6

Caleb's finding of this meta post on Code Review, and his analysis that "this makes sense" also makes sense to me.

So even though we just finished a round of changing the "off-topic" close reasons, taking the general content of those and rewording similar to the example form given on Code Review seems to be a worthwhile move forward.

Here are the close reasons as of the posting of this question for reference:

  • Questions about biblical topics but without a specific Bible passage are off-topic as hermeneutical methods cannot be applied when no text is referenced.
  • Questions including a biblical text but that are not seeking an answer about ① the history of that biblical text itself or ② the meaning of that biblical text either in context or through a process of arriving at a particular interpretation of it are off-topic.
  • Questions searching for a text are off-topic. For more information, see this meta post.
  • This question belongs on another site in the Stack Exchange network
  • Other (add a comment explaining what is wrong)

The goal here is found in quoting from the Code Review post, by

developing a better way of communicating the things that a well-meaning user might think are on topic, but probably aren't.

2

I apologize if I’m backpedaling here.

I agree with the ideas about site scope offered in ScottS's answer and in our current close reasons. I harbor lingering doubts, though, about whether our panel of close reasons really needs to present a comprehensive thesis on site scope, or even a balanced abstract. We have aptly demonstrated in many meta posts our ability to use precise, well-developed, and expansive verbiage to describe what we're about. That's all good stuff for Meta, and links should be included early and often on Main. For the close reasons themselves, I guess I'm a minimalist.

  • Questions about the content of the Bible are off topic if they start from an idea that does not naturally arise from a specific biblical text or group of related texts.

  • Questions about the Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic languages are off topic unless they arise from a specific biblical text or group of related texts.

  • Questions searching for a Bible passage are off topic.

These are just common reasons people pose off-topic questions. They're relatively short for the convenience of close voters and hopefully to engender a sense of comprehension in the OP, even if he is actually only incrementally advanced in his education about site policy. Meta links can be included to fill in the gaps for those who are interested. I tend to think people are likely to either ignore or be put off by more extensive explanations about why their content isn't welcome.

16
  • These close reasons don't address the systematic theology questions which start from texts but aren't about texts, which is I think what the current second close reason is for.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Jun 13 '15 at 6:46
  • I think theology questions which actually do start from a particular text or group of related texts are more like biblical theology, which is on topic.
    – Susan
    Jun 13 '15 at 6:49
  • Yeah I think we need a good list of the "systematic" questions which the community wants to be off-topic here.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Jun 13 '15 at 6:50
  • +1 these are great Jun 13 '15 at 8:56
  • I agree with @curiousdannii that the current second close reason is important to maintain, though I do not think it is intended for what he believes it is. Rather, I see the second close reason as circumscribing the type of questions we do want, leaving open theology question (systematic or otherwise) that arise from interpretation of a given text itself.
    – ScottS
    Jun 13 '15 at 23:30
  • 1
    @ScottS Thanks. I guess my impression is that what’s “on-topic” doesn’t really need to be fully explained in a close reason, and to me it’s too complicated to do well in <400 characters anyway. That’s where I see the help center explanation coming in. I would link to that from each of these.
    – Susan
    Jun 13 '15 at 23:58
  • Yes, I just read your help-center post, and like the idea of using that to give a more complete picture, both with bullets above (you have a nice set there), as well as further explanation below those bullets that would provide what the community sees as relevant links in Meta to read (for those that want to explore, but without them having to wade through every meta post out there--give them the best of the meta, which was what my long-form close reasons was trying to do).
    – ScottS
    Jun 14 '15 at 0:04
  • 1
    @ScottS If you are interested, I’d love to see another answer there with your expanded close reasons adapted in terms of “on-topic” (or, alternatively, prefaced with text that explains why we want to tell you what’s “off-topic” here) for the help center page.
    – Susan
    Jun 14 '15 at 0:08
  • @ScottS Yes I'm okay with questions that do actually arise from the text. The problem is that it is hard to objectively show that a question arises or does not arise from a text. My understand is that the systematic theology questions we don't want are ones like "does this random verse which mentions jesus mean that the hypostatic union has two wills?"
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Jun 14 '15 at 0:08
  • @curiousdannii I think that sort of question isn’t logically coherent, and on a case-by-case basis we need to be able to identify that and close it (#1) if it’s really about an idea that doesn’t naturally arise from the text given.
    – Susan
    Jun 14 '15 at 0:12
  • @Susan That's my point. I think the close reasons should try to be more objective about what it means to "arise" from a text. I object to "start from" language because if you include a passage then you can't fail that standard.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Jun 14 '15 at 0:17
  • 1
    @curious And I’m just not sure it’s possible to explain what it means to demonstrate logical coherence within a close reason. If a question is trying to “cheat”, we close it (“starts from an idea”) and explain that this doesn’t naturally arise from the text. Just tweaked that reason a little to try to incorporate that.
    – Susan
    Jun 14 '15 at 0:27
  • @Susan The best way I could think of to phrase it is to say whether the question is "about" a text or idea, although that is still very subjective. Maybe your new edit with "ideas that don't naturally arise" will work well. I'm sure some OPs will still disagree, but that will happen regardless of what we settle on.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Jun 14 '15 at 0:29
  • @curiousdannii "because if you include a passage then you can't fail that standard" actually that isn't true - we always make a judgement call about whether the question starts from (or arises from) the text, so if the OP just quotes a text it wont stop the question being closed. Its a judgement call because we need to make some allowance for questions that naturally arise from the text for those whose framework is different to ours, but it's not enough for the OP to say "it does for me". Jun 14 '15 at 5:35
  • @curiousdannii "but that will happen regardless of what we settle on" how true :S Jun 14 '15 at 5:36
1

