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Very similar question (however asked almost 9 years ago with only 1 answer with negative votes) this question also vaguely addresses this topic, but not exactly.

I mainly watch the LDS tag, mainly because I am LDS and know the doctrine/beliefs of the LDS. There have been several times this year when someone has asked a question that seems clearly directed to/about the LDS faith, but then gets an answer that is clearly (at least to me) not from an LDS perspective. To me these answers are not in good faith, introduce confusion about a denomination's beliefs, and come off as an attack on the denomination. Various denominations will have differing beliefs, but we should at least attempt to be respectful of other denominations beliefs.

Some of the questions:

Reasons to flag an answer include:

  • Rude or abusive: A reasonable person would find this content inappropriate for respectful discourse.
    • I feel like answers that clearly do not attempt to answer the question, but come of as more of an attack, do not lead to respectful discourse. If there a question about another faith's beliefs, and someone answered with a "they are wrong for believing X for Y reasons" I'd feel like this would be equally disrespectful.
    • SO is not really the place for discussion, though it can happen in chat rooms and occasionally comments. Answers should stick to the question at hand, not the question they want it to be.
    • leaving it will often lead others who agree with the perspective (instead of the answer to the question-of course sometimes the question is asked as a gotcha by someone trying to find a flaw in said denominations theology), upvote (raising it in the view for those who come later), and thus appearing as a correct answer (or representative of a denominations beliefs), when it isn't.
  • Not an answer: This was posted as an answer, but it does not attempt to answer the question. It should possibly be an edit, a comment, another question, or deleted altogether.
    • while not a match for the second sentence, these posts often do match the first one. It is an answer that does not attempt to answer the question from the tagged denominations perspective.

So my question(s):

  • Are answers that do not answer the question ok? (This is more about answers that attack denominations beliefs posed in the question, not answers that aren't fully complete)
  • If such an answer does appear, what is the proper response? flag it and hope mod agrees?

Some users seem to think this is about promotion of my denomination or only having answers that align with my beliefs (silencing other opinions). This is not the message I'm trying to convey. Using stackoverflow as an example maybe I can show what I am seeing better (these aren't perfect examples):

  • Using javascript can I do operation X
    • the answer given seems to be be about operation Y and that javascript can't do so. javascript can do operation X though it may be ugly
  • In javascript why did they use keyword var/let instead of something else
    • the answer seems to say until you can explain all the keywords this can't be answered. which doesn't necessarily address the question and should be a comment
  • Does jquery accept javascript code (example not perfect)
    • answer seems to say php doesn't, which doesn't answer the question how a jquery expert would
    • 2nd answer comes closer but comes off as sorta/maybe/sometimes, when again there is an answer
  • do mongoose keywords line up with mongodb keywords
    • the answers proposes a new question (given that they are different languages, do do you think they should?) that isn't really an answer
  • what does typescript have to offer that javascript doesn't have?
    • the answer seems to say the only thing they offer is typing which is so opposed to javascript that it shouldn't exist.

So my point is answers should be answers to the question. If the question asks for a denomination perspective answers should be from that view point. I am not saying my answer has to be the only one, but if answers don't address the question correctly (from the perspective/subject being asked) shouldn't they be removed? In the examples given I happen to be more knowledgeable about LDS(javascript) doctrine so I can identify when answers don't match the question. These answers look like programmers(christians) knowledgeable in other languages(denomination/beliefs) attempting to answer questions in a language(LDS) they don't know. Yes anyone can answer questions, but as LDS experts are limited and their doctrine is quite unique, often others answer with their understanding that doesn't match the question. In a sense it could be seen as promotion of my beliefs, but I feel any answers to questions about a denomination is just as much of a promotion.

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  • 1
    It's gonna take a while to go through each of these answers. Sometimes there is an easy test for NAA, but these are more nuanced. There is definitely a place on the site for apologetics against LDS theology to help other Christians defend their positions against LDS adherents (who are often pretty up on things and ready with a defense).
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Sep 20 at 13:54
  • @PeterTurner again this is more about the answers. Everyone should feel free to ask whatever questions they like. But if a question is asked about catholic infant baptism, I wouldn't expect to see an LDS answer saying infant baptism is bad or how their view is wrong by some other denomination standard/view/doctrine. If a question wants apologetic arguments against, the question should state such (clarity) and tag it with relevant tags (scope)
    – depperm
    Sep 20 at 14:09
  • If any of the above questions are not asking for an LDS perspective, I'd ask they be edited to be clearer. I will then edit/delete my answer.
    – depperm
    Sep 20 at 14:10
  • I added two answers that I think are equally bad options as a hard and fast rule, if people want to add other nuanced options I think that would be good. My opinion is that we should go to the community to decide this (and the fate of the answers you linked).
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Sep 20 at 16:28
  • I can't answer this, but from the POV of an asker, I would be rather frustrated to get an answer that, instead of explaining or defending whatever it is I am asking about, argues against it. If it a belief I am holding for sure, but as well if it's a belief I am not holding - I already don't hold the belief and am trying to understand it, so a negative answer doesn't seem helpful at all, ever.
    – kutschkem
    Oct 3 at 19:18
5

