Unlike revising an answer to make it objective, what tips can we offer users to answering objectively and in the spirit of the site? I.e., how do we express and assist users in understanding that answers should be scholarly and that any overlap an answer has with their personal beliefs should be incidental (aside from the simple fact that one's religious affiliation might make them somewhat of a reliable resource).

I was conscious when writing the linked question that in many cases, users are not "aware" of answering from a specific tradition (eg they believe they are just saying what the Bible says, end of story) and may even resent being told that they have a tradition at all. I'd love to find a concise way of talking about objectivity, religious affiliation, background, etc. in a way that makes sense to such users. – James T Jan 24 '13 at 16:44

1 Answer 1

Guidelines and tips for posting answers

  • Answer from the perspective of an outside observer, such as an archaeologist, historian, or other anthropologist about a denomination, a majority Christian belief, a respected and prominent Christian's statements, or Christian history.
  • Find at least one relatively credible resource to support your answer before you even write it.

    • If you heard it last weekend in a sermon, verify it elsewhere first.
    • If you're attempting to craft an answer that speaks about general Christian belief, just use Wikipedia -- it's democratic knowledge, so it somewhat reliably represents that majority belief.
    • If you're speaking about a particular denomination's beliefs, find an official resource from that denomination.
    • If your answer represents a prominent Christian's beliefs, find a quote or citation from that Christian.
  • Qualify all personal observations, preferences, and other interjections.
  • State at the top of your answer whose beliefs you're attempting to explain. In doing so, if you find yourself typing, in my opinion, click the discard link.
  • Offer personal experiences, insights, and analogies only to clarify an official belief, if that official belief is difficult for "outsiders" to understand.
  • Research other major denominations and be familiar with differences in beliefs. Offer answers from those denominations when able, and answer from your own denomination (if you're a Christian) in a similar fashion.
If you like ... say, >= 75% of what's here, please edit this post rather than submit your own answer. Please add or clarify bullet-points when possible, rather than adding bullets. And, please combine bullet-points and/or remove redundant points when possible. I'd ideally like a single list that easily fits in a single, average, laptop-sized screen to direct answerers to when they get ... excited. – svidgen Jan 26 '13 at 3:23
I'm not so sure if "Catholics Believe" is always the right thing to say. I asked a priest (who you may know) about participation on this site and he said it's usually better to answer questions by saying "I think" if you've got any doubt. I don't think people should avoid answer questions just because they're not wholly confident they've got the right answers. – Peter Turner Jan 26 '13 at 3:33
@PeterTurner Noted. I intended that to be meant a different way than it was interpretable, I think. I'll edit it. – svidgen Jan 26 '13 at 3:36
OK ... I simply removed the last bullet. I think it's redundant and/or implied anyway in the way that I meant it. – svidgen Jan 26 '13 at 3:39
I agree with everything here except recommending using Wikipedia. I know it's usually pretty reliable, but historically, it's been frowned upon a s a source. On the other hand, it's darn hard to find any other source that's close to being as neutral. I'd play it safe and never answer from a "Christianity teaches" and instead go for the top 3 views. Example: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/12511/… – David Jan 26 '13 at 4:28
@DavidStratton Perhaps wikipedia could be an acceptable research starting point. Find a good article, check the references, etc. Could you edit your other suggestion into this answer? – svidgen Jan 26 '13 at 5:37

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