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There seems to be a problem with new posters submitting questions that are inappropriate for either BH or Christianity.

Perhaps this is due to the guidelines for these sites (and perhaps other SE sites too) that are not readily visible, available or understandable for a newbie.

The result is that their Q often gets a gruff comment - welcoming them and suggesting a tour etc. It's a bit late and they have already had a bad experience for posting a general Q on BH like 'Did Adam have a belly button', and will possibly never come back again with a proper Q.

I had a poor experience on Christianity until a Q was migrated to BH and it's been fine since. (Christianity still seems odd imho)

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  • This is a common problem on pretty much all sites on the network. The site does prompt people to read the tour and help pages before they even sign up. I'm not sure what else we could do. Anyone who figures it out will be SE famous! – curiousdannii Mod Oct 30 '20 at 9:47
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As has been pointed out in the comments, there is a widespread issue with this kind of behaviour across most of the SE sites. The platform is already designed to limit user contribution types to give them all a fair chance to adjust to the norms of the site before engaging fully, which helps more than we usually realise. In theory, we could make new users click through whole pages of examples, explanations, terms or conditions and know with confidence that many wouldn't actually read or understand what's in front of them. Socialised learning is the way forward.

But in the end, it has to begin somewhere, and most often it begins with their own genuine Question, which in many other places on the internet wouldn't be subjected to the type of rigour and critique that we apply on BH.SE. The entry bar is low, and hopefully that encourages fresh contributors to get started with their very first Question or Answer.

So... what can we do to help new users get the best possible start?


1. Write high quality on-topic Questions, Answers and Comments ourselves

As experienced users, we need to do our best to demonstrate a consistent and good quality in our own contributions to the site. New users will use what they see as a baseline for understanding how to contribute, and so it's worth considering the example that we set in each contribution we make to the site.

Often inexperienced users won't spend a lot of time dwelling on the Site Tour and other site guidelines - but they do scroll through Questions, and Answers, and so the higher the quality of contributions they find on any given part of the site, the easier they'll find it to understand what's expected.

At times it can be tempting for newer users to fire off lots of low-quality questions without much obvious research effort, and flood the site with contributions that don't reflect the standards we aspire to. I'd suggest it's always better to aim for quality over quantity, and even when responding to low-quality questions, we need to set a better example by the Answers and Comments that we give.


2. Purposefully welcome new contributors as courteously as possible

"The result is that their Q often gets a gruff comment"

I'm glad you've captured this observation - that's exactly the end of the spectrum we aspire to leave behind. There's a clear enough set of expected behaviour when I think most of us are familiar with, which summarises it well - I think we're typically very good at the be honest part, and don't feel shy about downvoting or commenting when something is incorrect or misleading. However, be nice takes continual effort and restraint, especially when dealing with questions, answers and comments where we see little value.

So no, I disagree that 'gruff comments' are a result of poor questions - the low question quality doesn't cause us to leave poor quality responses. I'd encourage anybody who feels strongly about this issue to take up the mantle of the 'First Post' review queue, which historically has had various neglect issues.

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Consider what people see when they visit this site:

Top of Hermaneutics.SE home page

Notice that the only significant difference between this site and most of the other SE sites is the "Biblical Hermeneutics" name.

There is nothing, nothing at all, to indicate what the site is about, or what kind of questions are suitable, or ….

This problem is common throughout SE. It appears to be deliberate, but I've no idea why.

The blue BH banner could contain far more than the name. Something like:

Biblical Hermeneutics is a question and answer site for anyone who wants to know what a Biblical text means (exegesis) using the techniques or rules of interpretation (hermeneutics). We welcome Jewish, Christian, Atheist, and other viewpoints as long as they take seriously the process of understanding the Biblical texts.
To see how it works, take the tour.
And check our list of what questions are considered on-topic.
For questions about how various denominations interpret scripture, visit Christianity.SE.

I can't imagine that this wouldn't improve the quality of questions, even for those that aren't new.
Then again, I have trouble imagining why all SE sites don't already have something like this.

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  • When you're logged out there is a banner, but it's not as good as your suggested one. I don't know if we can change it. I haven't seen anywhere that lets us mods edit it ourselves at least. – curiousdannii Mod Dec 8 '20 at 7:37
  • @curiousdannii, that suggestion is simply what's currently at the top of the tour, plus three suggested links. ¶ My real point is that currently there is no information at all, and that that seems to be the state throughout the SE sites. It's like there's a policy of keeping users in the dark, forcing them to search for what they should have been given up-front, and I just don't get it. Look at StackOverflow itself: even the site's name is meaningless and the only obviously useful thing is "Ask Question", with no hint about what topics are allowed. – Ray Butterworth Dec 8 '20 at 14:37
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Don't just leave a gruff comment, "Welcome, look at the tour" or delete a question or an answer. Explain what was wrong with the question or answer. It is much more helpful when the moderator writes you were deleted because your answer did not address the question." I suggest you put on the home page Hermaneutics, where you present a passage you want to hear interpretations on. In this manner, in very quick terms one gets a general understanding of the modus operand here.I notice terms and abbreviations are used as if as soon as a newcomer gets here he just knows what it is. In the complaint about newbies, the term SE is used like we all know what that refers to. I don't know what that is.