I got the same impression: Q&A being used to slip in polemics

One of the things I like about Christianity.SE is how the diverse Christian experience can be asked about, and answered, in a non-polemical, non confrontational manner. This community, now ten years old, had to arrive at a manner for participants to do this in a way which does not promote interdenominational bickering. (Plenty of room for that in chat and anywhere else on the internet if people are so moved).

Lay off with this sniping at the Mormons

I am Catholic (came to the church in my late 40's). I grew up around people from a wide variety of Christian faith communities. Some of my best neighbors and shipmates (in the Navy) are from the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. My next door neighbor, whose sons and mine grew up together, is a Jehovah's Witness. The couple who most influenced my coming to the Church (RCC) are both actively practicing Methodists. (I could go on all day but I'll stop). I enjoy learning from JWs, LDS, Greek Orthodox, Swedenborgians, Baptists, Calvinists, and more the variety of ways that Christians express, experience, and practice their Faith.

We add no value at this site if we resort to interdenominational bickering and using the format to snipe at a different denomination. "The Truth" questions have been ruled by this community as off topic, since that approach stifles dialogue and engagement.

What @depperm is seeing, I am seeing, and I don't care for it.

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The point of the site isn't building up or pushing down any particular denomination, but increasing the breadth of knowledge that someone interested in Christianity would want to have. Therefore, we should let answers persist on the site (including ones that don't necessarily attest, or seem critical to the doctrines asked about in the original question) if they:

  1. "show their work"
  2. attempt to answer the question in a scholarly, if not rational manner
  3. do not outright disparage the viewpoint held (i.e. call it or its leaders heretical, evil etc.)
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    +1 the one issue I see with this is when a group/denomination is outnumbered, and bad answers are what the majority view/believe not the actual doctrine, and then up vote and it persists higher than actual answers.
    – depperm
    Sep 20 at 16:38
  • 1
    @depperm that is the injustice inherent in the system. The only thing we can do about it is shine a light on the sources so people will hopefully judge the answer byref and not byval (to use a very bad programming analogy)
    – Peter Turner Mod
    Sep 20 at 16:45
4

I agree with @depperm that an answer can be along the line of one of the following, and should still be regarded as a satisfactory answer, if in fact that's what the official sources of that denomination says.

  1. There is no official doctrine
  2. The issue is not essential for salvation

Take this answer for an example. @NigelJ may represent a large number of non-LDS Christians who think the question matters a lot for salvation, but in the context of the question, which explicitly asks for an LDS viewpoint (within the question text as well as the tags), if the answer can show from official LDS documentation that either or both of the above are true, then that IS the right answer, end of argument.

We non-LDS may not like it, or may be unsatisfied, but we should not instead post an answer that try to fill the gap from speculation or from wrong interpretation of LDS documents. To me, that qualifies as misinformation and we wouldn't like it if the same is done to us by atheists or Buddhists who insist that Christians should know more about heaven beyond what little hints the Protestant Bible provides.

We mainstream Christians should be able to say that beyond those hints,

  1. There is no official doctrine
  2. The issue is not essential for salvation

about whether heaven will be a cube of about 1,500 miles wide, whether animals will be resurrected, or whether the streets of new Jerusalem will be lined with gold.

Imagine if a supposedly Christian person posts an answer that claims to know what heaven is like because he had a near-death experience and was invited for a tour of heaven before waking up from a coma? That's certainly misinformation.

We should instead be able to simply say that Christianity focuses on HOW to get to heaven, not WHAT heaven is like, except that it is a place where God is present and where there are no sins and tears.

