. The site's population is overwhelmingly not American. – Borror0 Mar 10 '11 at 15:38
  • Non-Americans follow American politics. – Andrew Grimm Mar 11 '11 at 12:49
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    @Andrew Grimm I wish they wouldn't. Every time I go to India I have explain :) – Rusty Mar 11 '11 at 21:04
0

I think widely believed conspiracy theories should be on topic:

Was Obama really born in Kenya?

Seems ok to me.

Did Obama create "Death Panels"?

Seems subjective and argumentative, and if phrased more neutrally might be a better fit for an actual politics Q&A (assuming that proposal progresses)

0

I think that political question should be allowed as long as they are clearly defined.

Was Obama really born in Kenya? Is okay because the factual claim is pretty easy to understand. Has capitalism failed? Isn't okay because there no objective standard to decide whether or not capitalism failed.

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