I've noticed some questions being quickly closed as opinion-based or too broad, even though there is a precedent for the success of such questions. These closures seem to be mostly recent, and frequently voted to close by the same small set of users.

A clear example of this phenomenon is demonstrated in exegesis questions, which often have titles like "What did Jesus mean by _______?", or "What does _______ mean?" In fact, there are a lot of successful questions of this type in the exegesis tag. However, it seems to me that some recent questions of similar style are the target of closure from these users.

Examples of successful questions:

What did Jesus mean when he said go and sin no more...?

What does John 12:25 mean?

What does it mean to judge the fatherless?

Here is an example of a recently closed question:

What did Jesus mean when he said we must eat his flesh and drink his blood?

It was asked in 2011 accepted an answer written in 2014, and closed just last month. Did these previous completed questions just fall through the cracks, is there actually a precedent for some exegesis questions closed as too broad or opinion based to be answered, or are these questions not similar for some reason?


1 Answer 1


TLDR; Yes, standards have changed.

More specifically, I see two distinct things that have changed:

  1. Biblical Hermeneutics launched as a sister site. Many of the "What does verse X mean?" questions are now better suited for this site, which delves into the textual context, translation nuänces, etc, of scripture. They strictly do not address interpretation questions.

    Of course, now days, interpretation questions are permitted here, so long as the denominational scope is provided. We didn't always have this rule, which leads to...

  2. After some initial growing pains, we more or less settled on a list of criteria which makes for an acceptable question. The help center provides a good overview of this list, but this list didn't always exist as it does today.

    For instance, as pointed out in comments, "Is X a sin?" was permitted initially. Now it clearly is not.

    We also accepted a lot of "truth questions" in the past (questions which ask for the absolute truth of something--"Was Mary perpetually a virgin?" or "Is Jesus Michael the Archangel?"), which are now expressly off-topic, as they are essentially asking for voting wars between denominations.

I have recently discovered that we still have a very large number of old questions open, which no longer fit the guidelines. Many of those you cited probably fit this category. Slowly, these questions will get closed, and/or updated to fall within current guidelines. As you find them, you are encouraged to vote and/or comment to request the OP edit the question to fit within guidelines.

  • Thank you for this helpful answer. I have developed a tendency to judge questions by comparing them to questions that have already been asked, answered, received a number of up-votes, and have accepted an answer, assuming that they are good questions. I now understand that's not a reliable method, and that some questions that were good no longer are.
    – Andrew
    May 27, 2016 at 1:13
  • I have been told by old-timers that unscoped exegesis questions are still on-topic here. In fact, I've had enough "off-topic" flags on such question declined that for a while I was regularly getting messages about how my recent flags had been declined. So the situation for exegesis questions doesn't seem to be as simple as what you're saying. For consistency's sake, I think unscoped exegesis questions should be off-topic. But apparently they're not. May 28, 2016 at 2:10
  • And the reason I think they should be off-topic, even though I would be happy to answer them, is that they inevitably become "popularity contest" questions in which the questions that provide an exegesis from the perspective of large, popular churches get voted up while the questions that provide an exegesis from the perspective of smaller, less popular churches (such as mine) get voted down, regardless of the actual quality of the answers. May 28, 2016 at 2:14
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    @LeeWoofenden That's certainly related, but perhaps the best approach to addressing it would be to bring it up in a separate meta post, perhaps with examples of how you would answer some of the "basic" exegesis questions that are often left open. May 28, 2016 at 10:50
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    I think I agree with both Nathaniel and Lee on this... I think it would be good to bring that topic up in another meta post. Re-visting the topic is probably due again.
    – Flimzy
    May 28, 2016 at 10:54
  • @Nathaniel Perhaps you're right that a new meta post is needed. But my views are about as popular as mud around here, and I've already been slapped down several times for raising this issue. So if one of you guys wants to put up a new meta post about exegesis questions, go for it. May 28, 2016 at 11:52

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