Conclusion:

  1. If the official right and honest answer is "we don't know" we should be able to accept it.
  2. If there are multiple answers, each with a different interpretation, an answer from a well-informed (and high reputation) member of the denomination should be preferred.
  3. Answers whose main point is to disparage or attack a denomination's beliefs implicit in the question should be downvoted / flagged.
  4. Questions that clearly desire for an explanation beyond a "party line" answer are okay (such as this one), and the official denomination's answer should provide the requested explanation.
2
  • +1 Your criteria is logical and very clearly placed.
    – Ken Graham Mod
    Sep 22 at 7:01
  • +1 though in regards to #4, it is a complicated question. For example many LDS detractors point out edits/revisions in the BoM over the years, one primary reason is the scribes notes omitted punctuation source Then even though LDS believe bible as far as it is translated correctly it is still relied on equal to other scripture even without JST
    – depperm
    Sep 22 at 11:02
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The point of the site is to spread knowledge about Christianity, not prove which one is the best, therefore any answer posted that seems critical of another denominations doctrines should be deleted. Answers should reflect the official view of said denomination,

If offshoot sects within a denomination are used as supporting a thesis, those must be clearly marked. (i.e. you can't use sedevacantist sources to prove something or other about why Novus Ordo Mass stinks without saying it)

If works skeptical of a denomination are used in an answer, the bias of the sources should be acknowledged. (i.e. you can't quote a Baptist tract against Jehovahs Witnesses as a resources for why they're wrong about the hypostatic union)

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I don't see that any of the questions or answers which you link to have been in any way disrespectful. There has been no sarcasm, no ridicule, no rudeness.

Some of the answers, as I see them, are logically conveying what appear to be inconsistencies in what is advertised on official websites regarding doctrine related to the holy bible.

It may be that these websites are inadequately conveying the doctrine that is held in which case you might be able to offer corrective comment (or an alternative supportive answer).

I have to say that I felt very dissatisfied with one of your own answers :

There is no official LDS doctrine on what earth God lived on. The LDS believe in continuing revelation so this may be revealed at a later time.

There are plenty of questions that we currently don't have the answer to, but IMO those questions aren't pertinent to one's salvation and so don't matter currently.

September 10th 2021 10:41

Note : my italics - both times - for emphasis.

That a question asking of fundamental features of Deity (the matter of what Deity is and where Deity is located) should receive such a non-answer is truly astounding to me.

And no less astounding (to me) is the fact that you consider such a fundamental question regarding Deity to be 'not pertinent to one's salvation'.

And I think this underlies at least some of the reason for the disparity between questions and answers in this area.

Also, the idea that only denominationalists of a particular denomination should answer or that such persons should be preferred to answer is, to my mind, discriminatory.

The site is an academic site and answers should not contain bias due to a person's affiliations.

Factual answers should be just as competent from information gathered from online (and other) documentation and, in some cases, will actually be closer to denominational teaching than an affiliate who, perhaps, is not sufficiently schooled in their own denomination's terms of reference.

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    Are answers the place to convey supposed logical inconsistencies? Or should they be a separate question? There is an answer, as I generally provide one. In regards to the dissatisfied answer, I don't see how this is a fundamental feature of Deity that is pertinent (for example: what does God look like? does this really matter? isn't this a truth question?) Lets say the LDS church did have an official doctrine and it was something like a star near Kolob, earth, or somewhere else, how would this pertain to one's salvation?Also it is an answer as the LDS church does not have an official doctrine.
    – depperm
    Sep 20 at 10:39
  • I don't care who provides an answer, but when answers aren't reflective of a denominations beliefs this isn't really contributing this is bashing or misconstruing a denominations beliefs (flag question example) Answers shouldn't contain a person's bias due to a person's affiliations is why I've brought this up. I don't believe the people answering are even attempting to remain unbiased. The problem know is others think these answers are factual when they usually contain only a shred of truth
    – depperm
    Sep 20 at 10:43
  • here are other meta answer or this one
    – depperm
    Sep 20 at 10:48
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Is the suggestion being made that the only way to rightly assess an answer about a particular denomination is to analyse it from the denomination’s official point-of-view? If so, then that is a staggering misunder-standing as to what this site is all about. On web-sites which a denomination has set up as its official web-site, they are free to only promote their official point-of-view. They can keep out all information that might put them in a less-than-benign-light. But they cannot expect to exert the same control in a non-denominational web-site. Let’s look at an example you have given.

The answer you acclaim (the second one) admitted, “There is no official LDS doctrine on what earth God lived on. The LDS believe in continuing revelation so this may be revealed at a later time.” Now, if not even any LDS person can answer the question, how can you expect a non-LDS answer to provide it? Perhaps the person giving the answer you criticise read that admission and realised the question simply was not going to be answered, with no mention of old LDS statements about some distant galaxy having an area called Kolob in it. Therefore, that person gave an example of why the question itself first needed clarification as to which deity was being asked about (to narrow down location). Exposing an underlying problem with a question on the site is in order, especially when it proceeds to flag up a need for LDS answerers to clear an obstacle out of the way in order to begin tackling the question. Kolob, you see, doesn’t really come into a satisfactory answer, which might be why the answerer never mentioned it.

