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The question Do Israeli soldiers kill Palestinian kids? has a mismatched body and title. As a result, answers differ in which of the two questions (body or title) they answer.

DVK made a bold edit and changed the title to match the body -- unfortunately this makes most answers off-topic, so we'd need to delete them.

Note: I also had an answer which I deleted anyways due to downvotes.

Should we change the subject as proposed and remove the obsolete answers (including the accepted answer)? Should we change the body to match the title and keep the answers (I think all answer the title question)? Should we make different changes?

closed as off-topic by Sklivvz Sep 3 '14 at 19:42

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  • Just to be clear - I had a (at least in my understanding) a definite go-ahead from the OP to make that edit, from a comment thread. – user5341 Aug 25 '14 at 15:15
  • Maybe. It's unclear whether it was referring to the title or the removal of the video. In any case, we shouldn't be invalidating answers in any case. If the OP decides that, after all, they wanted to ask something different to what has been answered, they can open a different question. – Sklivvz Aug 25 '14 at 15:24
  • actually I thought he meant the video was inappropriate, that's why I agreed on removal. Maybe I didn't pay close attention to whether the change of the question tittle would invalidate the - very good - answers. The point is, I'm not a native speaker, so I usually agree to changes to my questions. Sorry to have caused this confusion. – Sebastian Godelet Aug 28 '14 at 22:08
  • The question has been closed, this post is obsolete. Closing to take it off the community bulletin. – Sklivvz Sep 3 '14 at 19:42
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Given the current indecision on how to fix it, and that any choice will either invalidate some answers or invalidate some votes by changing its perceived meaning, I propose to close it as "unclear what you are asking" instead of editing. The OP can ask another, univocal question.

  • +1 This is very reasonable. I think that as @benjol points out, there are many possible interpretations and there doesn't seem to be any agreement as to what's being asked. – William Grobman Aug 28 '14 at 6:17
  • Go ahead, you've got the most upvotes. – Benjol Aug 29 '14 at 8:08
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I've been watching this question for a while, and have also found it perplexing, because it seems to me that apart from the body/title disconnect, there were multiple possible interpretations.

The question(s)

  1. Motivation: I personally think that the title as it currently stands (I think in the present continual?) "Do Israeli soldiers kill Palestinian kids?" sounds motivation-y, because (to my ears) it reads as "Are Israeli soldiers in the habit of killing children?". If this is the desired intent (see 5 below) I would favour including the word 'deliberately' in the title.

  2. Historical fact Alternatively to avoid that motivation-y interpretation I would change the title to something like "Have Israeli soldiers killed Palestinian kids?": though, as Skilvvz says, nobody is disputing that.

  3. Disputed video: The original inclusion of the Muhammad-al-Durrah video (given that it is also disputed) could have also derailed the question, but in any case it also tends to reinforce the "they're doing it on purpose" angle.

  4. Not just children: The body of the question ends with 'rate of civilian deaths', so 'kids' suddenly disappears.

  5. Policy: The body of the question also says "wasn't accidental", so contrary to others here, that does seem to imply that the OP was interested in motivation/policy.

  6. Comparison: The OP also mentions "in any war" so he does also seem to be interested in comparisons.

Notability

Notability means "a lot of people believe the claim". I'm too lazy to prove what follows, but it seems to me that for the cases above, a lot of people believe that the IDF has killed minors (2) - in fact I'd say nobody doubts it. A lot of people apparently believe that the IDF are deliberately* killing children (1), though they may not go as far as believing that it is official Policy (5). Obviously nobody believes that it's just children (4). And lastly, I'm not sure that anyone doubts that a disproportionate number of civilians are being killed (compared to other conflicts)(6) - but logically, the people who believe that children are deliberately targeted would also believe that there is a disproportionate number of children compared to other conflicts.

*The answers bear this out, if nothing else

The answers

I'm personally not 100% convinced that in this case the "don't invalidate answers" directive is worth applying, especially if the answers are answering different questions:

  • Noam Weiss addresses Historical fact, and partially Motivation & Policy
  • Eran Medan addresses Comparison for Not just children
  • vartec addresses Historical fact, Motivation and Policy
  • Evan Carroll addresses Historical fact (not sure why he got so many downvotes, other than for being Evan Carroll).

So... what do you want to do with that? I think that there are several different questions here, and any effort to make the question more specific will necessarily render some answers obsolete.

