I received this comment on a recent question on B-Greek that I had posted:

"...Stack exchange is largely a crap shoot."

IE: Some of the Greek answers are helpful while others are simply misinformation. I'm not talking about incorrect interpretation but actual factual errors that are patently false. IE: Phony greek grammar, etymological fallacies, etc.

Susan used to do a lot of the fact checking but she's otherwise occupied of late. I try to pitch in to the extent I'm qualified which is precious little.

Is there something that should be done to ensure factual errors (IE: patently false assertions about the Greek language, etc.) to prevent linguistic misinformation?

  • 6
    Downvote them.,
    – Alex
    Mar 11 '19 at 14:25
  • 2
    I think the assumption should be that the average user of the site is NOT trained in biblical languages; hence the problem. Would that be a false or improper assumption?
    – Ruminator
    Mar 11 '19 at 14:27
  • Hmm, if the average user of the site cannot evaluate certain content that is part of the site's scope, that may indeed be a problem. But that would seem to be a much more fundamental problem with the site itself than something that an individual or tow can solve on their own.
    – Alex
    Mar 11 '19 at 14:32
  • That's why I brought it up.
    – Ruminator
    Mar 11 '19 at 14:33
  • 2
    meta is a good place to raise issues with posts but you could also try the site chat room Mar 11 '19 at 14:42
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    Because of the adverse comments, I attempted to remove my answer but was prevented from doing so because the OP had accepted the answer.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 16 '19 at 15:46
  • This is another such misinformation answer, doing a lot of damage. It currently has 24 up votes. It cites BDAG which does not show "source" as a koine usage but then says it "prefers" what the "Apostolic Bible" has (whatever that is), which is "source". Twenty-one users could not even discern from the English that what he was posting was wholly unsupported. Ugh. hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/280/…
    – Ruminator
    Mar 16 '19 at 17:16
  • @NigelJ Thank you. It would have been sufficient to do the following: 1) Indicate your Koine credentials 2) Subject your own words to rigorous scrutiny before posting by asking for feedback from a Big Greek (IE: b-greek forum). 3) Clearly indicate that what you are posting is unique to you 4) Show your work Obviously I don't always succeed in that ideal but my point is that the danger is that someone might take it as gospel when it needs much more scrutiny than that. Peace.
    – Ruminator
    Mar 16 '19 at 17:23
  • @Ruminator You misunderstand, sir. I am not admitting fault. Nobody has yet convinced me of any error. I was just trying to accommodate to the site requirements.
    – Nigel J
    Mar 16 '19 at 17:25
  • @Ruminator The question still remains - how can a three month old baby be referred to as 'urbane' or 'city-like' or 'sophisticated' ? ? ?
    – Nigel J
    Mar 16 '19 at 17:32
  • That's another question. The question related to etymology which according to Koine linguists, using simple parsing is from astu. Extant examples from the period show its usage as "urbane" in the sense of "handsome". I personally think the etymology is irrelevant here and she saw that he was "plump". But again, that's a tangent here.
    – Ruminator
    Mar 16 '19 at 17:45

I would agree with Jack's note of the exacerbating issue but disagree with his proposed solution.

The thing than makes most SE sites so much more useful than forums on the same topics is that not everything is displayed equally. Forum threads with posts arranged by date tend to fill up with a lot of dross and finding the actual (best) answer to a question might involve quite a bit of scanning. Frequently this involves trying to figure out what posts to ignore, what isn't even about the same topic etc. On SE sites the voting system creates a crowd sourced filtering mechanism whereby the most useful posts rise to the top and inaccurate or less useful ones sink.

My observation of the "problem" post is that the site is actually working as it should. The dubious post that does not represent sound linguistic research has been heavily down-voted (before even you made a stink about it) and a competing answer with more widely attested basis has been up-voted. From this I conclude:

  • At least a decent percent of our user base is savvy enough to recognize the difference between sound and dubious linguistics and votes appropriately. As long as some majority of voters are up-voting quality content and down-voting bad, this site will continue to be viable.

