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12:33 AM
Useful advice for future discussions:
Ok; for future reference, always discuss specific posts in context - with links. For general policy/etiquette discussions you can omit links if sufficient examples are provided, although links still help if it's not a well-known issue. — Shog9 2 hours ago
2 hours later…
2:12 AM
@MonicaCellio To add to that: it's usually considered polite, when discussing a specific post on meta, to add a link to the meta discussion as a comment on the post being discussed.
@Shog9 good point. The author hasn't been back, but do you think I should do that now for the sake of other readers (if any)?
2:33 AM
@MonicaCellio Can't hurt.
@Shog9 done.
I didn't do the reverse link (from meta to the question). Given the way the discussion has gone, should I do that too?
3:02 AM
@MonicaCellio Up to you; are you more interested in discussing that specific answer, or on hashing out policy for editing in similar situations in the future? If it's the former, you should definitely add a link - otherwise, you're essentially asking readers to take you at your word regarding the relevance of that paragraph to the rest of the answer and the question itself.
(Even if you're right, that's not really a fair discussion)
@Shog9 I would love for us to work out an editing policy. I have tried to raise that before and feel I've been kind of shut down on that. I asked this question to address one question where I thought some progress could be made in the meantime, so I'll go ahead and add the link. That's more valuable than averting any bad feelings of the OP at this point.
@MonicaCellio IMHO, you should always strive for transparency - of course there are situations where it isn't fair, polite, or necessary to identify a specific person, but when you're discussing behavior you can link to examples of that behavior without explicitly mentioning the person behind it. When you have to resort to discussing specific problems in abstract, the opportunity for miscommunication is much greater.
@Shog9, I don't know if it has crossed your radar before, but I would be interested in your take on my answer to this question -- also the question and answers in general, but my answer in particular:
A: Guidelines for editing others' answers?

Monica CellioAs noted in the question, the goal of editing a post is to improve it for the sake of all readers (present and future) without doing violence to the author's intent. Editing should never change the fundamental meaning of a post. However, if editing were meant to be done only by the author, then ...

