I know I haven't been around as long as some people, but I feel like I have been around long enough to have a basic understanding of the purpose of this site and what kinds of questions are acceptable. Usually I'm in agreement with the voting of others on most questions and answers. But I was particularly surprised by the voting response to this question:

What details does the Bible have about Jesus' birth and childhood?

From a general stack-exchange standpoint, it's a definitively answerable question. It's not asking for a list or for opinions or for a discussion. Besides some minor, language-barrier-related formatting issues, it seemed to me like a relatively well-asked and well-sourced question, especially for someone who was fairly new to the site at the time.

From a Christianity.SE standpoint, it is definitely a question about Christianity. It's not asking for "truthiness". It's not asking which side is correct in some controversial subject. It's just asking a basic question of fact, essentially: "Does the Bible contain any details about Jesus' childhood as the Quran does?" You might say that the answer is too easy, but for someone who has no Christians around them to ask, what other option would they have other than reading the whole of the Bible to get their answer?

The question was never put on hold, or even edited, so I guess I should assume that the community did feel like it was a question that was applicable to the site, but just not a very good one. But I guess I just don't see what's so bad about it. It's a rudimentary question, for sure, but for someone who grew up in a Muslim community with no exposure to Christianity, it's probably a very common question people might have. The only reason why it was down-voted that I can come up with is that, as a community, we'd rather not be answering rudimentary questions about Christianity from outsiders, but I doubt that's the actual reason. So, what am I missing?

3 Answers 3


Well there were three upvotes to the question. Looking at the question, I think the main problem is that it quotes a story about Jesus from the Quran, and then asks about Biblical details of Jesus' early life in such a way that it seems like it's asking for the Biblical equivalent of that particular story.

In particular, the poster tells the story and then says, "What was the people's reactions and how did Mary react to (what I am assuming) were negative comments?" From the OP's comments, it seems that the reactions and comments he's curious about are reactions and comments about Jesus generally during his early years, but as phrased it seems that he's asking about reactions and comments in this story as it appears in the Bible. Since, of course, the story doesn't appear in the Bible, there's no way to answer that question; and, I suppose, hence the downvotes. A little judicious editing would probably have done a great deal in this instance.

  • 2
    I edited that part of the question out. It's now much more straightforward.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 5:47

The question is worded poorly. That's probably what some of the downvotes are for. It's hard to see exactly what the question is and can easily be confused as a question about the Quran, which is off-topic, of course.

There's also another issue which might be at play. There's some bad blood between Muslims and this community. Quite a few times in the last year, Muslims have stopped by to "ask a question" which just leads into them proselytizing, and usually rather abruptly and annoyingly. One particular user was very persistent; many of us still have bad memories about that. This particular question has a feel like it would lead into "See, the Quran is more complete. You should convert."

Now to actually answer the heart of your question: rudimentary questions should be allowed, but not encouraged. What I mean is, if a legitimate user with such a low knowledge of the Bible comes around, we aren't going to turn him away, but if a high rep user that we know has this knowledge starts spitting out basic questions like this, then it should be discouraged because it is disingenuous.

Take this for example: Why are some of the Psalms written by authors other than David?

The question is so basic that is actually annoys me. I want to squash it and send them away because it is perfectly useless to me, personally. But, they appear to just be ignorant of what the Psalms actually are. So that's pretty easily answerable and spreads knowledge to other users that are equally ignorant. That makes the internet a better place and educates people that do not know. Though it annoys me personally, I get past that, let it slide, and (gulp) even upvote if there are no grammar and spelling issues.

  • 2
    I'd hope that the other issue isn't at play. I realize that we've had problems, but behavior is an individual thing. Look at the site history and the number of disruptive atheists that have come around. yet we have Trig and had Marc Gravell, each of which were very good participants, with a lot of positive contributions. I'm sure that there are Muslims that would fall in that category as well, and I'd hope that we'd be giving everyone the benefit of the doubt until given a reason to do otherwise. Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 2:43
  • @DavidStratton I'd hope so too, but, you know, people are people.
    – user3961
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 9:52

This question is definitely on-topic and it shouldn't be closed. But it shows no research effort which is why I downvoted it. At the very least I'd expect someone wondering about this to have read the Wikipedia page. If they had then they would very easily see the section on his birth and childhood, would see the stories and references to Matthew and John. If they had read the Wikipedia page, or any other basic overview of Jesus, then there's no way the question would've been asked as it was. It's not like they were wanting to know more by asking about non-canonical gospels. That's why I think it shows no research effort at all.

But your answer answers the question well earning its upvotes. So everything seems to be working as it should be.

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    I'm not sure research effort is a legitimate complaint. The Bible is a big and intimidating book. Imagine you know practically nothing about it. Where exactly would you start to answer that question yourself? You'd have no idea where to start!
    – user3961
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 9:55
  • Right, I know that this site's help pages say that a question should not be answerable with a simple internet search, but I take that to mean something more trivial like "Who was John the Baptist". This question on the other hand, while it's remedial, it's not trivial in that same sense. The only way to get the answer is to read the entirety of the Bible yourself, ask someone who knows, or find it already answered on a site like this one. So in that sense, I thought it was a reasonable question to ask here. Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 16:00
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    At the very least I'd expect you to read the Wikipedia page on Jesus. It has a section on the early life of Jesus, briefly covering the stories and giving the references to Matthew and John. If they had bothered to read that single page, or any other overview of Jesus' life, the question would look very different. That's why I say it shows no research effort.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Commented Jul 24, 2014 at 22:51

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