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Recently I have had a few questions either down voted or deleted based on being "out of scope" After a brief discussion with an administrator, he suggested to make suggestions to the author of the question on how to broaden the scope.

I come from an LDS background, and often questions that ask for "biblical backing" I interpret as "scriptural backing" and use other scripture to answer the question according to my beliefs. For that reason, I believe that I have had my answers down voted or deleted.

  1. What is scope? In the question what does it mean my god my god why have you forsaken me There was no specific "biblical-basis" tag or anything, just an open question with a broad scope. I answered the question in scope, I answered it from an LDS perspective, noted that way and everything, and yet my answer was deleted.

    So what is a legitimate answer within scope? I am not sure why that particular answer was "out of scope"

  2. What is the best way to do encourage the author to change the scope?

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    Thanks for coming here to help sort this out. Just one clarification, I usually don't recommend broadening scope of questions. The typical problem is that they are already too broad and need to be narrowed so that there is some objective way to determine whether answers are a good match or not. Questions that could get a variety of conflicting answers that are all be equally right because they represent different theological positions are considered too broad. – Caleb May 2 '14 at 14:34
  • edited to clarify question a little more – staples May 2 '14 at 15:00
  • in the question you link to there is a biblical-basis tag, and the author of the question made it clear what kind of answer they were looking for. – Malachi May 2 '14 at 15:07
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    Looking at it now, I see that, perhaps we should change how to define scope. I don't look at tags when I read a question. I look at tags when I am searching for something. Tags should not define scope. If it is in the text of the question, then that defines scope in my opinion – staples May 2 '14 at 15:21
  • Tags Define scope and Titles are what tell you what the question is about, the title is what you are searching for. – Malachi May 2 '14 at 15:22
  • Another thing, I see answers to questions with quotes from church leaders of all sorts and they don't always have direct reference to scriptures. Are they out of scope as well? – staples May 2 '14 at 15:22
  • It looks to me like your two meta questions on scope are very closely related and can probably be dealt with together. Would you mind if I merge them? – Caleb May 2 '14 at 15:49
  • Go for it, they were two different questions but closely related so I wasn't sure if they should be in one or two post, so I separated them. – staples May 2 '14 at 15:59
  • Done. You can edit if you think another organization makes sense but I think answers to point #2 will flow pretty naturally out of #1. – Caleb May 2 '14 at 21:58
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Let's start with a dictionary definition. The one we use when we talk about scope is the following:

extent or range of view, outlook, application, operation, effectiveness,

So what does that mean here? When we talk about question scope, we are talking about two main things. The first is what is the topic of the post. IE what is the question, and what are the limits around that question. The second is the default doctrinal position assumed in the question. There are two categories here, there is Biblical basis (demarked by ), and there is doctrinal or denominational (demarked by a different appropriate tag). We prefer the second strongly as a mod team (and I'd go so far as we should prefer the doctrinal one over the denominational one as it's more specific), but wishes aren't horses.

When we talk about scope in answers, we're asking "does the answer you've given match the stated scope of the question." This means a moderator (or community member) reads your answer and makes sure it lines up (or at least purports to line up with, note that wrong answers are not flag worthy) the stated scope of the question. If it does not, then your answer is not an answer.

That said, the scope of a question is sometimes implicit, or sometimes confined to only the tags. Neither of these things is a particularly good trait for a question, but it's hard to get people to explicitly state their scope. Sometimes all we can go on is a best guess on the scope, and that leads to chaos, we'd much prefer our community collaborated with us to flag and close questions without a clear scope.

  • I understand. I guess my thing is how can we make it clearer? Tags should not be how scope is defined. Maybe I am a little old school when it comes to writing, but a written paper needs a thesis statement, and a thesis statement is the scope. I would like to see something like that, not as formal, but something that defines scope within the question, not an extra – staples May 2 '14 at 15:25
  • @staples trust me, I really want people here to write better, tags are a way to find posts of similar scope, but should not be the only way it's defined (That's true on some other sites, but it shouldn't be here). – wax eagle May 2 '14 at 15:30
  • I am feeling better about my "wrist slaps" now that I have some understanding and there is some mutual agreement on my way of looking for scope and expecting it. -- Would there be a way to cultivate a culture of stating scope in the questions? – staples May 2 '14 at 15:46
  • I have decided to accept this answer as the correct one mainly because of the discussion in the comments. – staples May 7 '14 at 20:49
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The general rule is to make sure you answer the question actually asked. To give one example, I once asked a question about whether the Roman Catholic Church considers angels to be saints, and, if so, in what sense. One of the answers began with the sentence “I don't agree at all with canonization”.

I can see why the person said that. They saw this as an opportunity to express their theological opinions. And, on a normal forum, their response would have been appropriate. Not here, though, because it was not in any way an answer to the question I asked.

The answerer thinks that the theology of the Catholic Church is a load of hooey, and provides his own viewpoint instead. Well, I agree that the theology of the Catholic Church is a load of hooey*, but that is nonetheless what I asked about, and that’s what answerers should answer.


* I’m an atheist.

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This site is a bit tricky to figure out how to navigate and participate with. The problem you seem to be running in to is that you want to broaden questions beyond the scope of what the original person asked. If the scope is Biblical basis, it means they are looking for Biblical basis as a common book between denominations. They are not generally looking for basis from other texts that people feel are scripture.

I know you may disagree that Morman texts are not scripture, but if we automatically opened every Biblical basis question to any text that any group considered scripture, someone could come in and start quoting the Koran for answers as well or anything else that some group out there may consider to be "scripture". It would get unruly very fast.

If they were looking for the LDS reasoning, they could ask for it, but providing LDS texts as references when they are asking for Biblical basis really isn't an answer to the question. If you aren't sure if they are looking for LDS texts as support, you could always put a comment on the question asking for clarification. Comments is also the correct place to encourage a user to expand the scope of their question. Editing to increase scope is likely to be reverted as it changes the author's intent, but you can request that they expand or clarify scope. The easiest way is just to ask if they'd be interested in the view that takes LDS texts in to account.

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This answer is in response to the question "What is scope?"

The Help Page determines what is on-topic, or within scope, of the main site


Check it out right HERE

Example of Questions in the scope of the main site

On-Topic and Constructive Examples


HERE is information about what you shouldn't ask.

Example of Questions that are not in the scope of the main site

Off-Topic/Not Constructive examples


Questions that are on-topic are also with in the scope of this site, I tend to think of the two as almost synonymous, if the question follows all the rules that will make it on-topic then it is almost always within the scope of "Christianity"

  • I read the pages, but it didn't answer my question. So what is scope? My answer, which has been deleted, was answered in scope, but was interpreted to be out of scope. – staples May 2 '14 at 14:58

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