In the same question, this answer hasn't attracted a banner about references being needed, and yet this version of an answer received a banner about references. (This answer currently also has received a references required banner, but I haven't looked at that answer closely)

In the answer that didn't receive the banner, I explained in the comments (since mostly moved to chat by mods) my concerns about the answer, and got nothing but abuse (1 2 3 4 5 6 7) from the answerer in reply, with no attempt to improve the answer. The mods seem sympathetic to my concerns (1 2) but haven't added a references banner.

Can someone explain when the references banner applies, and when it does not apply? Are the criteria for it being used arbitrary?


2 Answers 2


I can mainly speak from personal experience, and what I witness of the other moderators of this site.

I spend perhaps 10-15 hrs per week moderating this site. That is split mostly between handling flags, reading meta posts and chat, cleaning up broken windows - and just reading some great thought inspiring questions and answers.

Can someone explain when the references banner applies, and when it does not apply

There are usually 2 situation where I apply that banner.

  1. The answer appears that it is good, feels correct from my own knowledge (limited in some areas - I stay away from those answers) and is worth keeping, if only it were well referenced.

  2. The answer feels wrong, but has received some upvotes - in the sprit of openness I feel that, perhaps my understanding of the world is wrong and that I should allow the answerer to quote their sources - this particular case is one step before it gets deleted by me a day or 2 later if those references are not forthcoming.

Yes, it is somewhat arbitrary. Yes I'm sure I miss some where it should be applied, and I perhaps apply it where it shouldn't. I'm not perfect at this - some busy weeks I rely on the community to flag areas where they think it should be applied, I will almost certainly do so if flagged.

  • Sort of like the "injured enough to need medical treatment, not so severely injured as to be hopeless" in triage?
    – Golden Cuy
    Feb 1, 2016 at 9:24
  • @AndrewGrimm - Pretty much, you got it.
    – Jamiec Mod
    Feb 1, 2016 at 9:35

As an addendum, answering specifically, I've looked at the timeline on https://skeptics.stackexchange.com/a/31538 and I can tell you that the answer was reviewed by 4 mods out of 5 and none of them decided to add a banner. There were multiple flags on it.

In my case, I've edited out the opinion instead of adding the banner, and left a (now deleted) comment.

Regarding https://skeptics.stackexchange.com/revisions/31524/4, point 7 and 8 were evidently not referenced. I would have likely removed them later if references were not added.

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