I have been active for a while here now, and it is a growing concern of mine that this site is not always capable of highlighting quality answers through vote counts. In other words, I'm worried that the wrong answers are upvoted for the wrong reasons. I am particularly concerned with faulty linguistic information (i.e., not fringe dogmatic positions).

To give some examples: this answer suggests relations between roots using a method reject by contemporary linguistisc. Here somebody suggests that the Hebrew script contained vowels; here somebody suggests that many scholars distrust the MT to the point that it has no value at all.

Indeed, some of these answers have a negative score. But if an answer has +1/-3 (like the first example), the author still got +4 reputation out of that, and is hence not directly pressured to remove the content.

It is vital that we as a community are able to highlight what is good content and what is not. On relatively low traffic sites this is difficult using vote counts (it is also an issue on Philosophy.SE, where I moderate). Perhaps we should consider quicker deletion?

To be clear: I am all for exploring alternative lines of thought. What matters to me is that fringe positions aren't implicitly pushed as "The Right Method". To compare, Physics.SE explicitly disallows non-mainstream physics. In a field where the borders may be more fuzzy this may be difficult, but I would be in favour of quicker deletion of non-mainstream content at least if it does not make it clear that it is non-mainstream. What do you think?


1 Answer 1


I think the right tool is just to more liberally use downvotes.

Down vote answers which:

  • are badly reasoned
  • are factually inaccurate (for things which the criteria of factual applies - misleading statements about the text are unfactual, nonstandard reconstructions of Biblical languages, nonstandard textual criticism, etc. are not)
  • and IMO, those which don't encourage respect for the text as we have received it.

Fringe theories can be used in very interesting and thought provoking answers, and it would be a mistake to try to ban them, even if we could agree on what to ban (which we couldn't, knowing this community). The question I think we should ask is whether an answer draws us into the text and helps us understand it further even if we decide we disagree with the answer.

For example, in the circles I move in, JEDP is almost a fringe theory, is regarded as a poorly reasoned model and one that's not very falsifiable. In other circles it is of course the dominant model. But for all source criticism models, the question I want to ask is what does it actually teach me? An answer using JEDP which does nothing more than identify verses with authors and redactors ultimately doesn't teach me anything useful, and I might downvote it. But one that takes a passage, identifies and proposes two cohesive source texts it was compiled from, and can put forward a story and a rationale for what the editor was thinking when they choose which parts of the source texts for each part of the final text, is an answer I'd upvote, even though I might disagree with the idea of J, E, D and P sources.


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