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Since most of Christianity is based on interpretation of the bible, how is that different from opinion based answers? How is this question a real, constructive, answerable question, but this one isn't?

Not that I am not trying to defend the latter as a valid question, but understand how can the former be considered valid when the main rule is "no opinions".

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That SO question blatantly asks "what's your opinion?" with no regard for factual accounts whatsoever. Biblical exegesis is... something completely different. I don't think this is a good comparison. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Oct 11 '13 at 4:37
ok, let me change the example. even though "interpretations" ARE essentially "opinions". –  Gaia Oct 11 '13 at 4:37
changed the question. –  Gaia Oct 11 '13 at 4:39
This really ought be asked on Christianity's meta. Unless the question you are really asking is "Should opinion based answers be allowed on Stack Overflow?" In which case, the question isn't very clear at all. –  Jon Ericson Oct 11 '13 at 5:03
You got a point, @JonEricson. But isn't the answer to your question above already a big huge, 50+ downvoted NO? –  Gaia Oct 11 '13 at 5:11
THIS is my main point: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/200352/…. but if I asked that right away, with only 300 points, people would go to town on me. –  Gaia Oct 11 '13 at 5:12
"Can I believe in evolution and still be a Christian?" can be objectively answered basing on catechism or other rule sets of given Christian group. There are official docs on it. "Poor" cannot be treated that way. Best you can get is "officially encouraged / discouraged / outdated by this API docs", but that does not say if they are really good or not, either. –  Mołot Oct 11 '13 at 7:38

5 Answers 5

up vote 16 down vote accepted

To add to the other answers here: there's no rule on Stack Overflow (or most other sites) that prohibits opinions. Rather, we discourage questions that ask only for opinions. The guidelines for this are in the help center, but I'll quote part of them here for your benefit:

To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where …

  • every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite ______?”
  • your answer is provided along with the question, and you expect more answers: “I use ______ for ______, what do you use?”
  • there is no actual problem to be solved: “I’m curious if other people feel like I do.”
  • you are asking an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if ______ happened?”
  • your question is just a rant in disguise: “______ sucks, am I right?”

Questions that cry out for opinions - any opinions, anyone's opinions - tend to get them. What they often fail to attract are opinions backed up by facts and experience, geared toward explaining why a given opinion should be considered.

The question you reference appears to be based on an actual problem - boilerplate overwhelming logic in the asker's code - but rather than seeking a direct solution to this, he instead kicked off what is largely a philosophical debate. That's a shame; there are some good answers among the responses, but there are also an awful lot of raw opinions with nothing to support them.

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THANK YOU. What you just said, in conjunction with meta.stackexchange.com/questions/200352/…, explains it completely. –  Gaia Oct 11 '13 at 5:15

Well, there are some sites where the answers are a little fuzzier than others. As it happens, Christianity is not one of those sites. It could have been and some of the new users expect it to be, but the site has worked hard to not encourage "the meaning of life" questions or answers. To quote from the top answer to "What Christianity.StackExchange is (and more importantly, what it isn't)":

  • This site is a place to come to learn about what various Christian teachings have to say.
    • This site is not a place to come to learn which Christian teachings are true.
  • This site is a place to ask about, learn about, and inform about various Christian teachings, denominations, concepts, and doctrines.
    • This site is not a place to debate which of these teachings are true.
  • This site is a source for truthful answers about doctrine, Christian teachings, theology,
    • This site is not a source for Truth with a capital "T"

These are extremely answerable questions. Anybody, including atheists, can learn about Christianity, Christian denominations, and Christian theology well enough to provide expert answers on the site.

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Much better, thanks Jon. So isn't it time to change the main rule in the main site? (go ahead, downvote me, people) –  Gaia Oct 11 '13 at 4:57
@Gaia: What do you mean by "the main rule in the main site"? As I said, there really isn't anything different about Christianity in terms of answerable questions than Stack Overflow. (How you verify the answers differs, however. ;) –  Jon Ericson Oct 11 '13 at 5:01
I meant the "Stack Exchange is not the place for conversation, opinions, or socializing.". You can't say that "Can I believe in evolution and still be a Christian?" is NOT based on opinion. MOST of the answers there are based on ppl's intepretations, which are very close to opinions (don't want to get into a philosophical debate on the difference of the two constructs) –  Gaia Oct 11 '13 at 5:03

First off, your premise is mistaken:

Since all of Christianity is based on interpretation of the bible,

No it's not. One very large group of Christians - Catholics - does not base their entire religion on the Bible. IF you look at Christianity.SE, there are lots of things being asked that aren't just interpretation of the bible.

Secondly, yes, there are somewhat different standards for some of the non-technical sites.

The boilerplate text for /About includes:

Focus on questions about an actual problem you have faced. Include details about what you have tried and exactly what you are trying to do.

Take, for example, the Science Fiction site... How does any of that standard text really applies to questions about SciFi books and movies?

Like any other SE site, the place you want to look is the list of what's on topic. There you'll see that there are indeed on-topic questions that go beyond just interpreting the bible.

As for your specific question:

How is "Can I believe in evolution and still be a Christian?" a real, constructive, answerable question.

... the answers given are a good overview of the different ways Christians attempt to reconcile Genesis's story of creation with the scientific beliefs about evolution and the age of the universe.

