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This is not a good idea:

All the same question with the names changed.

While I would like to get authorship questions for many of our texts, I believe they should:

  1. Arise organically, and
  2. Contain research about the current state of scholarship particular to the text.

The authorship question is very different for every book and so the question posted on this site should reflect that. We are not Wikipedia which strives for coverage, but a Q&A site that goes after the long-tail.


N.B. I did more or less the same thing on SO myself once and I still get stray, random, now-uninteresting answers. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Years from now, do you want to get a half-assed answer to "Who was the author of Jonah?" Because the only real answers are:

  • Jonah
  • Anonymous author

And I think we can all fill in the arguments with a moment's thought.

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    Personally I think it would be reasonable of the moderators to delete all but a couple of those questions.
    – Noah
    Jul 3 '13 at 18:00
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    @Noah Snyder: I intend to do just that. I've asked the author if there are any that are particularly worth keeping and at least one is a duplicate of another question. Please let me know if there are any you'd like to keep (and edit to include the relevant specifics).
    – Jon Ericson Mod
    Jul 3 '13 at 18:03
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Yes, please don't! This is a completely nonconstructive way to use the site.

  • Such questions show zero research effort. Without the extra bit about "looking for a well researched answer" the questions would not have even gotten past the low quality filter. First of all, we expect all answers on this site to be well researched so it does not need to be part of the question. Second it is kind of insulting to demand somebody does a lot of research for you when you've obviously done none.
  • With that many easy questions available all you are doing is multiplying the low hanging fruit. The easy ones will get a few quick answers, but experts will stay miles away from the whole set! This will not encourage experts to put together well researched answers.

As Jon noted, questions should be organic and show some research effort. They should really be things YOU are trying to learn not something you think should be "put out there" for others.

Edit: The above notes are intentianally generic, meant to apply not just to yesterday's case but all similar cases. I did follow up more specifically with this OP's issue in chat here.

1
  • @GoneQuiet I agree it messes things up for other users, but even a year from now when all the dust settles even if it was just one of them those were not good questions that would attract good answers. Having that many of them, even if they were off the hope page is like sticking out fly paper, all you'll get is flies.
    – Caleb
    Jul 3 '13 at 19:17
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With all of the recent talk about how different our content is supposed to be from Wikipedia's, I'm concerned we may have gotten derailed from the original intent of the site.

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But aside from that, my main concern is the reasons I have received for the down-votes and deletion of my recent questions. We now apparently down-vote and delete posts if they are not interesting enough (despite their relevance), if there are too many (despite their contribution), if they seem too easy to answer (despite widespread scholastic debate), if the person asking doesn't spell out all of their background research (even if it is confusing, inconclusive, and thus, moot), and my personal favorite: if the person voting imagines that the person posting had evil motives (despite the merits of the question itself.) All I can say is: wow.

I am beginning to get the impression that the community here is more interested in "straining out gnats" than building our site -- a site, by the way, where I get more criticisms than actual answers (somewhere around 0-2 answers per question.) People, please... help me add content to our site so we can attract more users before this whole thing gets nixed! I love what this site could be, but it's really frustrating at times what it actually is.

Each of the questions I posted were legitimate questions, squarely within the scope of the site, which I sincerely would like answers to. I have researched many of them myself (and had planned to begin tackling some of them), but felt the questions would be more useful to a broader audience without all of my personal baggage included in each one.

For instance, someone commented on how useless the question about Jonah's authorship would be. "Either Jonah or anonymous," they say. From my own research, I tend to think that it could not have been Jonah, and that we know more than just "anonymous" about the identity of the author. I'll save the details for another day (perhaps another site if the Q&A is not welcome here) but it's actually a very interesting topic, and is far from "easy," "low-hanging fruit" that could only yield "half-hashed answers."

But I will yield to the BH.SE community as usual. Just know that I strongly disagree with the recent reactions to my questions, save the couple of suggestions I received about metering them, which I intend to do if the community is actually OK with the spirit of my questions and simply took issue with the timing of the posts themselves. But at the moment the feedback on the whole is far from "please meter these" and is very confusing, leading me to wonder "what the heck is acceptable on this site?"

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    If you'd like to ask the Jonah authorship question and are willing to edit it to include more details specific to that book, I'd be happy to undelete it for you. I've put some thought into the authorship of Jonah in particular, which is why I brought it up. I honestly don't mind if you spend the next few weeks or months asking about the authorship of each text (noting of course that some are related and should be asked together). But I want you to ask good questions, thoughtful questions, not robotic ones.
    – Jon Ericson Mod
    Jul 3 '13 at 22:07
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    By the way, I don't think the solution to 0-2 answers per question is to ask a lot more questions. And I don't think it helps avoid straining at gnats to start drinking from a firehose. I can tell you have a lot of frustrations with the site as is and I want to acknowledge that. But there's such a thing and biting off more than you can chew and that's how I feel about the site today. (Today in particular!)
    – Jon Ericson Mod
    Jul 3 '13 at 22:11
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    @JonEricson Fair enough. Thanks for taking the time to post the meta question, and for taking the time to respond to my answer here. I do hope we can shift from "straining at gnats" to "quality contributions," but I see your point about the latter not being the same as "drinking from a robotic firehose." I'll give your suggestion some more thought.
    – Jas 3.1
    Jul 3 '13 at 22:22
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    The timing and bulk nature of the questions is certainly problematic, but --although the various reasons given might not all be spot on-- there is also something about the spirit of them that needs addressing. Even one of those questions as a stand alone entity would still be kind of low quality. At least it would not be the sort of thing to spark interest in an expert even if there may be very interesting aspects there to be had. Each question is going to need some TLC, something about why it matters to you and why the cookie cutter answers that exist for most of the books isn't satisfying.
    – Caleb
    Jul 4 '13 at 9:41
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    I think the mass posting was a mistake and I felt spammed, but really its a honest mistake. I partly sympathise with the frustration I feel reading your post. First, you are good for this site simply because you are motivated to study and learn. Second, I think this site naturally attracks sceptical/ critical people (I confess that's me too) - this means the comments are often prickly and not as encouraging as 'biblical' people would probably act. It would not surprise me if this site has the least acceptance to question ratios. But you like us, and we like you, so what is it that we have?
    – Mike
    Jul 6 '13 at 1:55

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