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I am a user (read reader) of many SE sites and what I like about every SE site is that over time, the cream rises to the top. By that I mean that the people who are most knowledgeable in their respective fields and the ones who are inclined to help each other become the top answerers.

The same thing has happened here at Islam.SE as well but one thing is quite different from other sites: At other sites, normally the people who ask questions are the ones who are a little low on points which means that normally these are the users who are learning things and are getting advised by professionals. This is a normal trend and is perfectly logical. The different things here that I have been noticing for last 2-3 weeks here at Islam.SE is that the questions are being posed by top users and being answered by top users as well.

This brings me to my main concern. Most of these questions are asking for explanations about certain beliefs of other top users' sects. We cannot say that these questions are entirely useless however, if a newbie visits the site, he sees a very worrying front page. Look at the following image: Four out of the eight questions are exactly what I am talking about. I am pretty sure that this kind of front page will stop new users asking questions because they will consider it a site that promotes sectarianism.

Can't we as a Muslim community stop doing this? And instead welcome people who are less knowledgeable about Islam to this site?

Here is what I suggest:

  • Answer the questions explicitly stating that to which sect this point of view belongs.
  • Don't downvote other sect's answer just because it doesn't adhere to your beliefs.
  • Avoid commenting on another sect's answer based on your own beliefs.
  • Let people know about different views of Islam and let them decide themselves.
  • Don't mock or belittle another sect's beliefs.

SnapShot of Front Page

I know this is more of a suggestion than a question but for the health and prosperous future of this site, we need some radical steps like this.

  • You came at a "bad" time -- we had a splurge of these questions in the last day or two. This is not normal for us. – ashes999 Sep 19 '12 at 13:57
  • just a note: i doubt most (if any) of our high-rep users consider themselves "experts" or "professionals"; the fact that they are still asking a majority of the questions just means that we're setting a higher bar for ourselves than we've already achieved. – goldPseudo Sep 19 '12 at 21:28
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As you've said,

At other sites, normally the people who ask questions are the ones who are a little low on points which means that normally these are the users who are learning things and are getting advised by professionals.

What I see here is Shia' Muslims asking questions to Sunni Muslims and vice versa. Some of the Shia Muslims have high rep because they're answering questions from a Shia perspective, and similarly with Sunni users. So it may look like high rep people replying to questions from high rep people, but either side might not be knowledgeable in certain segments (like the perspective of another sect).

Most of those questions aren't "sectarianism"; they are people asking questions to the opposite sect. It's exactly what the Q&A model was designed to do.

5

I don't think any of the steps you suggest are radical at all - in fact most of them are already in play, if not strictly enforced. All the suggestions you mention have been brought up in previous meta posts.

As for the recent Sunni-Shi'a questions - I think it's a not entirely bad outcome of having some new Shi'a users who play well and respectfully with others, thereby inviting a lot of genuinely curious questions both for them and from them. On some level this may not be ideal, but as long as we maintain decorum and genuine curiosity which shows through the language used, we should be OK and this particular topic will pass over pretty soon.

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Even I thought about it sometime back that this is getting more of a exchange of ideas and practice.

May be I am a little off topic but I have also noticed that this particular SE site can be a little dangerous if not guided and managed correctly. For instance I was looking for more of an authentic advice from the Aalim-e-deen over uncommon issues as simply quoting references from Hadith and Quran not always gives us the right understanding as many a times it has more in depth meanings and situations related to it. I am waiting for some real change. InshaAllah.

  • 1
    You seem to be new at Islam.SE! First of all, welcome. I have to completely agree with you. But, I have to give you heads up that this is not an Islamic site. There is every probability of getting wrong or not useful for you advice here. The model here is that every answer wrong or right is considered an answer if it is backed up by evidences. And voting decides the best answer. There are no Aalim-e-deen here. If you ask my personal advice, I wouldn't learn the deen from here. – Abdullah Sep 30 '12 at 12:09
  • So two ignorant voting for something wrong would make you believe that is the correct deen? No brother – Atif Imran Sep 30 '12 at 14:49
  • Oh I am so sorry brother, I missed the NOT in your last line "wouldn't". Yes exactly you are correct. But I would like to see in SE something that can be used or put together to provide the correct guidance towards learning. – Atif Imran Sep 30 '12 at 17:01
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    Atif, In my opinion, as far as Islam is concerned, the traditional way of learning works the best. Online learning is a bit dangerous especially when everything is anonymous and you don't know the person who is teaching you. – Abdullah Oct 1 '12 at 8:44

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