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As of October 2023, the 2023 Israel-Hamas War is attracting a lot of interest with many questions under the tag.

Several have been closed; others are close to it. Meta-questions concerned about their quality have been raised (for example).

What should new users consider before posting questions to ensure the questions are well received here?

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There are no special rules that apply to these questions. These are the same rules that apply to all questions, but these are the rules most likely to trip you.

Do not post pictures in questions or answers that are violent or the result of violence, or otherwise upsetting or "not safe for work".

If such images or video are necessary to explain the claim or the supporting evidence they should be behind links with clear warnings to viewers who do not wish to see them. This applies even if the author is claiming the images are fake or misinterpreted.

Do not use questions or answers to promote your political affiliations.

Sorry, but we don't care about your political opinions.

In particular, during conflicts, proponents of violence often attempt to "other" their enemies, painting them as subhuman or otherwise not worthy of empathy and/or basic human rights. Asking about such claims is permitted, but using questions or answers to paint people this way is not acceptable.

Your questions must contain a specific claim that can be empirically answered from available evidence.

In the period immediately after a battle or other attack, there is often very limited confirmed information, and propagandists from each side fill the void with claims supporting their own side, or just muddying the waters so you feel you can't trust either side. That is when the military, journalists, UN observers, and various justice systems go in and attempt to sort out what actually happened, while the rest of the world watches on.

It is tempting to ask questions on Skeptics.SE during this period to get to the bottom of the claims. However, we can't send our own researchers in. All we can do is report what others have found.

For this reason, there is a community-specific close reason:

Questions about unresolved current events and issues currently under investigation by a court of law, government, or other similar investigative body are off-topic because there is insufficient data for a meaningful answer. For more information, see Handling current news questions.

In short, if the BBC, CNN, the NYT and Reuters are all still trying to find an answer of a question in order to report on it, asking the question here isn't going to get you an answer any faster. The question will likely be closed until the journalists can catch up.

Your questions must be notable.

"Notable" here basically means "widely-believed", so find a link to someone (or some people) making the claim, ideally from somewhere widely read. Quote them in your question so we can see your question matches their claim.


For more information about how this site works, please read the Welcome to New Users.

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  • "Your questions must contain a specific claim that can be empirically answered from available evidence." I don't like this policy because it means people can't post an answer when the evidence does become available. That aside, shouldn't the presence of answers that are ok enough to not be deleted mean the question shouldn't be closed? It would be even worse to lock ourselves into only those answers.
    – Laurel
    Commented Nov 15, 2023 at 22:46
  • @Laurel: These questions should be reopened when the hurly-burly is done and the evidence becomes available. We have seen with this war everyone is rushing to post bad answers that seem aimed to paint the other side in a bad light rather than expose the truth.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Commented Nov 16, 2023 at 5:06
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Do not ask about state secrets

No one knows the answer to a state secret except the state itself. If the question can't be colored in perspective and isn't of interest outside of the classified community it's unlikely to be a good fit for a site.

  • Be skeptical here of a claim that "no one has produced first hand testimony of a UFO."
  • Be skeptical somewhere else that "the US Government has made first contact."

And again,

  • Be skeptical here of a claim that "not a single Iron Dome rocket has misfired and landed on a civilian target."
  • Be skeptical somewhere else that "the Iron Dome has a 90% success rate."

It's easy to find a single example to prove a falsifiable claim false. It's impossible to prove what is going on with classification levels that would otherwise restrict you with criminal and military law from publishing the information.

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  • This is my little addition here, for consideration. Commented Nov 28, 2023 at 0:09

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