I do not feel your current standards for questions are ok. I feel they require too high a level of prior knowledge and education. Far too often (in my opinion) people come here and ask a question only to be shut down for 2 avoidable reasons: 1) Too broad 2) Unclear

A person with a lack of knowledge that the Mod's have will frequently ask a question which is "too broad" simply because the poster doesn't know all the details involved in their question or all the thought and writings that have already exist.

I don't believe this instance requires the closing of a question, but rather the answering it to the level it is asked - and avoiding the nitty gritty details that the question is not actually asking about or aware of.

On the second point some people are not good at algebra, and other are not as good as writing or the English language (this is the web). If a question isn't as clear as we'd like that shouldn't mean that it is automatically closed, but I suggest rather we try to understand and answer to the best of our ability. Many times we can provide value this way that is lost when a question is closed.

While clearly stated and well researched questions provide the best opportunity for this site, I feel they should not be absolutely required. Too many people are left behind and great opportunities are lost to bridge the gap to those who are coming from a "blank slate" on their current knowledge of Christianity.

This site isn't a closed group of doctorate level members, but rather a world wide open forum for the discussion of Christianity which should encourage and respond to any question to the level the question is asked. Closing questions turns people of off Christianity and this site. Responding in the best way possible is a better approach in my opinion.

EDIT This question is poorly written, but can't it be answered? Surly there either is scripture that can be used to reference prayer at meals or there is nothing to support the topic or even a disagreement on it.

This is the only recently closed question I would put into the category I'm trying to define.

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    Can you point to a few example questions you feel were closed prematurely or inappropriately?
    – Flimzy
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 15:18
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    I don't have a list nor did I post this in response to some immediate event. Rather it is a general feeling I've had for awhile that I'm choosing to express now after letting it stew in my mind for a few months.
    – Adam Heeg
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 15:21
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    If you come across an example or two, I think that would make it easier to decide if the concern is warranted.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 15:22
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    noted, I will update my question with examples when I find them.
    – Adam Heeg
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 15:34
  • I am concerned that my question could be turned into a debate about the questions I attempt to cite as examples, rather than focus on the general topic itself. Either way I'll attempt to find some examples in the coming days.
    – Adam Heeg
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 16:00
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    Conversely, I see many good, deep questions being misunderstood by those with too little knowledge or education on the topic, and the question being labeled too broad or opinion based. If we want expert answers, we need to ask expert questions. However, I do see what you're saying about still being friendly to simple questions. Too often I think we jump to close , instead of improve
    – Joshua
    Commented Apr 21, 2016 at 17:33
  • @Joshua: Do you have examples?
    – Flimzy
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 23:04
  • @Flimzy christianity.stackexchange.com/q/48278/24841 - it's clearly asking how their resurrection worked (live full lives or die soon after?) and what the point was. Yet marked duplicate of a question asking for information (actually it's a worse question too open ended) christianity.stackexchange.com/q/45985/24841 - this question was met with much criticism early, admittedly it needed work, but even when clarified as an overview people responded "that too broad!" even though there's really just two major historically Christian options.
    – Joshua
    Commented Apr 23, 2016 at 3:02
  • Same thing with this question now christianity.stackexchange.com/q/48322/24841 where yourself and others claim it is too broad or opinion based but offer no support for these claims (cannot offer multiple unique views). christianity.stackexchange.com/q/47176/24841 Unfortunately, objections on this question misunderstood the question and the Amish, assuming common knowledge was correct. I want to be respectful but I think "this is too broad" is often used in place of "I don't know enough about this to fairly evaluate it". Experts should make complex things simple.
    – Joshua
    Commented Apr 23, 2016 at 3:10
  • @Joshua: Re the Matt 27 questions, the closed one was off-topic as PoB. But by closing it as a duplicate to another question which is on-topic, the OP can be directed to useful information, and, if they choose, ask a new, focused question.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Apr 23, 2016 at 3:12
  • @Joshua: Your other examples are still open, so I'm not sure what point you're making.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Apr 23, 2016 at 3:14
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    @Flimzy my point in commenting was simply to raise awareness of a pattern of hasty negative evaluations based on ignorance or misunderstanding and to encourage anyone reading this to humbly keep that in mind next time they want to post a comment on a new question. Whether the questions are open or not are irrelevant to this pattern of attitude. Especially when I personally argued on the question's behalf on 3 of those cases. The point isn't me, the point is how many others have not been defended by someone? How many questions have been closed and new users discouraged due to our arrogance?
    – Joshua
    Commented Apr 23, 2016 at 3:25
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    @Joshua: None of your examples illustrate "our ignorance." As far as I can tell, they illustrate that the community is doing a good job of self-policing, and answering questions.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 1:52
  • @Flimzy by saying it is self policing (which I agree with) you are admitting there are two or more sides to it. I am trying to represent one of those sides. Your statement is simultaneously telling me I am constructively contributing to that process of policing while also telling me I'm wrong and that none of the examples I gave needed the opposing perspective that I provided (which in fact helped the policing process). I've only offered a perspective. If you still are seeking to understand I'll keep trying, but if you are just trying to win a debate let me know so I can leave.
    – Joshua
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 20:11
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    @AdamHeeg, I've noticed the elitism and it is consistent. That this question would be down voted (I upped you) validates what you're saying. To me, it often feels like this site (& hermeneutics) is like a club, ousting new members because they're threatened by them -especially when they ask good questions. I think the elitism is a sign of insecurity and lack of intelligence. I think some people are hiding behind the use of grammar, foreign languages and elitism as a mask for that insecurity. Have you ever considered starting a new site that reflects your principles? I'd be interested.
    – Daisy
    Commented May 6, 2016 at 23:21

