9

So there's this question: Is there a verse about "big" and "small" lies being the same in God's kingdom?.

So far the question seems to be relatively safe. There is 1 VTC and 3 up/down votes. I've made an edit to the question to make it more straightforward and answerable.

Are topic-based bible query questions OK? Is that what the verse-identification tag is for? Do you think this question falls under that category? Do you guys have any other general issues with this question?

She doesn't seem to be asking for doctrine or asking if X is a sin, but is mechanically asking "Is a passage about XYZ in the text of the bible?" That is a yes or no question, answerable, objective, and I think great. There are lots of idioms that Christians grow up with that they think are in the bible but are actually not in the bible but are simply extrapolated from it. I saw this question as one that wanted to verify if the big vs small lies idea was actually written in the bible or not.

Did she show a lot of research effort? I don't know. I know that if you try to Google/Biblegateway an answer to this you will not get the answer right away (and what other research test do we have?). I feel like that would be the case for most topical bible text searches.

I understand this is a grey area. I ere to the side of "let it be", others may not. Whatevs. Sound off.

  • There's a meta history that relates to this. Are we allowing shopping questions or not? – fredsbend Dec 2 '14 at 17:55
  • @fredsbend That thread seems to say that "find this verse for me" questions are allowed. – LCIII Dec 2 '14 at 19:11
  • It seems to me like the referenced question would be better/less-confusing if worded and categorized as as biblical-basis question. – Steven Doggart Dec 2 '14 at 21:16
  • @StevenDoggart were it to be so, it'd be a duplicate – wax eagle Dec 4 '14 at 3:12
  • This is a bad question then? christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/44162/… – Red Rackham Nov 11 '15 at 17:16
  • 3
    I don't see what's the difference between things like this and "identify-this-movie" in movies stackexchange – Red Rackham Nov 11 '15 at 17:24
  • @RedRackham Each site gets to decide their own scope rules. – curiousdannii Nov 12 '15 at 4:00
8

My test is simple:

  • If a question is asking about a single verse with enough information to identify it, it should be allowed (but not encouraged per se). If we are going to allow "simple questions" in other areas, I don't think verse search should be an exception. At minimum, if people really don't like these, they should be closed as "too basic" or "no research effort", not "verse search".

  • If it is asking about a topic (e.g. potentially multiple verses), it is not a good question, but often can be rephrased what is the Biblical basis for X. If someone is trying to prove a point (which seems to be the main concern) or circumvent pastoral advice guidelines, then it should be closed.

  • I proposed below that for these questions to be acceptable the question must specify the exact wording searched for (and preferably give several alternatives they tried), as well as tell us what passages those searches suggested and why they are wrong. I think this would be a good third rule. – curiousdannii Jun 8 '17 at 23:55
6

is a cancer and should not be allowed to metastasize. Other sites have struggled with similar tags with poor results. Gaming has disallowed the similar game-id tag, and SFF routinely has arguments over their story-id tag.

Here's the thing, Google is already super good at this kind of thing. You type in a few words about a topic, and it comes up with a list of sources, and within the first few you've got basically everything and odds are you've found the verse/verses that you're looking for.

Generally, I think that questions that are asking us to either prove something doesn't exist OR simply provide a link to the fact that it does exist are not very good questions and should probably be heavily discouraged.

Lastly if we are going to allow these at all, the bar should be very high. There should be evidence of significant research effort, and at least some small test of notability.

To address the question that spawned this one, there is little research effort shown, thought it does hold up to a minimum notability bar (the idea that little white lies are ok is fairly common).

Basically it comes down to this. These questions aren't generally great (and a quick perusal of the tag shows that they are consistently meh in quality), and certainly shouldn't be encouraged. I'd advocate for their banning, but if we do allow them, we need a better criteria than "I heard this, is it a thing?"

  • 7
    In light of Are we allowing shopping questions or not? I think "Find this verse for me" is a slippery slope to answers that really stretch verses to mean what the person is asking for. So we're going to get a lot of personal interpretation and poor exegesis. I'm in favor of a strict policy against "find this verse for me." – fredsbend Dec 2 '14 at 17:57
  • Totally agree! Of all SE sites, we must be one of the most inclusive in terms of what kinds of questions are allowed. That, I think, is a severe barrier to us becoming a site for experts and if we're ever going to approach that level we need to raise the bar. – Mr. Bultitude Dec 4 '14 at 3:11
  • 1
    @fredsbend So which is it? You and Wax are obviously against "find-this-verse" questions, but in the linked answer David Stratton seems to say they're permitted. – LCIII Dec 18 '14 at 15:45
  • @LCIII The example given in that is looking to find a Christian painting he saw before. Specifically, "find this verse" is decidedly not a good question. They are either too simple and can be found with Google or they are too Truthy and allow answers to post verses they interpret are about the topic. This is where this is related: "Biblical basis" vs "what the Bible says about a subject" – fredsbend Dec 18 '14 at 16:25
  • This is a bad question then? christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/44162/… – Red Rackham Nov 11 '15 at 17:16
3

Of course, some verse identification questions are problematic. Many are so simple that a quick Google search reveals the desired information. As wax eagle says:

Google is already super good at this kind of thing. You type in a few words about a topic, and it comes up with a list of sources, and within the first few you've got basically everything and odds are you've found the verse/verses that you're looking for.

