Islam StackExchange Website

Islam.StackExchange.com is a new site in the StackExchange Q&A Network, specialized for questions and answers about Islam. The general features are:

  • The content is under a creative commons license.
  • The site depends on reasonable and robust reputations and privilages system.
  • Posts are rated collaboratively by the community.
  • Answers are rated by their content, not  authors.
  • Site is improved and customized by community ideas.
  • The site is managed and driven by the site community itself.

If you like these features, don’t continue reading, just go signup and start contributing! If you have some questions, however, you may find answers for most of them below. If not, you can leave your question in a comment, read the FAQ, or post your question on the meta.

Who owns the site?

StackExchange Logo

The site is part of the StackExchange Q&A sites network, originally founded by Joel Spolsky and Jeff Atwood. It began as a single Q&A site for programmers called StackOverflow, which achieved great success and became the top programmers site across the web. Realizing that success, the founders launched another site, Serverfault, and then a third one, SuperUser. When they saw it always succeeds, they decided to create the StackExchange Network, which works by proposing a Q&A site about a specific field/major topic by anyone; when there is enough community crowded aroud the proposal, a beta site is launched; if the beta was active enough it graduates to an “real” Q&A site. Islam.SE is now in its beta version, which was launched more than 120 days ago, it has a good and promising activity and almost achieved the basic requirements for graduating, or at least not being shutdown.

What is the license of the content?

Creative Commons Logo

The license of the content is the CreativeCommons-Attribution-ShareAlike license, so the site owners don’t have the right to احتكار the content. Anyone can dump all the questions and answers in the site (keeping the conditions of the license) at anytime. And on that basis users contribute.

How do Network owners benefit from it?

Beside being fond of making the web a better place, they do earn money. For example, the network sites have ads in their pages, but they’re really not annoying at all (and fewer ads are displayed to active users). The network contains much non-religious and non-technical sites, for example, there are sites for a cooking, bicycles, science fiction, and the like! The network currently includes more than 100 sites (beta and release).

Who moderates the site?

Moderators and top-contributing users.
Top users have enough privilages that allow them to guide the community, they can, for example, vote to close or delete a question (these actions require 5 votes to apply), they also can edit any question or answer (of course, the previous revision is still available, it works the wikipedia-way), they also have other useful privilages.
Moderators have higher privilages that allows them to take more serious actions, such as temporarily freezing a user account, or locking a question so that it’s no longer editable, beside other privilages that require high community trust.
There are two types of moderators:
– Network-appointed moderators, those are employees in the StackExchange Network, they highly understand how the network works and what’s accpetable/unacceptable… etc.
– Elected moderators, those are elected by the community in regular elections, in which top users are مرشح and users with enough reputation elect.

What’s the meta?

It’s a subdomain of the site where site-specific subjects are discussed, i.e, questions and answers in the meta are NOT about the religion of Islam, but rather about the Islam.SE site. It discusses, for example, new features, new style, what’s on-topic and what’s off-topic in the site… etc. The most active discussions on the meta are viewed as a community bulletin in the main site to bring users’ attention to them.

What’s reputation? and what are privileges?

A user’s reputation is “how much active and well-contributing the user is”. It’s the result of others’ votes on his posts (questions and answers). The better his posts are, the more upvotes he gets, and the higher reputation he has, consequently.
The higher reputation a user has, the more the community tursts him, and hence the more privilages he has in the site, for example he becomes able to edit questions and answers, add or remove tags, vote to close a question… etc. In other words: privilages depend on reputation, and reputation depends on contribution.

How are unreferenced or personal-view answers treated?

These are supposed to get no upvotes, contradictory they’re supposed to get downvotes, we’re trying to make this a convention in the site.

What questions are off-topic? and what happens to them?

Off-topic questions are questions that are:

  • abusive and offensive, such as: “Why Muslims are terrorists?”, This is likely to be deleted.
  • Too broad, such as: “What is Islam?”, this is likely to be closed becuase it’s too broad and impossible to be answered in a single answer!
  • Subjective and Argumentive, such as: “What do you thing about sth?”, this usually leads to endless and useless arguments and is likely to be closed. This of course doesn’t include questions that ask about sect views about something, such questions are totally acceptable.
  • List-style questions, such as: “I need a list of Tafseer books”, this is off-topic and is likely to be closed, the site is not a list of all things, besides that there might be disagreement about the list (among sects, for example).

