Intrigued

Mild Confusion Over On-Topic Rules

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My confusion relates to the application of Rule No. 5, in the Guidelines, specifically the part in bold:

" Stay on topic. Posts should be relevant to the discussion at hand. This means that you shouldn't use scientific threads to advertise your own personal theory, or post only to incite a hostile argument."

In the thread Religious Diversity and Biblical Explanation (Christian Apologetics) swansont made the following moderator intervention: " The question posed by this thread is why religions are diverse. It is NOT an issue of the "correctness" of any religion, and further discussion along those lines will end up in the trash."

That seems straightforward, however, the deviations from topic stemmed from and were maintained by posts from the OP. So, am I correct in thinking that threads may not deviate in a slightly different direction based upon the wishes of the thread originator? That seems a bit draconian as the OP has some investment in the thread and might wish to develop it in further directions, as long as these didn't break other rules. If that is the rule, fair enough, it's just that I'm sure I've read some threads that ran on off-topic for several pages without being brought into line. Hence my confusion.

To summarise, I'm asking two questions. Can the OP extend the scope of the thread as the discussion develops? Is the rule applied consistently?

Thank you in advance for any illuminating replies.

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Posted (edited)
16 minutes ago, Intrigued said:

am I correct in thinking that threads may not deviate in a slightly different direction based upon the wishes of the thread originator?

Discussion is organic and threads deviate all the time. The idea is to try to avoid that, and consistently work to tether all posts to the actual OP topic. 

16 minutes ago, Intrigued said:

 That seems a bit draconian as the OP has some investment in the thread and might wish to develop it in further directions, as long as these didn't break other rules.

You’re aware that you can create a new thread to explore that specific (and separate) topic, correct? Better still, you can even link to it by adding a post to the previous:

“This item is off topic, but interesting. I’ve created a new thread over here if you agree and wish to explore it further with me. (Link)”

If that’s too draconian for you, then frankly your feathers are far too easily ruffled. 

Edited by iNow

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5 minutes ago, iNow said:

Discussion us organic and threads deviate all the time. The idea is to try to avoid that, and consistently work to tether all posts to the actual OP topic. 

As I said, fair enough.

5 minutes ago, iNow said:

You’re aware that you can create a new thread to explore that specific (and separate) topic, correct? You can even link to it from the previous. 

“This item is off topic, but interesting. I’ve created a new thread over here if you agree and wish to explore it further with me. (Link)”

If that’s too draconian for you, then your feathers are too easily ruffled

Yes, I'm aware of that. I may not have expressed myself clearly. Who gets to decide what the thread is about, the OP or the moderators? By (apparently) extending the scope of the example thread the OP implicitly stated "This material is also relevant to the OP". In this specific case that implicit wish was made partially explicit by the inclusion of the word "Apologetics" in the thread title.

Now, it seems reasonable to me that an implicit wish, on the part of the OP,  is insufficient to permit the deviation. It seem equally reasonable that an explicit statement by the OP that such and such a matter is relevant to the thread should be accepted and that material not be considered deviant. However, I recognise that it would be perfectly sound to hold a contrary view on the last point. I think that's what I'm looking for some guidance on.

Sorry if I ruffled your feathers with the use of the word draconian, it's just that there seem so few opportunities to use it and it is one of my favourites. :)

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19 minutes ago, Intrigued said:

Who gets to decide what the thread is about, the OP or the moderators?

you, if you do the steering. :)

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It's not strictly that the discussion was off-topic, though it was.

"My religion is the correct one" violates rule 2.8, namely Preaching and "soap-boxing" (making topics or posts without inviting, or even rejecting, open discussion) are not allowed. So the discussion strayed into an area that we're not going to tolerate, regardless of how we got there.

 

37 minutes ago, Intrigued said:

 Who gets to decide what the thread is about, the OP or the moderators? 

The OP does. And the OP is within their rights to point out if some tangent is not something they wish to discuss, if it is indeed a tangent and not something needed to support their thesis. But defining the scope of the thread is usually laid out in the first post of a thread, assuming enough detail has been provided (some discussions are too open-ended for this to hold). It can be later clarified, but if a different discussion is desired, a new thread should be started.

Mods are within their rights to narrow the scope of a discussion if it's necessary to keep it within the rules and goals for the site.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, swansont said:

It's not strictly that the discussion was off-topic, though it was.

"My religion is the correct one" violates rule 2.8, namely Preaching and "soap-boxing" (making topics or posts without inviting, or even rejecting, open discussion) are not allowed. So the discussion strayed into an area that we're not going to tolerate, regardless of how we got there.

Aha! That's an entirely different matter. Had I been aware of that reason I probably wouldn't have been mildly confused. Thank you for the clarification.

Since my questions are now answered and my confusion removed the thread could now be locked.

Edited by Intrigued
Suggest thread closure.

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37 minutes ago, Intrigued said:

Since my questions are now answered and my confusion removed the thread could now be locked.

unless someone Has something to add. ;)

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19 minutes ago, dimreepr said:

unless someone Has something to add. ;)

Which would necessarily be either repetition or off-topic! :-)

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4 minutes ago, Intrigued said:

Which would necessarily be either repetition or off-topic! :-)

Well steered

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