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From a categorization perspective, I feel creating particular sites for each aspect of religion eats up needless room, and spreads the religious answers thinner than they need be. I'm not going to exaggerate and bring up every minority religion's lack of representation, and every biblical text, but I would have expected that having one site would help form more cohesion in the community, especially since religion is a very synergistic subject. The crossover knowledge from religion to religion would be impressive to see.

I would have expected there to be one religion site, that used tags to identify which religions/issues were involved in a particular answer.

Has this been discussed?

... Is the community afraid of locking different religions into the same site? ;)

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Can you really see people getting on on one site? – ChrisF Nov 10 '11 at 13:32
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Practically speaking? I think that every religion has fringe fanatic groups that are over highlighted, but the majority of people would be fine. travel.stackexchange.com manages to keep itself from imploding. – Bob Nov 10 '11 at 13:43
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@Bob - You should look at the discussions on the separate sites. Jewish people will not normally be interested in questions about any Sura any more than most Muslims would be interested in the latest Halacha about washing hands. The different religions have much minutia that would be of little interest to those of other religions. – Oded Nov 10 '11 at 13:46
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By the same token someone using ajax with PHP could care less about the latest Ruby question, and yet stackoverflow seems to get on well enough. – Bob Nov 10 '11 at 13:48
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Yes, and the (language) religious wars need to be quashed, as soon as someone tries to start one. Religion, however, tends to stir emotions much more than choice of programming language. – Oded Nov 10 '11 at 13:51
    
Use Macs vs PCs if you wish then ;). It sounded like a good idea to me, but if I'm the only one who thinks this is feasible then I'll concede to the greater knowledge of the community. – Bob Nov 10 '11 at 13:53
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@Bob - I grew up in Jerusalem. Can't say I am an authority, but trust me on this one ;) – Oded Nov 10 '11 at 13:56
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This is just asking for trouble - would this site also merge with atheists.stackexchange.com and trolls.stackexchange.com? – Paul Bellora Nov 10 '11 at 14:08
    
+1 for the interesting question, but I'm with the rest that it's asking for flame wars. – GUI Junkie Nov 10 '11 at 14:13
    
I'm impressed that so many people have opinions about this, but not one person has answered. I suppose that says something in itself. It's a sobering thought to think that mankind still has so far to go. – Bob Nov 10 '11 at 14:27
    
@Bob It's couldn't care less. If they "could care less", then that means they do care to some degree. youtube.com/watch?v=om7O0MFkmpw – Widor Nov 10 '11 at 15:04
    
In the context of web languages they do care to some degree, but if it makes you feel better I'll stand corrected. :) – Bob Nov 10 '11 at 15:15
    
@Bob That feels much better, thanks. – Widor Nov 10 '11 at 15:24
    
@Oded I'm not so sure.... I've had some more heated debates over programming languages than religions. – Phil Lello Nov 10 '11 at 23:34
    
@PhilLello - Well, how religious are you? And how religious the people you have debated with? And were they of other religions? – Oded Nov 11 '11 at 8:47
up vote 20 down vote accepted

What does it mean that a site "eats up needless room?" — In an academic sense, it would be nice to see everyone collaborating on the world's religions… but those you listed are not academic sites.

They are not interchangeable subjects you might pick and choose between based on the context of your problem (like choosing a programming language on Stack Overflow). The members of these communities aren't interested in the local catch-all "religion expert" to weigh in on their deeply-held religious beliefs. These are applied sites, not tags under some academic "world religion" study.

Sites and their subjects are formed around communities; communities with common goals, problems, and interests. The Christians and Jews on those sites want to consult and commune with those who are of the same teachings and belief system.

In the blog post Merging Season, Joel came up with a set of rules to see if is site X should be subsumed by site Y. So let's substitute "Christianity" for (X) and "Judaism" for (Y), and see if this marriage of subjects sounds like a good match.

Here’s the best we could come up with for deciding whether X [Christianity] should be subsumed by Y [Judaism]:

  1. Almost all Christianity questions are on-topic for Judaism.
  2. If [a subject for] Judaism already exists, it already has a tag for Christianity, and nobody is complaining
  3. You’re not creating such a big group that you don’t have enough experts to answer all possible questions
  4. There’s a high probability that users of Judaism would enjoy seeing the occasional question about Christianity.

The missive above doesn't sound workable to me, but whether you agree or not with that technical assessment, there is still one incontrovertible problem: Users seeking answers to their deepest "expert" questions on Judaism (or Christianity) are not going to show up on a generic "religion" forum — And site is not much good to a group of users if they will not show up.

