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If someone answers an "Overview Question" how many perspectives do they need to include for their answer to not be considered "Not an answer"?

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The first part of the Not An Answer flag text reads:

This was posted as an answer, but it does not attempt to answer the question.

I think the word attempt is the key to determining if a question should be flagged as NAA. The quality of that attempt can then be handled with voting.

Attempt

What is an attempt? It's a gray area.

The clearest case is when an answer provides only one view, and does not argue that that view is the only significant view. That's not an attempt, and the post is "not an answer."

It's a bit more difficult to apply the "not an answer" flag to an answer that argues that the single view it explains is the only significant view, even if this is plainly incorrect. Same thing when the answer provides two or more viewpoints, even if there are more.

But this often needs to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. For example, an answer that provides two minority viewpoints, but ignores several much more popular views, may be fairly judged "not an answer" if it seems more intent on advocating one or both views than explaining the existing positions.

Quality of attempt

Voting comes into play when evaluating the quality of the overview answer. Voting criteria vary by person, but I'd recommend a few factors:

  • Is the answer correct?
  • Are all major views covered, at least briefly?
  • Are significant minority views covered?
  • Are references provided?
  • Is the answer well-written and well-organized?
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If the question is truly broad enough to encompass all Christendom,

Basic answers (ones that can expect to garner 3-5 votes if well written) should contain 1-2 paragraphs at the very least:

  1. Catholic
  2. Protestant
  3. Orthodox

Depending on the question, good answers will also clarify the position with these sub categories:

  • Mainline vs Evangelical Protestant
  • Reformed vs Arminian Protestant
  • Eastern vs Oriental Orthodox
  • Eastern vs Roman Catholic
  • Paedo vs Credo Baptist
  • Charistmatic
  • etc...

Good answers will also give an explanation of various non-trinitarian denominations, such as LDS and Jehovah's Witnesses.

Great answers will have two paragraphs of explanation and a primary source to back them up.


Anything that doesn't meet the criteria of a basic answer should be considered NAA and become a candidate for deletion.

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  • 3
    In concept I agree, but sometimes it's not branches of Christianity that matter so much as theological traditions. This will vary depending on the issue, sometimes treating C/P/O separately just doesn't make sense. I would say the required coverage has more to do with "as many as there are different views" before I listed specific denominations. – Caleb Mar 14 '18 at 14:24
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    I agree with @Caleb, and I'm concerned with the assumption that non-trinitarian views are automatically unnecessary. For some subjects, an overview answer would really need to include a JW view or a Mormon view, for example. "What is an overview of interpretations of 'the Word was God' in John 1:1" that fails to mention the JW view is seriously deficient. – Nathaniel is protesting Mar 14 '18 at 15:06
  • I think that any answer that fails to mention the Swedenborgian view is seriously deficient. But more seriously, I think that overview questions are inherently problematic. I understand why they exist. But there is no way to provide an accurate overview of a religion that consists of 30,000 to 40,000 distinct sects. – Lee Woofenden Mar 17 '18 at 15:50
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    @Lee But that's exactly the point of the difference between an overview and a completely comprehensive answer. Despite the number of denominations (most of which are Baptistic Protestants) most issues wouldn't have more than a dozen positions, and most have far fewer. And anyone is always free to vote to close an overview question as too broad if they think it's not possible to give an accurate overview. – curiousdannii Mar 19 '18 at 5:14
  • @curiousdannii "Baptistic" 🤣 – Matt Gutting Mar 21 '18 at 17:06

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