The options

As I see it there are four options (sorry, another list):

  1. Leave it as it is (if we really thought this was an option we wouldn't be here)
  2. Split into separate questions (probably the best, but implies quite a lot of work)
  3. Choose one question (Historical fact?) and kill the answer which doesn't apply (not cool)
  4. Edit the question to explicitly acknowledge it's 'multifacetedness' (less work, and potentially broken window)

I personally favour 2, but I'd settle for 4.

  • Good answer. Can you address the notability problem as well? We shouldn't edit a question into an non notable one (or split it in to many non notable ones) – Sklivvz Aug 27 '14 at 6:26
  • @Sklivvz, weelll, the notable thing has always been a bit fuzzy to me. Does it mean "Is anyone seriously claiming this?", or "Is anyone seriously skeptical about this?"? – Benjol Aug 27 '14 at 6:49
  • Notability means "a lot of people believe the claim". I do believe that a lot do people believe that IDF kills children. I am not so sure many believe it's statistically more than other wars -- it could be, but it seems too specific a claim. – Sklivvz Aug 27 '14 at 6:52
  • @Sklivvz, well lots of people obviously believe that the IDF deliberately kill children, so logically it would be statistically more than other wars (unless the other wars are also targeting children, or the IDF are particularly bad shots) – Benjol Aug 27 '14 at 6:56
  • And I think that some people would even dispute that it counts as a 'war'. It's a popular uprising against a superiourly-armed oppressor. – Benjol Aug 27 '14 at 6:58
  • The question should then be about what people actually believe, not about our interpretation of what they believe. Otherwise, there could be factors that make it more likely for children to be killed, and people would infer motivation. Whereas leaving the whole claim in, it would be up to the answerer to distinguish between confounding factors. – Sklivvz Aug 27 '14 at 7:01
  • @Sklivvz, updated with a passage about notability, not sure it adds much of value though. (BTW Is there a way for you to include a link from the locked question to here?) – Benjol Aug 27 '14 at 7:15
  • I don't understand what you mean? – Sklivvz Aug 27 '14 at 7:52
  • @Sklivvz, on the locked question, it says "For more info visit meta.", and you comment says 'take it to meta'. More people might come if they didn't have to search meta to find this question. That's all. – Benjol Aug 27 '14 at 7:55
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I propose the title be changed to "Does the IDF target Palestinian kids?". The intent is to make clear that there's a difference between civilian casualties due to errors and a specific military strategy against children.

Such a question can be answered in two ways:

  • By giving specific examples (with strong evidence that it is not a simple error)
  • By giving statistics that show that their numbers are higher or lower than expected.

This would allow us to keep all the existing answers and make title and body match, while keeping what (I think) is the OP's original intention.

The claim is notable and is being repeated by Arab-side propaganda, for example with the "we kill children" photoshop campaign.

  • 2
    They obviously kill children. This is completely unremarkable, because civilian casualties are to be expected in wars. Specifically targeting civilians is, instead, a war crime. It can be (and it is) investigated, in many ways. I've provided two examples above, to prevent "motivation" objections. – Sklivvz Aug 25 '14 at 11:49
  • I agree, the current title is silly. The problem is that your solution loses the aspect of the question that is about undue force against unarmed children. E.g. if it were to be shown that the IDF shoots children after them instigating minor violence (rocks etc.) then it should still be in scope. – Spork Aug 25 '14 at 12:19
  • That sounds like it wants to be another question, @spork - and that one need not limit itself to children. You would of course want to find a notable claim, but this should not be difficult. – Shog9 Aug 25 '14 at 14:42
  • -1 - while your wording is definitely an improvement, I think your proposition still turns it into a different question (a very valid one, and one you should probably ask) from OP's body and thus (seemingly) intention. – user5341 Aug 25 '14 at 15:16
  • @dvk to be clear, this is what the op meant to ask, based on the text, comments and accepted answer. They state their English is not good, and they might not be familiar with this use of target. – Sklivvz Aug 25 '14 at 15:21
  • On a somewhat unrelated note, it suffers from the usual definitional drift that's pretty relevant in Israeli/Palestinian conflict: "kids" is not well defined (do you include 1 15 year old trained to shoot a rifle and shooting a rifle or wearing what appears to be a suicide vest? Do you include 14 year old committing an attempted murder by throwing rocks at a driving car?). As well as "civilians" since the conflict involves a side that violates Geneva convention by refusing to wear uniforms and deliberately presenting dead fighters as civilians. – user5341 Aug 25 '14 at 15:22
  • @Sklivvz - Could be. But then why was even teh very first version of the question specifically talking about comparing statistics? Frankly, I would ask the OP (who is around and responding to comments) as to whether he agrees with my edit or not. – user5341 Aug 25 '14 at 15:24
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    Side point: that's one reason I generally whine against mismatched-subject-body questions... they should be closed on site until the 2 are synchronized, BEFORE answers are posted. – user5341 Aug 25 '14 at 15:25
  • @dvk agree on the preventative closure on egregious cases, but at this point we need to find a version that allows us to keep the answers -- we need to balance out the effort of everyone. Your edit won't allow us to do so. – Sklivvz Aug 25 '14 at 15:28
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    @Sklivvz - frankly, I'm somewhat less sympathetic because the answers which deliberately chose to ignore the details of the question and went for the low-hanging fruit of the obvious and not-disputed-by-anyone subject wording aren't worth protecting. But I wasn't the one who invested time and effort into making those answers so I can afford to be blaze about it :) – user5341 Aug 25 '14 at 15:29
  • @dvk go ahead and propose that as an answer, let the community vote (change to your edit and remove the answers). I have a major problem only with having to delete currently valid material without community support. – Sklivvz Aug 25 '14 at 15:32
  • @Sklivvz - done. I also addressed the "invalidating existing answers" concern. – user5341 Aug 25 '14 at 15:44
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    I believe this wording is too motivation-y. Even though @Sklivvz was cognizant of that and took measures to reduce it, it's too much a motivation question for this site. I know others investigate such things, but the world in general doesn't have our motivation-is-off-topic rule. – William Grobman Aug 25 '14 at 16:14
-1

