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What is our attitude toward questions of the following form?

Multiple paragraphs describing a cool idea I had for interpreting something in the Torah.

Do any of the commentaries support this?

Here's the recent example that directly inspired this question, but I'm sure I've seen (and think I may have posted) others.

On one hand, permitting such questions could be dangerous, as it would seem to open the site up to people using it to publish their personal ideas about the Torah in as much detail as they please, as long as they tack on a pro-forma question coda at the end. In addition, it seems to be a close match, formally to the "just a rant in disguise: '______ sucks, am I right?'" type of subjecting question that our Help Center says to avoid.

On the other hand, such questions could result in valuable answers that cite interesting sources that confirm, deny, or put a different spin on the idea at hand. And, asking for sources in the commentaries is a bit more substantive and objective than simply asking "am I right"?

So, should we allow such questions?

Assuming the answer's not binary:
Where should we draw the line between "statement with a slightly rising tone at the end" (not allowed) and "genuine question that happens to contain possibly-original ideas of the author" (allowed)?

  • Similar: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/30837 is "Halacha books rule contrary to what I think the halacha should be. Why?". – msh210 Oct 14 '13 at 18:15
  • judaism.stackexchange.com/q/27676 and judaism.stackexchange.com/q/27193 are good examples of the type of question asked about here IMO. Was that your intent too, IsaacMoses? – msh210 Oct 14 '13 at 18:24
  • @msh210, I think "why don't they agree with this logic" is clearly in, as it's trying to understand the reasoning behind cited decisions / common practice. That would apply to both 30837 and the first sub-question in 27676. The second sub-question in 27676, if it was asked by itself, would be a good example of what I'm driving at here, but in context, it's (at least partly) asking for confirmation or denial of an assumption embedded in the first sub-question. – Isaac Moses Oct 14 '13 at 18:27
  • Didn't we have this meta question already? – Seth J Oct 14 '13 at 23:13
  • @SethJ, if you find it, by all means, please dupe this. meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/1081/… comes to mind, but that's a different issue. – Isaac Moses Oct 15 '13 at 2:43
  • That's probably the one I was thinking. – Seth J Oct 15 '13 at 12:25
  • This is not always a problem. Sometimes ypu have a good svara against a known opinion and you needs support from Rishonim or Acharonim – kouty Sep 23 '16 at 12:35
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    Evidence of research into the existing meforshim may give a clue to the seriousness of the question. So a requirement might be "I have checked meforshim aleph to zayin and their interpretations are on the following lines." – Avrohom Yitzchok Sep 28 '16 at 20:44
  • Perhaps this is a special case of "What does Judaism think of X?", with the possible significant distinction being that it takes a while to say X. – Isaac Moses Dec 27 '16 at 20:08
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Although this kind of question seems to me to not be a good fit for the se system in general, I think it's a great use of judaism.se resources and a strong example of how specific stacks might allow different questions that would be out of place elsewhere.

As for drawing a line, it seems to me that a question that is basically "is this my chiddush or did somebody beat me to it" is generally good.

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    Could you please edit in more on why you think this type of question is a great use of MY resources? What is your approach to the proposed danger of MY becoming a place where people just post their chidudshim and add a pro-forma "Does anyone say this?" at the end? – Isaac Moses Oct 14 '13 at 19:42
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    @IsaacMoses I can think of very few other website resources that would be equally suited. Ultimately it is a question - "does anybody hold this way?" It seems analogous to, say, "has anybody documented a list sorting algorithm like this before? Is it efficient?" Would such a question not be a good fit either? Would it run a similar risk? Is "here is my chidush" really so much worse than the questions regularly entertained that ask from a secular or academic basis? We answer those too, and those aren't even based in Jewish tradition. Maybe I'm way off base though, I don't know. – yoel Oct 14 '13 at 22:13
  • I don't know about your answer's second point, and the first point seems to hinge upon it. As for the example in your comment, no, it isn't a good fit as written, because it asks two questions: has it been done, and is it efficient, when the core question is just the latter. – Seth J Oct 14 '13 at 23:18
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    What does no other site having this service have to do with our offering it? – Double AA Oct 15 '13 at 2:13
  • A Gemara said in BB Chacham adif minavi. I thing that effectively, sometimes it may be of good taste. When people want only to show their Chiddushin, we can distinguish this (I must confess that I have no criterion) – kouty Sep 25 '16 at 15:10
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I think these type of questions should be discouraged for two reasons.

  1. It is very close to being a riddle (use your knowledge to answer a question the OP thinks they already have an answer to), which is off topic. At the very least, it is a 'source this' request. (I myself am guilty at times of asking for a source for a forgotten idea I've seen, but I understand it is at least discouraged here.)

  2. From my experience, most people either won't accept that the source says what they did, or will too readily twist a suggested source to appear as if it says what it 'should'. Neither of which is helpful.

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I think these questions fall under the tag. The tag description reads:

Questions seeking sources for a given practice or idea, or seeking the location of a specific source.

Whether that tag deserves to exist is a discussion of its own, but i think the questions you're asking about here should have the same rules as any other source-this-idea question.

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    Whether the tag should exist is not the same question as whether the questions it's on should exist. The question you link to discussing being rid of the tag, not of the questions. – msh210 Dec 19 '16 at 9:06
  • @msh210 I know. I'm saying that if (A) these (sources) questions are appropriate for MY, then (B) these (find my dvar torah) questions are also. As for whether A is true, see the other question. But either way, B is dependent on A. – Scimonster Dec 19 '16 at 9:09
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    "As for whether A [that 'sources' questions are fit for MY] is true, see the other question." No, that question is only about whether the questions so tagged should keep their tag, not whether they should exist at all. – msh210 Dec 19 '16 at 9:12

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