My answer (originally posted here) was deleted:

being that i cannot comment, i'll respond in the Answer box again, until David or someone deletes it.

i also grew up in a tea-totalling denomination. some people objected, not only to the greater risks following "inhibitions", but they objected to the very notion of a mind-altering drug being consumed by people who are supposed to be "holy". ya know, the "Your body is the temple of God..." or "Be not drunk with wine but be filled with the Holy Spirit..." sorta thing.

they didn't seem to have much to say about Ps 104:15, which seems to value the idea of "getting high" with wine at least enough be grateful to the Lord for it.

oh well. moderation in all things is the best wisdom i can get outa this.

A moderator added the following comment

Please don't do this. If you continue to do so you will lose the privilege to ask or answer as well. If you want to make comments then write real answers, or ask a question. It does not require very much reputation to comment. – wax eagle♦

So I take it that I cannot comment on questions (disabled from the beginning), I cannot answer questions (without them being summarily deleted because they are judged as not "real answers") and I cannot even seem to be able to send a private message to the moderator.

What should I do?

  • Hey, RB-J. I recognize you from the old DSP usenet forums, and I have an interest in alcohol and Christianity. Maybe I can help you shape your question into something answerable here.
    – metal
    Jan 2, 2014 at 20:45
  • robert, I don't think there is anything against your partecipation, but, if any, I, as one of worstest members, cannot not say that you should do an effort to make your questions or answers more doctrinal and less alcohol depending. Jan 2, 2014 at 21:40
  • wasn't trying to make it less "doctrinal" nor more "alcohol depending". i only wanted to point out that, for some evangelical denominations, there is something intrinsically wrong with drinking or the consumption of any other psychotropic drug for recreational purposes. that's more than just the "risk of decreased inhibitions". that is an issue that was censored by the moderators here. and that is a shame. on the other hand, i just wanted to point out that there is an explicit reference to wine gladdening the hearts of men in the Psalms, which some evangelicals want to ignore. Jan 2, 2014 at 23:42
  • @metal, it's nice to be recognized. the USENET forum comp.dsp is still very much in use. but it seems to be supplanted by the signal processing stack exchange at present. BTW, it was an answer to a question that was censored, not a question. this is my first question i have posed to any stackexchange forum. Jan 2, 2014 at 23:43
  • last comment; someone just filled up my "reputation" here with 100 points that i did not earn. dunno if that comes with complaining or not. so now i am 101. i guess i can comment now. it will still likely tick off someone here and get deleted. nonetheless, to say that my original answer was not a "real answer" or that this forum does not censor, is an exercise in denial. not the first time that Christians (or non-christians or athiests or whatever) have exercised in denial. happens all the time. Jan 2, 2014 at 23:47
  • well, i guess one more comment: this stackexchange site is funny. first there is the Catch-22 about reputation and ability to post or comment. then there is some generous soul anonymously plopped 100 points on me on this and the signal processing forum. then i discover i "earned" an Editor's badge because i edited my own answer which was deleted from the thread to which i was posting the answer. all very curious. Jan 2, 2014 at 23:58
  • @robertbristow-johnson, I think the 100 points may come automatically from other SEs. I just joined the DSP SE and got 100 points of rep there without doing anything because of my rep on other SEs.
    – metal
    Jan 3, 2014 at 2:47
  • 2
    For the record, your accusation that your view on alcohol has been censored is categorically false. Not only does this site not take official doctrinal stances but neither of the mods involved in your post deletions are themselves tea-totallers. Your posts were removed because they were out of place on specific questions or otherwise not answers at all, not because of any particular views they contained.
    – Caleb
    Jan 3, 2014 at 8:10
  • @robertbristow-johnson You got the hundred rep points from breaking the 200 rep point barrier on a different SE site. Now, any SE site you use will start you out with 101 rep.
    – user3961
    Jan 3, 2014 at 8:48
  • 2
    Your post was deleted because it is a comment on another post. Not because the mods and others are being jerks. This site has a very high likelihood of devolving into something really crappy if we went lax on the policies that started and have been developing for over two years. Please see this meta post which was written for frustrated users like you: Newcomers: Be patient. You will get there if you follow our direction. Keep trying
    – user3961
    Jan 3, 2014 at 8:53
  • 1
    And now that you have the rep, you are very welcome to hit up the chat rooms, where we have openly and honestly discussed many things.
    – user3961
    Jan 3, 2014 at 8:55