@Shog9 that makes sense. My initial concern was about the OP feeling like we were calling him out (rather than his answer). As you know, folks here have widely-varying perceptions about new users and given the way those discussions have gone in the past, I guess I was a little on-edge. But it's past time to cross-link the answer and the meta post, which is now done, and let whatever happens happen.
@MonicaCellio Yeah; you absolutely want to avoid ever posting anything to the tune of, "What should be done about John Smith's terrible answer?" - but there's no harm in asking, "What should we do about answers that go off on rambling tangents and only address the question in passing?"
@Shog9 yup. I personally take the view that if I posted something publicly on the internet, then I should not be surprised by discussions of it and it'd be nice to know about them. I think you and I are on the same page there. I understand that others think new users are more fragile and I was trying to honor that (though it's not a perspective I share).
3:18 AM
There's no harm in being nice to people, but that doesn't extend to sheltering them. Also, talking about folks behind their backs isn't very nice, even if you don't mention them by name.
I absolutely want to be nice. We also sometimes need to be firm. And therein lie different thresholds for the one at the expense of the other.
@MonicaCellio Something about this answer... And the one you posted on your newer question... Grates on me a bit, although I'm struggling to explain why.
I agree with most of it, there's just...
> Editors should bear in mind the question "does this change make the Biblical Hermeneutics site better?".
I think that's the wrong question
Not that making BH better is a bad thing
But it's sorta too broad for the context you're asking it in
Rather, editors should bear in mind the question, "Does my edit make this post better?"
@Shog9 maybe I skipped a step -- by making this post better we also make BH better. Isn't one of Stack Exchange's goals to make the internet better? That's what I had in mind when I wrote that. I didn't anticipate that it would grate.
@MonicaCellio Sure. By brushing my teeth in the morning, I make America better by reducing the amount of halitosis. But, uh, that's not really on my mind at the time.
Like I said, I'm having a bit of trouble finding a way to capture what's troubling me; that's an illustration, but it's more that I think it leads down a troublesome path
I would like to understand what is troubling you, if you can find the words.
3:29 AM
> This should be edited out. If it doesn't bear on the question we would normally leave it alone (see "anecdotes" above), but doctrine is inherently personal and opinion-based, so all it can do is reinforce those who agree and antagonize those who disagree. In the Pastafarian example above I argue for editing even though it touches on the question; how much the moreso should we edit in the case where it doesn't even do that. Gratuitous personal opinion stated as fact never improves an answer.
@MonicaCellio ^^^ An edit like that is bound to be controversial unless you are able to make it with a surgeon's precision and a politician's tact. That doesn't make it a bad edit - but it does mean that, at least some of the time, you'll find yourself having to defend it (whether from the original author, or from other readers).
There is a tendency that I've observed elsewhere to try and sidestep these discussions with hard rules on what, specifically, can or cannot be edited. Thereafter, it is thought, we can simply refer dissenters to The Rulebook and leave them to fume in silence.
A very simple example on Stack Overflow would be editing out signatures and greetings. A more relevant example would be editing in citations on Skeptics.
Both of these, simple as they are, have been controversial at times. However, what you're describing is much more complicated than either one of those.
I think this is what bothers me about
> Editors should bear in mind the question "does this change make the Biblical Hermeneutics site better?".
@Shog9 true, and anyone making an edit should expect to have to defend it. (That's not what usually happens here; instead they get rolled back by a mod.) I have been trying to urge folks here toward "community norms" of good behavior, not hard-and-fast rules (we're too young to write those well). I think we can make incremental improvements, not make the best the enemy of the good, etc. Does my post sound too rules-ish? How should we resolve this kind of controversy?
@MonicaCellio Too rules-ish is a good summary. I worry that, by taking the focus off of the post, you may inadvertently find yourself making edits that disrespect individual authors, rationalizing that they make the site better even as they frustrate members of that site. But moreso, I worry that you'll find yourself deferring to a previous argument - made without the context of specific posts or edits - in case where you have to deal with a specific author, post and edits...
@Shog9 I didn't follow the "but moreso" part of that. The first part makes sense and I thank you for it. (I intend to edit that answer, probably tomorrow, taking into account your feedback.)
3:51 AM
@MonicaCellio sorry, got called away and didn't quite finish that thought; my concern is that you're trying to lay out rules for (at least) 5 different contexts, without any real-world examples for any of them. So all of the discussion, all of your arguments for/against... They're using hypothetical examples, which are great as a thought-experiment, but won't necessarily serve you well when you are faced with an actual post that doesn't map as cleanly to them.
4:03 AM
In the more recent discussion - with a real-world example - you quoted Grace Note's advice on insults and offensive language, which was a response to your example of a post that was 'referring to a person, a source, or an idea as "stupid"'. However, this was not what the answer in question actually did. You saw it as comparable, but this wasn't necessarily the intent of the author... Or even the interpretation that would occur to other readers.
The offensive language there was, I think, more subtle - and also less obviously tangential than your "story about a professor" example.
@Shog9 ah, I see. Thanks. (I have real examples for some of them, but was trying to lay out a spectrum.) I hope to rework my answer tomorrow to make more clear that I'm aiming for guidelines, not hard-and-fast rules.
@Shog9 we can never know an author's intent if he doesn't share it; we can only evaluate the artifacts. This one is more subtle than it first appears, yes. It's an irrelevant opinion phrased in an unhelpful-at-best way.
I think one area where @JackDouglas and I disagree is on whether, while things are being resolved, offensive language should stand or be removed. I think a better outcome of this case would have been to leave my edit and invite the author to discuss, rather than leaving his original text to stand while we wait around for him to come back (or enough time passes that we give up -- it took three months with another recent case). I want to err on the side of civility, Jack on the side of no change.
I'm going to have to drop off now, but I'll catch up with anything you leave here for me in the morning. Thanks for your help @Shog9.
@MonicaCellio I'm updating my answer to address the specific context; feel free to comment there or ping me tomorrow.
@Shog9 thanks. TTYL.
9 hours later…
1:21 PM
If anybody with some Hebrew knowledge would like to chip in to make this better:
A: Is the name of Prophet Muhammad mentioned in the Bible?

