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This bothers me a lot on this site - the vast differences between the OPs and their questions correspondingly.

While answering questions I'm trying to match my answer level to the OPs and if a newcomer asks about the bases of Judaism I'm not gonna present him with a Machlokes of the Rishonim.

However, the comments to my answers show that some expect the answers to be on the same level as asked by a pro. And that's a big dilemma for me - I can either please the OP or the rest of the community.

So I'm asking on advice - should we match the level of the answer to the level of the OP or should we answer all questions to the best of our knowledge?

  • I thought we had this question already here on Meta, but can't find it now. – msh210 Apr 20 at 21:43
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    Why do newcomers not deserve to learn about a Machloket Rishonim? I don't understand your example. – Double AA Apr 22 at 1:21
  • @DoubleAA It is a known tendency of the newcomers to seek clear cut answers. Presenting it as a Machlokes show we don't know the answers and people got greatly disappointed in Judaism(from my first-hand experience). – Al Berko Apr 22 at 8:52
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    @AlBerko in my experience lying turns people off more than knowing Jews think deeply about things. Life is complicated and someone who's not ready for that isn't ready for life let alone Judaism – Double AA Apr 22 at 11:18
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    @DoubleAA It's like when your spouse asks you if you love her. In the beginning, you have to say a firm yes and years later you start bumbling – Al Berko Apr 22 at 11:26
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    @AlBerko please don't compare Judaism to a messed up marriage. That's not the way we do things. And please seek help from a marriage counselor if you need it. – Double AA Apr 22 at 11:27
  • @DoubleAA Do we have a Judaism counselor onboard? – Al Berko Apr 22 at 14:38
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It's up to the answerer if they want to match the answer to the asker's level, or to also extend their answer to a broader audience.

In general, the purpose of Stack Exchange is to create a library of good and high-quality Q&A for everyone; not only for the asker but also for future readers.

That's also the reason why SE allows multiple answers on the same question. For technical questions, there are possibly many ways to solve an issue. But for more theoretical questions (like on this site), multiple answers are generally encouraged as long as they are not a duplicate of another answer and also adding new insights (significantly) to the existing answers (either by extending or contrasting them).

Then in an ideal situation, the voting will indicate which answer is the most helpful/useful according to the community or public (contrasting the accepted answer for the asker only).

It's actually possible to cater an answer to a broad audience by using general-to-specific/deduction approach: composing an answer starting from a general/broader topic (i.e. the overview), and then moving on to the specific topics (i.e. the details). With this approach, newcomers can follow the answer starting from the basic, while more advanced readers can skip the basic but still getting new insights from the detail on the topic. Of course, there's still a balance between the length (up to 30000 characters)/detail where the answerer needs to know when to stop...

  • Your last paragraph is especially important. We should make answers accessible even if that means starting from some basic principles, but that doesn't mean we should omit information we would have otherwise included. It all comes down to how you structure it. – Monica Cellio Apr 22 at 1:29

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