There might also be other off-topic questions, but these are the common examples.

Can we depend on other sites while answering?

Yes but under some conditions. The site should be dependable, for example, not a forum or google ansewrs or the like. It should be trustworthy and specialized site, or at least mentioning an authentic reference.
And, of course, the answer cannot be a simple link, you should explain inside of the answer, and then cite your answer with the appropriate links.

What questions are on-topic?

All questions related to Islam, including Islamic rules, Tafseer, Fiqh, even questions about the religion of Islam (asked by non-Muslims, for example), all Islam-related questions are on-topic.

How are questions categorized?

Mainly by tags, as you can put up to 5 tags for each question. These tags represent the topics the question is about. For example, a question like “Difference between Saddan and Suddan?” is tagged: quran, qiraat, arabic, qaloon.
If you want to see all questions tagged “Tafseer”, you can simply click on the “Tafseer” tag and they’ll be displayed to you.

How is an answer rated?

By upvotes and downvotes that users cast on it. So if I put an answer (or a question), others will see it and vote on it.
Rating should depend on how useful and authentic the answer it, an answer that gives a complete answer and is packed-up by references and evidences is most preffered by users. Whereas an answer that تستهزء the question or the OP is downvotes or even deleted, also an answer that mention reference but doesn’t really answer the question is downvotes because it’s not really relevant. This is what we’re trying to نرسخ in the site so it becomes authentic and doesn’t turn into a mess.
We don’t want people to throw unreferenced answers (like a pre-made recipe), like they do in much other sites across the web where the answer comes in the form of “That’s haraam (forbidden), this is what Sheikh SomeName said” without mentioning any evidence on his fatwa! this is not respectful to Muslim minds.

What difficulties is Islam StackExchange facing currently?

Two difficulties:

  • References and citaion: we are trying to نرسخ the importance of authentication and references in answers, an answer without reference or evidence should never be acceptable, the site doesn’t accept personal-view answers.
  • The lack of specialisits, i.e, scholars and students.

How do I sign up?

By clicking the sign up button, an then choosing any OpenID of the available ones, after that you’ll be able to sign-in using that OpenID. For example, if you have a Google Account, you can sign up using it, and then sign in with it. That’s much easier than having an account and a password (like what you have in forums).

Why don’t users have to show their specialization?

Because that’s neither important not can be verified. We don’t want votes to depend on the degree and knowledge of its author, but rather on the content of the answer itself and how useful, correct, and authentic it is.
Of course, if a user turns up to be really knowledgeable (through his answers), we’ll be interested in knowing his specialization, and that might make him more trusted. I.e, his contributions supported how trusted he is and *then* we looked at his degree, and not the reverse.

Does the site provide any sort of personal communication among the users?

Not really, the site doesn’t encourage strong personal relations among users (probably to prevent lobies). There is, however, an open chat that everybody can join.

How much time does it take to participate?

If you are asking, too little time! else it depends on your knowledge, a person how doesn’t know how to search Tafseer books will need no short time, whereas a Tafseer scholar or student shouldn’t need much time, and a person knowledgeable in tafseer might need only the time of writing the answer, as he may already know where exactly to find the answer in the references!

What do I need to participate?

Basically you need to “Be Nice!”; be a kind, non-extremist and discussion-accepting person, of course there is no automated test for that in the site, but you need that to be able to “live” in the community of the site and benefit/contribute from/to it.
Also you need to be interested! You don’t have to participate intending only to answer, in fact it’s very nice to join becuase you have questions that you like to get answer to, and in fact good questions receive great respect and activity.
The site is not becoming more active, and questions are becoming more useful, they need users who really can answer.

But the site is English, and most scholars don’t speak it well!

Most of the users are not native English speakers. You don’t have to be an English expert in order to participate, you just need to make the simple sentences that you need to express the meaning, Islam-specific idioms are few and you’ll get used to them very fast!
As for Quran Translations, the community mainly depend on quran.com, which provides Uttuman-script of quran with many translations. As for Hadith, the community mainly depends on sunnah.com which provides a good amount of Hadith books such as Sahih Bukhari, Muslim, Sunan Ibn Dawuud, Tirmithi, Nasaai, Ibn Majah, and others, with translations for every hadith.

Hoepfully this post encouraged you to participate the site and help building it, apparently it will be the electronic gate of Islam for both Muslims and Non-Muslims.

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