There's been plenty of talk about what we're doing wrong lately. Here's a little post about what I believe we're doing right. It's also an attempt to document what I believe are the three main overarching philosophies at work on this site. As always, feel free to respond if I've got it all wrong :P

Divergent Philosophies

  1. Pluralism + Relativism: This philosophical approach allows participants to bring their own perspectives as is, to include using the language they are most familiar with and making assertions of truth (since it is assumed that every post is merely reflective of the OP's opinion). I believe this was the initial predominant philosophy of this site.

  2. Pluralism + (pseudo-)Neutrality: Regardless of whether or not one believes that neutrality is a philosophical fallacy, this approach allows participants to bring their own perspectives, but requires them to qualify assertions of absolute truth, either by assigning them to a source/position or by clearly stating that it is an opinion. I believe the site is currently moving in this direction, largely due to commingling the existing site policy of 'showing your work' with this philosophical approach.

  3. A Rejection of Pluralism: Participants with this philosophical approach generally view the site as a platform for their ideas and beliefs, which are usually expressed as absolute truths. Most of these folks get DV'd and chased off, but a few persist—largely because this approach to the site was tolerated when site moderation followed the philosophy of #1.

Convergent Mission

Despite these differing philosophies, I believe the site has been moving in a favorable direction towards being more welcoming of "Jewish, Christian, atheist and other viewpoints as long as they take seriously the process of understanding the Biblical texts." Officially, we've stated that

The answers we rate most highly stem from and work up from the text.

We still differ somewhat on how to handle content that doesn't show its work (merely DV, require editing, delete/close, etc.), but we all agree that good answers will do so and we agree on what makes us unique from other sites. And those are huge steps forward.

When Jon asked, "What kind of site do we ultimately want to have?" almost three months ago, the question attracted eight answers1 that each received a wide variety of votes from the community, many receiving numerous upvotes and downvotes (which showed the community's division on the issue). However, two users who generally disagree worked together to write a post that was received more positively than any other answer to that question (by upvote:downvote ratio). This shows the community's support of this position as well as cooperation from the two individuals who co-wrote the post.

Granted, there have been hiccups along the way, differences in applying the guideline, and a few bumps and bruises—this is to be expected because of our divergent philosophies (and differing sub-philosophies within these as well). But overall, we're moving forward. We're not spinning our tires as I felt we were three or so months ago. We're going somewhere. Not everyone may agree on the trajectory, but judging by community votes, a majority do. How we get there is still a matter of disagreement to some extent, but overall we agree on the destination. And that is a great thing.

So be encouraged! We're seeing results and this site is becoming a better resource for those who have questions about the Biblical texts. Let's look ahead rather than behind, and focus on where we're going.

1 There were actually nine posts, but the ninth was deleted as it was not really an answer, but rather another question.

  • 2
    Thanks Dan, I don't agree 100% with all you say here but I do agree 100% with the way you are saying it :) Dec 30 '13 at 8:27
  • 2
    +1 because I agree with your conclusions and like the attitude even if I disagree with some of your premises and trajectories ;)
    – Caleb
    Dec 30 '13 at 10:58
  • Caleb and Jack, meta for the win! :)
    – Dan
    Dec 30 '13 at 17:35
  • 3
    @Дэн-A better answer than 'pseudo-neutrality', and one that accepts the site as a 'work in progress'.
    – Tau
    Dec 31 '13 at 15:22

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