For this site, Scripture references will be very common. Can we establish a FAQ that requires or encourages posters to include the salient portion or extract of text in a post and link the text or the scripture reference to an online dictionary.

So instead of:

I would answer Matthew 5:27-28 sprinkled in with the stern warning of Matthew 23:25-26.

we would prefer:

I would encourage Matthew 5:27-28:

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’[a] 28 But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

with a stern warning from Matthew 23:25-26:

25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

That will, I think help reduce any link rot and keep better context in answers without excessive clicking.


  • 2
    I don't have any particularly strong thoughts either way, but link rot is really not an issue when referencing scripture. The Bible isn't going to disappear off the face of the Earth anytime soon: even if the links don't work, you don't need an inline quotation to ensure people can find the original reference.
    – user72
    Aug 25, 2011 at 7:13
  • 3
    My thinking is just that parsing the answer will be much easier if the text is quoted inline.
    – user32
    Aug 25, 2011 at 7:16
  • 1
    It should be both: text and link. Text for not having to click. Link for easy access to context. Aug 28, 2011 at 4:36
  • @Jürgen: Yes, I think so too, precisely as per my example.
    – user32
    Aug 28, 2011 at 5:35
  • Wouldn't hurt to allow switching of Bible versions as well, NIV, NKJ, etc...
    – leeand00
    Aug 31, 2011 at 4:58
  • @leeand00: BibleGateway.com make switching version as easy as changing a drop-down list.
    – user32
    Aug 31, 2011 at 6:16

2 Answers 2


I think we can make this a guideline or suggestion and that it deserves to be in the FAQ, but that quoting/linking cannot be a requirement.

I foresee a lot of editing ahead of us as we help people keep things consistent and clean across the site. However I think requiring a specific format or content is problematic because it raises the entry-level bar too high. Not everybody will be able to figure out how to quote and link effectively and we don't want to beat them up over not adhering to a requirement when they first start posting.

Also people (myself included) will want to write posts where some verses are only referenced secondarily and only the primary focus texts are fully quoted. Requiring the full text for all references would make posts with lots of secondary verse references messy and detract from the clarity of the answers. The primary focus passages should be quoted for reference, but looking up supporting passages might be left as an exercise for the reader (although links are appreciated/suggested.)

  • Of course. I would expect paraphrasing and partial quoting. I meant to include the "salient" portion or gist of it.
    – user32
    Aug 25, 2011 at 8:50

It's a nice idea but there are a couple of things to bear in mind.

Firstly, we have to be very careful about copyright, and much depends on which version is being quoted. If using the NIV for example, it's important to remember that the whole thing is copyright protected. Provision is made for quoting it as follows:

The NIV text may be quoted in any form (written, visual, electronic or audio), up to and inclusive of five hundred (500) verses without express written permission of the publisher, providing the verses do not amount to a complete book of the Bible nor do the verses quoted account for twenty-five percent (25%) or more of the total text of the work in which they are quoted.

When the NIV is quoted in works that exercise the above fair use clause, notice of copyright must appear on the title or copyright page or opening screen of the work (whichever is appropriate) as follows:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

These Scriptures are copyrighted by the Biblica, Inc.™ and have been made available on the Internet for your personal use only. Any other use including, but not limited to, copying or reposting on the Internet is prohibited.

The last paragraph I believe applies explicitly to copying from The Bible Gateway. http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/New-International-Version-NIV-Bible/#copy

While we're normally only quoting one or two verses at a time in a post, this could soon add up to more than 500 verses or a complete book across the SE site, and I believe that could put StackExchange on unsafe legal ground. We would also need to get the copyright notice onto the relevant SE pages (and decided which pages they are) which could itself be problematic.

Secondly, different people have different preferred versions and translations of the Bible. If the purpose of referencing a piece of scripture is to get at the truth and meaning behind it, as opposed to the exact wording used in one particular version, then I would argue it's better just to supply a reference so that users are at liberty to choose which version they want to use.

In circumstances where you do want to use a particular version I would advocate linking to the passage on BibleGateway.com rather than quoting it directly so that we don't have to worry about that copyright problem.

  • 2
    I don't think a bunch of individual answers quoting a verse or two at a time on a CC-BY-SA site add up to create a legal problem just because they are all posted on the same site. Also your argument for not including the text because a user might prefer a different version is backwards. Having the wording of the text the OP was using is very helpful. I can always reference the version I have but knowing the wording the OP has can be critical to providing a good answer.
    – Caleb
    Aug 25, 2011 at 8:35
  • @Caleb Good point on the OP text - I was thinking more about quoting text in answers. But if we're getting at the actual meaning of the passage, the differences between versions shouldn't matter.
    – Waggers
    Aug 25, 2011 at 8:38
  • @Caleb On the first point - "I don't think a bunch of individual answers quoting a verse or two at a time on a CC-BY-SA site add up" - I think we'd need qualified legal advice on that rather than venturing our own opinions. Is "the work" referred to in the provision notice I quoted each individual post, or the site as a whole? I honestly don't know, and wouldn't want to take the risk of having the site closed down based on a hunch.
    – Waggers
    Aug 25, 2011 at 8:40
  • Anyone care to explain the downvote?
    – Waggers
    Aug 25, 2011 at 8:42
  • 1
    I think you can leave that up to the SE team to worry about. Most bible copyrights specifically outline how their quoting restrictions only apply to individual pages or citations. You can't copy the whole book of Hebrews into your blog but you could write a post every day for a couple years commenting on a verse at a time and not fall outside the scope of most copyright limitations.
    – Caleb
    Aug 25, 2011 at 8:44
  • @Caleb In that case, I'm a happy bunny.
    – Waggers
    Aug 25, 2011 at 8:48
  • 1
    Yes. I downvoted because I think your concern about copyright is a non-issue in relation to the OP's question and because I disagree with your opinion about how often things should be quoted/linked due to people haveing different prefered translations. I feel that I am ALWAYS free to look at my preferred translation no matter what get's quoted or linked, but having quotes and links to the specific translations other people used in forming their questions and answers is a valuable resource and to be encouraged rather than discouraged.
    – Caleb
    Aug 25, 2011 at 8:49
  • 1
    Also remember that downvoting on meta means people disagree, not that you gave a bad answer. Also, it doesn't affect your reputation.
    – Caleb
    Aug 25, 2011 at 8:51
  • @Caleb Ah thanks for that. This is my first venture into the world of meta so I wasn't aware of that distinction.
    – Waggers
    Aug 25, 2011 at 8:52
  • Fair use allows five hundred word quotations. That should be plenty for most answers. The scripture publishers don't make a fuss about long quotations.
    – user116
    Aug 25, 2011 at 11:48
  • @Ollie Thanks; as discussed above, the issue with that is really whether it's an individual answer or the site as a whole that this refers to.
    – Waggers
    Aug 25, 2011 at 11:53

You must log in to answer this question.