What common structures and systems exist in global organized religions?

So. This question was pretty extensively discussed yesterday and was significantly tailored from its original form. At one point it had 3 close votes, then after some work went down to two.

I fail to see how this is too broad at this point. It has a defined answer, currently the highest voted answer is what I am looking for, but that does not mean a better answer is not out there. The nature of world-building is that there is usually not going to be a single correct answer.

I fear that either a) people are voting to close things without effectively reviewing them because they already have a couple votes (the first two votes were in before any of the edits were made yesterday), or b) people see religion in the title and automatically think its not answerable.

None of the last three to vote commented, which means the poster (me in this case) does not know their concerns with the post. That's bad form, I understand it is not required but when time has been taken to review and edit a post it is very helpful.

If you truly think this requires some additional attention please advise on why.

Not that I am biased or anything but I think this should be reopened.


For the sake of comparison: What could humans do to render the earth uninhabitable? How is this not more opinion based and broad than my question?

This hopefully illustrates why I am concerned that we may be looking at a situation where close votes snowball once one is cast and we are inconsistent with what we do and do not close.


It is a "list" question, which most SE boards avoid because it is too hard to decide on a single winning answer.

Shame too, because I was interested in the discussion, but I can't think of a way to re-phrase that question to avoid everyone simply chiming in with their answer, leaving a hard-to-vote mess.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ a list perhaps, but a specific list. Asking for common criteria between items A, B, and C may result in a list but it is not an arbitrary list, there is the potential for multiple correct answers but that if that is the criteria we should close 95% of the questions on world-building. $\endgroup$ – James Dec 17 '14 at 16:16
  • $\begingroup$ Note that list questions are not always bad. $\endgroup$ – trichoplax Dec 17 '14 at 17:43
  • $\begingroup$ @githubpagocyte: Thank you for that link. That did clarify a lot. Though I still hold that it is not well formed for SE voting. The link you gave was very insightful, but I didn't see any hints on how to work around the mechanical limitations. Perhaps such questions should include a mechanical "I will select the highest voted answer as the 'correct answer' on MM/DD/YY" to dodge around the single-winning-answer issue? I do not know what other SE forums have done in the past. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Dec 17 '14 at 21:04

Note that lists are not automatically bad. Also although religion is a broad subject, I believe this question now addresses specific practical aspects of organisation, rather than the much broader metaphysical side of religion. I do not personally see the question as too broad, although there may still be ways of clarifying it following feedback here on meta.

However, I do not see a reason for complaint here.

Close votes do not require comments. It is not bad form to close vote without commenting. If the community disagrees the question will be reopened. This is the process working as it should.

A close vote has a reason, and that reason is displayed once 5 votes have been placed and the question is on hold. I'm strongly in favour of giving more detail in the comments, and having wider discussion on meta, but this is not mandatory. Someone voting to close a question without making any comment or meta discussion is still contributing simply by voting, and this is a positive thing.

It can feel very personal when a question you wrote is put on hold, especially when you put a lot of effort into writing it and getting feedback beforehand. It can take an effort to avoid taking it personally, but that effort is worthwhile to promote a positive discussion and improve things further. We are still in the process of refining the scope of the site (to some extent we always will be) and people close voting is what stops the site descending into chaos. Every so often the community will disagree on whether a question is on topic, and the discussion will come to meta. I would much rather these occasional differences of opinion than just letting the chaos flood in.

I like your question, and I hope to see it reopened, but I also want to recognise the close voters as performing an essential service to our community. We're all on the same side here.

  • $\begingroup$ So I added a link and as Tim pointed out to me my question was a little more...direct than entirely necessary earlier. I guess beyond my specific question I feel we are inconsistent with closing questions and it does often feel like we have a snowball effect. $\endgroup$ – James Dec 17 '14 at 17:01
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with you about the snowball effect - a single close vote makes the question appear in the review queue where people are asked to make a decision, so once one close vote is present the question is presented to more people which naturally accelerates the process. It isn't necessarily that people aren't reading it, but that more people are seeing it so votes come in faster. This same snowball effect also applies to reopen votes, and I think it's a good thing in both cases. Questions should be closed quickly, and also reopened quickly once ready. $\endgroup$ – trichoplax Dec 17 '14 at 17:13
  • $\begingroup$ I agree, the process doesn't bother me , but I think we as a group doing reviews need to continue define what does and does not get closed, I don't think we are consistent...admittedly it is difficult to be consistent when you are working with content that is...variable. $\endgroup$ – James Dec 17 '14 at 17:19
  • $\begingroup$ Even our community is variable - we still have new users arriving, and always will. We'll be adjusting forever more... :) $\endgroup$ – trichoplax Dec 17 '14 at 17:40

I have to add these:

What do you gain by reopening?

