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I came here to seek truth and I assume others also look for the same, which means I should expect beliefs against mine and rejection of my basics in religion. All good, but I've seen recently where some posts link to sites in which explicitly hate-speech and insulting to other beliefs is common.

In the interest of providing particulars, the incident which prompted this discussion was seeing an answer reference material from http://shia.bs (which is clearly anti-Shi'a). I don't want to link to that answer since I'm not interested in calling it (or the author who posted it) out in particular, I just want a general discussion on how and when such sites should be used, if at all.

For me this is very disappointing since this goes against rational reasoning and Q&A norms. And we are helping such sites spread hate and hurt the unity and peace between Muslims, which is for sure tricks of our enemies.

Should we forbid such sites?

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  • I would rather keep the talks of unity and peace between Muslims out of here. That's not the purpose of this site. But I think the idea of forbidding and/or permitting any such sites should be discussed. Apr 15 '14 at 19:04
  • It means also unity and peace between Muslims here in the site
    – user4710
    Apr 15 '14 at 19:28
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    1. Hate speech is quite different from criticizing/insulting to beliefs of particular groups. Don't confuse them. Hate speech restriction should not be abused to restrict expression of criticism. You should give examples when discuss this kind of issues so a reader can understand what you mean. 2. It is always better to use widely-accepted Islamic sources. We cannot control what is on other sites, if you know a better replacement for the source then you can suggest an edit. However, at this point I don't see a need for a policy regarding such links.
    – Kaveh
    Apr 16 '14 at 10:18
  • It would probably be worth fleshing out the arguments in your (now) third paragraph and posting it as a complete answer.
    – goldPseudo Mod
    Apr 25 '14 at 23:25
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First, we should recognize this is in the gray area between censorship and not hosting offensive material, and people will reasonably disagree with one another. I therefore expect that no policy will be a perfect solution. Thus...

Summary: I recommend:

  1. respecting the original author's decision to link or not link,
  2. optionally adding an unobtrusive and impartial-sounding adjective such as "...the Shia-critical site [link]..." if relevant, and
  3. adding a pertinent snippet from the site (to reduce the need to access the site).

Monica Cellio, diamond moderator at Mi Yodeya (i.e., Judaism.SE), proposed removing links to actively hostile sites, which seems reasonable to me.


Should we forbid linking to anti-any-religious groups sites?

Forbidding these links goes against the sectarian nature of the site (this is a question and answer site; it's neither pro-XYZ nor anti-XYZ). While it's against StackExchange policy to host offensive material (see: Stack Exchange Network Terms of Service), this is counterbalanced by StackExchange's general attitude towards censorship. In this situation, Islam.SE doesn't host the content of those links.

These links provide context. It may be that visiting the site is needed to understand a post, and not providing the link is an obstacle. Providing a pertinent snippet from the site, thereby giving a self-contained answer/question, reduces the need for someone to click on the link. (And many anti-[anything] sites are prone to link rot.)

It's going to be a judgement call (i.e., a matter of opinion). In these cases, we should respect the original author's decision; they best understand whether or not a link is needed to understand their post. Otherwise, we risk arguments, edit wars, and antipathy towards the site. (There's going to be exceptions, e.g. if the link encourages violence.)

We can optionally add some adjective e.g. "...the Shia-critical site [link]...", something that's both unobtrusive and is not itself offensive. Then reader can make an informed decision as to whether or not they want to click the link.


A similar question was asked on meta.Judaism.SE Censoring comments, and it was argued against for the following reasons: (a) an implementation nightmare, (b) a bureaucratic nightmare, (c) unnecessary, (d) bad practice for this site.

I asked the question at meta.SE: Should we edit out useful links to likely offensive websites? Hopefully, we can get a better perspective from more experienced sites and people more familiarity with StackExchange policy. The question got this response from Monica Cellio:

We almost always do this in the case of a site that is actively hostile, abusive, or fraudulent (as opposed to just wrong). We feel no obligation to provide visibility and promotion for hate sites, for example.

...

For sites that aren't like that but are more mildly problematic, often we keep links but make sure the nature of the link is clear without clicking.

This is somewhat consistent with goldPseudo's answer.

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    Relatedly, most anti-whatever sites are just so full of bias, fallacies and bad rhetoric that they plain make terrible sources. If you're linking to one, it should be clear that there is a solid reason to do so; if it's the primary (or only) reference used in an answer, links or no it's probably just a bad answer.
    – goldPseudo Mod
    Feb 15 '17 at 6:59
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I think the real question here is, why is the link there in the first place?

In my experience, this sort of issue typically shows up in one of three use cases:

  1. A question seeking the context and/or veracity of a claim made on the site:

    According to badsite.foo, Muslims eat babies for lunch. Does this actually happen?

  2. A poster is actively trying to drive traffic to the site:

    To find out what Muslims really believe about babies, check out badsite.foo.

  3. A poster is actually using it as a reference:

    According to one hadith (e.g. as posted on badsite.foo), babies are particularly delicious. While Muslim scholars have unanimously declared this particular narration as mawdu, it is still commonly accepted by certain fringe groups.

In the first case, I don't see anything particularly wrong with that. Such a link provides valuable context which is useful for (a) making sure that the OP is accurately understanding and representing the claim and (b) determining exactly what arguments were presented to make this claim so they can be verified/refuted accurately. If you're concerned that people might click through on this link in ignorance, adding a warning that it's clearly anti-whatever is easy enough, but I don't see any value in removing the link entirely.

In the second case, however, I see absolutely no value to the link: It's basically just an unsolicited advertisement and an attempt to drive people to a third-party site. When such links are tangential to the actual post and can be removed entirely without affecting anything, they should simply be removed.

The third case is where things get tricky, and these should probably be taken on a case-by-case basis. If such a site is being referenced, it should be clear exactly what value (if any) this reference has to the actual post. Anti-whatever sites are typically so full of bias, fallacies and bad rhetoric that they are just terrible sources period (from any academic perspective): If the entire answer is built around references to such a site, whether it's directly linked or not the answer is probably just a terrible answer and should be downvoted into oblivion. And when such posts are simply a better-disguised version of the second case (i.e. active attempt to drive traffic to the third-party site, rather than an honest attempt to answer the question) they should probably be deleted entirely.

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If the site is marked by a reputable organization as a hate group, then I think we should not link to them. Instead, leave the link in footnotes without the http:// like I have done in this question.

linking to them helps their site by driving more traffic to them. We are here to promote rational prespectives of Islam not drive traffic to irrational sites.

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