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We have an ongling problem, where some site visitors demonstrate a basic lack of understanding of basic Christianity. The example that inspired this question would be:

show where god claims to be just. Then show where god has justified wicked people then you can make that claim

The fact that God is just is something I think most Christians take for granted, because it's so obviously stated multiple times in the Bible--as evidenced by the various answers to my followup question.

So... that's the proper way to handle these questions? Lets ignore for a moment the possibility that the user asking for proof that God claims to be just, might have been trolling (I don't think we know if he was or not). Lets give him the benefit of the doubt, and assume he really didn't know that about Christianity.

How do we address this issue?

Clearly I chose to address it by asking a question to clear the air. But as @DJClayworth rightly points out, that is not an expert-level question.

What's a guy to do?

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I hate the fact that we have to have these questions. However, it seems that we're getting more and more people debating the very core foundations of Christianity (such as God being just, Mary being a Virgin at the birth of Jesus, sin being evil, etc.)

However, unlike other SE sites, we can't simply presume that the basics and fundamentals are understood. For example, when dealing with StackOverflow, you can presume that everyone there understands that you can't store a fractional number in an integer value without precision loss. On SuperUser, it's safe to presume that if you unplug a network cable, you'll lose connectivity.

Here, though, we can't even assume that everyone is on board with the idea that God is perfect (for example). These extremely basic questions have to be hashed out.

It seems that we'll have to go through the process of knocking out all these basic questions until we can build a firm foundation on which we can begin to answer the expert questions.

When you have to debate the definition of English words, we clearly are at a place that needs a firm foundation. As we gain that foundation, we can start weeding out the simple answers as duplicates of past answers and we can start pointing arguments within comments to the simple questions that address those confusions.


My hope is that, as this site matures, these silly little debates will fade away so that we can focus on more expert level questions. But until then, I think these child's school questions are foundational and essential--purely because of the nature of the topic.

  • Its too bad that more of these basic questions were not asked during the earlier days, so that there could have been a more good-natured debate about it without as many trolls – aceinthehole Sep 8 '11 at 18:10
  • I agree, but those seven days of private beta were slammed. Also, it seems to be the trolls that are requiring these types of questions! – Richard Sep 8 '11 at 18:21
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I'm going to pull the quote I use in my profile sig out:

"This is a question and answer site. Not a "complex question, insightful answer that grows you as a person site." People should be able to ask simple questions with simple answers, that just may so happen to be spoon-fed. A lot of people just want to get good answers. Not be empowered. – Owen Sep 19 '08 at 21:23"

(paraphrasing just a bit to fit this site's purpose)

Ever since early SO days (and I've been around before there was such a thing as SU and SF, never mind a whole army of Stack Exchange sites), I've been arguing for a broad level of acceptance for questions with regard to level of complexity. Why? Traffic. The more questions we have that come up high in google results, the more traffic/exposure we get. The more exposure we get, the more we grow and the better we can serve our userbase. Even if something can possibly be considered a "general reference" question, we should definitely keep it.

I agree that a flood of entry-level questions can definitely damage an SE site, but we've already fairly well established that we have a thriving expert community here. It certainly wouldn't hurt to have simpler questions that can expand into a solid platform for explaining perhaps more fundamental concepts of Christianity, as well as spur thought and discussion among our users.

And to me, it feels like just a touch of snobbery to say "Your question is too dumb for us to answer. Just go away and google it." (and I'm pretty sure i'm one of few who would phrase it that tolerably :P) Surely we can tone that down?

  • I know downvotes without comments are more accepted on meta, but it still really doesn't help... – RCIX Sep 8 '11 at 5:11
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It doesn't look as if these questions are actually being asked by people who want to know the answers. Many of them are being asked by people with high reputations, who have answered other questions and presumably already know the answers to these. In short, we don't need to ask them at all.

I propose a moratorium an basic questions being asked by people who already know the answers. If there are people out there who genuinely want to know the answer they will ask them.

  • I agree. That's the advantage of simple questions: to avoid debate. Also, it's sometimes easier to just shove a debate off into a question when you're dealing with someone who is attempting to debate simple points. – Richard Sep 8 '11 at 18:25
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    I think this answer violates a core SE principle: Judge the question, not the questioner. We cannot up-vote if one visitor (or class of visitor) asks, and a down-vote if another asks an identical question. – Flimzy Sep 8 '11 at 21:43

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