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What to do when more than one point of view is valid, based on interpretation or subjectivity?

How should this site reconcile that, when the SE format encourages only one correct, accepted answer?

  • Yes! No! Maybe? I know there's one right answer to this, erm... – Sehnsucht Jan 13 '14 at 16:58
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Subjective questions should be avoided. They are generally considered to be a bad fit for the Stack Exchange format. There are exceptions to this, however. For that, see: Good Subjective, Bad Subjective.

However, if you see questions that will likely lead to a voting contest between different religious views, consider voting to close as not constructive.

  • @wax eagle: Clarified my stance a little; I realize it came off as a bit strict. Subjectivity may be ok in some cases, but they should be the exception, not the rule. – hammar Sep 1 '11 at 3:12
  • Better and lines up with this site's general policy – wax eagle Sep 1 '11 at 3:15
  • Are subjective questions and subjective answers really the same thing? Many objective questions here will have faith/belief based answers which may or may not be seen as subjective. – hippietrail Sep 5 '11 at 22:19
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There can be a single good answer to a question on which Christians have different views. The single good answer would be:

"This denomination teaches that, while that denomination teaches the other"

or

"Most Christians believe this, while a minority believe that".

  • 1
    This requires multiple POVs in an answer, which seems to be an unreasonable expectation. (Maybe we should re-discuss that, as the referred bad question might have affected the discussion. I certainly would like to see expert questions where single POVs are off-topic.) – dancek Sep 7 '11 at 23:27
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    Why would this be unreasonable? Any person knowledgable about Christianity should be able to articulate the leading viewpoints on a subject. They don't have to agree with all of them to articulate them. – DJClayworth Sep 7 '11 at 23:40
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    my thoughts exactly. – dancek Sep 7 '11 at 23:51
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As much as any of us would not like to admit it, all religious questions are subjective unless the Lord Himself stands before us to answer them. We provide official church documentation where we can, we interpret scripture where we can't, we offer dogmatic explanations where nothing else is available (or when we're lazy, this I agree we should not promote). Unfortunately, unless every question is written, "what do the XXXXX's believe about YYYYY?" there is no quesiton that cannot and will not be answered by multiple faiths --- each of whom inherently believe their answer to be "correct."

Hammar (above) thinks that SO's structure is more important than comparative religion. No matter how a question is structured, there can be only one answer (because that's all SO allows) and if any question leads to multiple churches posting their individual points of view, that's somehow wrong and should be marked closed as not constructive. We might as well decide which church claiming Christianity is the one and only church allowed to use c.so.com --- because that's all that POV is good for.

DJClayworth also believes we should crowbar comparative religion into SO's structure. To ensure there's only one answer, that answer should include the opinions of all participating churches. That, of course, means the minority views within each church are denied access or there are editing wars to get one's "subjective" discussion into the one-and-only answer permissible. (Either that, or he thinks there are enough peple on c.so.com who can answer on behalf of many other churches in a way that those churches would agree with. That's very unlikely and eliminates the ability of most people to participate on c.so.com.)

In both cases, we're trying to force the greater Christian movement to conform to SO's programmatically limited structure. (Or the moderators are trying to promote their own religions... I prefer to believe the former.) Remember, SO started as a way for programmers to get problems solved. People with a PHP question will never have to entertain answers that would prefer the OP used Python or C++.

A good example of the problem is this question. It had been asked before, but the original discussion was shut down because a moderator felt the question would lead to answers that were "primarily opinion based." That tag makes a lot of sense for a programmer's-problem forum where "what's the best way to build a login form" can at best lead to a "best practice" answer but usually leads to an hundred slightly different answers and no difinitive solution.

But this is religion. All our churches exist because we have sometimes major, often minor differences of opinion about our common source material --- the Bible. By definition, every answer submitted is subjective and every church's POV is valuable. Meaning there may never be a "correct" answer that everyone can agree with --- but that doesn't mean people aren't benefitting from the answering process (it only means the answers won't get a reputation boost by being "the only one").

The easiest solution would be to ease off on closing questions. I wouldn't have minded so much that the above referenced question was closed had the "original" question either (a) had the opnions from the several churches not presently represented at the original question or (b) had the "original" question been left open so that the new answers could be added.

Ultimately, c.so.com's moderators have failed the community leading to Andrews perfectly valid question by imposing their own "subjective" opinions as to what should or should not be answered ... and by whom. This is not a programming site. There will rarely be one answer multiple churches agree is the best. Expecting something different is simply another form of proselyting. Therefore, I perceive only two possible solutions:

(1) Every question submitted to c.so.com must conform to the format, "what does XXXXX believe about YYYYY?" This guarantees minimal subjectivity at the expense of of c.so.com's value to Christiantity at large.

(2) The moderators only shut down questions after the answering process has proven to lack value or insight into any denomination. In short: moderators stop pre-judging questions. Yes, it means Moderators must permit questions like, "What does everyone think about ZZZZZ?" But it guarantees c.so.com's maximum value to the Christian community only at the expense of the Moderators doing a little extra work to be sure they're not getting in the way of what's important to someone else.

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