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thanks, i changed it. i didnt know it wasn't entirely based on the Bible. BTW, what else do they base it on? What the Pope says? –  Gaia Oct 11 '13 at 4:42
I understand the /About and "list of what's on topic", but the mother ship states "Stack Exchange is not the place for opinions" –  Gaia Oct 11 '13 at 4:52
And maybe my question also applies to SciFi.SE –  Gaia Oct 11 '13 at 4:53
@Gaia: Catholic dogma and theology. But this isn't really the place to go into Catholic history (though Christianity.SE might be- if you're curious, ask there). –  David Robinson Oct 11 '13 at 4:54
@Gaia: See their About page for a list of specific opinion-based questions that aren't allowed: "what the Bible says about a subject," without specifying a doctrine or tradition, aren't allowed precisely because they are opinion-based. On the other hand, "What do Baptists believe about X" would be on-topic, because it's not based on opinion. –  David Robinson Oct 11 '13 at 4:58
@DavidRobinson, fair enough. But you can't say that "Can I believe in evolution and still be a Christian?" is NOT based on opinion. –  Gaia Oct 11 '13 at 5:02
@Gaia I sure can. The possibility of holding some opinion seems pretty objective to me. What is subjective is whether the opinion is correct. –  Jan Dvorak Oct 11 '13 at 5:03
@Gaia: To be fair, that question came pretty early in the private beta (and so was the SO question for that matter). It seems unlikely that the question would have been allowed if it were asked today. Also, take a look at the answer, which very clearly is based on verifiable facts. –  Jon Ericson Oct 11 '13 at 5:06
Ok @Jan. Then this stackoverflow.com/questions/565095/…, should be a valid question. Keep in mind I'm not trying to defend it as a question, I am just following your logic. –  Gaia Oct 11 '13 at 5:08
@Gaia: How Christianity.SE chooses to deal with their old upvoted questions may be different than how StackOverflow chooses to. –  David Robinson Oct 11 '13 at 5:15
@Gaia negative. Whether something is good or bad (here, getters) is very distinct from whether it's consistent to think something is true (here, theistic evolution), which is, again, different from the question of what are the objective positives and negatives of something (say, said getters and setters). I think that you could turn your example into a good questions for Programmers, but that site didn't exist back then. But, as it is worded now, it's too subjective even for nowadays' Programmers. –  Jan Dvorak Oct 11 '13 at 5:16

Someone hasn't read Good Subjective, Bad Subjective. You should read the whole thing, but here are the highlights:

Insisting on objectivity is fine for computing and mathematics. But once you get past the hard(ish) sciences, you veer towards the much softer social sciences. There are experts in these fields, but they are by definition, not exact. In fact, most academic fields don’t have objective answers. Topics like economics, engineering, the arts, literature, and social sciences don’t exactly have correct and incorrect answers. There is a growing list of proposals about increasingly subjective topics, and we believe many of them are going to make great Stack Exchange sites!

Fields Arranged by Purity

That’s where the problem starts.

We never claimed that subjective questions were horrible abominations that should never be asked. We simply choose to forego those subjective discussions, as there were dozens upon dozens of forums which already catered to them. ...

Guidelines for Great Subjective Questions

  1. Great subjective questions inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”. ...
  2. Great subjective questions tend to have long, not short, answers.
  3. Great subjective questions have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone.
  4. Great subjective questions invite sharing experiences over opinions.
  5. Great subjective questions insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references.
  6. Great subjective questions are more than just mindless social fun.

The question on Christianity.SE clearly is a question about a problem that someone is actually facing: the person asking doesn't know how to reconcile two conflicting beliefs and wants to know how to tackle the issue. The question on SO is just polling for opinion. That's why the first question is better, regardless of its subjectivity.

(Note that the SO post is also 4 years old from a different time when there were different standards)

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That's a great post, I will look more into it, and I also get the other points in your answer. But maybe I shouldn't even have picked examples. I just want to confront the main rule "no opinions allowed" with a site nearly entirely based on people's interpretations, which are very close to opinions. But I don't think I would have been well received coming off the gate just like that. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/200352/… –  Gaia Oct 11 '13 at 5:29
The point is that subjective questions have always been allowed, just to a limited extent (they have to be good subjective questions). See Q&A is Hard, Let's Go Shopping or Gorilla vs. Shark for other things related to commonly misunderstood guidelines. –  jmac Oct 11 '13 at 5:33

I the question on C.SE should be closed, it doesn't meet the criteria of the site questions coming from an identifiable tradition.

There's a clear cut Catholic answer to this question that would fill many volumes with nuances and it's annoying to have questions like this out there because they pretty much preclude the asking of an answerable question. But, in that regard, there is no connection with the statement you're trying to make. If you scoped it to ALGOL, you wouldn't make it a better question whereas, if the OP on C.SE had scoped his question to 7th day adventist, it would be good (but then again, nobody knew where things were going at the time the question was asked) Me and him were the first users on the site, I asked a question about "Why did God create me" and it got closed, this is a much better question than that.

Of course, you must also realize that this was asked on like the 2nd day of C.SE's existence and there were quite a few bone headedly awesome questions on Stackoverflow when it was in beta (and for the first year). Best keyboard, mouse, funny loading statements, etc.. everything was there. Not sure where it is now.

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