I propose the following wording be adopted. This wording attempts to matches the current close reasons, except for close reason #3 is wrapped into close reason #1 here, and a new #3 noted that deals with questions about language itself. While such could be considered to overlap with close reason #4, it seems to me that a reason specifically targeting these types of questions could be useful (and allow promotion of other Area 51/beta sites that could benefit from traffic driven to them).

UPDATE #1: I tweaked the wording in the first four of them to note the fact that we do take questions about hermeneutic methods or the field of hermeneutics.

UPDATE #2: I shortened the text in each to 400 characters or less based on the comment (I'm assuming links do not count.... I hope). I've left the original long version I posted below them, and also left the revised #4, even though there is some doubt about whether that one is modifiable.

New Short Form

  • No Bible passage referenced—BH.SE is a community-run site where theologians, historians, and other knowledgeable Bible enthusiasts interpret a Bible passage using their hermeneutic, or answer questions about the field of hermeneutics. Unfortunately, ① questions seeking a text, or ② topical questions without a Bible passage to interpret are outside the scope of this site.
  • Text history or interpretation not sought—BH.SE is a community website where knowledgeable Bible enthusiasts answer questions on the history of Bible texts (documents/textforms) and their meaning by demonstrating one’s interpretation using his/her hermeneutic. Unfortunately, analysis beyond text history, interpretation, or hermeneutics is outside the scope of this site.
  • Too language specific—BH.SE is a community site of knowledgeable Bible enthusiasts answering about the history and interpretation of Bible texts or hermeneutics. Unfortunately, questions merely about languages are outside the scope; we do encourage supporting Greek & Hebrew proposals or directing questions to Linguistics or a modern language site.
  • Belongs on another site in the Stack Exchange network—Biblical Hermeneutics is a community-run website where theologians, historians, linguists and other knowledgeable Bible enthusiasts answer questions about the history and interpretation of the Biblical texts or the field of (hermeneutics). Unfortunately, this question does not fit here, but may fit at...
  • Other (add a comment explaining what is wrong)

