I really do think there is, but really it's on a case by case basis (oh look another question closed etc. for unclear or unsound reasons) so it's very nebulas.

I'd really like to hear what people think about whether there is a bias and of what sort.

Tentatively: I suppose people dislike questions of the sort that they themselves can't answer.

  • I agree with the 'mathematician', there are various case by case biases enacted by some of the priveledged users. I wrote a question about the A.C.D.C song with the lyrics who made who and it was closed and made so no further comments could be made by just two users, Cort Amon and another. It's funny because Cort Amon replied a lot trying to debate my points. He even said he was surprised the debating wasn't moved to the chat room earlier. I guess Cort Amon found a like minded user to make my further commenting disappear.... – 201044 Aug 15 '15 at 11:10
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    i think the fact this has four downvotes and two close votes is quite helpful in proving its point, that a contingent of its users are control freaks – user6917 Aug 16 '15 at 20:15
  • I would also use the phrase elitist intellectuals who like have their points of view dominant on the questions that interest them.. – 201044 Aug 17 '15 at 0:42
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    If the supposed bias only exists on a nebulous case by case basis, then how can it be a systematic bias? – Dave Aug 17 '15 at 14:46
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    i don't think you need to know what a bias is to know there is a bias, certainly not for there to be a bias. something isn't right – user6917 Aug 18 '15 at 13:48
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    On a more constructive note: it might be worthwhile highlighting (here) which questions you've noted have been closed as demonstrating bias. – Mozibur Ullah Sep 5 '15 at 2:47
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    @201044: there's nothing to my mind quoting lyrics (I've generally quoted literature and poets); but a philosophical point needs to be shown and justified; and the easiest way of doing this, is by tying it to the philosophical literature or other high-quality sources; such as the IEP or SEP. – Mozibur Ullah Sep 5 '15 at 2:51
  • When I mention the idea of philosophical concepts suggested by lyrics of modern music I'm referring to a kind of appeal to 'naive philosophy' that exists in popular media and culture. I know real philosophical analysis is held to high standards yet 'average' people are often 'instructed' in subtle ways about various 'suggestions of philosophical concepts without the benefit of an accurate analysis of what ideas are useful and what are opinionated or improper. Should academics let modern music inform people on what philosophical ideas or naive approximations of such be deemed valuable? – 201044 Sep 14 '15 at 3:15
  • Has anyone written a book or article on all the wrong philosophical ideas one can pick up from modern music? – 201044 Sep 14 '15 at 3:17
  • It seems any 'meritocracy driven' website is inherently not collaborative unless some editors really like the question or responses involved.. – 201044 Sep 14 '15 at 5:16
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    @201044 whatever the merits of closing questions which annoy you (ETC) there's just no point in arguing about it really - i've tried hah – user6917 Sep 14 '15 at 15:33
  • Any 'meritocracy- based' site like this one is really a question and final answer site. If a question is asked and deemed acceptable it is given a final answer by some user- editor who might sound like an expert. The answer is supposed to be final no matter how it is put. So if patronizing the questioner will probably respond. The editors not wanting any debate will respond again and so on.. Debate like this wastes time and energy and it is not a learning environment for any questioner if they are focusing on defending their views. So sites like this should be called a 'Q and F.A.' site. – 201044 Nov 25 '15 at 2:45

There is bias, but I think this is because of the demographic that are attracted - scientific and technically literate; but not generally philosophically sophisticated.

This is why for example the site attracts a disproportionate number of questions on logic, and this mostly on various flavours of formal logic, but not philosophical; for example I've not seen any questions on Priors tensed logic, or Hegels onto-logic; and why some of my own pointed questions on Parmenides and Zeno which is to defend Hegels onto-logic is possibly misconstrued as an attack on formal logic; or on science itself.

I've only noticed (on the whole) that poor-quality questions have been closed:

Sometimes this is because there are too many questions in the question, and for this reason there is insufficient coherence; in which case one ought to ask several smaller ones;

Or questions are not using philosophical vocabulary appropriately, in which case the question ought to ask how it should be deployed;

Or questions are asked in which the substance has been submerged by style (this is tempting when one admires a philosopher with a certain style) in which case simplify: it's far better to ask the good simple question hiding behind a complicated one; and one should recall style is achieved in combination with substance; and is never as easy as it may look.

Or questions lack reference to the philosophical literature; ie how a certain word is used, say sovereignty or absolute by Hobbes.

