In Why Do people believe in the Bible? [on hold], we have the following:

  1. a question that is certainly a Truth Question: "when it's obviously not true?"
  2. a question that lacks a "constructive, fair, and impartial tone"
  3. two answers from senior users that engage in apologetic Truth-Answering right before a question closes, preventing other Truth-Answers.

If Truth questions harm the academic Q&A format of the site and lead to rancor, etc., A) why answer them? B) Why answer them and then vote to close?

Here are my two answers:

A) Truth Questions don't necessarily lead to open-ended bickering. They can be answered from a discipline of sticking to Scripture, Tradition (prominent theologians), and Reason. (Thus, the two answerers didn't harm the site in the way that not all Truth questions necessarily harm the site.)

B) It is dodgy. Others might like to chime in, too. The combo of answering a prickly Truth question and then closing serves the purpose of making sure your perspective gets locked in.

  • 5
    I come down on side B. I hate when people answer and VTC as anything but a dupe. If you cast a VTC you're saying "this question is not answerable to our standards" answering anyway is shady at best. That said, there isn't a lot we can do to prevent answers from appearing before a question is closed. Our best bet is to get these things closed before any answers appear.
    – wax eagle
    Oct 9 '13 at 14:25
  • I just made a post on the same question without having seen this one. Although, I think they ask different questions about the same problem. meta.christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/2212/… Oct 9 '13 at 20:06
  • 1
    I agree with you on both points. I think we can handle those questions respectfully but I think it's either answer or close, not both. Oct 9 '13 at 20:15
  • I'd come down on side B as well. It might not be a bad idea, however, to create a chat room for that user and leave a comment for the OP and ask them to come to discuss the contents of the question... Truth discussions are perfectly fine in chat rooms. Oct 10 '13 at 0:25
  • 4
    We have had this problem before. Knock it off people! Tell them to seen their preferred spiritual adviser. That's it.
    – fгedsbend
    Oct 10 '13 at 2:17

I did not answer the question, though I was tempted. At least in my mind, the argument in favour of answering was:

  1. This question will probably be closed, and rightly so. It is likely not salvageable.
  2. Aside from the "Truth" and "tone" issues, it contains some misconceptions.
  3. I want to address those misconceptions, because I think it would be helpful to the questioner and perhaps to others.
  4. There's not enough space in comments, and you need 20 reputation points to talk in chat.
  5. So I could slip in an answer before closure, as a kind of extended comment.

However, by the time I had thought through this, the other answers had already appeared, saving me the dilemma.

Perhaps it is step 4 that is the weak one; at least, 1-3 seem solid. I don't see that there's anything wrong with making a quick correction in comments, or giving an external reference. (As long as it is something that is unlikely to lead to an extended argument, etc.) If it takes more than 600 characters then it is a question of discretion between:

  • Overspilling to multiple comments
  • Writing your response on an external site (eg a blog) and linking to it
  • Suggesting discussion in chat
  • Not responding at all

The first two suggestions are from meta.SO: Where to put suggestions longer than allowed comment length? The third is a good option for questioners with 20+ points of reputation. The fourth is quite reasonable in all circumstances.


I'm always torn on this for a couple of reasons. On the side of not answering, if the question actually is off topic, you don't want to reward someone not following the guidelines of the site. If the question is salvageable, salvage it and then answer, but if it doesn't fit it doesn't fit.

On the flip side, just because I think something may not be a good fit doesn't mean others will agree with me that it isn't a good fit. Thus, answering it may still be beneficial. Additionally, particularly on a site like this, if someone doesn't have a habit of asking bad questions, giving them one answer probably isn't going to cause a problem.

It is normally a toss up for me on any SE site about if I VTC and answer simultaneously. It depends in part on how much I expect it to close, in part on how much I think it will benefit the OP, in part on how much I think that it will cause the OP to repeat bad behavior and in part based on if I expect to get up votes (I'll generally post after VTCing only if I don't expect up votes.)

If I do decide to answer, I also check back later to make sure that my answer didn't get upvotes if the question does close. If it does, I'll delete my answer to ensure the question can be cleaned up since up voted answers prevent auto-deletion of closed questions. On a site like this I'd be doubly sure to do that, even if not upvoted, so it isn't perceived as trying to lock in your answer.

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