For example:

Is praying for the wealth of the Stocks Exchange blasphemy?

Specifically names 'an American politician Perry'. This seems to detract from the question being asked.

4 Answers 4


Yes and no.

Yes, questions should avoid naming people in anything remotely resembling this context. It does not add to the quality or understanding of the question and is basically just provocative.

No, questions can name people when it is relevant to the scope of the question. Dead people are great candidates for this (Luther? Past popes? Famous people in history with an affect on Christianity) but currently living people (theologians, pastors, etc who have a specific relevance) could be named in order to improve the quality and scope of a question.

  • Just to say that while the name detracts from that particular question, it doesn't invalidate it. The correct response to the question would have been to edit out the name, not close the question. Sep 9, 2011 at 14:07
  • @DJClayworth: People did edit out the name. Several times. I agree the core question is valid, but when the OP insists on making it provocative instead of constructive, it's hard to justify keeping it open! (I didn't VTC but I agree that the question doesn't hold value for the community of the OP insists on not following guidelines as agreed on meta posts like these.)
    – Caleb
    Sep 9, 2011 at 14:27
  • I just found that out. Sep 9, 2011 at 14:28

If it's relevant, include names.

If it's not, don't.


If the question is intended to attack or criticize an individual, it should not be allowed.

A current example: "Richard Dawkens. A bigot?"

Another example: "Why was Calvin such a horrible heretic?"

Clearly there's potential in that second example ("Were Calvin's doctrines considered heretical by the Roman Catholic Church?") but since the intent seems to be to attack or criticize, it should not be allowed.

The question you listed above also falls under this category.



Well, the question being asked is about a specific usage of religion in a political process. Removing 50% of the context renders the whole question meaningless.

Independent information:

How can you argue how the action is meant, if it can't be specified? How do people know what I'm talking about, if I don't give them information, to build their own opinion?

I can, of course, tell, what my impression was from a 3 minutes news broadcast, with 10 seconds of Mr. P. standing in a stadium, whith 30 000 persons in the audience. But then you would depend on my impression, and my information, and couldn't inform yourself independently.

Insiders and outsiders

And: Most or many of the visitors here are well educated people, which know although, even if I don't mention the name, whom I'm talking about, but some do not, and then, you would build a splitted community of those who know, and those who don't.

Which would be worse for the discussion, imho.

  • 2
    Thank you for sharing your reasoning. Context is a great thing, if it adds to the question. I personally feel outting a specific person in this manner doesn't add to the question (hence my downvote here). The exact person doesn't matter and the question should be generalized to any prominent person committing the same act. Otherwise it risks being 'too localized', as Caleb points out in his answer. Sep 9, 2011 at 2:26
  • 1
    You call it outing, when I use the name of a person, who outs himself in front of 30 000 persons, with news reporting it into millions of housholds? I've seen the news in Germany/Europe. Maybe I get the meaning of the word outing wrong - I thought it meant to make something private public. Here was nothing private. Sep 9, 2011 at 3:18
  • 1
    Fat from bring rendered meaningless leaving out the name actually improves the context. Asking "is my friend Bob a sinner" gives us nothing, "are people who do x sinners" is where the context is at. Adding a name is adding distraction and controversy not context.
    – Caleb
    Sep 9, 2011 at 7:32
  • 1
    The example doesn't fit, because nobody knows your friend Bob. Of course the name gives you nothing. Sep 9, 2011 at 10:42
  • 2
    I actually agree with the stance of user_unknown here. A public persona has already made his intentions and beliefs public. However, I disagree with the question in that it seems to be attacking an individual. If the question would've addressed specific quotes in an attempt to either validate or invalidate a viewpoint, that would be one thing. However, the question seemed to attack the person rather than a viewpoint.
    – Richard
    Sep 9, 2011 at 16:08
  • 1
    No - an ad hominem attack is a different thing. If I would say 'Don't pray with P., because he is a blasphemist' that would be an ad-hominem attack; trying to make an argument not from facts, but from a person. Or saying something like "You're a well known lier - nobody trusts you, so it can't be true, that this is an ad hominem attack!" - that would be ad hominem. The argument is fighted by attacking the person behind the argument. But that is not my intend - I didn't know said person before, and the only thing I know about him is, that he is a republican candidate, praying for the Wall Str. Sep 9, 2011 at 18:57

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