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Suppose someone asks a question that garners multiple answers. Is it a good practice for another user to up-vote answers that, in the users opinion, are doctrinally correct (supported by that user's source text) and down-vote answers that the user feels are doctrinally incorrect (not supported or opposed by the user's source text).

Is the situation different for questions fielded for a viewpoint the user ascribes to, as opposed to a viewpoint the user opposes?

What are some alternatives to down-voting an answer with which one doesn't agree based on doctrinal convictions?

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No. Please don't. But technically we can't stop you either.

Voting on SE sites is strictly a personal affair. Your reasons for voting are your own and the system cannot tell why any single vote is cast. The system is only useful for its for the aggregate of many votes. Some of the individual votes will undoubtedly be for the "wrong" reasons, but if enough people vote for the "right" reasons the crowd sourced result will be useful in spite of the noise.

There are a few voting patterns that the system will catch. If you vote the same user up or down too many times the system might note this as problem case. This catches both contrived voting rings and revenge voting sprees that would otherwise skew the results. You also have a limited number of votes per day and downvotes cost you a little rep. This encourages you to make your votes counts and discourages new users from downvoting too much before they understand the system and what attributes to vote on.

What have done is come up with question scoping guidelines that make such voting unnecessary. The kind of question you describe would actually be close here pending edits that scoped it in a way that such voting patterns would not be necessary. We really voting to be done on quality, usefulness and accuracy in describing the view represented, not doctrinal agreement. To make this possible we require that questions are framed in a away that discourages "doctrinal popularity contest" style voting. Consider an example:

Question: Does God the Father have a body?

Answer 1: No. God is spirit, but God the Son did take on a human body.

Answer 2: Yes, God had a body just like Jesus.

Answer 3: It was made out of spaghetti.

This pattern is hugely problematic for the SE format. We might all agree on #3, but the voting on the first 2 answers will quickly start showing a doctrinal bias. Basically this example would turn into a popularity contest between mainstream Christianity and Mormonism. Not constructive.

Instead we would put that question on hold until it had a scope that was answerable in a constructive way that would not lead to popularity contests between what different groups believe to be true. Like this:

Question: What sort of body does the LDS church teach God had?

Answer 1: God had a sort of ethereal body that you could see but not touch. It gave off a green light.

Answer 2: According to Joseph Smith, God once had a body of flesh and bones just like we do now.

Answer 3: God does not have a body! Mormons are wrong.

Now it becomes much more apparent what to do. The question here is about what a specific group of Christians believe and answers are expected to properly represent that view. A good answer could even include references to official statements that backed up their case. Even though I believe the view to be heresy I could vote up #2 as I know it to be a more accurate representation of the view requested by the question. #1 becomes objectively a poor answer whether you agree with Mormons or not and #3 can be flagged as Not an Answer and removed entirely because it does not fit the scope of the question.

  • 1
    Pastafarians unite! – TRiG Jun 21 '14 at 16:36
  • 2
    @TRiG Knock yourselves out. – Caleb Jun 21 '14 at 16:38
  • Ha! Okay, following that one now, thanks. Not that I expect it to go anywhere. – TRiG Jun 21 '14 at 16:41
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I guess I would argue the answer can be sort of, but mostly no. Voting on questions and particularly answers is supposed to be based on if they are helpful, clear and well-defined.

If someone were to, say, answer a question about the Catholic perspective on an issue and an answer was given that accurately represented the Catholic view clearly, it should be upvoted regardless of your personal convictions on the matter since it is a good answer to the question, as scoped.

So where does it get fuzzy? Sometimes questions aren't as tightly scoped as they should be and leave it open to overly broad answers that stray into unscoped opinion. For example, if someone asked "Do Christian's believe that the bread and wine of communion literally become the blood and body of Christ?", then answers stating either "Yes they do" or "No they don't" would both be unhelpful since they fail to scope who has that view and it is not true that all Christian's hold that view. Both answers should be down-voted as inaccurate.

If however, someone stated "Catholics believe they do" or "Most protestants believe they do not", or even better "While Catholics hold this to be true, most protestant denominations do not" would all be worthy of upvotes as they scope the answer well to remove addressing "Truth" issues. The last answer is really the best as it is the most helpful and gives the most complete answer to the question.

So in short, voting should be based on how helpful, clear and well-defined an answer is. It is a problem if it is answering incorrectly by some common perspectives regardless of if it happens to coincide with your personal convictions or not. The goal of this site is to be an academic resource for people to find information about groups that consider themselves Christian. It is not designed to determine what really is true.

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As someone else who cares about real truth, I appreciate the desire to see good true answers on this site (even if that's not the point of the site). But voting is generally a poor way to do it.

When someone writes an answer which is against your convictions, sometimes it's a poor answer. It may not really address the question, or it may be poorly referenced. In those situations it's appropriate to comment and ask for the answer to be improved. But sometimes an answer is provided which you disagree with, but is well written and does answer the question. Don't try to fix the untruth by voting it down - your vote will be lost amongst all the others. Voting really doesn't do much to highlight the truth.

My suggestion would be for you to write an answer which does express the truth as you understand it. You may not be able to write an answer for the same question, so go looking for another question. You may have to ask a new question and answer it yourself, this is acceptable as long as both the question and answer meet the site guidelines. Good questions, good answers and good references will make this a good website for the truth, even if that's not the point of the website!

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