CalebQuite simply, no. The claim in the video series you linked is patently ridiculous.1 What is being claimed? The argument presented in your videos is based entirely on the following passage in the Old Testament book of Song of Solomon. Song of Solomon 5:16 (ASV)2 16  His mouth is most sweet...

It would be great to follow up the generic argument about language with a specific one about the words in question.
1 hour later…
2:29 PM
Funny event. I was typing a comment somewhere else, and looked back to give it a quick proofing. It was a TinyMCE-style editor, but I had formatted my entire comment using Markdown without thinking.
@Caleb How about this: According to Gesenius (the standard Hebrew Grammar), the respectful plural is quite foreign to Hebrew. The "let us" passages of Genesis, which many take as plural of majesty, Gesenius takes as self deliberation.
3:12 PM
@FrankLuke Thanks, that's helpful. Am I correct in understanding that the root מַחֲמַדִּ֑ is being translated 'lovely' and the suffix in the contextual form of מַחֲמַדִּ֑ים makes it 'altogether lovely'?
3:33 PM
@Caleb That is correct. The root means "precious thing, desirable object, etc." The plural in this case is for intensification ("very, most, exceedingly"). Both the concept and grammar complement the line above. "Very sweet" is one word, ממתקים, the root ממתק means "sweet" and the plural makes it "exceedingly, very."
Hebrew poetry utilizes parallels. It often repeats the first thought in the next line. With the first line ending with "sweet," the next ending in "lovely" follows. They can also break that with a contrast (Proverbs contrasting the wise and the foolish), but the context will make that clear.
It would be very odd and jarring to end one line with a common noun and use a proper noun in the parallel.
@Shog9, thanks for the updates. In light of what you (and Grace) have said about limiting edits in these cases, could you comment on this edit, which I had seen before making mine? There are certainly problems there, but should that one be revisited? If so, care to take a crack at fixing it?
@FrankLuke Thanks for the confirmation. I have edited that into my answer. I also credited you, so you might want to make sure I got it right :)
@MonicaCellio Did you see Shog's edit? I think the major difference between the thing you ripped out and the think Jack ripped out is that one was specifically based on a personal attack citing one user on our site as the only instance of a problem. The other is dealing with ancient history and generalizations. Rather than removing it (and removing the OP's original point with it), it could be cleaned up with just some wording fixes as Shog demonstrated.
3:54 PM
@Caleb Good job, and I agree with what Frank said.
@Caleb Thanks. It looks good. One thing I've wondered about this passage before is the pronunciation. מַחֲמַדִּ֑ uses a hard kh sound as the second consonant. That can often slip to a simple h if the speaker or listener isn't careful (the similarities in the sounds of an aleph and an an 'ayin are even closer). Mohamed is commonly pronounced with the soft h. Does Arabic make a difference in the hard h and soft h?
@Caleb The other is dealing with a method used by one user here, so it could be edited to remove the name and talk about the process. Also, that particular person has said here that he derived the method himself, so whle "invented" is inflammatory, that could be recast. I'm saying that the paragraph that Jack removed could be cleaned up, like Shog did with Peter's, and I'm asking for confirmation of that.
If I were writing Mohamed in Hebrew, I would us a hei instead of a cheit. But that's just based on how I usually hear it.
@FrankLuke I wondered about that too. I've always heard a soft 'h' in Muhammad, not the gutteral cheit.
1 hour later…
5:08 PM
@MonicaCellio The situations are similar, although I tend to agree with @Caleb that the explicit calling out of another member of the site is what made the removal necessary. It is possible that it could have been edited as well, but there I think the reference to another user's work / actions demand a citation in order to avoid offense - just as if you were criticizing someone on Meta without any evidence backing up your allegations.
@Shog9 Help me understand. If an insult is generic we should make the smallest possible edit to fix it (e.g. removing a word like "absurd"), but if the insult is specifically to a member of the site, it should be removed wholesale rather than fixing it? I'm not trying to be beligerent; I'm trying to understand what seem to be different norms for my edit and Jack's. Shouldn't Jack have made a more surgical edit, based on what you're saying?
@MonicaCellio heh... What I'm getting at is that when it's someone who stands a good chance of actually reading the answer, it becomes a rather more urgent moderation issue and delicacy becomes less important. I rather doubt the unnamed intertestimental jewish scholars insulted by the text we discussed yesterday will be reading BH answers in the very near future, but Bob might.
Now, if he'd referenced a specific answer or answers, that could've easily been reworded to simply say, "I've observed this technique in the answers of Bob, for instance ..., ..." (or some such) and leave the reader to judge. But without actual evidence, it then becomes an unsubstantiated slight against another active member of the site, something which is not at all unlikely to create a more severe moderation issue if not nipped in the bud.
@Shog9 they won't be, but (to go back to an earlier point) it was cast as an attack on Jewish scholars and we do have some of those. I mean, Martin Luther isn't going to visit the site either, but I imagine we would want to delete something like "Martin Luther and his school espouse a totally ridiculous idea X".
