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I recently closed a question which raises an issue we've only just been skirting around.

Remember that the purpose behind an "Islam Stack Exchange" is to build a compilation of knowledge about the subject of "Islam" — You cannot reasonably hope to cover any possible questions of interest to Muslim *users*.

So why does this matter?

Sometimes it is easy to forget not to treat this forum like a general support group… covering anything of interest to the Muslim community. Some questions are only tangentially-related to the subject of Islam. Try not to turn this into a issues or political forum, or a place to ask "What do Muslims think about [X]?" We are not not here to discuss Islamic countries or their conflicts nor are we here to solve the world's problems from an Islamic prospective.

This is a site about the subject of Islam — and creating a great canonical Q&A resource for those who come after.

Staving off these "extra curricular topics" is an issue we've dealt with for a very long time; wow going back for at least 3-4 years. It started as the "Favorite soft drink of programmers" problem on Stack Overflow. Yes, Stack Overflow is a site for programmers, but you could not reasonably expect to form a Q&A site around any question of interest of programmers. The site would soon become about anything — all you have to do is append "…for programmers" to the end of any question and, poof, it becomes on topic.

Not so.

The whole point of these sites is to form a community around specific topics. There's nothing more toxic to a community than not being able to set boundaries around it. If you allow discussing everything, you have allowed discussing nothing. That's why we shy away from these extra-topical questions.

When the work of Q&A is done, we have a proverbial 3rd place to chat with fellow Muslims about these other topics that interest you. But a focused Q&A community cannot form around “let’s just talk about everything we're interested in." It won't work.

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  • Thanks for the explanation. I didn't intended to go out of scope. I will think to see I can improve the question to make it in the scope for the site.
    – Kaveh
    Jun 26 '12 at 0:59
  • 7
    @Kaveh Not to overstate the issue, but if it isn't an issue covered in by the Qur'an or other canonical teachings, it isn't likely related to the subject of Islam. Jun 26 '12 at 1:06
  • I see what you mean.
    – Kaveh
    Jun 26 '12 at 1:07
  • What is your question? Why are people upvoting this? On stackoverflow this will be downvoted as well since there is no question here. Jul 11 '17 at 8:26
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I frequent other SE sites that could easily turn into collections of personal advice if allowed. But they don't.

A large percentage of the questions I've seen here on Islam.SE would be quickly closed on those other sites, and I've been somewhat amazed that they are tolerated, and even encouraged here.

The answers to questions should be presented as if they were written by knowledgeable atheists.

As a general rule, questions shouldn't ask anything that couldn't be answered by a hypothetical non-religious encyclopedia that contains sufficient knowledge.

Questions that contain "I", "me", "my", etc., or are otherwise anecdotal, usually receive down-votes and comments suggesting that they be rewritten as objective questions.

Even in Christianity.SE for example, questions must not be of the form "Why did God …?", or "Did Jesus really …?". Instead they must be asked objectively, such as "Why do Catholics believe that God …?" or "What is the scriptural support for the idea that Jesus …?".

Similar rules against personal advice are used on the medical and psychological sites too.

Islam.SE is a long way from that, and it would take a lot of time and effort to switch, but the site would become a much more valuable resource, both for Muslims and for curious non-Muslims.

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As Salaamu 3laykum,

I feel that any topic that ties to Islam should be allowed to ask. Why come to this site when there are already hadith and the Quraan online already. People come to ask questions in which then those who answer will use the primary sources to derive an answer out of. That is why we are here, to help all people.

And if you are a Muslim then all questions will be tied inherently to Islam. Furthermore, people asking questions which might seem to us as a peer support might be in reality be their need to know the boundaries set by Islam in order for them to reach their answer.

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