A few days after having written this answer, two mods just weighed in removing two chunks from the answer. I reproduce the two paragraphs and the statements removed from the end of each by Bleeding Fingers and goldPseudo

In line with these characteristics, you find that Shia scholars also hold non-sectarian, non-racial approaches to human society. For example, Ruhollah Khomeini the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran throughout his political career frequently stressed the importance of Islamic unity among the sects as well as formation of a cross-cultural, cross-national "global coalition of the oppressed" for resistance against oppressive world powers. This vision is already expressed in the Constitution of Islamic Republic and has incarnated itself in the policies of IRI such as its outreach over the recent years to the Christian socialist-minded Latin American nations who have been struggling against US imperialism for decades.

The part in bold was removed by Bleeding Fingers and subsequently by goldPseudo after I rolled it back and explained in a comment why I thought the edit was not justified. And I explain that again:

The Constitution of Islamic Republic of Iran has been formed by an assembly of Shia legal experts, mostly religious scholars, and is a reflection of Shia political doctrine as well as part of Shia historical performance. So if the site scope allows answers from the perspective of Islamic sects I don't see how the part above doesn't fall within the scope by the same token. And the part on policy towards Latin America is just an extension of the same point. I understand politics alone is usually regarded as off-topic in this site but I don't see how reasonable it is when politics happens to be just a consequence of an Islamic doctrine and part of a religious identity.

But there was another part that was snatched away along by goldPseudo when he weighed behind Bleeding Finger's edit.

Obviously then the doctrine of Imamamte of the elite family members has no bearing on who can enter Shia Islam and Shia Islam is completely non-racial in admission of new members. If anything, the Shia doctrine of Imamate from Ahl al-Bayt has only a positive effect on universal outreach of Islam. For the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt assume the function of legitimate leadership of the Ummah after the Prophet and they are the ones who actually best express the universal wisdom of religion through their intellectual elaborations of Islamic theology and judicious application of Islamic law. In fact, the only reason Islamic Ummah has verged into division and conflict is disregard of the Ummah for the Imams that were ordained by Divine decree to succeed Prophet's office.

The statement in bold is a standard Shia belief! Maybe I should've have explicitly mentioned that but given that the question is about Shiism and with an answer that is clear to represent a Shia perspective, such specification didn't see necessary to me. If it is, then the statement has to be restored and the perspective clearly specified.

So what defines what is necessary or on-topic in an answer? Mods, site scope or the answer perspective? (with the last two factors appearing to be quite consistent).


2 Answers 2


So what defines what is necessary or on-topic in an answer? Mods, site scope or the answer perspective? (with the last two factors appearing to be quite consistent).

Ordinarily, the original author determines an answer's content, and most answers are left unchanged (except perhaps for some minor edits, e.g. fixing typos, spelling errors).

Major changes to answers are generally discouraged, e.g. in the edit review queue, clearly conflicts with the author’s intent is one of the reject reasons. However, in some cases, an answer may be viewed as problematic, and the Stackexchange software is designed to allow users with sufficiently high reputation to rectify such problems.

In your particular case, two users of this site have considered a part of your answer as problematic and have edited it accordingly. (They happen to be diamond moderators, but that didn't enter into it.)

We should assume good faith, i.e., that they are trying to help improve this particular answer. We should also be aware that what is problematic is a matter of opinion, and we can expect people to reasonably hold different viewpoints.

In academia, this kind of disagreement happens often when reviewing papers. In these cases, we make an effort to understand the reviewer's point of view (even if we disagree), and see if we can adapt the wording so as to still convey the message we want to make, while simultaneously accounting for the reviewer's concerns.


All of the above. As well as a few that you didn't mention.

  • Stack Exchange has rules and expected norms of conduct which are expected to be followed.
  • Individual sites have rules and expected norms of conduct which are expected to be followed.
  • The site scope defines what topics are or are not acceptable to ask about.
  • The community as a whole judges what is or is not useful or appropriate.
  • The questioner determines what is or is not necessary or acceptable in an answer.
  • The poster determines what is or is not necessary in his own post.

This is not necessarily an exhaustive list, but as you can see this is not a simple "One thing to rule them all" scenario; you're dealing not only with a community here, but a community (Islam—Stack Exchange) within a community (the Stack Exchange network), which means needing to deal with multiple — often contradictory — opinions as to what goes.

One of the reasons moderators are needed is because the community isn't always capable of moderating itself in consideration of all of the above, and there's not always a simple rules-based solution for resolving conflict; the human touch is often necessary just to keep the site functioning rather than shutting everything down because it's mired in pointless argument and stonewalling.

If you feel that the removed points were necessary to answer the question asked, feel free to argue that point in it's own separate meta discussion. Be open to whatever points and discussions get brought up, and work with the community to find a way to post what you want or need without stepping on anybody's toes. Especially, be open to the idea that you might not always get what you want; again, this is a community you're dealing with here. You can't control the whims of the community, but working well with others and knowing how and when to compromise on ones own position have been known to be productive.

  • 2
    "If you feel that the removed points were necessary to answer the question asked, feel free to argue that point in it's own separate meta discussion." That is a really strange comment; there are probably hundreds of answers that are a lot less useful, representative, and definitely off-topic, that don't ever get touched by a mod - yet you seem to be suggesting infatuated should somehow have to argue why those two sentences, which actually concern the question that was asked, would be not just interesting or reasonable to put in, but necessary. Inconsistent moderation like that disorients me.
    – G. Bach
    Feb 27, 2017 at 23:56
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    @G.Bach There's over seventeen thousand posts on the main site right now, you can't expect us to read and act on every single one of them. The community is ultimately responsible for ensuring that everything runs smoothly here, including flagging posts for moderator attention when they need moderator attention.
    – goldPseudo Mod
    Feb 28, 2017 at 0:01
  • I already briefly explained in the meta why I thought those parts were necessary. And my answer was well received by the rest of the community. So if only this two mods have issue with it, I don't see how this same thread can't be used to discuss just that!
    – infatuated
    Feb 28, 2017 at 3:11
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    @infatuated This meta question is clearly titled and is clearly asking "Who defines what is necessary in an answer?". Expecting this thread to be remotely useful for anything beyond figuring out who defines what is necessary in an answer is a terrible idea.
    – goldPseudo Mod
    Feb 28, 2017 at 3:17

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