I asked a question (here) on C.SE about what "prophecy" is -- because I was trying to sort through the issue in my own studies. (Judging by Mike's answer I assume I'm not alone; it seems to be a difficult question to wrestle through.)

Anyway, I just got an award through the site for the question. I was curious what it was, so I clicked through to find that the question has been viewed over ten thousand times. I'm thinking this must be a common question that people have.

The votes on the question currently total 1, and that got me thinking... if this is a popular question that people have, and is drawing users to this site, and if the score of 1 is indicative of the quality of the question, I should probably try to polish it up.

The problem is that I'm not sure how to improve it, so I need some guidance. So: How can this question be improved? Needless to say, I'm looking for constructive, actionable feedback, and not just face-smashing criticism... :) Thanks in advance.

  • I think it is a good question so I upped it. I see nothing wrong with it.
    – user3961
    Apr 8, 2013 at 0:27
  • May I suggest that to my way of thinking the purpose for asking a question is not to gain votes, but to get answers, At least that is why I ask questions. Yes it nice to know that the questions you ask are appreciated and that to me is the reason for a vote either up or down is to show your appreciation or disapproval. I certainly have a lot of trouble with pleasing others with the way many of my questions are worded, but that does not negate my desire for clarification about the issue. Some people have reworded some of my questions and I appreciate that, instead f putting them on hold.
    – BYE
    Nov 21, 2013 at 17:51
  • @CecilBeckum I'm not worried about votes (I have plenty of rep, and several other questions with low votes... it doesn't bother me.) What I am wondering is why one of our site's most popular questions only has a vote from site users of "1". Does this indicate low quality? If so, let's improve it. If it indicates low usefulness, there seems to be a pretty huge disconnect between what the voters see as useful and what the general population sees as useful. It seems like it would be worth getting to the bottom of.
    – Jas 3.1
    Nov 21, 2013 at 19:03
  • @ Jas3.1 That was not intended as a criticism, and if you were offended I apologize. My point was if you have received a satisfactory answer, and the question is that popular, why reword it since someone else will ask another question on any misgivings they might have. However if you have not received a satisfactory answer then rewording could get you an acceptable answer.
    – BYE
    Nov 21, 2013 at 19:09
  • @CecilBeckum On Meta one of our goals is to improve our content to better serve our viewers. Since this question is one of the main attractors to our site, if the question is low-quality, it should be improved. On the other hand, if it's not low-quality, and the down-vote indicates a perception that the question is not useful, it raises the question about how we're voting and what we're considering useful. Either way it's an important meta topic. It's not about getting an answer to a specific question, it's a meta question pertinent to the entire site.
    – Jas 3.1
    Nov 22, 2013 at 0:30
  • @CecilBeckum I'm not offended. I didn't think you were criticizing me, I just think you missed my reason for asking the question in the first place, so I'm trying to explain why I asked it, and why I think it's an important meta question.
    – Jas 3.1
    Nov 22, 2013 at 0:33

1 Answer 1


Looks like I voted that question down not so long ago. There are a couple of problems. First, this part:

This should go without saying, but please base your answer on Scripture and prove your claims using Scripture. (By "Scripture" and "Bible" I mean the 66 books of the Protestant Bible.)

This looks like you're using the question to make a controversial statement about which books in the Bible are canonical. Including this is very unusual among all the "biblical basis" questions on this site. Do you have any reason to believe that the mention of a few passages from non-Protestant books would produce bad answers? You might say "I understand the book of [...] actually defines what prophesy is, but it is not part of the biblical canon that I accept, so I would like to know if this is discussed elsewhere". This would count as "research effort", and would explain why you choose to bring up the issue of biblical canon and why restricted your question to exclude over half of Christianity.

Look at this question (the title is sufficient):

Perhaps you too are left wondering how a person marginally familiar with Christianity could end up thinking that the passage was describing a miracle (a violation of the laws of nature). I have no idea why that's in there or why the question even exists in its present form. If my response to the question is a baffled what were they thinking?, then the question lacks research effort. Here I conclude that the author is (perhaps unintentionally) making the statement "I expect Christians to explain confusing things away by calling them miracles".

You're obviously familiar with Christianity, and in your question the part in parenthesis is not that bad, but I still have no idea why you included it. Get rid of it. As a bonus, more people will upvote due to interest, more people will answer.

The second problem is that you're asking for a definition from the Bible, and everyone seems to be ignoring you. The Bible probably does not have a very direct definition of what counts as prophesy. Actually, it looks like the Bible isn't really a source of definitions:

This is why one of the answers is relying on a non-religious dictionary, and the others are reasoning a definition out from scripture. So get rid of the word "definition" in the body of your question ("What does Scripture say prophesy is?"). But keep the title, because the question is now the top search result for 'bible definition prophesy'.

Alternatively, you could replace the bold part with "what are the different definitions of 'prophesy' as used in Scripture", since there are potentially different uses of the term.

(And get rid of the word "Thanks." It's nice to see, but I wouldn't want to see it on every question.)

  • Thanks. This is helpful.
    – Jas 3.1
    Apr 8, 2013 at 6:08

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