How should the community handle responses that some see as patently wrong to the point of dangerous, but others see from some other position?

To use a hypothetical posting situation with respect to an occasionally flaring up controversy, vaccines will yield this result. If an answer advises that someone shun Vaccine X because of Risk A cited in Study B, how should opponents of the view handle responding? Generally, most people on here are neither doctors nor public health pathologists, so should medical advice be dispensed to begin with?

The standard options are flagging, commenting, and/or down-voting. And massive editing, which is a whole other thing.

The practical difficulties will stem from being able to have a dialog where bad answers can be properly addressed, keeping bad questions/answers from attracting a bunch of attention, misinformation clarified; but ideally speaking there is actually a certain value to having the bad answers in place as mile-markers of where some bad information got put up and was corrected.

How should the beta treat answers of dubious origin and mixed value?

  • The questions is unclear. I can't figure out what you're asking.
    – Borror0
    Commented Feb 25, 2011 at 15:20
  • @Bor an analogy might be if someone puts up advice that would lead to food poinoning on Cooking. How should skeptics.se manage situations where an answer gives a problematic answer that is on one side of a debate, where the people on the other side see it as an inherently dangerous suggestion. The difference is that there is no debate about eating raw chicken, whereas avoiding some vaccines might be seen as reasonable in certain circumstances.
    – mfg
    Commented Feb 25, 2011 at 15:29

2 Answers 2


It's not any different other Stack Exchange site: if there's a bad answer, downvote it, leave a comment explaining why it's wrong, and write a better answer.

  • So if someone proposes something "I" consider inherently dangerous, flagging is not appropriate? Personally I wouldn't do that, but it seems likely that if someone is saying "don't vaccinate your kids it leads to X" that someone will flag it rather than correct it. This question is just seeking a precedent on that.
    – mfg
    Commented Feb 25, 2011 at 15:39
  • 1
    @mfg: Flag it for what? There is no flag option for "dangerously bad advice." Even if it gets flagged, it's unlikely a moderator would do anything about it. Bad advices should be downvoted and corrected, not censored.
    – Borror0
    Commented Feb 28, 2011 at 7:56
  • I agree. You correct spelling and formatting errors, assuming the writer agrees to your intervention. No? You flag poor questions, which are pure in that they are unclear, ambigious, off topic. I don't really understand why one downvotes a question. An answer is downvoted if it misses the question, or is the wrong answer. Commented Mar 8, 2011 at 6:50

We need to understand that in some cases, there will be conflicting answers. Moreover, none of the conflicting answers is necessarily bad.

This situation will arise on questions where there's not enough scientific evidence to support any particular view. Even then, it's often possible to make an educated guess of what is true and what is not. The result of such guessing depends on which a prioris we have. At times we will disagree while everyone's position will be logically valid, given certain a prioris.

Whenever we disagree with an answer, the best course of action would be to analyze its logic and assumptions, and criticize the point we disagree with. I think a skeptic should do this always, not only on Skeptics.SE. This makes it possible to carry on discussion while disagreeing.

Of course, on the Internet you often see answers that are just lazy, and that constitutes a bad answer IMO. They should be downvoted.

  • Indeed, downvoting is strongly encouraged here.
    – Borror0
    Commented Mar 24, 2011 at 9:43

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