2 Answers 2


I actually see where you are coming from. In fact I have been toying with the idea of advocating for lower expectations on questions. The problem is--and what I see your question here completely overlooking--in order for this to work well you have to have higher expectations on answers. If naive questions are to be allowed such that people have no idea how broad their questions are, then we need to require that answers actually address them properly and cover all the bases.

The alternative just doesn't work. Allowing naive answers to naive questions is a recipe for turning this into Quora. Or worse. And naive questions attract naive answers in this field. Theology isn't like programming in this regard. At Stack Overflow if you ask a dumb question chances are the experts are going to read it and roll their eyes and link you to whatever you need to read to get up to speed. In theology dumb questions draw answers from non-experts like raw meat attracts flies.

The alternative to having high standards for questions and closing them while they are edited into shape to work in this format is that we have to require all answers to be much much better than we currently allow. If questions aren't scoped well enough we would have to require that all answers cover all the possible scopes all the time. Realistically we just don't have that kind of expertise around, nor do I want to get in the business of moderating based on content.

We tried early on in the life of this site to go the other way, but it really only lasted as long as a super high percentage of the user base were really experts and sunk huge amounts of time into answers. As we grew it quickly became apparent that was not a sustainable model and as answers proliferated that only touched on the scope of questions (or worse, advocated their personal position on an issue instead of even trying to represent some broader scope) we realized we had to do something. The current guidelines that require focused questions with clear scopes are what we came up with to cope with the mess. It's not perfect, but unless you have some way we haven't come up with to mitigate poor answers, allowing poorly scoped questions isn't going to take the site anywhere good.

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    Would it be fair to say that the level of depth and expertise in an answer should be reflective of the level in the question? That's not to say a simple question can't have an expert answer, but it should be understandable by the OP and should never go the other way, with simple answers to expert questions.
    – Joshua
    Commented Apr 23, 2016 at 3:31
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    @Joshua no I don't think so. Even if answers to simple questions should be presented in a simple manner, the expertise required to do that is usually higher, not lower, than for more specialized questions. The depth of expertise required to properly answer a naive and seemingly simple question in a way that accurately generalizes is more, not less, than for questions whose scope is already worked out.
    – Caleb
    Commented Apr 23, 2016 at 5:14
  • I think we are using poor terms. I fully agree that the simple answer (post's quality) requires an expert author. I was speaking only of the answer or question qualitatively not the author's quality required to give it. But while a true expert makes an answer to a complex question simple as far as comprehension, the content is still complex. Maybe better to say the more technical a question the more technical answer you can expect?
    – Joshua
    Commented Apr 23, 2016 at 11:08
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    @Joshua: Often the least technical questions require the most technical answers, and the most technical questions require the least technical answers. The least technical questions often require explanation of ambiguities, exposing false premises, and elucidating un-anticipated viewpoints. And conversely, highly technical questions are often straight-forward to answer, simply because there is no ambiguity, and the OP understands the subject matter well enough to form a good, concise question.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 1:54
  • @Flimzy I suppose you are right and that there are a higher percentage of such cases here. What I was saying is probably more accurate on BHSE, where I started. But as I reflect there are much fewer cases where a technical question still demands an in-depth technical answer on Christianity SE. Just by nature of our scope and topics here.
    – Joshua
    Commented Apr 26, 2016 at 21:21

Caleb has great points and I appreciate his confirmation that the question I have posed is a good question. However, I have a different conclusion. Before I offer my brief answer I want to first say that I don't pretend to understand the full dynamics of being a moderator and I admit I don't have the background knowledge of 'how things used to be'. However, I saw a closed question today and I think it modeled what I see as the issue I'm trying to raise.

My answer is this. There seems to be a litmus test that mod's undergo when deciding to close a question. From what I can tell by their behavior the test goes something like this:

Is this question potentially too broad?
Is this question clear to my standards?

Those are fine questions, but I think we'd be better served as a community by these minor tweaks.

Is it possible to answer this question in this format?
Can this question be understood? Let's give it some time and see

I had this epiphony when reviewing this question and see Lee's comment along with my own thought that it could be answered.

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    I think I see what you are getting at, but the question asked is better phrased as follows: "Do I think this question is too broad?" Different people have different knowledge, which leads to different judgments. I think that borderline too-broad questions should be left open until it becomes obvious that they are indeed too broad, but that's not everyone's approach, and even then, we'll disagree on what "borderline" means. This is why five close votes are necessary, and why five votes the other way result in the question getting reopened. Commented May 13, 2016 at 20:01
  • The mods weren't involved with closing that question at all.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Commented May 14, 2016 at 1:03

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