4 Answers 4


[…] honest and open discussion […]

I think that's the basic issue. If you are trying to have a 'discussion', this site is the wrong place to do that. We are not a discussion forum and our format discourages forum like interactions. Instead this is a Q&A site.

That makes this place fundamentally different. Instead of having private messaging and topical threads that run for pages and all manner of discussion, we have a feature set that builds something more like a mini encyclopedia.

The learning curve is steep: I'll grant you that, but what everybody gets out of the deal is a much higher signal to noise ratio.

Please stop trying to shoehorn something else into the system and take some time to learn the ropes. If you find the place of interest, make the effort to learn to use it properly. This meta site is the right place to come to ask questions about the site itself, including to voice concerns over specific actions such as question closures and answer deletions. You should also review the stuff under the help menu on the main site and probably read through some of the posts tagged FAQ on this meta. Here are a few suggestions to start with:

  • 1
    Caleb, yes, +1, but I should have added that for discussions of any kind, alcohol things included, there is a chat, though. Jan 2, 2014 at 21:58
  • 1
    @Elberich Chat likewise requires earning some reputation through normal questions and answers first, which is why I didn't mention it at this point and focused on what can/should be done now.
    – Caleb
    Jan 2, 2014 at 23:06

What does it take to have an honest and open discussion here? Well, that's the rub really: this site isn't built to facilitate discussion of any kind (honest and open or otherwise). That's the thing. That's the point. We do questions, and we do answers. Discussion happens, sometimes — it can't be stopped (we are human) — but we don't optimise for it. Discussion isn't our goal. In fact, it's something we try to minimise.

  • wow! i can comment?? Jan 2, 2014 at 21:06
  • when someone asks a question, and someone else answers it, you have a discussion. whether you like the semantic or not. Jan 2, 2014 at 21:06
  • 2
    @robertbristow-johnson You can comment here because this is your question and you may need to ask for clarification on an answer (which would then be edited into the original). Comments should always be focused on improving posts, after which point they are often deleted.
    – Caleb
    Jan 2, 2014 at 21:11
  • 4
    @robertbristow-johnson - a discussion is a back and forth, a question and answer is one sided. One person queries, the other passes on their information. It's not a discussion until the asker disagrees with something and tries to make a counterpoint (which is discouraged, they should instead post their own separate answer), now it is true that discussions often do end up occuring in the comments about an answer, but if it gets anything more than trying to improve the post or putting a basic counterpoint as to why the answer may be wrong, then typically a mod will lock it down. Jan 2, 2014 at 21:40
  • 3
    The point of the site is for people to be able to make their best attempt at answering a question, improving that answer and having the community be able to support the answers they think are correct and well written (by voting on the answer). It works a lot more easily in some other areas too (the site started as programming questions, but then expanded in to other areas). Ideally questions should have a correct answer, if they aren't phrased in such a way that allows a "correct" answer, they are often closed as either opinion based or too broad. Jan 2, 2014 at 21:41
  • @AJ, bravo, you really know how Stack Exchange works, but there is to say that the format, as it works in the current form, is not, at least to me, the best solution for matter related to religion, in which any answer is essentially opinion based, spiacent. Jan 2, 2014 at 22:07
  • @ElberichSchneider - yeah, I agree that it is a bit of a hard fit, but there is still a place for it. It does make certain topics hard or impossible to cover, though typically you can ask what group "blah" thinks about such and such and get a good answer that talks about it. The point is to be a source of information that answers questions. It can't be the only thing for religion and it's still one of the harder SEs to run, but it does have a valuable place. Honestly, the not being after Truth is the far more limiting thing, but it does make the community unique with some unique strengths. Jan 3, 2014 at 5:17
  • That said, it's also probably not something that everyone will be happy participating with as it is hard to be able to walk away from arguing with someone, particularly when you believe it to be critically important for them to get it right. Jan 3, 2014 at 5:18

I didn't have time to respond to this yesterday as I saw it at the end of my workday and I only really had time to move it over to meta where it belonged.

