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The Stack Exchange model is one of community; the community asks questions that are of interest to itself, and they are answered by those of the community who can, ideally those who have encountered this similar issue and can speak from experience or knowledge (or both).

Unfortunately, the site seems to have built up a strong counter-current against this methodology; while questions from all walks tend to be upvoted and encouraged, there is a very prevalent attitude against answers from these same users; this has grown into a rather severe gap between those who ask questions, and those who answer them.

This especially (but not exclusively) takes the form of the "all answers must contain references" mentality that pervades the site. Unless we're expecting all users who ask questions to have access or willingness to research all information, and expect them to expect the same, it is counterproductive.

While it may be a viable model for the typical IslamQA-style question and answer site, which is built around a particular scholar (or group of scholars) and explicitly open to questions from anybody, I do not feel it is at all viable for Stack Exchange. If we're attracting users with one hand while pushing them away with the other, I doubt we will ever end up with a stable enough community to get out of beta.

Rather than differentiating between the "asking" community and the "answering" community, we need a community of people who can simultaneously ask questions of interest to their peers and who can answer the questions of their peers, if we hope to succeed.

We cannot cater to everyone; not even all Muslims (see also: Islam.SE: Not an Muslim Peer Support Group). Attempting to do so will only make this site less cohesive and potentially drive away those users we actually want to be building a community of.

So in the interest of getting everyone on the same track, whatever that track may be, I lay the question thus: What is the community we're trying to build here?

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    I don't quite understand the issue. Who are we pushing away? We are not expecting askers and answerers to research all information, we are expecting a basic referenced answer. While unreferenced answers are poor answers, they are not invalid. – Muz Mar 20 '13 at 9:57
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    I have no idea what you're trying to build here, but I can see that it has become a site which only allows islamic specific questions, i.e. no questions about personal problems, no questions which could result in debates. And where the answer can only be based on authentic references from quran/hadith/fatwa, where the answers based on personal opinions only, are frowned upon. – oshirowanen Mar 20 '13 at 14:54
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    @muz I have seen too many questions showing little to no research effort yet earning no criticism and large amounts of upvotes, but answers showing the same level of research effort get criticized, downvoted and flagged. We can't build a strong site if we're inconsistent with attracting the core community; I'm asking this question as much to get a canonical answer to point to "This is what we're trying to build". – goldPseudo Mar 20 '13 at 15:02
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    @oshirowanen: There are lots of places online to debate and plenty of other venues for personal problems. I think the Stack Exchange model is a good fit only for the "islamic specific questions" part. Is your comment in approval or disapproval of this state of affairs? Perhaps that could be the basis for a full answer? – Caleb Mar 20 '13 at 15:05
  • @goldPseudo, it's a good question. Would love to see the chosen answer as soon as it's known. – oshirowanen Mar 20 '13 at 15:20
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    @Caleb, personally, I am leaning slightly in approval for how the site currently is, as in Islamic specific questions only with quality answers based on authentic text references. However, if this style is stopping the site from growing, then clearly something should be done about it. – oshirowanen Mar 20 '13 at 15:27
  • Please elaborate everyone? – Bleeding Fingers Nov 26 '13 at 16:58
  • @Caleb what "Islamic specific personal problems"? That after all is a subset of Islam specific? – Bleeding Fingers Nov 26 '13 at 17:00
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Most religion-based communities are very emotionally charged. They accomplish very little with the forum model because there will always be a few emotional types who steal the attention and drag people into arguments. The SE model works superbly in filtering out the aggressive, emotional types, and bringing up the

We seem to be hitting a niche with people who are more academically interested in Islam. I'm reluctant to say that Islam SE is a site that attracts experts, but we at least attract people who are smart enough to do their own research and aren't afraid to review the evidence.

It's normal that answers will be subject to stricter standards. They are, after all, worth more rep, and a bad answer can be misleading.

However, I think questions here need to be given stricter view as well. Most of us upvote almost every question as a good one, as long as it has some basis. However, some questions are very easy to google and should be downvoted.

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