I am proposing the fix to be to match the subject with the body:

Is the rate of Palestinian children killed by Israelis higher than that in typical war?

(contrast that with the body, which says explicitly that this is what OP was skeptical about - see bolded parts):

He told me that this is rather common and wasn't accidental (i.e. more common than typical civilian casualties in any war).

I know its very hard to find any unbiased sources in this controversial conflict, but does anyone have any statistics on the rate of civilian deaths?

Reasons:

  1. The original title is trivial and not really contested or controversial.

    Nobody ever denied that Israelis killed Palestinian kids - the only skepticism that ever exists is around (1) statistics, (2) policy intentions and (3) circumstances.

    As far as I'm aware, the site policy is that a notable claim requires that there's a tangible proof that someone doubts that claim. We don't allow "This site claims 2+2=4. I'm skeptical" questions.

  2. The new title 100% matches what the OP actually asked in the question.

  3. When I explained to OP that my downvote was due to 2 issues - the main one being the title - he explicitly told me @DVK, go ahead and change it if you like.

    While Sklivvz has a valid point that this could possibly be read as applying only to editing the video out of the body, the fact that OP didn't himself roll back my subject edit seems to indicate he was OK with it (he's active on the site SE informs posters when their questions get edited).

  4. "invalidating existing answers" concern seems inapplicable here.

    While in general, "invalidating existing answers" seems like a valid concern, IMHO that should not apply to the answers that very deliberately ignored the actual stated claim and the question as stated in the body. Instead they chose to answer the subject wording that was NOT a notable claim by the site's standards (there's no demonstration that anyone is skeptical that Israel did kills some kids).

    Please note that at least one answer noticed the discrepancy and addressed the body.

  • Regarding point 4, you don't really know that they deliberately ignored anything. The question was unclear, thus there are going to be different readings of it. You can't just assume people's motives, that road only leads to discussions... – Sklivvz Aug 25 '14 at 15:50
  • @Sklivvz - The question asks about statistics. The answer does NOT provide any hint of the statistics. Seems deliberate to me, regardless of motivation. – user5341 Aug 25 '14 at 15:54
  • @Sklivvz - not only that, but none of the answerers attempted to get clarification from the OP, despite the glaring mismatch. That shows again they chose deliberately to ignore the body. – user5341 Aug 25 '14 at 16:00
  • @Sklivvz - I take that back. Not "none". One actually got the statistics - I edited that into my answer. – user5341 Aug 25 '14 at 16:27
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    Agreed. Changing the title to match the body doesn't invalidate answers, since the question is the body, not the title. If changing the title to match the body "invalidates" answers, they were invalid all along. – user5582 Aug 25 '14 at 16:37
  • No, @Articuno. Please stop quoting me out of context, the question is not the body. The question is both. The subject is the summary of the body. If they are mismatched then there's an error somewhere, not necessarily in the title. – Sklivvz Aug 25 '14 at 20:15
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    @dvk, is the claim notable though? – Sklivvz Aug 25 '14 at 20:15
  • @DVK, there were more than two questions in that title/body, I've just added an answer here, maybe it will help the discussion. – Benjol Aug 27 '14 at 5:44

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