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I do not agree at all. Most of the good answers to any religion question will come from academic study angle. And most of theses religions all come from the same root and you need an extensive knowledge of all of them to answer a question about any one specific one. I really doubt there will be any major community members whose knowledge would not encompass many questions in every religion (even if they have a specialty). – Wisnoskij Aug 6 '15 at 14:22
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@Wisnoskij Read my last paragraph again. Four years after I wrote that, if you spent any time on a site like Mi Yodeya, you'd likely see that a community like that would not likely coalesce like they have on a generic "all religions" site. There is a lot of passion and motivation that goes into what they do. Yes, areas of knowledge do not exist in a vacuum... but if you don't look at the community-building aspect of this (those motivated to build this site), you missed the point of my post entirely. – Robert Cartaino Aug 6 '15 at 14:34
    
I see what you mean, but I still don't necessarily agree. Assuming theses are sites offering expert opinions, they will already be filled with academic oriented people, not some stereotypically close minded bigot.That is really more of a American thing, and they do not even read the Bible anyways, so I do not see how they could even try to offer a expert opinion on any type of question. The entire SE universe is orientated away for opinion based pieces anyways. – Wisnoskij Aug 6 '15 at 18:48
    
And as for community building, communities often form even just over individual tags, the Jews who are only interested in Jewish stuff would just subscribe to the Jew tag, like how I have no idea what kind of VB questions are asked in StackOverflow. And again, that is sort of an American thing, many cultures view other religions as just as holy and special as their own, and are very much interested in the overlap. To some (a huge number of people) an answer from any faith would be just as valid as any other. just like some SO questions. And just like SO, some questions are religion specific. – Wisnoskij Aug 6 '15 at 18:52
    
And I think you are underestimating the dogma and divisiveness of programming languages. Trying to keep the community free from infighting over the C vs Java debate is no easy task. PS: I personally think there is a good chance that those 4 questions are all true. Except of course we are not talking about subsuming, but merging into a new site "religion" – Wisnoskij Aug 6 '15 at 18:54
    
And just because a All Religion site existed, I do not think that would preclude "Mi Yodeya". Mi Yodeya has a very specific purpose, and there is a significant population that needs help with that. Which is sort of the exact opposite of the Christianity site. Christians are a hugely diverse group with hugely diverse teachings. And they do not really get along in general. So if we are not going to have a site for every sect, we might as well have a All Religion site. – Wisnoskij Aug 6 '15 at 19:05
    
Let's be honest: anyone looking for someone to weigh in on their deeply-held religious beliefs is not really going to find good answers at any of the religion sites. At least, that's my take based on seeing questions, answers, and meta discussion at Christianity, Mi Yodeya, and BH. There's scholarly discussion, some devout, some not, but it's explicitly out of any of those sites' scopes to try to actually pin down correct doctrine; instead, they merely explain the different viewpoints. I don't see why merging them would pose any problems from that perspective. – Nathan Tuggy Jan 24 at 4:01

Becouse the same question has a different right answer depending on your religion.

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Fair enough, I suppose. – Bob Nov 10 '11 at 14:29
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Although, the same can be said for software methodologies... waterfall vs agile, unit vs integration test, top-down vs bottom-up – Phil Lello Nov 10 '11 at 23:35
    
@PhilLello, yet but most programmer often use more then one of them so there is a big overlap of experts – Ian Ringrose Nov 11 '11 at 10:21
    
I really doubt that there are any religion experts that do not have not done extensive studying of other religions. How could you ever hope to even understand Christianity without studying Judaism and Islam (if not all the others as well)? In fact, you can be an expert in just one programming language, but I would say it is literally impossible to be an expert in Christianity (as one random example) without extensive knowledge of a dozen other religions. – Wisnoskij Aug 6 '15 at 14:25
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None of the sites I've looked into (Christianity, Mi Yodeya, BibHerm) accept attempts at giving a single religious "right answer"; they only accept answers that give the answer according to at least some sects or schools of thought. So this is already not possible even with them split as at present. – Nathan Tuggy Jan 24 at 4:03
    
Technically, it would be a different canonical answer. We get to find out which one was right after we die. – PyRulez Jan 24 at 6:03

I am a long-time user and moderator on Mi Yodeya. I've observed the Christianity site (and even asked a few questions). And I was, for a time, a top user on Biblical Hermeneutics, which tried to be diverse, before ultimately leaving the site due to differences over handling doctrine. With that as background:

Robert's answer is right. And I wouldn't be writing this at all except that I think some may have dismissed his answer as being "from the outside" (he's not a heavy participant in the religion sites), so I'm here to tell you as an insider that he's right. A Stack Exchange site is not just a collection of tagged content; to be successful a site requires a community. And in order to have a community there need to be both enough commonalities and few-enough major differences. An "all religions" site will not achieve either of these goals.

