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I have put "obvious" in quotes, since it is a somewhat subjective term, but this question and this are two (of possibly three, one deleted) from the same user, which appear to show consistent bias.

On principle, I do not like to classify historical (or any other) questions as "unaskable". However, neither do I feel it is healthy to support what is beginning to look, at best, an idee fixe from one particular user, at worst something less acceptable.

I am not advocating censorship, but am concerned at the use of the site for the propagation of not-so-subtle racist/ sexist or similar views or arguments.

Thoughts?

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    Other than attempting to persuade users to not grind axes with questions (often doesn't go well in my experience...) I think the best way to deal with this is for experienced users to rewrite the question to strip the biases and leave only the factual core of the questions. – Semaphore Feb 20 '18 at 9:41
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    It is an idee fixed, you forgot one. And look at my bruises ;) – This kind of questions are now also increased on Politics and Skeptics. I wonder if it's revisionist campaigning directly or just swapping over from real life into SE. Currently the volume seems low, but the ice is thin. – LangLangC Feb 20 '18 at 14:04
  • @LangLangC Yes, I did forget that one! And it is beginning to look like a trend, although early days, and sorry for your bruises! :) I suppose the only thing we can do is monitor it, and flag any that are too overtly biased. I could flood the site with questions as to how, when, where and why men have oppressed women historically, but I'd even bore myself ;) – TheHonRose Feb 20 '18 at 15:08
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Everyone has "bias". That's normal.

However, if you highly suspect a question is a Push Question; not a good-faith attempt to gain historical information, but rather a (subtle?) attempt to push a particular agenda (or even just troll) in the guise of a question, that's a different matter entirely.

This goes double for any question having to do with Nazis or the Holocaust. We have already established site policy that anything to do with Nazis and/or the Holocaust has a higher bar for being an acceptable question. We get too many crypto-Nazi fake questions on those subjects to be lenient with them.

In that case, feel free to use all the tools at your disposal. Downvote the question. Vote to close it. Flag it for moderator attention. If you think the user in question has been making a habit of this kind of content, add a custom mod message explaining your problem with the content being produced in detail, along with links to further examples if you have them.

This is you all's* site, so you get to decide what the standards are. If you personally are just way out on a limb about the poster's intentions, your solitary close and downvotes will get outvoted, so no harm.

But if you aren't alone in your suspicions, we mods will have all the backup we need to take action.

* - I know the second-person plural isn't precisely standard English, but the distinction is important here, and I think my native American Southern Midlands form is less jarring than "y'all's".

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    Honestly, we get so many bad Nazi/Holocaust questions, I wouldn't be adverse to having a site policy that they get automaticly put on hold if submitted by a low rep user, and users then have to vote to get it reopened. – T.E.D. Feb 20 '18 at 15:03
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    "Custom mod messages"? That is flag for mod attention? Aren't they rather length limited for what you propose here? I see (potentially) less obsessed patterns emerging over time that would require a long list of evidence "in detail". – LangLangC Feb 20 '18 at 15:18
  • @T.E.D You're absolutely right, of course, we all have our biases, and I was taught that an honest scientist (or historian) must be aware of their own "prejudices" and challenge them. The Holocaust-denial agenda is, I would agree, a special case, being part of a (not so subtle) agenda, and not least because it is currently "popular" in certain circles. I tend to support the policy of automatically putting them on hold and let the community - you all's ;) - proactively decide they are valid questions. – TheHonRose Feb 20 '18 at 15:31
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    @TheHonRose - Well, even if we don't officially do that, you can always use your close vote power that way, if you want. :-) – T.E.D. Feb 20 '18 at 15:36
  • Agreed, although my personal kee-jerk reaction is to challenge the bias rather than vote personally to shut it down, but as @Semaphore says, this is frequently a futile exercise, not to mention a waste of time! – TheHonRose Feb 20 '18 at 15:43
  • While I see the allure of AutoHold, is this in accordance with SE-policy? And how should the "auto" part work? Simple keywords? – LangLangC Feb 20 '18 at 15:47
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    @LangLangC - It is perfectly acceptable and normal for sites to have their own local standards and ways of doing things, as long as they are generally agreed to and preferably written down somewhere that can be pointed to. – T.E.D. Feb 20 '18 at 15:58
  • There is the option of "triage" queues. Of course, one of the issues would be having enough reviewers of the queues to avoid starving the new legitimate users; the only site that I do know with triage queues is StackOverflow and their user base is huge. – SJuan76 Mar 2 '18 at 22:57
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Longtime user and Politics site moderator Yannis pointed out that Politics has a custom close reason for these kinds of posts. This seems like a really good idea. Here's what ours should look like:

