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Can we share with new or difficult users a list of a half-dozen templates for an excellent question?

I think "Go read the FAQ" is often as helpful and friendly as saying, "Go RTFM." Do we direct them to a list of excellent question templates, like, "How has this verse been used in arguments the church fathers made ...." , etc.

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There is quite a bit of information available on meta already. Here is one place to start:

What makes a good focused question?

And in the case of a closed questions:

Tips for editing a question to make it suitable for re-opening

No there is not an exact template because questions come in all sorts and sizes, but having in mind the scope of this site and some of the potential question scopes as outlined above will certainly make it easier to get started. If you have in mind where you are targeting your question and what you want to get out of it in the end, the exact wording and format are not nearly as important.

I would go so far as to say that an exact set of templates would actually be counter-productive. A few assorted examples is one thing, but a "fill in the blanks here" type of form is going to net us a rise in poorly thought out questions where people forced the format without thinking through the material just so they could say "but I followed the rules to the letter". We are more than willing to help people formulate questions if they are willing to put out the effort in return, but just having people fill in the blanks won't bring in better questions.

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It's not a template, but meta SO has a question that serves as a FAQ by compiling a selection of individual meta questions. One section of the FAQ provides a variety of information about how to ask effective questions.

Perhaps that would be a useful feature for Christianity SE, as well.

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One of @Caleb's highly rated questions ends with this paragraph.

In very broad strokes, what does Christianity say on this matter (general doctrine) and more specifically, are there differing views on this held by major branches of Christianity? If so, what is a summary of the different doctrinal positions?

Pretending this were the actual question would be the perfect catch-all way to answer even the worst question, and may be a good template for editing every bad question. Anyone but the devil with the slightest positive motivation for coming to this forum (um, Q&A site) can be responded to as if this were their actual wording.

Sub-question: is it either good practice or permissible (for me) to just go ahead and edit "poor questions" in this manner? Why doesn't every VTC'er just be a nice guy / gal and go ahead and do that? Anyone bet the "academic tone" would improve?

  • Personally, I feel like that wording is not much better than a band-aid. Sure it might serve to slip a few marginal questions in under the wire, but it usually is a patch to salvage something inherently broken. In the end that usually isn't what people are really asking -- which is the real problem. Everybody wants to resolve the truth of the matter just like I did when I first asked the question you pulled that wording from. If we are to build a real vibrant user base, we need people to understand that those questions are inherently problematic and can't be fixed with some fancy verbiage. – Caleb Jul 9 '13 at 16:23

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