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On a site like this, we're going to get some questions that contain assumptions we think are incorrect.

Here's an example: What were Martin Luther's main disagreements with the Catholic Church?

What's right way to handle these questions? The one I cited was voted to be closed. I think closing it was a wrong decision. Refusing to address the question left cut off an opportunity for somebody to teach. (In this case, the topic was the role of conscience and free will in Martin Luther's ethics.)

Sisters and brothers, with any luck we're going to get plenty of seekers here. We'll get trolls too. To what extent should we give people the benefit of the doubt?

My answer to my question: let us act with charity and hospitality. Let us be polite to strangers, just as we would in our places of worship.

Let's be as hesitant to close questions as we are to chew people out by name from the pulpit.

  • FWIW, if you haven't done so yet... Look at the history of that question. It has changed almost entirely from its original form, and could probably have benefited from some more careful editing. BTW: most charitable thing you can do for a question that's getting flack is to edit it (for clarity, scope, etc.). – Shog9 Aug 24 '11 at 18:37
  • Sorry for my ignorance, but how does a fish like myself see the history? – user116 Aug 25 '11 at 11:24
  • Heh, sorry - click on the bit below the question where it says, "edited some amount of time ago" – Shog9 Aug 25 '11 at 13:54
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    Meh. A lot of questions on this site are going to be assuming that God exists. Is that a problem? – TRiG Sep 1 '11 at 18:24
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Firstly let me remind you that closed is not a death sentence, if that question you wrote for your example was edited and narrowed it could be reopened rather quickly.

Second, all of us are going to have to cope a bit with people making assumptions and statements that we believe are wrong. I am going to cringe every time someone says that they "chose" to be saved or "chose" God. But I'm also going to answer questions where I can and try to defend my theology when its called for, and I'm going to move along on questions that are outside of the purview of what I consider to be the truth.

As for how to recognize trolls, do your best to answer the question, if the person seemingly only wants to start an argument, move along, let a mod know or just simply ignore them. Its not healthy for any site to feed its trolls and it becomes obvious who they are very quickly.

  • 'twasn't my question that was closed. I'm making the suggestion that we only reluctantly close questions. – user116 Aug 24 '11 at 18:38
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    @OllieJones - I disagree, some questions should be closed with abandon. Closure is actually a mechanism for question improvement if the author is willing to let it be so. – wax eagle Aug 24 '11 at 18:40
  • And i'll be cringing every time someone implies i had no voice in the matter :P +1 though. – RCIX Sep 4 '11 at 19:19
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Particularly at this moment during private beta we are trying to set the tone and scope of the site. The question as it stands right now includes a fallacy in the title that makes it difficult to answer fairly other than to point out the fallacy and move on.

If that is the question the OP intends, they should use this opportunity to rephrase the question to be "Did Martin Luther intend to start a separate church?".

That fallacy was added during an edit apparently to try to reduce the scope of the question because it was getting feedback about being too broad. If the original question was the intended question the OP should take a lesson from the feedback and break it out into smaller questions like "What were the main issues Martin Luther had with the Catholic Church?" or "How did Martin Luther's work contribute to the start of the reformation?"

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