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On a recent question of mine, I got several very good answers. Almost every one was from a different theological perspective, which is great! However, now I haven't a clue which to accept. They are all equally good, each comes from a valid perspective.

On the more technical SE sites, a good rule of thumb is to pick the one that "solved your problem." Obviously that doesn't really work here. Another tip is to pick the one that helped me most - but they all contributed to a proper understanding of my question, so no one answer is best.

How do I decide which to accept?

One thought I had was to post a answer of my own (marked as community wiki) that sums up the keys points give in the answers.

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The guidelines for SE say to choose the answer that is the most useful to you. Not necessarily the right, or best answer, the one that is most useful to you.

Disclaimer: most of these policies were written for sites where you are asking about something in your profession or hobby (SO/SU/SF) and are real challenges you actually face while a great many of our questions here could be described as such, many (most?) are not.

When asking and answering theoretical questions, or questions that are very subjective I can give little real guidance on accepting answers beyond use that vote as you see fit. Remember that everyone else can give their own opinion with their votes. Sure the answer with the check mark will appear first (unless its yours), but the community might feel another answer is better and upvote it. There is even a badge for it (populist).

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If you want to avoid this situation in the future, one way to avoid this dilemma is to break the question into several, each asking for a particular point of view. For example,

  • What is the Catholic doctrine about X
  • What is the Lutheran doctrine about X
  • What is the Calvinist doctrine about X

Then the people from different perspectives can each answer their own question, and you can pick a best answer from each perspective.

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    I really wouldn't want to see large sets of identical questions for each perspective. Ask the question you want answered. If you run into the problem that there are multiple right answers from different perspectives, you are asking the wrong question. Maybe you need to ask specifically for the differences between traditions or for an overview so that the most helpful one is specifically one that covers the topic you're interested in. – Caleb Apr 14 '12 at 5:49
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    @Caleb: But what if the OP really wants to learn how people from each perspective would answer the question, rather than just the differences between them? What if those differences are subtle enough that a summary can't do it justice? Is there no instance in which separate questions could lead to better answers, in your view? – Bruce Alderman Apr 14 '12 at 7:25
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    @BruceAlderman this first question is likely a scenario that doesn't fit the SE model. Not that its a bad scenario, but its not one that really works well in this format. I've seen it tried on this site, and it seems to just spawn a bunch of questions of questionable legitimacy. – wax eagle Apr 16 '12 at 2:13

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