  • The site is not a "crap shoot" in the way alleged. In my opinion people shooting from the hip tend to have a lot more time on their hands and hence tend to be more prolific contributors than true experts. Our true experts tend to have higher demands on their time elsewhere. That being said good answers do come along eventually, and they are pretty well received when they do.

I don't think deleting incorrect answers is a good plan. In fact I think it would be more useful to the site overall if such answers actually stayed and the heavy down-voting would show that consensus believed them to be wrong. I don't see any problem with having cooky personal theories in the answer mix as long as the ones that don't stand up to scrutiny get sufficiently down-voted to differentiate them from more grounded material.

The problem in this case does come back to the sort order being overridden by the OP's choice to accept the answer. I have long since agreed that down-voted answers should be exempted from that display behavior just to avoid cases like this, but honestly I don't think it's a big deal. The important thing is that such posts get extra down-vote attention.

While I don't agree about the alleged problem, the solution I propose if there were to be some validity to it would be:

  1. Vote up good content, vote down bad content.

  2. Do research and post good better answers anywhere only dubious ones are in play.

P.S. Offsetting the fact that accepted answers are kept at the top, answer posts down-voted to -3 or more are shown as greyed out. This is a good interface paradigm that draws strong attention to the fact that the crowd-source mechanism thinks you shouldn't rely on the content.

  • Although I'm suggesting deleting, it isn't actually my idea: "simply deleting very bad answers can be an effective strategy here" Mar 14 '19 at 7:55
  • @JackDouglas In this case I think I'd have to side with Brad Larson over Shog9. Frankly I'm surprised the latter suggested it and would be curious to hear how in favor he really is to domain-expertise based deleted on humanities sites. If it didn't happen to be the "accepted" answer I would be inclined to reverse the deletion of the post used as an example just because moderation based on "correctness" seems like a dangerous precedent.
    – Caleb
    Mar 14 '19 at 14:44
  • I 100% agree with Brad Larson's comment — he was addressing the question of diamond moderators needing domain knowledge, and was agreeing with my suggested resolution to the specific problem. Shog9 was proposing an alternative having declined the feature request — action to be taken in the specific, unusual, circumstance of a particularly bad answer being accepted and pushing a greatly superior answer well-down the page. No-one suggested this kind of community moderation should be used against bad answers in general Mar 14 '19 at 17:44
  • …doing that would be overriding the votes of the community itself (or totally unnecessary if the 'bad' answer wasn't top-voted anyway) — which is the opposite of what this question is about. Mar 14 '19 at 17:45
  • 1
    @JackDouglas I'm not really complaining about the outcome in that case, I'm happy with the community delete. We're pretty confident of the OP's "bad faith" anyway. But I sure wouldn't want to mod-hammer that one. Letting 3 people in the community collude to delete is a passable compromise for a few egregious cases is one thing, but as a moderator I think I need to stay away from even the appearance of content based censorship.
    – Caleb
    Mar 15 '19 at 9:24
  • In which case I 100% agree with you too :) Mar 15 '19 at 12:21

Your question seems to relate to this post: https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/a/30565/43.

That post is downvoted so it is only at the top because the OP accepted it. As that is the case this is not an issue with voting but with the principle of 'accepted answers'. I've raised this before on meta.stackexchange: Can we exempt downvoted accepted answers from getting the top spot?

That request was declined with a suggestion:

…simply deleting very bad answers can be an effective strategy here — this isn't always appropriate, but it does limit the potential for confusion. Of course, in cases where they can be edited without seriously deviating from the original meaning or intent, then that is preferable.

It looks like our best option in this case is to vote to delete the accepted post. Not ideal, but at least we aren't powerless! I've voted myself so it will be in the review queue.

To be clear, I don't think moderators should delete — I'm only suggesting community deletion.

  • I'm upvoting your useful and relevant answer. I'm not marking it as the answer as I am not sure what the answer is as yet, if there even is one.
    – Ruminator
    Mar 11 '19 at 14:48

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