You claim, that (my) answer is "what you seek for." Although I should say you that "there could be better answer," it is just theoretical possibility. Reopening can bring you nothing

Having "closed" question is not bad thing

You do not lose "internet points" or "online reputation". Anybody seeking for such question can still find it

Religion itself is broad topic

There is loads of books about religion. There is countless amount of books written about major religion. Heck, there is even loads of books about "small" religions, like Neo-paganism, which I am member of. You cannot make it into one question and answer

Question itself does not have clear "winning criteria"

While this (to me) holds true to several more questions here on Worldbuilding, namely the one about Energy weapons or the one about planetary artworks where also any answer can be the winning one, in your case it is "one more drop to the already full glass"

So far, I am for keeping it closed

  • $\begingroup$ What I gain by reopening is the potential for a better, more thorough answer. I generally wait 4 - 5 days before accepting an answer on any question to give people an opportunity to answer. I really don't care about my internet reputation for all I know you are all bots created by the matrix anyway. $\endgroup$ – James Dec 17 '14 at 16:17
  • $\begingroup$ Also. There are loads of books about everything we talk about. This question is very specifically looking at a subset of religions and how they are similar in a very specific non-opinion based way...how much more can the site ask of a question? $\endgroup$ – James Dec 17 '14 at 16:20
  • $\begingroup$ Oh and one more comment. The winning criteria would be the most complete and accurate answer. There is a definable, scholarly answer here. In my mind the best answer to this question would list a set of global organized religions evaluated (preferably widely differing culturally), then comment on what was common in the structure and management of all of them. Bonus points awarded for mentioning how they all differ maybe. $\endgroup$ – James Dec 17 '14 at 17:16

For what it's worth Cort Ammon and Pavel Janicek have covered my main reservations about the question - even after all the edits it's still a list question and it has no clear way of rating the answers.

On the bright side you've restricted it to large organized religions but even that is open to interpretation. For example do you separate Catholics, Church of England, Protestants, Mormons, etc? How about the various sects of the other large religions? New age stuff may not be as monolithic as some but is still international and organized, etc.

Personally I think it now squeaks over the line into acceptable, and would vote to open it if it came up in the queue. I'm not confident enough in it to use my moderator binding vote though. It's very close to the line and I can fully understand mixed voting on whether to close it, keep it closed, or open it.

I notice my planetary artworks question has been mentioned and I had some concerns about that when I asked it. As a result I was careful to give three objective measurement scales (visibility, longevity, clearly-artificialness) by which answers can be rated.

  • $\begingroup$ I guess, and maybe this will clarify my concern, rather than simply vote to close why not comment and help make the question (if it ins't already) better. $\endgroup$ – James Dec 17 '14 at 16:43

I have to admit here to being a non-commenting close-voter in this case; for that I apologise.

I voted to close this question because as it stood at the time I cast my vote (19 hours ago now, approximately 21:00 UTC 16.12.2014, it appeared "too broad". I thought that answers, as the close reason says, would have to be long to properly cover the topic.

In addition, it could easily become a list of answer covering either the same point or multiple different points; this makes it hard to find a comprehensive detailed answer covering everything.

As I'm writing, my close vote still stands (it is currently on hold) and I have not voted to reopen. I would like to see some narrowing of the topic (for example, I would deem the original "global organised churches" more answerable, or perhaps some leads you've already thought of to give answers a place to start and focus on. If some edits are made I will happily vote to reopen.

On that topic, that's why I haven't close-voted the other question you linked. Although it is a broad question, it has given a number of good leads for answers to go from, which leads to reasonably concise answers.

  • $\begingroup$ Wouldn't the comprehensive detailed answer be clearly the best answer? Churches versus organized religions is semantics and the concept I am looking for is further defined in the question. What kind of additional focus are you looking for? Thanks for posting. $\endgroup$ – James Dec 17 '14 at 17:12
  • $\begingroup$ @James, I disagree. Churches is one religion; religions implies many. I agree that you have explained the concept of what you're looking for, but I'd look for more exactly what aspects of the organisation: are you looking for how many admin people it has, or what the hierarchy structure is? $\endgroup$ – ArtOfCode Dec 17 '14 at 17:26

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