Now, it is true that there can be a problem with some questions about the LDS denomination where the PO expresses it in a way that the LDS finds unacceptable to itself. Yet it must be pointed out that a whole host of other denominations have similar questions asked about them! They are viewed as being negative to the group, by those in the group. They are not questions the group would wish to see aired in public. Well, so what? Have we to change this site so that only questions agreeable to denominations get posted? Would it please you if all questions about the LDS were first passed to LDS authorities to vet? Is their approval needed before any of those get posted? That would then turn this site into a platform for the LDS group to promote itself! That, however, would be an abuse of this site. If that was granted, then every other denomination would have to be given the same ‘right of veto’ (which is what such clearance would effectively become.)

What needs to be faced up to is that it is not always necessary for a denomination’s perspective to be given in order to provide a genuine answer. There are times when someone outside a denomination has knowledge of the denomination that most of its members do not have. For example, there are some people who know about sexual abuse within a group, which the group disclaims (or outrightly denies). Lots of denominations have had to suffer public exposure of such things, and it’s obvious that most of them have strenuously tried to cover up policies and practices at a very high level. You might protest that that does not deal with questions about a denomination on this site. It’s “off-topic”. Sure. But the principle of certain ones in denominations wanting to control information that the public gets to see applies just the same.

Nobody on this site has the right to tell an answerer that they should not answer questions about the LDS group; that only knowledgeable LDS people should answer. Likewise with anyone from any other group trying to effectively ‘cut-out’ all answers that don’t square with their perspective of the group. The denomination perspective is valid, but it is by no means the only perspective!

Also, it is valid to answer a question by proposing another one that could get to the real, underlying issue at back of the initial question. Jesus used that tactic ever such a lot in his ministry. And he quoted older sources that his questioners knew of, but who never cared to make use of in public themselves.

So, to answer your questions: • Are answers that do not answer the question ok?

Answers that do not answer the way the religious group would like are not necessarily non-answers (though if they are non-answers with no bearing on the question, they should be removed.)

• If such an answer does appear, what is the proper response? flag it and hope mod agrees?

Yes, flag it, but just remember that moderators are not going to allow this site to let groups have nothing but promotional answers posted. And, before you flag it, why not re-read it to see if there’s any information there that you need to check out personally, instead of just sticking to the ‘party line’?

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    Having no stance, is an answer, the official one (anyone searching LDS site would find this to be the case). If a question needs clarity, add a comment or flag the question. My main concern is not the questions being asked, but negative/false answers. The point is about doctrinal questions, that have answers, but when that information is limited by other users saying this is what denomination X believes, when its XY or YZ then that isn't truthful. Not only knowledgeable LDS can answer, but if there is a pattern of misrepresentation or misinformation I'd think they should take a step back
    – depperm
    Sep 20 at 12:01
  • I'm aware my denomination isn't the only perspective, but 3 of the above questions seem to be specifically asking LDS perspective. Jesus may have done it, but this pattern isn't really how I see SO operating. Comment to gain clarity in the question or don't answer. Would you disagree with this answer
    – depperm
    Sep 20 at 12:04
  • 1
    @depperm You do have a concern about what you take to be negative LDS questions. You also have a concern about negative LDS answers which you seem to equate with being ‘false answers’. That’s the nub of the issue. In that answer you linked in, being ‘browbeaten’ on this site was mentioned. That's a subjective opinion. LDS people are welcome on here but to disagree with them is not to ‘browbeat’ them. ‘Resist the urge to browbeat those who hold opposing ideas’ Robert Cartaino concluded. But who might be brow-beating whom? It works both ways.
    – Anne
    Sep 20 at 12:37
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    Just because I'm aware a question is negative/gotcha, does not mean I have concerns about it, I just recognize it for what it is. When a question is asked for denomination X belief/theology about a particular subject, I'd expect answers to reflect that denominations viewpoint. Saying Y is the viewpoint when it isn't, Y is and then attacking said viewpoint, or similar I would consider false answers. I would think it obvious that denominations have differing views. If one isn't familiar enough with a denominations doctrine or wants clarity don't answer the question
    – depperm
    Sep 20 at 12:48

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