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Instead of closing a "truth" question, should we encourage the people who answer to add their denominational opinion? I could see this adding to a broader understanding of Christianity.

Example 1:

  • Question: Should we speak in tongues in church?

    • Answer: No, it disrupts the church service - Baptist
    • Answer: Yes, it is a gift - Pentacostal

Example 2:

  • Question: Is it a sin to murder?

    • Answer: Yes, the Bible explicitly prohibits it in the 10 commandments - Catholic
    • Answer: Yes, the Bible explicitly prohibits it in the 10 commandments - Lutheran

I now grasp the point that "vote wars" ensue, with people upvoting their own doctrine, and downvoting others. Perhaps it should state in the site tour as Affiable Geek said:

Ideally, when you are voting, you are saying "This answer is informative and reflective of the tradition for which it claims to speak." Downvotes mean "this misrepresents the tradition" not "I don't like it."

  • 3
    The Stack Exchange format is geared toward questions with one definitive answer. So, rather than stating the denomination in the replies, it should be specified in the question, e.g., "Is it acceptable to speak in tongues in a Baptist worship service?" or "Is murder a sin according to Catholic teaching?" – Bruce Alderman Feb 12 '15 at 22:24
  • If the topic is not too large you can always ask for an overview. – 3961 Feb 12 '15 at 22:26
  • See also meta.christianity.stackexchange.com/q/870/30 – Caleb Feb 14 '15 at 5:52
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tl;dr> Yes and No.

Yes, it is helpful when answers specify the tradition, but no, we don't want those kinds of questions in the first place.

Ideally, the question is going to be scoped to a particular theological framework. Answers that match are valid, answers that don't aren't. Getting all possible answers is often too broad and cumbersome, and not well suited to the SE model. We don't write books here - we write short essays that provide people with the information they need to understand the issue, then let people make up their own minds.

But, there is a bigger problem with the proposal of leaving truth questions open period.

The biggest risk one has with an academic site like this is the prospect of uninitiated users voting for answers they like, rather than answers that inform. I'm not a Mormon. I don't "like" when answers go to non-canonical scriptures to try to answer a question. I don't think the Book of Mormon is valid.

But that doesn't and shouldn't matter - because what this site is for is for information, not truth. I've asked many questions about the LDS church because I want to understand them better. If you're asking me to judge what I like, I'd probably discourage all the Mormons. But if you're asking me to learn, I want them here.

Ideally, when you are voting, you are saying "This answer is informative and reflective of the tradition for which it claims to speak." Downvotes mean "this misrepresents the tradition" not "I don't like it."

Encouraging truth questions makes it impossible to foster that - people will tend to vote what they think is "true," rather than what is descriptive of actual practice.

6

TL;DR No.

This would be encouraging a class of question often referred to as a "list question", which is heavily discouraged. It also encourages voting wars, which is one of the principal things we aim to avoid by prohibiting "Truth questions."

So rather than asking "Is Jesus eternally God?" then receiving 75 answers with vote counts ranging from -25 for the Arian answer, -10 for the Mormon answer, and +45 for the Evangelical answer (which would roughly reflect the number of votes from each respective denomination, rather than the "correctness" of the answer), we simply require that each question ask for a specific denomination.

If a person then wants to ask 75 "Is Jesus eternally God according to X?" questions, that's perfectly acceptable*.

*This assumes that each question conforms to all our other site quality guidelines. 75 cookie-cutter questions would be very heavily frowned upon, for lack of research effort, etc. But if 75 distinct, researched questions can be asked on the same topic, I'm sure they would all be welcome.

  • Wellll...I wouldn't say "perfectly acceptable". 2 or 3 is kinda the limit before people start going "Stop asking the same question over and over again!" Plus, if someone is actually genuinely interested in knowing the answer for 75 different denominations, they should just do the research themselves instead of making us do it. – El'endia Starman Feb 12 '15 at 14:57
  • @El'endiaStarman: If the 75 questions are well-researched, I'd say they'd be acceptable. It would also probably take 3 months to ask them all, if each is asked with the necessary thought. :) – Flimzy Feb 12 '15 at 14:58
  • @El'endiaStarman: I elaborated in the answer. – Flimzy Feb 12 '15 at 15:00
  • The elaboration is good. Thanks. :) – El'endia Starman Feb 12 '15 at 15:18
  • It's appropriate to question whether question scopes should be made broader. When a matter is covered in an early creed which all Trinitarian denominations accept it would normally be best to only have one question for all those who accept that branch of Christianity. Baptism will need more questions than the divinity of Jesus. – curiousdannii Feb 12 '15 at 21:58
  • @curiousdannii: In such a case, it's appropriate (and has often been done!) to ask "What do Nicene Christians believe about X?" for instance. – Flimzy Feb 12 '15 at 22:01
4

I agree with Flimzy and Affable Geek and the reasons they gave. Let me offer one more reason to support that viewpoint.

One thing that makes such truth questions "too broad" is the fact that they quickly amass many many answers. It becomes very hard to sift through and can become (as alluded to in the other answers) a popularity contest for the "best" answer, rather than for the most informative answer according to a limited scope.

On the other hand, a question that specifies the tradition it's looking for only has one or a few valid answers. Sometimes a question on Lutheranism, for example, may have one answer that appeals to the confessions which gets upvoted and accepted. Then another answer may come along and explain that the ELCA doesn't support that particular interpretation of the confession.

In other words, sometimes a question is phrased in such a way that it's looking for one answer, when there are really multiple. A question that's looking for "many" answers has no upper limit on how many there will be -- it won't garner "multiple," it has infinite valid answers.

That's a problem, particularly when considered together with the "popularity contest" issue.

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