There are many questions that are valid and clear, but either put on hold and closed. I'm talking about the ones that are usually single-handed closed by moderators. For example:

Why is this question on hold? It is perfectly clear to me what he is asking.

It is clear that some questions involve statements or questions that people find sensitive, especially ones regarding Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). You can't shut down something just because it is sensitive or you disagree with it, if it is a valid question asked clearly.

Other examples of such closure/on hold/downvotes are this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this. They are basically perfectly valid questions that are sensitive to some people.

  • +1: this is a big issue on this site , thanks for putting it up, there are even more cases where entire posts\ questions have been altogether deleted. Do edit the question to include outright deletions
    – Islam
    Jul 21, 2013 at 11:40
  • You brought a very valid point with examples. Some question you referenced got opened yesterday, today they are closed/put on hold again.
    – muslim1
    Jul 22, 2013 at 11:10

2 Answers 2


Since you asked, I have reviewed the questions you linked in light of my experience with similar questions on other religion oriented sites. Please not that although I've lived in the middle east for many years and have quite a bit of experience with Islam I am not really qualified to judge the answers. However I can comment on the format of questions -- and I believe questions should stand or fall on their own right independent of any answers.

Hi Caleb, I see you are the moderator of Christianity SE, could you please take a look at this question and let me know if you think some of them or most of them are valid questions formulated in clear ways but shut down due to its sensitivity? I ask you because you might be more objective when it comes to sensitivity issues. Do you observe the same happening on Christianity SE for example?

About those questions

I'll be blunt. Of the ten examples you point out, only one of them (the first one) is even close to being salvageable. None of the others are even remotely good questions.

In fact I would suggest that the fact that that genre of question (not subject matter, question style) is getting that kind of downvote and close action is a sign that your community might in fact be working as intended. The SE format is supposed to differentiate between quality posts and not so quality posts and in these cases the mechanism seems to be working.

Stack Exchange sites are oriented primarily for experts! They are supposed to be optimized for things that are interesting to ask and answer for people with real knowledge on the subject. Of course people with less expertise are invite to participate, but they are expected to put in some effort on their side to keep the standards high.

Asking good questions requires research. If you hover over the downvote arrow on questions you will see that the hint text for when to use it states:

This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful.

There are of course other reasons for downvoting as well, but it's safe to assume that is a major one. Most of the questions you link to show very little effort has been made to find an answer. They just pick a topic and spit off a question. Even the ones with a little bit more effort are setup in such a way that they are unlikely to be useful as long term reference guides for people with the same question.

The answers on SE sites are supposed to be good for long term reference with a certain encyclopedic quality about them. It is very difficult to answer sloppy and unclear questions with such answers when the first half of your answer has to sort out the basic scenario, correcting usage of terms, finding sources and other things that some basic research on the part of the asker could have done. Likewise questions that are based on a desire to discredit or confuse an issue are less likely to be useful in the long run that ones that are clearly attempting to learn something. All of these and more might be a factor in the downvoting of these questions.

Of the questions that are closed, most of them also exhibit other problems. Besides just the lack of research and poor structure, it is not clear in most of them what is being asked or who the question is addressed. They lack scope or clarity or both.

The majority of the questions you linked to are not closed, but several of them probably should be.

Lastly a note about the "not clear" close option. I have seen this reason objected to several times based on a misunderstanding of what it is. The basic objection usually reads, "But I understand exactly what is being asked, it must be clear." The problem is just because it's clear to you doesn't mean it's generally clear and that a broader audience is all going to come to the same conclusion about the issue. Often times these questions are "clear" to some people because they find them interesting or they relate to some pet-issue of theirs. There is a huge desire to jump in with their favorite explanation. The problem you would find in leaving these open is that they would continue to collect answers as each new person came along and saw something a little different in the question they would be forced to add a new answer that matched what they see in it. The definition of "clear" that you need to keep in mind when closing/editing/opening question is: is everybody coming to the same conclusion about what this question is about and how it should be answered. If no, then it might not be clear yet even if you think you get it.

About the purpose of moderation

Especially during the beta phase of a site, one of the roles that moderators play is in guiding the community by example into recognizing what patterns are useful and which are not. Before the community is going to be able to judge whether a question is ready for prime time or whether it needs to be put on hold pending some fix ups, they need to see the process done. The is one reason pro-tem moderators exist during the beta phase.

It looks like your community here is already downvoting things that it finds not to be useful. As long as it is also upvoting things it finds to be useful this is a good things. My suggestion would be that the community now needs to also take a cue from the moderators and start taking a more proactive role in VTC'ing questions that are not clear

  • +1 Thank you for your answer. @Ifoundthetruth might be interested.
    – user2350
    Jul 21, 2013 at 15:06
  • 1
    But I think, for example this can be answered properly, because there are people in the world who uses some reference from Quran or hadith to justify their actions of violence.
    – user2350
    Jul 21, 2013 at 15:33
  • +1 I really have nothing to add to this.
    – goldPseudo Mod
    Jul 22, 2013 at 23:14

In my view, these questions are closed/put on hold because

  • They bring out sensitive information from Quran and Hadith that are contradictory to mainstream believes.

