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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
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 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. Commented Jun 26, 2012 at 1:06
  • I see what you mean.
    – Kaveh
    Commented Jun 26, 2012 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. Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 8:26
  • @CodingYoshi This is meta.islam.stackexchange not islam.stackexchange just like there is meta.stackoverflow and stackoverflow
    – Stranger
    Commented Nov 3, 2022 at 21:01

2 Answers 2

1

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.

-2

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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  • who answer will use the primary sources to derive an answer out of. oh, that's what scholars do... not random strangers on a website. That is literally what a fatwa is, deriving an answer/ruling out of primary sources (Quran, hadith, etc., under the light of an usul). We are here to convey rulings and verses and hadith. We aren't here to help questioners. That's not what stackexchange is. We are here to have a high-quality library of Q&A aimed primarily at helping future visitors and secondarily helping the questioner. Commented May 8 at 7:21
  • @SyedM.Sannan As Salaamu 3laykum, if its a complex question then a scholar would be needed. However, there are QA that a scholar is not needed for. Furthermore, conveying rulings has to be done appropriately as well. You must know the person & their circumstance and if the ruling would apply to them or not. According to your logic then a scholar must do that too. So what is the purpose of Islam Stack Exchange then? What does a library of QA even mean when there are no answers. The visitor would be then better off going to Islamqa , askimam or islamweb sites instead.
    – Ahmed
    Commented May 9 at 11:58
  • To understand the point, I think you should visit another site of this network like StackOverflow. That should convey the aim of the network much better as people on Islam StackExchange don't even know the rules most of the time and ask/answer off-topic questions. Secondly, complex and basic rulings both require scholars, a layman has no ability to even distinguish between what is a request for ruling and what is a request for fatwa, you need talib ul ilm for even that. So this site effectively serves as a library for reliable Islamic references, contents, and such, and not for persona- Commented May 9 at 12:39
  • l advice for the users. Commented May 9 at 12:39
  • Also, wa'laikumussalam warahmatullah akhul kareem. Commented May 9 at 12:40
  • For personal, situation-specific advice they actually ARE better of going to the other sites. Commented May 9 at 12:40
  • Remember, we aren't here to help the questioner, the questioner is just the means. We are here to help future visitors get answers to generalized and not too-specific and non-opinion-based answers to questions. Commented May 9 at 12:41
  • @SyedM.Sannan It seems we both have differing views. Even on this site or any other forum based site (reddit, stackoverflow, quora) you will find people who are not experts giving answers to a variety of questions. Furthermore, basic questions do not not need expert answers in my opinion. If you look even through Islam StackExchange there are is an old member who provides answers to questions that are not just for Islamic references. For personal questions to there could be better answers here by people who have experience and knowledge and combine both.
    – Ahmed
    Commented May 10 at 13:47
  • Means to what? Moreover, who will determine what is a generalized not "too specific" question. Even on like islamqa they have varying answers at times as well. Even if there are varying opinions that is the beauty of Islaam. One who is right gets two reward and one who is wrong after due diligence still gets one reward. This site also should provide a means to all people. Granted that those who ask should remember that the people answering are not all scholars or students of knowledge. However, if relief is found Islamically here then why close the door? Have a good day. Wa 3laykum As Salaam.
    – Ahmed
    Commented May 10 at 13:55
  • The rules will determine that. The rules are so specific and disciplined that you usually won't face an edge case, and in case you do, there's a flag for "moderator intervention". As for the "beauty of Islam" stuff, I am not reading that part because this site is not to showcase the beauty of Islam or to give people dawah. This site doesn't exist to serve Islam, it exists to serve general academics and provide authentic, properly resourced answers to questions regarding Islam. Sad that most people don't understand that. Commented May 10 at 14:03
  • So, with the case of this website, even non-muslims can write answers regarding Islam and if they are properly resourced and contain relevant content, and NOT personal advice, then they are equally as valid as Muslim answers. Once again, the site is not about serving Islam but creating a library of reliable data to be used later on by visitors, and other systems alike. The same applies for every site in the StackExchange network. Commented May 10 at 14:05
  • SECONDLY, I must specify that StackOverflow (and the complete StackExchange network) is NOT a forum. This is so important and emphasized by the creators of this site, the general community, and others. This was never meant to be a forum at any point of time. IN FACT, it was meant to precisely not be a forum and not questioner-centric but more so future visitor and business-centric. The opinion I hold regarding the site is objectively the correct one as it is what the founders intended and the users do to this day. We can disagree, sure, but you can't expect to last without normally answer ban. Commented May 10 at 14:07
  • You are seeing this site as an alternative of islamqa, it's not. Islamqa was made by people to serve Islam, it's rules were made for the intention as well. This site's networks' main management are non-muslims who don't care about Islam specifically but simply to curate a platform full of high-quality, reliable data. This is not reddit, nor quora, nor any "forum". This site is, rightfully so, less about people and more about data. It is straightforward with its goals. Commented May 10 at 14:10
  • @SyedM.Sannan, zdnet states: "What is Stack Overflow? It's a public forum where you find answers to questions about computer programming from colleagues, peers, and experts worldwide." No matter what you feel, this site is a forum based site. Questions are given and answers are provided with no restriction on who is giving them. Furthermore, the are comment boxes provided for back and forth discussions just like any other forum based site. Second, we as Muslims always serve Islam. Please remember that. From what you eat and what you type here is in the boundary and service of Islam.
    – Ahmed
    Commented May 10 at 14:25
  • When it comes to intention here is a quote by one of the founders of stackexchange, Jeff Atwood. He said "Stack Exchange was always about designing software and creating recipes for self-governing communities who love a particular topic." So Islam StackExchange is self governing and should be used to serve Islam. When a question is asked it should be answered with a high quality answer.
    – Ahmed
    Commented May 10 at 14:31

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