Verdicts and proofs
Immediately after publication, statements have no truth value. We do not yet know if they are true, false or something in between. Over time, statements begin to gather answers. For each answer, its author may indicate whether, in their opinion, the statement is true, false or a mixture of the two. This opinion is called a verdict.
If a statement gains one or more elaborate and convincing answers, a moderator can give it a verdict.
A statement may remain without a verdict indefinitely if there is not enough interest in analyzing it.
- Only moderators can give verdicts on statements.
- Verdicts on answers can be given by their respective authors and modified through the normal process of editing, similar to the answers' contents.
A proof is an answer that a moderator considers useful for establishing the truth value of the related statement. This means that the answer is well written, correct and convincing, and its conclusion leads to the verdict on the statement. A statement can have several proofs, if the moderator considers that each of them contributes something.
Statements can receive verdicts even in the absence of a proof, but we want to avoid this arbitrary practice (by the way, privileged users have access to a report that lists baseless verdicts).
Two verdicts apply to all types of statements:
- None: The statement does not yet have answers that convincingly establish a verdict.
- Undecidable: There is not enough evidence to justify one of the verdicts below.
For assertions the verdict may be:
- False: The statement is demonstrably false.
- Generally false: The main statement is demonstrably false, but some secondary elements may be true.
- Mixed: The statement contains significant proportions of true and false elements and no other verdict applies.
- Generally true: The main statement is demonstrably true, but some secondary elements may be false.
- True: The statement is demonstrably true.
For flip-flops the verdict can be:
- Flip-flop: The statement is demonstrably a change of mind.
- Half-flop: The statement contains a change of mind in some respects, but is consistent in other respects.
- Not a flip-flop: The statement demonstrably denotes consistent thinking.
For promises the verdict can be:
- Broken: The politician broke his or her promise for reasons under his or her control.
- Blocked: The promise was broken for reasons beyond the politician's control: lack of funds, opposition from other parties, etc.
- Partially kept: Significant proportions of the promise were kept and broken respectively.
- Kept, but late: The promise was kept, but with a significant delay.
- Kept: The promise was fulfilled on time.
An interesting case is the distinction between false and undecidable. In principle, when we cannot prove with arguments that a statement is false, we are obliged to classify it as undecidable. However, many politicians rely on this trick to lie through their teeth, knowing that the burden of disproving them is disproportionately high. A good example is attributing statements or facts to others: it is almost impossible to prove that a third person did not say or do something. Such statements, although logically undecidable, will in practice be classified as false.
When a statement receives a verdict, its author gains +10 reputation. Subsequently, only moderators can edit or delete the statement.
When an answer is accepted as proof, its author gains +10 reputation. Similarly, it can only be edited by moderators and it can no longer be deleted.