As an example

  1. https://islam.stackexchange.com/questions/8884/did-the-prophet-treat-all-his-wives-equally

It is generally believed that Muhammad PBUH was an ideal role for Islam. The question depicts and incidence where the model may not be ideal.

  1. Justification for terrorism

This question had -8 votes that speaks about the believers themselves. The OP is asking for Quran or hadith references, and the believers seem to disagree with it. The reason it got -8 votes is because there are verses in Quran and instances in hadith that promote such behavior.

  1. Who is bigger authority, God or the prophet Muhammad?

My own question got -5 votes. This might be unthinkable that Muhammad is greater than Allah. But the question arises a serious point, Allah is just the name used, the real deal is Muhammad. You must obey him not Allah.

  1. https://islam.stackexchange.com/questions/1343/test-for-men-the-covering-of-women

A great conceptual question but ill formatted unfortunately. This can be closed because of no research and poor quality.

  1. https://islam.stackexchange.com/questions/8883/are-there-any-differences-between-muslims-stop-being-believers-and-people-of-oth

Don't think it should be closed. It can easily be answered and really is a valid question.

Now I must also mention that some of the question you mentioned are now open . That is at least a positive sign.

I can prove my point by showing posts and answer that are extremely week but they are neither deleted nor put on hold because they do not have sensitivity in it. Otherwise they are extremely week posts.

Now I must admit they did not close all those type of question, although they did get severe downvoting. This is somewhat perceivable because the believers cannot think anything that could be negative in Islam and would readily declare this as blasphamous and hence downvoting.

Some of them are my own questions by the way.

  • Honestly this sounds like the stuff of conspiracy theories and victim mentalities. Saying things are "clear" and "easy" when people obviously disagree on what they say and how hard they would be to accomplish isn't the way to prove your point. Of course sensitive topics take more care to handle wel, but that doesn't meant they can't be handled. Unfortunately the case studies here don't show extra care being taken when the questions, they show less care than most other upvoted questions on the site.
    – Caleb
    Jul 21, 2013 at 15:39
  • Try this on for size: If the issue in the formulation of the question (as I assert) rather than the taboo nature of the topic (as you assert here) then it should be possible to put some extra care and research into crafting a successful question about these topics.
    – Caleb
    Jul 21, 2013 at 15:41
  • I would be willing to help you put together an example, but in order to do so we have to have a question you actually don't know and want to learn the answer to. Are there any of these subjects that you are actually uneducated about and have a desire to learn about or understand better?
    – Caleb
    Jul 21, 2013 at 15:42
  • @Caleb not sure how well you are informed in Islam. I am thinking you are familiar but let me explain. Islam is a belief. They do not know or have references for things that they practice and believe. Most of the time an Imam or a good Muslim tell them something and that is what he knows. He does not need to go into detail. In fact going into detail may be discouraged. So some of the question here may also lack depth or research, that does not mean they are poor questions.
    – muslim1
    Jul 21, 2013 at 15:44
  • As an example Muslims pray 5 times a day, but how many Muslims know that Quran never mentions to pray 5 times a day? A muslim might ask, some one told me Quran does not have reference for 5 times a day prayer, is that true. In your book it will be extremely bad question and understandably so but for Muslim, it is a typical question. No one ever tell him the inside story. They tell him 5 times a day prayer and it is done deal.
    – muslim1
    Jul 21, 2013 at 15:48
  • 1
    I'm quite aware of these issues inside of Islam. What I'm saying is that this site should not just be "more of the same". You don't want to just scoop up the low hanging fruit. There are a million places to get the same mundane answers to the same oft-repeated questions that lack depth and research. This site should be a place for a different level of Question and Answer. The bar should not be the least common denominator! If I wanted the pat answers I could holler out my balcony and get one from my neighbors or the imam across the street. I would ask here if I wanted something more scholarly.
    – Caleb
    Jul 21, 2013 at 15:54
  • @Caleb If we expect the questioner to do all the research, there is a good chance he may find the answer himself. I think one should not be afraid of such question and any thing that helps clarify a belief or Islamic act is a good question. May be I'll dig in and give you some examples of popular question here which fail your criteria that is research. And they are perfectly fine questions.
    – muslim1
    Jul 21, 2013 at 16:54
  • 1
    islam.stackexchange.com/questions/54/… This is top voted question. I don't thik the OP did any research when asking this question and it is perfectly valid question.
    – muslim1
    Jul 21, 2013 at 16:55
  • @Caleb I agree to you to some extent that certain questions I gave you were not well formulated and some of them lack basic research effort. But my point is that this standard is not uniform across all questions. For example the top voted question obviously also lack research effort, and there are so many that do, but were upvoted instead of put on hold. What I am against is the "discrimination" that leads to different standards.
    – user2350
    Jul 22, 2013 at 14:07
  • 1
    @mezhang If that were really true, why are you only objecting to this end of the spectrum? Why not post and ask why people are upvoting and leaving open other questions that exhibit the same or worse problems? Why complain about the times when the general site guidelines are actually implemented instead of the times when they are not? You seem to be fighting for the least-common-denominator style implementations instead of for high standards. Why not edit to fix these instead of trying to argue that the problems should be given a pass?
    – Caleb
    Jul 22, 2013 at 14:18

You must log in to answer this question.