Original Long Form

  • No specific Bible passage referenced—Biblical Hermeneutics is a community-run website where theologians, historians, linguists and other knowledgeable bible enthusiasts interpret what a Biblical passage means using their techniques of interpretation (hermeneutics), or answer questions about the field of hermeneutics. Unfortunately, ① questions seeking a text reference, or ② topical questions without a Bible passage to interpret are outside the scope of this site.
  • Textual history or interpretation not sought—Biblical Hermeneutics is a community-run website where theologians, historians, linguists and other knowledgeable bible enthusiasts answer questions about the history of the Biblical texts (documents and textforms) and the meaning of those texts either in historical context or through demonstration of arriving at a particular interpretation using their hermeneutic, not merely their opinion. Unfortunately, analysis beyond textual history, interpretation, or methods of such interpretation (hermeneutics) is outside the scope of this site.
  • Too focused on language specifics—Biblical Hermeneutics is a community-run website where theologians, historians, linguists and other knowledgeable bible enthusiasts answer questions about the history and interpretation of the Biblical texts or methods of such interpretation (hermeneutics). Unfortunately, while language will likely be discussed in the context of a particular passage, questions related merely to the characteristics of a Biblical language (or language of a modern translation) are outside the scope of this site, and we encourage you to support the Greek or Hebrew language site proposals, or direct the question to the Linguistics site, or an appropriate modern language site.
  • Belongs on another site in the Stack Exchange network—Biblical Hermeneutics is a community-run website where theologians, historians, linguists and other knowledgeable bible enthusiasts answer questions about the history and interpretation of the Biblical texts or the field of (hermeneutics). Unfortunately, this question does not fit here, but may fit at...
  • Other (add a comment explaining what is wrong)
14
  • Your precision is admirable, but we need to work within 400 characters. Most of these could be shortened and linked to a meta post (e.g. this one) for more info. Also, if I understand correctly, the text of belongs on another site is not up for revision. It’s fixed. I don’t have any way to test this, but what happens if you follow that link? I think it only allows you to migrate to Meta, correct? If I’m right about that, actual migration requests need to be flagged rather than closed via this menu, so that a moderator can close+migrate.
    – Susan
    Jun 12 '15 at 2:08
  • The idea of the community being able to access such migration paths is out there, but "There are no plans to actually implement this in the near future.”
    – Susan
    Jun 12 '15 at 2:08
  • Ah... did not know about 400 character limit or lack of revise-ability for #4 (I got the impression we fully controlled all five options; it sounds like really we have only 3 options to work with). I wonder if because we are Beta we only have Meta to suggest migration to. StackOverflow has at 5 sites (as of the moment) listed to potentially migrate to.
    – ScottS
    Jun 12 '15 at 2:41
  • Regarding migration paths for the community: "If you're on a beta site or asking for a path pointing to a beta site, I'll laugh right in your face. Even if the site has been in beta for 3 years.” Ah, Shog. The 400 character thing is just my observation about what happens when I go in as if I’m going to change them. It’s possible that there’s a work-around for that, but I’m not sure it’s a great idea to have them be so lengthy anyway.
    – Susan
    Jun 12 '15 at 2:45
  • 1
    Obviously I support the idea of another round of refactoring, but for some reason this particular line up doesn't sit well with me. I can't put my finger on exactly what went south, but I'll try to take a closer look early next week (or at least after I finish my sermon for this week!).
    – Caleb
    Jun 12 '15 at 7:50
  • I agree with Caleb - I commend the effort but I'm not sure how much they're an improvement. Also, I don't think we can customise the migration text (which is only shown to flaggers/closers anyway, not the post's author.)
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Jun 12 '15 at 8:49
  • @curiousdannii: Well, the intent of the "improvement" here is not to change the reasons themselves so much as it is how to make the wording more educational and friendly toward the one receiving the closing. I did add a new 3rd reason, which need not be done (the top three current one's could just be reworded). I encourage you to post some other ideas as an answer as well on what you think would be an improvement along the lines of this "style" of response.
    – ScottS
    Jun 12 '15 at 12:12
  • @Caleb: Please do take a look when you can. I would be interested in knowing what you don't like (since I did my best to keep the original three "reasons" within the wording of the first two reasons here).
    – ScottS
    Jun 12 '15 at 12:14
  • My impression based on what I can see is that there is a hard character count of 400 for each close reason with links counting just like they do in comments. Not sure about that, though. --> chat
    – Susan
    Jun 12 '15 at 14:06
  • Wow, that stinks! (The links being included.)
    – ScottS
    Jun 12 '15 at 14:08
  • @Susan: That's correct. JavaScript enforces close reasons between 25 and 400 "characters" regardless of content. (Interestingly, the database stores them in a nvarchar (500) field. It wouldn't be good idea for moderators to attempt to work around the 400 character limit, however.) It is possible to get shorter links by using the "share" link at the bottom of the post and removing the user ID. Unfortunately, "meta.hermenteutics.stackexchange.com" is pretty long. :-( My suggestion is to shorten the close reason by moving text to the linked post.
    – Jon Ericson Mod
    Jun 12 '15 at 16:29
  • @JonEricson Would using url shorteners be allowed?
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Jun 13 '15 at 6:44
  • @curiousdannii: Sure. The trouble (with link shorteners in general) is that you have to follow the link to know where it's going. This isn't a problem for new users who have never read meta. (Any way we can get them to meta is good.) But it could be annoying to regular users trying to figure out whether to vote to close or not. (And my suggestion fails that test too, since most users will be aware that the reason is linking to meta.) But if having more space in the close reason text itself is important, using tinyurl.com or somesuch might be expediant.
    – Jon Ericson Mod
    Jun 13 '15 at 16:49
  • @scotts - A.) Perhaps adding other commonly misunderstood topics into that list? Like : Systematic Theology, Hermeneutical methods and inquiries about which texts are relevant; and, criticism topics such as Marcan Priority. B.) I think these particular areas should be injected, as they are misunderstood. Apr 21 '17 at 17:15
-1

Consolidate reasons 1 & 3 (the reasons that are used for questions without texts given) to allow for the addition of the language based rejection noted in a couple of other answers already given—but keep the wording closer to the current wording:

  • Questions without a specific biblical text, whether one is searching for a relevant text or asking about a biblical topic, are off-topic as they do not seek interpretation of a text.
  • Questions including a biblical text but that are not seeking an answer about ① the history or ② the meaning of that biblical text either in context or through a process of arriving at a particular interpretation of it are off-topic.
  • Questions about general Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek language mechanics, apart from direct relation to the interpretation of a specific biblical text, are off-topic.
  • This question belongs on another site in the Stack Exchange network
  • Other (add a comment explaining what is wrong)
2
  • I could go for something like this. My trouble is that #1 (although I know exactly what you mean!) is not a self-contained true statement (hermeneutical approaches, etc) so it may misrepresent on-topic to the person who sees only that. And #2 still feels a little difficult to read to me.
    – Susan
    Jun 14 '15 at 0:02
  • #1 is actually intended to be limited by the "whether" statement, that is, those two types of questions that occur in conjunction "without a text." #2 I guess is a fair critique, the last part seems awkwardly worded (I know the intent is to indicate meaning in original context or by showing how one's hermeneutic arrives at a particular interpretation through its process.
    – ScottS
    Jun 14 '15 at 0:10
-2

For completeness...

Keep the current close reasons and wording given in the question

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