Push Question - The primary purpose of this question appears to be to promote or discredit a specific historical theory, group or political cause. It does not appear to be a good-faith effort to learn more about History, as defined in the help center.

Note that sites are allowed only 3 custom close reasons, and this will be our third. The other two currently are Trivia and basic facts and Social Sciences other than History.

  • Made wiki to encourage edits. Comments? Politics' version had a meta link to a definition of "good-faith". I'm not entirely sure that needs to be defined, and IMHO their definition is way over-broad for our purposes. – T.E.D. Feb 22 '18 at 15:07
  • I think this is very important; this is the key difference between a Q&A site (based on questions) and a discussion site (based on premises) – Mark C. Wallace Feb 22 '18 at 15:14
  • No exceptions for the rule of 3? How easily can custom close reasons be changed? (If the need for another reason would arise, I think the other social sciences reason is a possible future candidate for rephrasing.) – LangLangC Feb 22 '18 at 15:30
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    @LangLangC - Mods can change them at their discretion, so its pretty easy to do. I'd personally agree on the Social Sciences reason as the weakest (our help center already lists those as off-topic), but I know we have some users who really love that one. – T.E.D. Feb 22 '18 at 15:36
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    Not that I would want to get rid of it. But history is inherently multi-disciplinary. History of politics, politics in history, politics of history, just to pick on the current examples causing trouble. After looking beneath the "obviously!" surface the current formulation seems confusingly incorrect to historians. Since there is this huge overlap, history should just be the main aspect of any post. – LangLangC Feb 22 '18 at 15:44
  • Totally support this suggestion. A "close vote" is just that - a vote, and the community can agree or not. I agree that bad faith is difficult to define, but a certain consensus is required, and people can vote to reopen. Seems the simplest, "cleanest" solution. – TheHonRose Feb 22 '18 at 15:49
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    @TheHonRose - I'm quite comfortable going forward with a Potter Stewart definition for "bad faith". The term's English definition seems fine by me. But if someone really wants something official, they could always open another meta about it, and we could link to that. – T.E.D. Feb 22 '18 at 16:04
  • @LangLangC - Hmmm. Just went and played with it a bit. No, we mods cannot edit them once created. At least not that I can see. All we can do it create them, and deactivate and reactivate them. Presumably this is to prevent the reasons of previously held questions from being changed to no longer match the reason the question was closed. We can have 3 active ones, so the effect is roughly the same, but simple language tweaks are not possible. A whole new close reason would have to be created and the old one deactivated. – T.E.D. Feb 22 '18 at 17:05
  • @T.E.D Does the "This belongs in a different stack" close option have any point, since it merely shunts the question to Meta! I was told to flag such questions for Mod attention, so could that close reason be sacrificed for a "bad faith" one? It's pretty pointless as it stands. – TheHonRose Feb 23 '18 at 0:19
  • @T.E.D Hmm.. on looking again, I suspect this is a pro-forma over which we have no control? – TheHonRose Feb 23 '18 at 0:27
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    @TheHonRose - Well, that's not modifiable (at least by a Beta mod). The current custom options are the ones you see under "Off topic because..." This would be a third option there. – T.E.D. Feb 23 '18 at 0:28
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    @TheHonRose the "This belongs in a different stack" is a generic off-topic reason with an additional effect of automatically migrating a question to there. The reason is there on all sites. The difference is, beta sites can't migrate a question to other sites except its own meta. – Andrew T. Feb 23 '18 at 18:59

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