However, there are many verse identification questions that are more complex, and are not easily answered in the way wax eagle describes.

Let's take a few examples:

  1. Where in the Bible is the Golden Rule?
    • This one is obviously problematic. Demonstrates no research effort; should be closed on this basis.
  2. Where in the Bible was a prophet attacked by a bear?
    • Also easy. A Google search turns this up in the top several hits. It should be closed; no research effort.
  3. Is Jesus quoted anywhere in the New Testament outside of the Gospels and Revelation?
  4. Where is the mentioning of people still living from the time of Christ in New Testament?
    • Rather difficult. Without closer wording, search #1 and search #2 do not provide the answer.
  5. Do any passages show Jesus eating meat other than fish?
    • Difficult. No Bible sites appear that include the information given in our answers when I perform search #1 and search #2.

Some of these are obviously terrible, while others are more debatable, and perhaps even helpful (note that #5 in my list is not currently closed, despite a close attempt in March).

The key difference is that some demonstrate research effort, and others don't.

So what's the point?

We should close questions because they show no research effort, not because they are "verse identification" questions.

I propose that if you feel that a verse identification question, or any other question, fails to demonstrate sufficient research effort, leave a comment saying:

I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it shows no research effort.

If others agree, they'll vote to close. If not, they won't. Enforcing a "no verse identification policy" and ignoring other considerations undermines the usefulness of the site, because not all verse identification questions are created equal.

  • 1
    The problem with many verse identification questions is that whether a verse is seen as teaching the thing asked about is up for debate. Perhaps there could be some acceptable questions, but I'd want very strong guidelines on what they are. The only one of the five here which I think could possibly be acceptable is 4. – curiousdannii Nov 12 '15 at 4:04
  • @curiousdannii I don't see this in #5, but perhaps it is implied. Regardless, to me any verse identification questions that ask for a teaching should be converted to biblical basis questions. – Nathaniel Nov 12 '15 at 11:59
  • I'd be open to better site rules on these, but I'd want them to be very clear. Did you see any more than these ones which you thought should stay open? – curiousdannii Nov 13 '15 at 11:02
  • @curiousdannii I didn't. I imagine I could find a few more, but I'm not sure we need to construct a bright-line rule here: why not treat them the way we treat "too broad" questions: personal judgment, five votes close? – Nathaniel Nov 13 '15 at 15:53
2

I think this is the first question since allowing some of these questions became broadly accepted by the community: Where is the verse about people sinning because they know God will forgive them?

I think that it's very broad (there are lots of verses about deliberately sinning, and lots of other ones about people who are worse than others), and the OP didn't give very specific wording, or what exactly they searched for. This is exactly the same problem we see for other verse identification questions.

People mis-remember not just the wording of verses but the content of verses too. Finding the closest verse to an idea still results in a subjective judgement, which I think is demonstrated by two highly upvoted answers which present verses I personally don't think are what the OP was talking about.

I would like to propose that for these questions to be acceptable the question must specify the exact wording searched for (and preferably give several alternatives they tried), as well as tell us what passages those searches suggested and why they are wrong. Without telling us those passages all these questions will do is duplicate the work of a search engine.

  • This is "a slippery slope to answers that really stretch verses to mean what the person is asking for. So we're going to get a lot of personal interpretation and poor exegesis. I'm in favor of a strict policy against" it. My comment from a year ago. Still feel the same way. – fredsbend Dec 4 '15 at 1:25
  • @bruisedreed It's not about knowing the exact words of the verse, but the exact words of the searches they've made. It's holding these questions up to a higher standard. If this recent question had listed all the verses the OP wasn't thinking of at the beginning then we wouldn't have suggested them. – curiousdannii Dec 4 '15 at 22:47
  • Ahhhh, I see - I somehow managed to misinterpret your suggestion, which is quite a sensible one. – bruised reed Dec 4 '15 at 23:43
  • @bruisedreed Ah, no worries then! – curiousdannii Dec 5 '15 at 0:31

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .