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Recently a question was asked about law enforcement techniques that could be applied to cities and small nations. Are such questions about civics and government on topic?

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Governance is already part of our scope; and are numbers 5 and 6 in our tag list at present. It's just that, so far, those questions have been asked mostly about online communities.

Physical communities are already part of our scope, and it doesn't look like anybody objected to a question about interpersonal matters on a village board. I would expect questions arising from congregational boards, school boards, PTAs, and national social organizations like the Boy Scouts or the SCA to be similarly in-scope. All of these are about communities, and some communities are large enough to involve real governance.

I would go so far as to say that questions about planning or overseeing kibbutzim or co-housing communities are within our scope.

AJ argues in this answer that geo-political communities are different because governments rule by force of law and this is not optional for the affected people. While I agree that we want to be careful not to stray too far into "pure civics", I dispute the "non-optional" argument. One's religious community (already in-scope) may be no more "optional" than one's present city of residence. People make strong bonds with the communities that are most important to them -- and that might be a congregation, a school's alumni association, an important online community you helped build, or a neighborhood. In all of these cases people are going to object to the suggestion that they "just leave".

I do not particularly want to see questions here about urban planning (e.g. roads), negotiating with cable companies for monopolies, and stuff like that. Nor are we the right site to ask specific questions about police procedure (that's law-enforcement of a type we can't really address). But I think some questions in the "geo-political governance" space can be on-topic here, and we should evaluate them on a case-by-case basis until we've seen enough to start seeing patterns.

In the case of the question that started this discussion, I think the question is too broad (as I commented there). However, if the question asked something like the following instead, I'd vote to reopen:

A new co-housing community is expected to grow in time to hundreds of people, or maybe even a couple thousand. At that scale we begin to worry about crime. We're not yet worried about violent crimes, but we'd like to do what we can now to mitigate property crimes (vandalism, robberies, etc) as we grow. We will be relying in large part on a volunteer watch (perhaps just at night), and can afford to pay one full-time salary for law enforcement and related matters. What should we be doing now to reduce problems later? Is this mainly a matter of making things easy to monitor (public entrances, good lighting, plenty of cameras), or are there things we can do culturally, or should we be focusing on restricting membership somehow?

That's just a made-up example and might still be too broad; perhaps it should focus on only one of the avenues mentioned at the end. I've no idea what the OP had in mind for this question, so I'm not suggesting this as a rewrite -- it's just an example for this discussion of scope.

  • We have had one real world question related to civic affairs. – Andy Feb 15 '15 at 23:04
  • @Andy yes, I linked to that in my answer. – Monica Cellio Feb 15 '15 at 23:27
  • That's what I get for having to many tabs open and losing context of them. You're correct. I saw no objections to that question – Andy Feb 15 '15 at 23:29
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No, I don't think such topics should be covered by our scope. Governments and civics are very distinct and separate from the running and building of typical communities since government exists by force of law and is non-optional for anyone in a particular area. It is distinct enough in topic that government organization and operation should not be considered on topic for the site.

Fundamentally, I think the dividing line is the question of whether an organization exists to build community or govern. Communities are groups of people who organize to spend time together and work together. Governments don't really organize communities. They govern people, but don't bring them together at any particularly large extent. There may be some portions of government which do involve community building, but government as a whole isn't about building community.

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