In another Stack site, I recently had an answer deleted. It was accompanied by an explanatory comment, and I understood and agreed with the deletion.

But here, I see questions being flagged for "off topic", without any obvious (to me) reason as to why it is off topic.

From what I've seen the questions must be worded so that they could be answered by an atheistic scholar. E.g. "Why is murder a sin?" isn't acceptable because a valid answer would be "Sin doesn't exist; it's a creation of society.". This kind of question is obviously "off topic".

But I see a few flagged items that seem to be perfectly reasonable questions, or perfectly objective answers.

The most recent specific example is: Why was David punished for doing what God has asked him to do?, which was marked as "off topic", with no real explanation.

Similarly, my answer to that question was deleted, even though it contained no opinions and simply pointed out the scriptures that explain why David was forbidden to build the Temple. I'm not aware of any denomination that disagrees with this.

Neither the question nor the answer involved any issue about whether something was a sin or not. Both were concerned with a very specific instance, certainly not in the too-broad category.

I'm not claiming that my answer or this question didn't deserve what happened; I'm saying that I don't understand why it happened.

A comment indicating specifically what was wrong with my answer would have helped a lot. And I'm sure the first-time-user that asked the question must be thoroughly turned off by the simple "off topic" and "Is X a sin?" boiler-plate. He didn't ask whether something was a sin, and if I don't understand why it is off topic, I'm sure he doesn't either.

Note again that I'm not asking specifically about this question and answer, but am saying in general that what "off topic" means isn't obvious to me from the documentation and that when an item is deleted a specific reason should be given (unless it really is very obvious to everyone concerned).


2 Answers 2


This site is about the documented history, beliefs, and practices of Christian groups. While some question types (such as church history) are okay to ask without a denomination scoping, for the great majority of questions some kind of denomination or movement scoping is strongly recommended or required. We have this rule even for questions that seem straightforward because of just how diverse and surprising the whole of Christianity is.

If a question seems simple, often there's more to it. The asker of that question seems aware of many Bible verses and the controversy around some of them (the meaning of the 5/6th commandment, when God says David is not to build the temple) but neglects to quote any of them. This is a bad sign already. Then they assume one position (that killing isn't a sin) and ask the main question, with wording that implies there's a contradiction, but without explaining what they think it is. I'm writing this just to show how the further we get away from the ideal clearly scoped question, the more messy it all gets.


If the question can only be answered by God, then it is off topic.

The Biblical Hermenuitics site can handle questions like this, but they have a strict rule too (you need to have the a particular passage that you're asking about)

To make this on topic here, you would have to scope it to a Christian tradition, denomination, sect... etc. That would make it answerable by someone (someone who is themselves answerable to God for their answer).

Sometimes these are closed as "Primarily Opinion Based" but it's up to the majority of closers (or the moderator who mod-hammer closes the question) to put the final close reason on it.

It is both off-topic and opinion based.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .