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I want to throw out this idea. Rather than requiring every answer to say "According to the Baptist / Catholic / Orthodox / Coptic / FSM church", maybe we could just ask that all posters fill out their "About Me" section to include the faith background from whence they come / are knowledgable on. That way, the default presumption would be that, in the absence of words to the contrary, the answer could be considered in light of whatever background the writer attests to.

To a certain extent, I already know that

  • @PeterTurner is my Roman Catholic go to guy.
  • @MarcGravell is my spiritual but not explicitly mainstream Christian guy

etc...

I know that when I read answers from those two a. It's going to reflect their specific expertise b. Its going to good :)

(I could say this about a lot of us, but its easy to pick on those two, because they rock their respective viewpoints.)

By including information like this:

AffableGeek About Me:

Background: Grew up in an Evangelical, Protestant "Bible Church", educated in a Baptist seminary, and currently serving in an Episcopal Church

You have a better basis for evaluating the perspective from which I speak.

What do you think?

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    I have no objection to posting my own beliefs, and appreciate it when others do, but I don't think this is something we can require. – Caleb Jan 11 '12 at 20:08
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    Marc is "your spiritual but not explicitly mainstream Christian guy"?!?! If you hadn't just pegged Peter, I'd think were you just pulling stuff out of a hat. But I think you might find Marc's background is a little more colorful (and a lot more explicit) than that :) – Caleb Jan 11 '12 at 20:10
  • I know he's not a theist, and yes, I kinda get that his background is really colorful. I didn't want to write anything that would be construed negatively by him or anyone else. There are several of you guys (you included!) that I'd love to have a (non-alcoholic) golden beverage with! I didn't peg you, b/c I haven't narrowed you down yet... – Affable Geek Jan 11 '12 at 20:17
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    There was some talk in chat about meta voting related to this post. Since the answer field was messy and picking up "non answer" flags, I've gone ahead and cleaned this up a little bit to match one of the potential patterns I mentioned in chat. For the record, the plain yes/no answers I deleted where -4/+2 at time of deletion, but I think those votes are probably duplicated in voting on the post and other answers. – Caleb Jan 13 '12 at 11:43
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Nope, sorry that just won't fix anything.

Here's why in a nutshell. It is quite acceptable to give answers from perspectives other than your own. In fact there are people here who do it quite well. Using personal identification block goes against the whole idea of the SE platform where the focus is on the content and not the users. This isn't a social network. Votes don't get applied to people and their viewpoints, they get applied to specific pieces of content. We don't want to do anything that encourages inappropriate use of the platform.

The next step of the problem is that it leads to vote wars. This is something that usually doesn't happen on other sites because questions are more naturally scoped (StackOverflow has C#, PHP, Python, etc; Unix & Linux has distro or scripting tags, etc)*. Here, if you ask something too broad and every tradition pitches in their answer you end up with a bunch of people claiming theirs is right and everybody elses in wrong. We saw a lot of this early on in the site and it was a disaster. Voting clearly reflected voting on belief patterns not quality of content. The solution is to scope questions narrowly enough that it is possible for several people to pitch in good answers on the topic and have the best ones rise to the top via the voting mechanism based on quality/usefulness rather than people's internal heretic meters.

* Interestingly the code-golf site gets away with this, but only because they have other specific criteria for what makes good answers that people get the hang of pretty quickly.

4

I'm not sure how much traction it got, but a few people on gardening.SE have put their USDA hardiness zone in their profile.

https://gardening.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/246/use-the-user-info-pop-up-for-geographic-info

I thought it was a good idea there because where you're coming from has an objective bearing on the answer you're gonna give. I'd like to think that this site deals in objective reality, some of it can't be seen and most of it can't be touched, but it's as real as broccoli. So, where you're coming from shouldn't have too much of a bearing on the answer you give. As they've told me they do on parenting.SE, if you disagree with the premise of a question, just pass it by.

Here, I'd say, if you disagree with the premise of a question because you suspect that OP has the facts messed up, then it's probably worth it to clarify with a comment.

There was one good answer by Mark Trapp, who I believe said he's Catholic, where he answered showing all the biblical objections to the perpetual virginity of Mary and did nothing to refute them because the OP did not ask for a refutation of the Dogma.

Even St. Thomas Aquinas would acknowledge every possible opposing viewpoint before stating his own. That was how he could call his body of work the Summa and not the some-of. So there'd be no point in limiting our answers to what we actually believe.

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