Because of the high ratio of inefficient questions in the above senses; at one point I would try to extract or find a good question in them; but on the whole I found this bad practise, as it only appeared to encourage more bad questions.

For example, I don't have anything against Nietzsche; but I recall when I first began on this site that most questions on Nietzsche invoked 'The Superman' or 'The Herd' - these would be his own disciples that he warned against; I'd be interested myself on seeing good questions on Nietszche specifically focused on his texts.

It's also, I think because of the demographic attracted that we don't get many good questions from the continental tradition: ie on Levinas, Gadamer, Kearney or Foucault.

The real question is how to encourage breadth and diversity; depth and focus.

Personally speaking, I don't have any formal philosophical training; but I tend to judge questions by the tradition in which I have been trained - mathematical and physical - but this not in a literal manner but by analogy, so similar standards of diversity, coherence, style, focus and reference to tradition.

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    There are obviously a lot of philosophical or grammatical or syntactic or semantic , e.t.c., errors to be corrected in many of the attempted philosophical questions that have been written. And if an editor chooses to help with a question that though poorly written might have interesting or important elements within it by suggesting improvements that's great. But the way suggestions are done is important here ( as with any meritocracy- driven sites.) If they are suggestions in a constructive or encouraging way GREAT. Yet if discouraging or patronizing this will cause endless debates .. – 201044 Sep 25 '15 at 14:47
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    @201044: very well said - and I don't disagree. – Mozibur Ullah Sep 25 '15 at 15:26

Here is an example : Is it possible that I see color differently?

Closed as a duplicate. Clearly not a duplicate. Question is relevant to the stack.

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    Not so clearly not a duplicate. It's also a question that doesn't turn out to be very philosophically interesting, because the answer is "sure" what I see as "blue" and what you see as "blue" (meaning here our respective qualitative experiences) might be different, but there's not much interesting there. Odds on, they aren't. / I'm surprised we haven't already had it, but I'm willing to accept the judgment of the many that it's not a duplicate of a clearer question about colors and perception. – virmaior Sep 5 '15 at 1:35
  • The point is that langauge could not communicate the problem even if they had the problem, because when person 1 took their kindergarten colors worksheets, and pointed at "blue" they experienced red. But person 2 points at "blue" and experiences blue. – hellyale Sep 5 '15 at 3:06
  • That really doesn't make much sense. Both of them experience what they will call "blue" because the word they associate with the experience is what the language identifies by the term "blue". That they have qualitatively different experiences is to say that the experience of blue for each of them differs. The label "red" doesn't attach for anyone. It could only attach under the circumstance where the qualitative experience of one person's "blue" is perfectly identical with what the rest of us experience with "red." – virmaior Sep 5 '15 at 3:07
  • For me "sure" is not sufficient, perhaps you think the arguement is closed so easily. Your last sentence of the comment above is exactly the issue, do you that that sentence p is ~♢p? – hellyale Sep 5 '15 at 3:24
  • I would say yes, clearly, it is not a duplicate, and should either be reopened, or put on hold for some other reason. The semantics of q1 is != the semantics of q2. Even before my attempted edit. – hellyale Sep 5 '15 at 3:27
  • What do you think the word "semantics" means in your comment here? – virmaior Sep 5 '15 at 3:42
  • Also why on earth would I equate p and not possibly p? – virmaior Sep 5 '15 at 3:42
  • Maybe, you're not following, but it's really not complicated. There's two problems: (1) there's not much of an argument - if you keep the layers straight: (a) the phenomenon that occurs in the world, (b) the qualitative experience of that phenomenon, and (c) the names in any given language for particular phenomenon regardless of individual qualitative experience. Sure, people can have different (b) potentially but what's philosophically interesting about that? as in what can one provide that is an objective helpful answer beyond that? – virmaior Sep 5 '15 at 3:43
  • Are you saying proposition p is not possible? Obviously the asker found it philosophically interesting enough to ask the question. – hellyale Sep 5 '15 at 3:45
  • It's not clear the OP has a grasp on what qualifies as philosophically interesting. It's clear they found it interesting and that they think it's philosophy. But again, it's not clear they understand what philosophy is. / also what proposition are you calling p? – virmaior Sep 5 '15 at 3:46
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    @virmaior "not philosophically interesting" -- to you (and maybe most sensible/serious philosophers). That doesn't (imho) make it a bad question; it is a classic drunken philosophy question. Having it on the site, with good answers, "makes the internet a better place". The good answer might be your argument that, this supposedly deep question, is in fact, nonsense. – Dave Sep 8 '15 at 14:04
  • @virmaior if (b) varies from individual to individual, it is philosophically interesting since it is the qualia analog to Quine's gavagai argument in the philosphy of language. – Dave Sep 8 '15 at 14:09
  • @Dave that's actually the most convincing thing anyone has said in support of the question. Also, it's been edited which I think makes it a little clearer. Voting to reopen. – virmaior Sep 8 '15 at 23:38
  • @Dave ; what is a 'drunken philosophy question' and can they be of value? – 201044 Oct 22 '15 at 3:58
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    @201044 yes (imho); and further, there are a subset of questions raised in these kinds of non-formal theorizing that are appropriate for this forum. – Dave Oct 29 '15 at 14:58