Usually I try to explain myself a bit better when I do something like a delete an answer, but this didn't seem to be your first misadventure with posting a comment as an answer so I was a bit harsher than I normally am, because continuing in behavior you've been warned against is not a good idea and leads to harsher responses.

However, now that you've got the permission to comment, much of what I'd otherwise say is irrelevant. What I will say is that reputation based privileges is a hallmark of the SE system, as Caleb has said, the reason for that is that the main thrust of the sites is asking and answering, we want people to start doing those things first before they can do anything else. Once they've earned a little bit of reputation via those things, they get more privileges, like unfettered editing, commenting and close/reopen/delete/undelete votes.

Now a bit about your answer and experience.

  1. You are not being specifically targeted. We get dozens of flags from normal users every day asking us to take a closer look at questions, comments and answers with a limited set of tools do deal with them if they require our involvement (namely deleting answers and closing questions).

  2. Moderation here is stricter than other places you may have been on the network. This in part comes with controversial subject matter, but it's also because of a number of other things. We're a fairly high traffic site at this point, and that means a lot of cruft comes in and is dealt with swiftly. It also means that more things are lost in the shuffle, if I don't delete a post that is out of place and clear the flag, I'm not likely to see that post again and then it's back until someone else maybe notices it in 6 months or a year. But google still sees it and it's still there as a broken window for someone else.

  3. We have a highly active flagging community here. I didn't just stumble across your post, another user flagged it for moderator attention. In general we don't go looking for posts to delete, usually if we delete something it's because someone brought it to our attention and we decided that it was not a good fit for the site.

  4. The last point, if you believe that an answer is an answer, don't start it with "If only I could comment, I'd do that." If you don't follow that up with a strong answer, it's going to get flagged and a moderator is going to delete that.

On a last note. We try really hard not to censor anyone who can back up where their beliefs come from and show that they are reflective of even the smallest group of Christians. We've had some real crackpots (no offense intended to anyone) come through here and participate constructively, we've had some people with very biblically solid beliefs struggle to participate positively here.


Rightly or wrongly, the way this site --and all stack exchange sites --work is that you can't comment until you've earned some reputation, and you can't earn some reputation until you have posted a question or an answer that someone else on the site judges as good. As wax eagle pointed out, it doesn't take very much reputation to post comments. I think the point is more to prevent spam than anything else --there's certainly no monolithic unity of opinion here.

  • 3
    Spam prevention is part of the deal, but part of the logic is that we really want people to get the Main Thing™ first. Sort of the "fill up on food, not desert" deal. People have a way of coming in with wrong expectations of this being a forum, and comments lend themselves to missuse. It should be noted that even when you earn the privilege, we still try to focus comments on improving posts, not it running discussions. That is why they are ephemoral and often just get nuked.
    – Caleb
    Jan 2, 2014 at 21:09
  • it's still an echo chamber. i'm on one of the other stack exchange sites (signal processing) and i have never been treated with the level of disrespect as here. don't like my answer? then delete it! that's easy. Jan 2, 2014 at 21:10
  • @robertbristow-johnson Have you taken the time to read the links that folks like David send your way on your first posts or the ones I gave you in my answer here? There really is a lot of good information you should consider before you go on complaining. When you have digested some of that then perhaps you will have some more reasoned objections we could address here.
    – Caleb
    Jan 2, 2014 at 21:18

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