@Shog9 so linking to specific answers would be fine? Ok. I mean, I'm fine with that, but I'm not Bob. :-)
Why would linking to another answer be a problem? I mean, unless you introduced it in an overtly insulting manner ("Unlike that idiot Bob in his wretched answer <...>, I believe that ...") - I think judicious cross-links strengthen a site.
@Shog9 well, the link would be in the context of criticism (which of course has to be appropriately worded). As I said yesterday, you put it in public, you should expect feedback (and the civility that we demand), but I have the impression not all agree on that. Maybe my perception is off; that'd be nice.
5:22 PM
@MonicaCellio Well, there again you have the opportunity to remove adjectives without impacting the meaning of the text itself (unless the text is actually wrong in which case you're probably better off just keeping your name out of the revision history)
@MonicaCellio I think as long as it's on-topic and constructive, criticism is fine. Obviously, throwing in links and associated critiques where they are irrelevant or where the criticism is irrelevant is different, and may be seen as harassment
@Shog9 ok. I'm trying to separate "wrong" and "rude", though both apply here. We agree that rude adjectives should be removed, wrongness in general should be addressed in comments and votes, but I'm not real clear on what we should do about the specific flavor of "wrong" that is false attribution.
Ok, so for example: if you post an answer and I think it's wrong, writing my own answer and referencing yours along with a critique would actually be preferable to commenting in cases where a lengthy treatment of the subject is needed.
Whereas, if I then go off to some unrelated question and answer that, including a paragraph that slams your answer in as a tangential item... That makes no sense. It is at best wrong, and probably rude.
@MonicaCellio How do you mean?
If I claim that someone said something, I should be expected to provide evidence of this. A citation, a link, etc.
Whether or not my claim should be removed is separate from this expectation however.
@Shog9 Does it depend on whether the claim is "so-and-so said this word means X", versus "so-and-so says the law requires us to eat a live baby every morning for breakfast"? Assume so-and-so said neither of those.
@Shog9 agreed.
@Shog9 and agreed here too.
If I go onto meta.BH and post, "Monica claims all Christians are actually lizardmen from outer space!" - that's trolling, an urgent moderation issue, and must be removed quickly. If I post an answer somewhere that implies someone, at some point in history, thought God was actually a lizardman from outer space... That's probably less urgent.
You can allow folks to be wrong if they're not actively causing severe amounts of discord.
@Shog9 ok. And just to be clear, we are only talking about the subset of wrong that is wrong attribution. People are allowed to be wrong on the internet. Everybody here probably thinks everybody else is wrong most of the time; comes with the territory of a site like this.
5:35 PM
So, yeah: in terms of urgency, your Martin Luther example probably falls somewhere left of center in the range of [some ancient Jewish scholars <-----------------------> an active member of the site]
More specific, but still unlikely to actually read the post himself and ragequit.
(also extremely well published, and therefore has supporters well-positioned to refute any false claims)
Ok, so what I'm hearing is that the handling of false attribution depends on "site harmony", on whether members of this site will be upset, at risk of rage-quitting (something I think we've been spared from so far, yay), etc, but other than that we let such claims stand and be challenged, other than any offensive-description editing.
That would be my take. But then, site harmony is my first concern ;-)
5:51 PM
@Soldarnal @JonEricson, @JackDouglas, I wonder if this question could somehow be improved. It is entirely subjective, requesting opinion. I'm not sure that is the kind of question you would not want to model for others. It seems it could be tweeked somehow.
1 hour later…
7:08 PM
@MonicaCellio I don't know much about Hebrew, but there are some common sense language issues that come into play and with half a brain you don't need to know an original language to spot when something is that much of a stretch. It just doesn't make any sense.
@FrankLuke I think the answer to that is yes, but my Arabic is only a smattering.
@Caleb yeah, I was nodding along before even getting to the Hebrew-specific part.
7:41 PM
@MonicaCellio Just so you know, Martin Luther could be a real jerk at times and probably did espouse totally ridiculous idea X at some point. ;)
Since we are a non-Christian site, we even have room for people who say that Jesus was not always right either.
But it makes me think that the problem with attributing absurd ideas to Jewish scholars is that it smacks of anti-Semitism. Is that part of your complaint?
@JonEricson an anti-semitism argument is too narrow; I think a slam against Jesus should be offensive to Christians, and we already know how Muslims feel about slams against Muhammad. The problem isn't that it's anti-semitic; the problem is that it's unnecessarily rude.
@JonEricson that's good, 'cause while I try to just avoid answering questions where that would come up, I can't say it'll never happen...
7:57 PM
@MonicaCellio Well, you did answer my question about Jesus disrupting the temple:
A: Did Jesus have the legal authority to cleanse the temple?

