The need to specify a tradition when you ask a question seems to me as the most ridiculous trait of Christianity.se

Why on earth should an OP specify a tradition? Especially, in those cases when he would want to hear an answer from all possible traditions in Christianity? I understand a case, in which an OP wants to get an answer from one specific tradition - then, of course, he can specify in his question the tradition that he would want to hear an answer from. However, if he is not into any particular tradition and would want to hear all possible answers from Christianity, why not? Why would the OP need to specify the contingent here?

Should it not be more logical to pass this burden to an answerer? After all, every one who answers questions belongs or used to belong to one tradition or another. So make it as rule to him to specify the tradition that he is speaking on behalf of.

The other day I asked a question that looked to the community as a good candidate to be closed soon. However, one of the community members said:

I think it's near impossible to make true judgement about the states of souls. However, I'm not closing this right away as the Catholics or Orthodox folks may have some traditions that shed some light here.

and then the other one replied:

I agree the traditions here are what make the question interesting

Which means that the question already looked quite stupid to them, however, just because I was smart enough to specify traditions in my question they decided not to close it right away - no matter how stupid it looked to them!

This whole thing is just crazy!!!!

  • I came to Meta to ask the same question, but I must agree with the downvotes. Your frustration clearly is coming through (the same frustration I have right now!) and makes an otherwise good question to be not so good.
    – Jeff
    Commented Jan 3, 2014 at 1:13

3 Answers 3


The problem is, the Stack Exchange format is set up to reward one definitive answer.

You can't accept an answer from each tradition that supplies one, and none of us here are experts on every tradition, that we could put them all into one answer. So it's natural that the one accepted answer will come from a particular tradition. Since that's the case, the right thing to do is to ask for a particular tradition. This will help people reaching the question (and this site) via search, so they will know what they are getting.

  • Why not cancelling this function then? I think Christianity.se is quite unique in this regard - the working field is highly factious and, unlike in any scientific field, every faction is almost ready to die for its own belief.
    – brilliant
    Commented Jun 11, 2012 at 8:01
  • 4
    I wouldn't call this "the problem". I think this is largely what makes SE sites so good at being low-noise high-quality.
    – Caleb
    Commented Jun 11, 2012 at 9:15
  • 3
    It's a feature!
    – wax eagle
    Commented Jun 11, 2012 at 12:40

Yes, I agree with you. The FAQ states:

...there are questions that are not constructive for the format of this site. These include questions asking for: ...what the Bible says about a subject (unless you specify a doctrine/tradition)

This is absurd. Questions that spring to my mind as exceptions are:

Incidentally, all of these were asked by moderators.

I think we at least need some clarification.

  • 2
    Also, frankly, denominational differences bore me. I've come here to discuss Christianity (God made), not denominations (man made). Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 18:59
  • 3
    I don't want to get into it here. But quite frankly our doctrinal structures inform our beliefs. Asking for someone to lay out a basic framework (usually by referencing a specific doctrine/denomination/belief system) gives a structure to hang an answer. yes they are man made concepts, but they provide a common language which is important to having a useful discussion.
    – wax eagle
    Commented Jun 12, 2012 at 20:12
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    "Asking for someone to lay out a basic framework (usually by referencing a specific doctrine/denomination/belief system) gives a structure to hang an answer" - Why not make it a burden for the answerer who is about to answer, rather than for the who is asking a question? I mean, let the one who answers the question introduce himself first and say what particular tradition he represents here.
    – brilliant
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 0:11
  • 3
    Yes, those and many more were asked by moderators ... back before we were moderators out had any idea what a mess we were making of things. It's partly through the train wrecks we helped create that we learned something about what does and doesn't work. Not that we know it all, but there are lots of other community players that grok the problem here. We can certainly refine our site, but that's hard to do unless people start from a position of understanding the pitfalls.
    – Caleb
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 7:54
  • @Caleb: they weren't train wrecks, they were interesting questions. Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 9:38
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    @brilliant in an effort to establish an expert q&a site we'd rather have the asker do some research and figure out his starting point. Asking for any/all traditions is the equivalent of asking someone to give you code on SO but not specify a language.
    – wax eagle
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 12:54
  • @waxeagle: yes, you get no argument from me that research should be done before posting a question. But research <> specifying a denomination. I can specify a denomination without prior research, and do prior research without specifying a denomination. Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 13:24

I guess the mods are commenting to the contrary, but I was under the impression that you didn't necessarily need to specify a tradition if you said in the question that you'd take answers from any tradition. (But that only makes sense if you ask a question that didn't cause a schism in the first place!)

  • 3
    There are certainly lots of questions that are best asked without a tradition, but the kind this OP has been struggling with are just the sort that cause train wrecks without.
    – Caleb
    Commented Jun 11, 2012 at 15:49

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