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Should we allow broad questions as long as it's clarified that it belongs to a particular Christian denomination even if there are no citations? For example, it's difficult to cite Jehovah's Witness publications (there's so much and their older publications are harder to find) or detailed information relating to any of the 41k Christian denominations (http://www.pewforum.org/uploadedFiles/Topics/Religious_Affiliation/Christian/ChristianityAppendixB.pdf). It seems that sometimes when a question isn't citing a fact, it's deemed inappropriate. I suspect that that goal is unreasonable.

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When it comes to stating something as "fact" on this site, it seems that the community is forgiving if you neglect sources when it represents mainstream Christian belief*.

It is when you attempt to make an answer that is outside of mainstream belief that the scrutiny rolls in. It is not necessarily fair, but that is just the way it is.

A few points to avoid the scrutiny and downvotes:

  • If you have a source, note it and put it in there. It never hurts.
  • If your answer is potentially offensive to a fellow Christian or otherwise, warn the reader that it might be offensive at the top of the post or the section that is offensive.
  • If your answer is outside of mainstream Christianity, or is particularly extremist, or something like that, warn your reader again and label where this theology comes from (or source it).
  • Consider making summaries and conclusions sections at the top and bottom, respectively. This helps readers see the gist of the post before they spend time on it. A driving force for scrutiny is surprise.
  • Make good use of the bold, italics, horizontal rules, and headings. With these you can easily make warnings stand out, highlight major points, and give the glancing readers a preview with little effort.
  • Above All: Welcome all scrutiny that is legitimate and brings up valid points. Admit when you are wrong and edit your posts appropriately.

*As an example I answered a question that asked how heaven can exist if people in Hell are suffering. I answered outside the mainstream belief that hell may not exist at all and no one will suffer eternally. I also edited the question to say how can heaven/hell exist ... I was downvoted, scolded, and the question was quickly reverted back. The fact is that the question should have been edited a shade or two past being a Truth question, but it was on one of the most fundamental, mainstream beliefs so everyone was compelled to answer instead of correct the question.

*Another example was a question on what beasts represent in prophecy. I answered that they stand for nations; that is mainstream belief. I went above the request of the question and said what the four beasts typically represent in Daniel: Babylon, Persian, Greece, and Rome; that is mainstream, too. I sourced neither of those. On the fifth beast I went on to say that some think it is the Roman Catholic Church. I did not name any denomination, did not source it, and gave only a small warning that was not bold. I first got three upvotes within a few hours (the glancers who only read the first parts). Over the next three days I got three downvotes and scrutiny in the comments (the scrutineers who read everything) that I was representing ancient theology ("the Pope is the Antichrist") and was stating offensive ideas as fact. I conceded that the answer could be more sensitive to the communities wishes and agreed to edit it (I haven't gotten to it yet). It is still at 0 votes.

  • I realize that this is more of an answer about answer posts, however, I think the points can apply to questions for the most part as well. – 3961 May 20 '13 at 20:12

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