Is Tolkien's Dwarvish really based on Hebrew? is a recent, interesting question, especially once the asker edited to expand upon the question. The answer, to quote it here, is

Yes. According to this interview with Tolkien, he really did design it to be Semitic. He says,

The dwarves of course are quite obviously, wouldn't you say that in many ways they remind you of the Jews? Their words are Semitic obviously, constructed to be Semitic.

In other words, he did design their tongue to be very like the Semitic language, possibly since their history resembled that of the Jews.

Mithrandir (not the fictional Mithrandir, our site's Mithrandir) said

Could you please expand on this answer to show more similarities and how it's demonstratively similar, instead of just relying on what the author said?

And I feel like this is a point that should be discussed. Yes, the the answer answers the question. But, does it really deserve 8 upvotes? It doesn't go in depth into the similarities and why we believe there's a match (beyond "Tolkien says so").

This is why I want to propose that answers should be "the best possible", providing detail beyond just a yes, no, or maybe so. Further, while upvoting (please upvote, early and often, as many beta metas say) consider why you are doing so.

(Note that this is definitely not to call out the answerer in that case; I feel like I've seen this a couple of times.)

  • 1
    Yep. Good answers justify their claims. An appeal to authority is never as good as an independent justification.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Feb 8 '18 at 13:33
  • 2
    @curiousdannii That's not entirely accurate. For some cases, WOG statements like an interview with Tolkien himself trump any analysis that might be done. For example if he says "I was inspired by Hebrew" and some linguistic scholars say "It has about as much in common with Hebrew as it does with Swahili" he still was inspired by Hebrew.
    – corsiKa
    Feb 8 '18 at 21:24
  • 1
    @corsiKa Very true. Which is probably mostly why I tended to disagree with Mithrandir's assessment. If (since) Tolkien himself said, "Yes, it is," I see no reason why further argumentation is required. Sure, it could make the answer better, which I am all for, but not necessary. That said, I'm willing to change my philosophy if someone can show me otherwise. :)
    – rotaredom
    Feb 9 '18 at 14:36
  • Here's my thought on the situation @rotaredom - we're in beta. We're setting the tone of the site. If you can make the answer better (which you admit following Mithrandir's advice could do), why wouldn't you? Feb 10 '18 at 14:07

I agree with this, and I have a couple of additional points I want to make. I hope you'll hear me out.

I haven't yet asked a question on the site, and because of that (and the fact that we're still in private beta), going to the Ask Question link gives me a nice little bit of advice. I've been through something like a dozen private betas, and, for the most part, asked questions on each one, but I still read this little spiel every time around. The last paragraph of it has always stuck with me:

You get the site you build

The first questions set the tone and topic of a site for a long time. Those early questions say a lot about what your community could become. And questions asked during the private beta will be on the front page when potential experts see your site for the first time. So please make those first questions exemplary ones that are interesting, challenging, and worthy of imitation.

If feel like a more generic version of this geared towards both questions and answers would make a really great bit of recommended reading for a private beta. All the posts we write at the moment set precedent, and assuming that we make it out of private beta - not that we should assume that - they'll set the site's course for years to come. If we write awesome answers, then folks down the line will be encouraged to do the same. If we write crappy answers, then we're not going to get anywhere. Fixing that sort of problem is hard.

As an example, I'd like to mention that there's a Stack Exchange site (I won't name it) that I use a lot. I really enjoy writing answers there. I've been on it for several years, although I missed its birth by about ten months. After a while contributing, I looked back at the earliest posts. And . . . many of them were not good. At all. And that's kinda frustrating. Did the site get better? Yes, eventually, because people who were motivated to write fantastic posts came in. But things could just as easily have gone the other way. That's why this is an important issue.

That's Point #1. Point #2 is that the quality of an answer is just as important as the content. I've only written three answers because it's taken me kind of a while to write them. (Part of that is putting in effort; part of that is that my knowledge in certain areas is incomplete.) In two cases, before I'd finished writing, other folks had written answers with, to some extent, the same information.

You could make a case for one of two actions: Posting the answer, or not posting it. In both instances, I chose the former, because I felt that my answer was more complete, or made a different argument to support the conclusions. I say this not to toot my own horn - honestly, maybe my answers were crappy and not worth posting; I'm not an impartial judge - but to try to not discourage people if they run up against a Fastest Gun in the West situation.

Just because someone writes an answer doesn't mean that yours can't be better. Even if they got a bunch of quick upvotes, you still might have something to add. Is this always the case? Definitely not. I've aborted a couple of answers here because even though I was close to finished, someone else wrote something great. And of course an answer that just duplicates another probably isn't worth anything. But I want people to know that there's always room for another answer, so long as it brings something substantial a new to the table - new information, a new view, a new rationale.

  • Lol. Can definitely identify with "other folks had written answers with, to some extent, the same information." It's happened at least three times now... BTW, did you mean "former" in the first sentence of the second to last paragraph?
    – rotaredom
    Feb 9 '18 at 14:33
  • @rotaredom Yep, you're spot-on. Thanks for the correction.
    – HDE 226868
    Feb 9 '18 at 20:16

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