You might think that all religions -- or even the smaller space of all Abrahamic religions -- have enough in common to form a community. But that commonality is, basically, a shared text (for the Abrahamic religions only) that is only a part of each of those religions. And there are some important differences in where each religion goes with that foundation, differences that fundamentally affect how questions are asked and what kinds of answers are acceptable:

  • Judaism has the Hebrew bible, the oral law, law codes, lots of rabbinic commentary, and interpretations built on all of that.

  • Christianity has its own scriptures and modifies or reinterprets the Hebrew bible in light of them. Some of its denominations have laws and formal statements of doctrine, which aren't even common across all of Christianity, let alone other religions.

  • Islam has the Qur'an, which (if I understand correctly) incorporates altered forms of parts of the Hebrew and Christian bibles. (Islam does not accept all of those bibles as scripture.) Islam has a system of laws (hadith), and different communities with different doctrine and laws.

What do you think is going to happen if somebody asks, on Religion.SE, what some passage from the Hebrew bible means or how to correctly observe the sabbath?

You could try to constrain questions and police answers -- take the approach used on Christianity.SE to require denomination-specific questions and bump it up a notch. I think it works for them because they share a foundation -- the concept of a community of Christians is meaningful. But I don't think it works if you bump it up a level; a community of people doing Q&A about religion isn't cohesive like that.

Ok, you might think, so we don't have a coherent community -- why not still have a single site? Because when things go wrong, they go badly wrong. If you try to bring Jews and Christians and Muslims and maybe other religions together to talk about what they have in common, there won't be a lot. So they'll talk about their differences. You'll get Christian-flavored answers on questions about the Hebrew bible, Muslim-flavored answers on questions about the gospels, people arguing about those answers in comments and chat and meta, and it makes for an unpleasant environment all around. Minorities get marginalized, people from evangelical strains feel compelled to proselytize, people get tired of all the irrelevant-to-them content driving down the signal-to-noise ratio, and some people get driven out.

There are enough challenges managing diversity within each of these communities -- because, hey, Judaism or Christianity or Islam isn't homogeneous either. Stack Exchange -- and maybe the Internet -- is not ready for a serious all-religions Q&A site.

The community is not there. The differences are too great. And the subject matter is deeply personal. Questions about God, salvation, the bible, ethics and right living, and proper observance of the law are fundamentally important to the people asking and answering them, in a way that even disputes about programming languages or operating systems cannot come close to.

I realize that this question is old and as a practical matter, the existing sites are not going to be altered now. SE doesn't yank the carpet out from under graduated sites. I found my way here from a currently-active related question.

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I have to admit I have some trouble with this, since Christianity itself is sufficiently divided that there's a fair amount of proselytizing back and forth between the major groups, and e.g. RCC does not consider Eastern Orthodox or Protestants part of the Church, and each of those returns the favor. And while I know less about the Sunni/Shia division, I understand it's fairly significant as well. So the reasoning would seem to extend further down than you've taken it. – Nathan Tuggy Jan 24 at 7:25
    
On the other hand, I basically gave up on Christianity.SE because it appeared to be a fairly sterile place for discussing, not truth, but specific accounts of what particular denominations might officially consider truth… which tends to work much better with denominations that have more official statements, and is a little too much circumlocution to seem legitimately useful to me for, y'know, doctrine. So perhaps you're right on these problems dominating, if they are already straining the conglomerations SE has at present. – Nathan Tuggy Jan 24 at 7:28
    
@Nathan, what you describe in your second comment is the antedote for what you describe in the first. You can't seek Truth in a diverse community. BH failed for me because they couldn't rein in the truth claims, making it a bad place for those who don't agree with the dominant group. – Monica Cellio Jan 24 at 16:31
    
You can't seek Truth in a community of those who don't agree on the basics, no, but it's clear that the existing sites already cannot (generally) agree on the basics. So while it might reasonably be desirable (if not possible) to split them up even further than they are, or merge them all together, the current situation is not really one that is defensible in principle, I think. – Nathan Tuggy Jan 24 at 19:29
    
@NathanTuggy I encourage you to look more closely at Mi Yodeya. We do a pretty good job of treating core truths as truths without getting academic about it. We also have a strong tradition of citing sources & giving credit to those who taught us, so even if nobody expects people to source core claims, you might find it happening anyway. But an important difference between the Jewish community and the various Christian and Muslim communities is that we don't seek to convert others. When people do, Truth claims are more problematic. Evangelists won't quality truth claims; they see it as weak. – Monica Cellio Jan 24 at 19:40

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