By the way, what may seem like a low quality question or a question with an obvious answer to one person may be of great importance, have a deeper meaning or may not have been obvious to someone else. The example given of a question that should not be asked was, "Did Adam have a belly button?" Maybe one person thinks it's unimportant but maybe it has an importance as far as how humans anatomically changed over time, health implications, and cultural implications. Compare "Did Adam have a belly button" to "Was so-and-so circumcised" to "Did Jesus have long hair?" They are all asking about a person's physical traits but they have implications as to identifying what did a particular person look like, how did he behave, could this be the remains of someone's body, what culture someone was from, circumcision reduces the chances of infection for males and their partners, even a belly button innie vs outie can change the risk of infection or identify one person vs another. Because Ruth temporarily received a bruise, she was not sacrificed to the Pagan gods. There can be medical, social, religious or anthropological implications that don't seem relevant to you.

I believe one should ask a question one really wants an answer to not just ask a question for the sake of setting an example. Just writing a question and answering your own question doesn't explain what hermeneutics is or what makes a good question or a good answer. One also has to be aware that if one is answering one's own question then one may not be open to some other possibility one never thought of.

I'd like to point out we don't get experienced, "high quality" participants without newcomers first. With the exception of Adam and Eve, adults come from babies. Newcomers replace the seniors when the seniors no longer continue.

I wanted to answer a question but there was no answer section

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  • Hi, thanks for your response. You are right, there is much to learn and it takes some persistent effort and time - I believe it is worth the effort. Even if you disagree with another's view, it can help to consolidate why you believe something or have it challenged - both are useful and important. – user48152 Nov 2 '20 at 5:48
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    You wrote, 'Just writing a question and answering your own question doesn't explain what hermeneutics is' - The idea of this site is to use the bible as the basis of understanding a belief or truth. If you have a view that is biblical and others are not presenting this aspect, then perhaps your own answer will be of great value. If it is not biblically sound in some way, this will be pointed out. Sadly, some may choose to down-vote rather than provide any hard evidence for their dislike. - that's life! – user48152 Nov 2 '20 at 5:48
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    I looked up hermeneutics to understand what this site looks for and and what I was doing wrong. The topics and answers are interesting. Unpleasant is the attitude that the new people have the bad trait of... You explained to me, "The idea of this site is to..." should be on the homepage so new and seasoned can more quickly understand what this site is for and how it operates. You wrote me but you did not reach as many people as you could. It is not only new people who have bad traits. Down-voting and not explaining the reason for deleting does not help the site. It also hurts the site. – Priscilla Salzberg Nov 2 '20 at 17:29
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I closed this question and left the following comment, what do you all think? If I'm honest I think it's about the friendliest I can be for a question which is clearly off-topic.

How is the Kingdom of God revealed in the miracle of the Loaves and Fishes?

Hello and welcome to the site! One of the rules we have here is that questions need to start from a specific Biblical text, not just a general topic. So for this to be reopened, can you please edit it to quote a particular Biblical text. Ideally the question you're asking about the Kingdom of God will arise from the passage - do any of the Feeding of the 5000 passages talk about the Kingdom of God? I can't actually remember. Any extra information and details you can add would be helpful too.

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  • Is it a SEXianity topic? Can it be migrated? - it's a decent Q, not a 'silly' one like belly buttons. – user48152 Nov 4 '20 at 23:27
  • @User48152 Do you mean migrate it to Christianity.se? No it wouldn't be on topic there. Best path forward for this question is for the OP to edit it. – curiousdannii Mod Nov 5 '20 at 1:03
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Just because someone downvoted someone else doesn't mean the person doing the downvoting is correct or unbiased. It is very judgmental to promote downvoting more just to downvote more. It is also very judgmental to promote it is always new comers who provide poor quality answers and just downvote them. Are you saying newcomers have nothing and I mean NOTHING to ADD to this site? If you think an answer or a question doesn't achieve what you expect then provoke the author with guidance ie. ask the author How does this affect others, what proof is there, why do you need this info, why do you feel this way. Some of these so-called experts who don't want new people are full of themselves

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    Hi, not sure if you are commenting on someone or something. Of course newbies have a lot to offer. There is one particular guideline on this site - a Q or A must have biblical reference and or validity. Sadly that is easier said than done as tradition is well entrenched. Newbies may certainly offer a fresh look at old problems/conundrums and their 'new' Q's can provoke useful responses. – user48152 Nov 9 '20 at 12:05
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    Then ask someone to provide a biblical reference and or validate his response rather than just downvote because "we need to downvote more,...especially newcomers". In this manner people can be trained AND you can maybe get what you want out of a question or an answer. If a question or an answer helps even one person to feel better, treat others better or make it to heaven it does not matter that it didn't help ie 4000 people. Maybe the one person will help 3999 more people. – Priscilla Salzberg Nov 10 '20 at 1:23

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