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The recent flare-up between Israel and Hamas has led, quite understandably, to more activity on Q&As dealing with the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

As I'm sure some of you have seen in various news outlets, both sides are actively spreading propaganda on the internet using 'armies' of volunteers, some of them paid.

My questions are:

  • Is it OK to down vote answers that are using sources that look nationalistic or otherwise biased? Should this be recommended?

  • In general, is it OK to down vote answers that provide no sources on sensitive subjects? Should this be recommended?

  • Should answers clearly based on opinions, rather than researched facts, be down voted?

  • What else can be done to stick to facts and avoid SE:History becoming a victim of a propaganda war?

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    Isn't this a bit premature? Were there any signs of trouble? Regardless, the answer to your first 3 questions is: Yes, please. – yannis Jul 17 '14 at 20:24
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    @YannisRizos There are a couple of questions with answers using nationalist sources and a couple of answers with several upvotes that are primarily opinion based and provide no sources. But I agree it's not a 'problem' and I may be premature, I'm just wondering if I'm justified in down voting those answers. – Juicy Jul 17 '14 at 20:48
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    Your votes are your own, and you are free to use them as you please (with the obvious exception of vote fraud). If you feel the answers aren't useful, and can't think of a way to improve them (or have hit a wall trying to do so), what else there is to do but downvote them? – yannis Jul 17 '14 at 21:04
  • I have researched facts and still get voted down by people who believe propaganda. Even my response to this question got a -5 so far with not one comment! Unlike Juicy and many others, I've disclosed my religious background in my bio. None of Israel's critics here have done so, that I've seen. – Bruce James Jul 29 '14 at 17:58
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    @BruceJames I believe your answer here got down-voted primarily because it's off topic and is not relevant to the questions asked. You start off with a question that is a deformation of my own questions, and is not a question that I asked. – Juicy Jul 29 '14 at 18:22
  • Your question was based on assumptions that need to be rebutted. – Bruce James Jul 29 '14 at 19:10
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    Might just be me, but I completely I fail to see a "rebuttal" of anything from that long winded and largely off-topic rant. – Semaphore Jul 31 '14 at 13:00
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"Is it OK to down vote answers that are using sources that look nationalistic or otherwise biased? Should this be recommended?"

Absolutely, if that is what you believe. Like has already been said, the votes are for you to use and for whatever reason you think fits.

The Q&A says: "Use your downvotes whenever you encounter an egregiously sloppy, no-effort-expended post, or an answer that is clearly and perhaps dangerously incorrect."

I personally tend to down vote heavily biased answers on sensitive topics, especially if they don't have any credible sources. Having a source isn't mandatory but for me if the subject is sensitive having a source to back your answer up is wise and might help to prevent misunderstandings etc.

What else can be done to stick to facts and avoid SE:History becoming a victim of a propaganda war?

Well, it hasn't yet, and it hopefully won't. That said, if it does I'll personally be flagging the offending answers/questions to bring them to the attention of the mods.

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    A lot of people here seem to give more credit to Palestinian propaganda than Israeli. They ignore video footage of missiles shot from mosques and next to hospitals and schools. They ignore admissions on Arab TV by the PA ambassador to the UN that "every missile fired by Hamas is a war crime." When a recent Washington Post editorial blames Hamas for every Palestinian death, you wonder if anyone is listening. It makes me sick that what I write is considered a lie, when I have personal experience that tells me otherwise. It is so bad, that I feel that this site has no credibility. – Bruce James Jul 29 '14 at 17:55
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Is it fair to vote down answers because you think they are biased?

How do you KNOW their opinions are more biased than yours? If a quotation was reported in a publication you think has a bias, that doesn't mean it isn't factual. A "quote" or "fact" in pro-Arab Al Jazeera may be as true or could be as false as one in the pro-Israeli settler Arutz Sheva radio and internet network. Either's "facts" could be out of context, too!

Let me tell you a personal story: In 1996 I was with my family for my daughter's bat mitzvah in Jerusalem. During our first days there, there was a lot of Arab publicity about how they were going to build an addition to Al Aqsa Mosque in Solomon's Stables -- which were not neither stables nor Solomon's, but was part of the Herodian Temple complex and should have been excavated by archeologists before any building commenced. The Waqf -- the Moslem caretakers of the mosque would have nothing to do with archeologists. Archeologists were demanding something be done, but the government wasn't taking the bait, I though. They figured that Arafat was looking for a fight, and was looking for an excuse. Nothing happened that day.

On the day after Yom Kippur we planned to see the Kotel tunnel tour, which at the time was an archeological dig underneath the housing in the Arab quarter adjacent to the Wall of the Temple Mount (aka the Kotel). From the Kotel plaza, where people pray at the Wall, the tunnel runs directly north in the direction of the Dome of the Rock, but on the other side of the mamouth walls placed there by Herod and are about six feet wide, I'd guess. No way did we ever go east of the Western Wall. Impossible. Until that day, the tunnel patrons had to exit out the same door they entered, at the plaza. But that day, for the first time ever, an exit into the Arab quarter had been opened and my tour was the first to go out it. We were told that the city government wanted us to buy from the Arab merchants in the Old City, and also, the exit would solve traffic jams inside the tunnel. Fine.

We were also told, that since we were the first, we would be on television, and should not say anything provocative. We didn't. Before we left, we saw a well dressed Palestinian Arab in white clothing come down the exit to inspect us. I never saw or heard of that man again, despite all of the events soon to occur. On our exit, I saw lots of tv cameras, but never saw myself on television (probably because we were too well behaved -- bad television). I saw lots of police in riot gear, and all of the Arab shops but one were closed in protest of our exit. As far as I knew, I was no threat to the Arab people or Palestinian statehood.

We walked from the Arab Quarter to the Jaffa gate and went to the post office to buy stamps to mail postcards. Just then, I saw cars of riot police heading for the Kotel. I told my wife that there must be trouble. When we got to our room, CNN showed Yassir Arafat claiming that my tunnel tour had gone underneath the Al Aqsa mosque (to do so we would have had to have gone to the other side of the six-foot Herodian wall and south and east -- we didn't -- also construction was completed seven years before). That announcement, apparently, started four days of rioting and heavy casualties. Today, a Palestinian "fact" site does not attribute the claims of damage to Al Aqsa to Arafat -- although I heard it from his lips when he said it -- and have it has twisted the incident into a claim of an attempt to judaize the Arab quarter -- something that hardly seems worth four days of rioting.

So let me turn the question back to you: given my personal experience, should I trust "Arab propaganda"? If you quoted that site to me, should I vote it down? Not everything it said is a lie. It might only earn two pinnochio noses on the Washington Post fact checker column. And my gut feeling -- that Arafat was looking for an excuse to have a small riot, may not be the correct context, or then again, it might. Who knows?

There is much that goes on where we only have half of the facts and context. It is difficult for any of us on the outside to know what is the whole truth. It is similarly impossible for those closest to the facts to understand the context.

If my house has been destroyed by a missile or members of my family killed, I don't want to hear context. I don't care. And whether I'm an Arab or Jewish Palestinian, I'm not going to go on television and discuss the politics or the military reasons or even the depths of international law. All I'm going to do is cry, and maybe even want vengence. And if I'm a reporter at the scene, I'm not going to ask the survivors about that, but I will take video images because death destruction and tears of the grieving make good television. The truth might not come out, really, but leet those who want the truth wait for 100 years the historians from the eventual winner's side to sit down and figure out which truth suits them best.

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