Monica CellioTwo-thousand years ago a rabbi was a teacher and advisor but not, by himself, a legal authority. Questions of interpreting the law were argued in rabbinic courts, study halls, and ultimately the sanhedrin. The talmud is in large part a written record of those arguments. A typical argument migh...

That was my big opportunity to be offended. ;)
@JonEricson well yeah, but did I say anything bad about him?
@MonicaCellio He probably acted illegally. (I don't dispute that, by the way. If he was who Christians believe he was, he would have acted on a higher authority.)
But I know you well enough to know that you would not purposely cause offense. That answer is a real asset to our site.
@JonEricson or the written accounts don't tell the whole story, or he had an unrecorded dispute with the sanhedrin about the law, or...
@JonEricson thank you. And I only attempted an answer at all because it asked for facts -- the law -- and not a judgment about the person (which would probably be a bad question).
@MonicaCellio Right. But I know that some Christians (even people among my friends and family) would be deeply troubled by the question to say nothing of the answers. In fact, I ask such questions to keep myself honest and because I believe the truth is not to be feared.
8:14 PM
@JonEricson we've had visits from people who can't abide anything but their own view of the truth, and of course I've met them elsewhere, so it's certainly true that some will be bothered by the question. I hope that, among people who aren't bothered by the question, my answer doesn't cause offense. That's what I strive for.
@JonEricson I'm also glad that you're here, secure enough in your faith to ask challenging questions and engage in the discussion.
@MonicaCellio I guess, what I'm saying in a round-about way, is that I'm a believer in the principle that "at the length truth will out." When I asked the Jephthah question, I figured there would be answers that simply assumed that a Biblical hero would not do such a terrible thing as kill his daughter. It's nice to see that answer just languish at the bottom of the pile.
8:48 PM
@Shog9, here you go. I made it a second answer because while the position hasn't changed much, the presentation is pretty different.
A: Guidelines for editing others' answers?

Monica CellioPreamble: what are we trying to accomplish? The goal here should be to establish guidelines, not hard-and-fast rules. Rules will never cover all cases, and if we devolve into arguing about whether something violates Rule 42, subsection 17, paragraph 6 instead of engaging with the thoughtful use...

2 hours later…
10:20 PM
@Sarah It's not the best question I've ever asked, but I'm not sure a question about literary genre is "entirely subjective."
11:03 PM
@MonicaCellio I'm with you right up to the section, "Ok, but what about strongly-held personal opinion ("doctrine")?"
Are you saying that strongly-held opinions simply should not be expressed in answers? (and, therefore, should be removed if included?)
> This is the form the edit eventually took. It took five days, after waiting for the author to weigh in. Nobody meant to offend here; we're seeing the effect of unchecked assumptions. It happens a lot here.
This sounds like a rather severe communications breakdown to me; what was the hangup?

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