This is for discussion purposes only. When an answer needs to be improved, I'd like to be able to link to a FAQ that gives guidance on how to answer, much like What makes a good supported answer?

I'm just throwing this out for discussion.

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1 Answer 1

What makes a good, dispassionate answer?

First off, it should be clear that votes represent a viewpoint that

  • a question is a valid, non-argumentative request for an answer or an explanation
  • an answer is well sourced, logically coherent, and representative of either mainstream Christianity or of the requested denominational perspective
  • in any case shows a high ratio of fact and reason to bias and opinion. Questions and answers that are good at doing these things are worthy of your upvote. Particulary good answers can even be awarded bounties.

What doesn't deserve a downvote?

  • a question or answer that is otherwise well-sourced, well-written, and/or well thought out, but doesn't happen to conform to your doctrinal position or belief.

What does deserve a downvote?

  • argumentative or rude behavior. (Rude behavior should be flagged)
  • answers lacking sources
  • poorly expressed or framed responses (e.g. a "Yes" or "No", a naked bible verse, or nonsense)
  • privately held opinion, especially when it does not clarify its own biases
  • non-explicit biases
  • poor logic, or large leaps in logic
  • answers to completely different questions than the one asked.

Well sourced questions and answers will make use of what is commonly referred to as the four sources of theology:

  • Scripture (References to the 66 books can be assumed, other Scriptures can be used but should be called out as 'non-canonical')
  • Tradition (References to historical and contemporary practice in recognized denominations or sects are fine)
  • Reason (Explanations of logic from sources or postulates are encouraged)
  • Experience (References to documented extrabiblical sources are allowed, but personal experiences are discouraged when answering, only because scholarly analysis does not work well in this context)

What is fact and reason?

Facts are demonstrably provable points. Bible verses, church documents, historical references, and other information that is either widely known or sourceable. Reason is an inference or implication made explicit from a demonstrable fact.

What is bias?

Bias is an unwritten attempt to either avoid an issue or reframe an issue outside of the bounds of mainstream thought. It should be noted that naming one's own bias is good. Leaving out widely known information because it does not fit your bias is bad, and should be downvoted. A good answer can be "biased" as long as it calls itself out. Note also, by the scoping of this site, a bias towards Christainity expressed in its many forms, is acceptable. (I.e. you don't have to preface everything with "Assuming there is a God," or "Assuming the Bible is a valid source of theology.")

What is opinion?

Anything that isn't either widely known, well-sourced, or a logical implication or inference of a documentable fact.

  • "This verse should be read [ literally | figuratively ]" is an opinion

  • "Fundamentalists read this verse literally | Liberals read this verse figuratively" is a fact. (Note: You could actually be right or wrong. The point is that facts are falsifiable. Opinions are not.)

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If nonsense deserves to be downvoted, isn't that the entire site down the swanny. </snark> –  TRiG Feb 26 '12 at 1:12

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