While the site is learning about itself and growing, it's becoming clear that there are obvious matters which will incite much debate. SO has grown up as a place for Q&A, explicitly steering away from contentious topics by attempting to enforce a culture of asking questions, rather than just dropping troll quotes and standing back.

There are, though, genuine questions which tip into advocacy:

  • questions of urban riding style, e.g. going through red lights, pavement riding, dodging traffic laws
  • interacting with other road users
  • provision of cycle-only roads, paths and facilities
  • campaigning advice

Are questions like these likely to be stamped on by the moderators as being little more than flamebait? On my daily commute I have a hundred and one thoughts about how the road design and the infractions of others annoy me and I wonder about how to get things changed.

There will be valid questions, but they'll be questions which might provoke vigorous debate. Should there be some resolutions about the policy of the site towards issues of advocacy?

3 Answers 3


Ask a clear, focused question and see how it goes. If it's related to cycling and can be answered, why not?

  • 1
    I agree with this. If the question is written so that it can be answered ("what methods to increase bike lanes in cities have historically worked"), all well and good, but if it's asking for something that clearly has several opinion-ey answerers or is flamebait ("why don't people like bike lanes?"), it would likely be closed down the same as any other subjective question. Sep 15, 2010 at 16:04
  • Agreed. If the question is flamebait flag it, vote to close it and downvote it; mods might be able to close it quicker if they see the flag. If it's borderline we can close it and/or suggest ways to fix it.
    – freiheit
    Sep 15, 2010 at 18:10

I'd like to add that debate and controversy are fine, as long as everyone stays civilized. As I learned from the question Is listening to music dangerous while cycling, this site's users are quite capable of that. I was expecting "people who listen to music are stoooopid, LOL" but I was quite pleasantly surprised.

Sure, let's try tackling stuff like helmet laws and bike lane advocacy. As long as a question is well-asked so it can be answered, I think this could help build the site! And if the community wants to change that later... We Have The Technology.


As much as I am in favour of bicycle advocacy, I would say that we should have such questions as off-topic for here. Firstly there is the regional nature of advocacy - due to varying laws and the level of cycling infrastructure available, I would doubt that answers to such a question would be relevant to a large audience. Secondly, as you pointed out, it is great potential for flame wars to erupt, and that suggests that we should avoid advocacy.

  • 1
    Why is this answer downvoted without a comment? This is the kind of thing that will turn people away from the site. If you're going to downvote, provide some useful commentary as to why. I disagree with Anthony, but his answer is not a 'bad answer'.
    – Kevin
    Sep 15, 2010 at 21:22
  • Keep in mind that downvoting here doesn't cost rep like it does on the main board. I too would like to see why the downvoter disagrees with Anthony, but it's not mandatory for one to to comment a downvote (although it is recommended). Meta is meant to be an open forum where people can speak their minds. Sep 16, 2010 at 1:34
  • 1
    This is why I asked the question because I disagree with this answer. I think regionality is a valid characteristic of the site - just because I'm in London, that doesn't mean that questions specific to other cities and countries should be avoided. That said, while I disagree with the answer, it's not a bad answer, so I'll happily upvote it to restore some balance to the force ...
    – Unsliced
    Sep 16, 2010 at 10:24
  • @Unsliced - Downvotes and upvotes on threads like this in meta are valuable, because even without explanations, they give you a gauge of how the community is leaning. To criminally oversimplify: If I posted a question on meta "should we allow questions about avocados", someone posts "yes, we should allow them" and that answer gets downvoted a few times, well, we'd now know we have some anti-avocado people. I wish they would tell me why avocados are such a horrible fruit, but partial info is better than none. And there's no rep hit from downvotes in meta. Sep 17, 2010 at 20:06
  • @Unsliced - The comments on this answer about downvotes in general shows that there's a lot of disagreement about anonymous voting on SE. Sep 18, 2010 at 3:13

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