The problem:
On Skeptics, the absence of hyperlinks in a post is a good indicator of a low quality question or answer:

  • If the post is a question, then linking to examples of people actually arguing the claim you are skeptical of greatly improves the question by providing greater context and thus leads to better answers.
  • If the post is an answer, the lack of hyperlinks correlates strongly with posts that are based in opinions.

If your title uses words that suggest your question will be subjective, the message "The question you're asking appears subjective and is likely to be closed." is displayed. I suggest a similar message is displayed if someone tries to submit a question that has no hyperlink.

Such a warning would catch at least some of these posts before they get posted.

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    I'd like to see this implemented for answers first maybe. I think it's more important there. For new users, it might be intimidating to demand they immediately start referencing their questions, and from what I've seen, most first questions are already getting pinged for bigger issues than citation. – Dogmafrog Mar 21 '11 at 16:44
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    I agree with @dogma forcing this seems like the wrong solution at the moment. – Jeff Atwood Mar 22 '11 at 11:53
  • @Jeff: For questions only or for answers too? – Borror0 Mar 22 '11 at 11:57
  • I think it's far too early in the life of the site to tell. At least I am optimistic about this site's potential, unlike atheism.. – Jeff Atwood Mar 22 '11 at 12:01
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    Giving a helpful hint wouldn't be "forcing". The user would still have the opportunity to submit his question without a link. – Christian Mar 22 '11 at 18:50
  • @JeffAtwood can we please have this now? I spend half my time here putting "you need to reference this" notices and comments on posts... not a very productive or rewarding way to be here :-) – Sklivvz Jun 22 '12 at 20:46
  • @skl bring it up with Shog in the moderator chat room, discuss it, then propose it on meta.so. But discuss it with Josh first. – Jeff Atwood Jun 23 '12 at 0:00

See also: https://physics.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/564/citations-are-the-source-code-of-physics-stackexchange/568#568

this should be de rigeur on our harder science sites.

Even on sites where the topic is much more subjective (SciFi, etc) we ask that opinions be backed up with facts and references.


Great subjective questions insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references.

Opinion isn’t all bad, so long as it’s backed up with something other than “because I’m an expert”, or “because I said so”, or “just because”. Use your specific experiences to back up your opinions, as above, or point to some research you’ve done on the web or elsewhere that provides evidence to support your claims. We like you. We want to believe you. But like wikipedia itself, {{citation needed}}. And good subjective questions make this clear from the outset: back it up!

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I don't see it really helping things that much either as people are either just going to ignore it, or it will end up annoying people that have a legitimate answer but are referencing hard copy works. From time to time you might see a question come from that is going to get an answer that cites old fashioned books as opposed to journal articles that are online and I wouldn't want to see those answers discourage.

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  • That is true, however it can be easily "circumvented" by pointing at google books ;-) – Sklivvz Jun 20 '12 at 14:34
  • @Sklivvz - True and Google Books is getting better about posting stuff up, but I always tend to be concerned when there are obvious edge cases. – rjzii Jun 20 '12 at 14:44

I don't believe it will work. Either the people get used to it and hit 'OK', 'OK', 'Confirm', 'Enter', "I'm really sure!", which is annoying, or they provide more or less useless links as a form of cult.

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    Or people will stop asking and answering. – Jürgen A. Erhard Jun 29 '11 at 18:12

I challenge the assertion that no citation equates to a low quality post. To date, I have only seen the indication that a no (or low) citation post indicates a low quality post, but an indication is not evidence.

Citations are not how science works. Observation and testing is how science works, and while one may observe by proxy (by citation), it doesn't replace common knowledge of direct observation, nor does a sufficient number of citations make a finding.

I've had posts deleted for lack of citation on the interpretation of an image after pointing out the Kant obvious, interpretation is a personal phenomena, not a fact that could be supported. The reason being that I used logic, not citation.

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  • Skeptics.SE isn't about conducting science, if anything it's against the site rules to base your argument on original research in a similar fashion as Wikipedia, we distill other peoples findings. You (Kant?) saying that could be backed up by research by neural scans or psychology. I'm sure even Kant (like everyone else) has reasoned his way and stated things that we know is false once they were within the research of science, and this question would seem to be. – Kit Sunde Jun 20 '12 at 9:08
  • @KitSunde Kant reasoned that truth is not universal, in the sense that one person's truth cannot be understood by another without the other person being the first person. Goodness and badness must therefore be measured in context, as without the context, one's goodness might be another's badness. The logic is infallible, and is the basis for Game Theory, and entire fields of mathematics based on perception. If you find his logic lacking, please refute it to advance science. Likewise, stating A = A is quite a bit of logic to prove, but no amount of neural scans will do it for you. – user2767 Jun 20 '12 at 9:17
  • This answer really belongs on this question and not here. @EdwinBuck could you please move it? – Sklivvz Jun 20 '12 at 9:31
  • @EdwinBuck What on earth, where did I say neural scans will show that A = A? I don't have the interest in deconstructing that tangent of yours when you ignored my entire point. – Kit Sunde Jun 20 '12 at 9:46

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