There is a clear bias on this site, but at this time I do not see anything that can be done about it.

  • If more users who can see biases complained about it then maybe the users in charge would change their policies.. – 201044 Aug 15 '15 at 11:13
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    the site does a good job of making sure people don't complain, because they just get anonymous close votes – user6917 Aug 16 '15 at 20:18
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    How are close votes anonymous? It gives the names of people who vote to close. – virmaior Aug 17 '15 at 4:52
  • @MATHEMATICIAN all close votes are disclosed... – hellyale Aug 17 '15 at 14:24
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    Saying that bias exists, without further explaining its nature to those of us who don't see it, isn't helpful for improving the site. – Dave Aug 17 '15 at 18:02
  • @hellyale where? Dave i do suppose that's a fair, but that's what the question is for – user6917 Aug 17 '15 at 20:12
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    @MATHEMATICIAN Close-votes are disclosed when the question is actually closed. If you're using the web version (i.e. in a browser on a computer), there will be a large colored banner, just below the question, just above the comments on the question, saying "This question was put on hold by X,Y,Z,P and Q for <reason>". The X,Y,Z,P, and Q are the explicit usernames of the members of the community whose voted to close the question. If you have over 2K rep, you can also see when any question, even an open question, has started to accrue close votes, and how many, but not by who. – Dan Bron Aug 25 '15 at 12:15
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    There are no clear resolutions to any philosophical question that many philosophers can agree upon so all answers or comments or responses are just opinions that if 'favored' agree with some group or ' school of thought. If a comment or opinion is controversial it will probably not be favored by some established 'group' and ignored. Any philosophical group or organisation if honest would admit such a systematic bias against the unconventional even if expertly written. – 201044 Sep 2 '15 at 0:29
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    @201044 yes I agree. It is almost impossible to get rid of a voting bias in a community such as this. I personally am more concerned with the speed at which questions are closed than the voting bias. But as I've said I don't see what can be done about it. I just know I've seen some pretty valid questions that could be answered get closed before anyone has a chance to answer them. – hellyale Sep 2 '15 at 2:01
  • Not only are there inherent biases but if an editor's comment or response is not necessarily constructive and borders on personal challenges then any questioner will probably keep responding as emotionally defending themselves . So if these sites don't want long discussions it's just practical and efficient to keep editing policy constructive or at least not sounding confrontational.... – 201044 Sep 2 '15 at 11:51
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    I'll express it simply. I try to close questions quickly, because our biggest problem on this SE is the average quality of questions and answers. It scares away most with philosophical training, and we're left with inefficient answers to questions that are poorly worded. This SE is a beta and could get shut down at any time if the powers that be decide it isn't working. – virmaior Sep 5 '15 at 1:38
  • Semantics vs. Syntax virmaior. – hellyale Sep 5 '15 at 2:25
  • Semantics is more important than syntax? Did you read both color questions before marking the pair duplicate? – hellyale Sep 5 '15 at 2:26
  • Yes, I did. I recognized they were not perfectly identical. – virmaior Sep 5 '15 at 2:51
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    Some user above said he tries to close questions quickly as many questions and answers scare away most with philosophical training. So if only fantastic questions are given fantastic answers and all the rest are of questionable quality then why do these websites say ' anybody can ask a question and anybody can answer? if the majority of questions are irritating these sites should NOT ADVERTISE to just anybody. As users above have admitted they see poor quality questions a lot.... – 201044 Dec 8 '15 at 9:48

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