Many of the answers on islam.stackexchange are really one faced.

I have nothing against the different of opinions that exists. But the problem is that many times only one opinion is being shown. In my perspective, those opinions are many times the opinions of a minority of the scholars.

I thought that opinion based questions should be avoided. If not they should be answered fairly.

The majority of the answers on the questions in the "bidah"-tag are opinion based. Even the tag description of "bidah" is opinion based and one faced. I think we all know that the concept and definition of bidah is one of the biggest questions where there are different of opinions, and the most troubling.

I have been answering some of them just to add the other point of view (to make it a bit fair). But I rather not answer all bidah questions.

How should we handle questions like these in the best way and by that avoiding discussions here at stackexhange - that never will end?

I've also noticed that some questions that actually was opinion based, got closed. Thumb up on that! But then I also wonder, how good is it to close the question, when the answers still are available for everyone to read? In my understanding, it feels like when one point of view is answered to the question, and the question is closed - it might look like that question is the only valid answer.

1 Answer 1


Yes, opinion-based questions should be avoided. Yes, if they're not closed, they should be answered fairly.

Previously, I had proposed the following guidelines:

  1. Posted answers must be comprehensive within the scope of the question as-asked:
    • If the question is asking for an answer according to Sunni jurisprudence, it must cover all (significant) differences of opinion within "Sunni jurisprudence".
    • If the question is asking for both a Sunni and Shi'ite perspective, it must cover both Sunni and Shi'ite perspectives.
    • If the question is just asking for what "Islam" says (remembering that for the purposes of this site, "Islam" covers each and every group that self-identifies as Muslim), it should probably just be closed as "Unclear what you're asking" unless it's a matter which has little to no actual difference of opinion across every possible Islamic perspective.
  2. In cases where an answer covers a significant difference of opinion, posted answers must be free of obvious bias
    • Under the principle of writing an answer for everyone who would ask that exact question, any posts which present any side of an opinionated debate as "more correct" should not be tolerated

What you're bringing up here is a rampant problem on this site (whcih I've also brought up earlier), and has been so since the earliest days: Users insist on using the site to preach Islam, rather than out of any actual academic interest in the topic of Islam. Actively discouraging this sort of behaviour is at least as important as writing fair answers (if not moreso) otherwise those gems will just get drowned in opinion-noise anyway.

As a moderator I have been doing my best to keep things clean, but due to natural limitations in my own expertise I can hardly be expected to know what is or is not "opinion-based" in every single possible topic: I close what I can of whatever comes across my own radar based on my own knowledge, and after a while will often go through and delete closed (and apparently abandoned) questions which lack valuable (read: both fair and informative) answers, but the site has grown well beyond the point that any single person can be expected to handle all of it, whether or not he has a diamond by his name.

About the only way to solve this long-term is to build a critical mass of users who actually are interested in the academic study of Islam and willing to work together to curate a site which encourages the academic study of Islam (and actively discourages preaching and bias). Of course, this is very much an uphill battle as many of the users who actually would be interested in the academic study of Islam would only participate here if the site actually looks like a place where the academic study of Islam is actually encouraged.

Stack Exchange is built on community, and this is very much a community problem. At an individual level, the best I can recommend is to do whatever you can to discourage bad questions and answers and promote good ones instead (which is basically the same as on any Stack Exchange site: Vote early, vote often). Ask good and interesting questions, write good and interesting answers, encourage others to do the same, and basically hope your example sticks with others.

And be mind-numbingly patient, because this ain't gonna fix itself overnight. Every little bit helps, but we need a lot of "little bits" to have any hope of solving this.

  • I was just now trying to find this very answer, trying to get a feel for the I.SE site. I am blown away by so much opinion and no facts, at least so far. Now I get it. May 19, 2016 at 3:05

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