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Regularly, it wouldn't be a bad thing if people started asking question based on the reporting about current affairs. For example, if there is a famous murder trial and people want to know how chain of custody of evidence is preserved, this may be on topic.

But we are getting a lot of question which

  1. assert presumption of guilt of the people involved
  2. ask about rules of impeachment, which are not established and which are currently not required to follow precedent
  3. ask questions about rules which are not established law and which are controversial, including question on which the courts have never opined or gave any guidance

... and probably many others which are simply not currently answerable.

This slew of questions seems to be driven by a lot of hyperbole and grandstanding. Some have come from troll accounts, but some have come from regular users of other SE sites.

What are the best practices for guarding against a burst of such activity? Because the moderators are volunteers, we can't expect the moderators to increase their level of involvement just because there is an increased need for moderation. Is it ever justified to treat certain topics with an increased curtness?

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    If mods aren't doing all of the mod job, they do need to step up or request more help. Some users on the site either avoid or actively resist moderation efforts, and the remainder are not able to do enough as a community; see the number of questions that have to be mod-closed because they are not VTC quickly enough, or the number of junk answers that remain undeleted (and even upvoted) because flags aren't raised and queues aren't visited. This isn't an issue with current events or particular bursts, it's an ongoing a(nti)pathy to moderation and maintaining site standards. – Nij Jan 17 at 22:52
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This question is too big. The sub-questions are "How should we deal with junk questions?" and "How should we deal with junk answers?". In both cases, the first step is to identify "junk", based on some objective facts (not gut reaction). Downvoting, flagging, delete-voting and close-voting are the four options for regular people.

Every case that comes before a court involves a novel set of facts, therefore there are no exact analogies. Every case that must be decided by a court (as opposed to cert. denied) must be decided on the basis of something. Therefore if the Senate attempts to impeach Trump after he has left office, and he objects, we absolutely are in the realm of the uncertain as to what the Supreme Court (or CJ Roberts) will do, but we are not absolutely in the realm of the completely unknowable: The topic can be addressed with a quality question or answer, but the odds of getting crummy questions or answers are considerable, given the current climate. VTC, downvote, VTD, flag, depending on how bad the post is.

The best option, when available, is to convert a sow's ear into a silk purse. Identify a useful question implicit in the lousy question, and give an interesting, useful, informative answer.

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The non-problem implicit in your question

Please refer to @user6726’s answer about how to deal with particular "junk" questions; I'll address the assumption that there has been an increased need for moderation.

There hasn't been.

Or, at least, I haven't noticed one. I log on once or twice a day and I see (and deal with) 0-4 flags each time. There has been no noticeable increase in these.

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    You might be right. The trickle may seem like an onslaught (to me) because it's more frequent than usual in relative terms. I log in a few times a day when I notice particular questions I find interesting. But getting even one question a day, in which most of the question sounds like a political manifesto, starts to perk my ears to the possibility of normalization of such content on the site. – grovkin Jan 18 at 7:56
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Looking at the current top of the q page

enter image description here

I see two (upvoted) q somewhat related to "current events", i.e. pardons, but they don't look like a bad q's given the votes/answers. I'd say the other q in that sample are probably worse (on average)... quality wise.

So it's not clear that q's inspired from current event are necessarily worse.

And to extend the sample a bit, the rest of the (current) page q doesn't seem to have any of those...

enter image description here

I actually had to go 3 pages back to even find another q that (probably) qualifies:

enter image description here

And there have been (at least) three other HNQ's since then that were not on those kind of topics, i.e. besides the "ISP customer identity" (found in the 1st screenshot in this answer), there was street car q:

enter image description here

And these

enter image description here

Since I'm aware I asked a somewhat related q myself... 4 days/pages back there's indeed

enter image description here

Also the other half of that page/day again doesn't seem to any such q's

enter image description here

So I'm not really seeing a problem with anyone being "overwhelmed" by impeachment questions, except you maybe? (You've posted several comments on my q and on some of the answers there.) Perhaps it would have been useful if you'd posted some evidence for the (actual) extent of problem, instead of just asserting it exists...

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  • Yeah, it's quieted down. But there were daily questions on this when I asked the question. About a week or two before that, another user asked (a somewhat related question) do we need a Trump tag. I hope I didn't suggest this was becoming a permanent state of affairs. I did think it was a burst, but I didn't want to risk being rude and become overly dismissive towards that people involved in it. – grovkin Jan 21 at 20:09

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