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This answer cites the Institute for Historical Review, a holocaust denial organisation.

I flagged the answer, and got

declined - a moderator reviewed your flag, but found no evidence to support it

Why is citing (probably knowingly citing) holocaust denial sites as a reliable source in an answer regarded as acceptable behaviour?

Screen shot

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  • I was the mod who took this action. I posted a comment with it, which I assume you can see, but I don't know the interface well enough to know where. I don't remember the exact wording. Something along the lines of agreeing it was vulgar, but not against the rules. – Oddthinking May 3 '16 at 6:00
  • @Oddthinking See the screenshot - there's no comment. – Andrew Grimm May 3 '16 at 9:19
  • :-( Well, I feel foolish for typing it in then. – Oddthinking May 3 '16 at 11:05
  • @Oddthinking no worries, it'd also explain why you couldn't find it while writing the first comment to this question. – Andrew Grimm May 3 '16 at 12:20
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    @Oddthinking the only way to save a comment is to choose "other" as the rejection reason. I checked at the db level and there's no comment on that flag. – Sklivvz May 3 '16 at 21:08
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I'll answer it looking at existing reasons to delete the answer.

My personal opinion is that answers such as these do not add anything worthwhile to the site, hurt the sites reputation, and should be deleted.

Flag Reasons

I think regarding flagging, there are two options that can be considered:

very low quality This answer has severe formatting or content problems. This answer is unlikely to be salvageable through editing, and might need to be removed.

I'm not really sure how that flag is handled, but I doubt that it applies here.

rude or abusive A reasonable person would find this content inappropriate for respectful discourse.

The applicable policy would be:

Bigotry of any kind. Language likely to offend or alienate individuals or groups based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc. will not be tolerated. At all. (Those are just a few examples; when in doubt, just don't.)

In it's original format, I would probably have flagged the answer for this reason. The notion - based on antisemitic conspiracy websites - that "Zionists" funded Hitler's rise to power, as well as the linking of antisemitic conspiracy websites without providing context, seem to be able to likely alienate individuals based on the categories listed in the policy.

With the update, I think it's still a bad answer, but it's more difficult to argue that the answer violates the policy.

What else?

I think that a notice could have been added to the post, for example this one:

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

The notice specifically mentions reliable sources, which antisemitic conspiracy websites are not.

In this case, the two sentences and their sources could also have been deleted, as they do not answer the question (the question is about Hitlers support of Zionism, not about "Zionists" support of Hitler).

And as always, downvoting is an option, which seems to have worked well in this case.

Conclusion

In this case, the sources could have simply been removed as off-topic.

In general, I think that a point can be made that holocaust denialism - depending on the exact context - may violate policy and should be deleted.

If this does not happen, a notice could be added and the answer could be downvoted.

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    If this were a programming web-site, links to anti-semitic nonsense would be totally inappropriate, and I would agree with your assessment. However, distasteful as they are, questions about the Holocaust and the Nazi's actions against the Jews are legitimate fodder for Skeptics.SE. We can't simply ban links to anti-semitic conspiracy web-sites any more than we can ban links to homeopathy web-sites, because declaring them unreliable is begging the question. The skeptical position of keeping an open mind to the source of a claim, but following the evidence, is not unproblematic. – Oddthinking May 10 '16 at 1:54
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    @Oddthinking I'd actually agree with you an all of that. But OP asked about answers, not about questions, and I think that there is a somewhat different standard there. – tim May 10 '16 at 6:29
  • If someone says that there is good evidence for a claim on an obviously anti-semitic web-site, as good skeptics, we should keep an open mind that it might be right. (While as good Bayesians, we should go in with priors that understand how unlikely that might be.) I try not to use my mod-hammer to resolve whether a reference is reliable. I will certain use downvotes and comments to expose bad references though. (Editing too, if there are better references to support the claim.) – Oddthinking May 10 '16 at 7:27
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    I acknowledge we need to be careful not to give false balance. – Oddthinking May 10 '16 at 7:28
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I suspect that it is because we don't pre-judge the evidence that may be provided by a particular source.

For example, the Daily Mail might have a poor reputation, but that doesn't preclude it from being a reliable source in a particular case.

By judging a site based on its history of holocaust denial, we would be falling victim to poisoning of the well.

If a traditionally unreliable or biased site happens to follow their pattern of past behaviour and the citation in dispute is unreliable or biased, downvote the answer and/or comment to suggest an improvement.

In your specific example, looks like the downvotes are working.


Re: acceptable behaviour

You shouldn't infer that non-deletion implies acceptable behaviour. There are various remedies for different types of unacceptable behaviour. The remedy for an answer with no references (unacceptable behaviour) might be deletion. The rememedy for an answer with poor references (unacceptable behaviour) might be voting, editing, suggesting an improvement, or writing a better answer.

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    I think this is consistent with this answer by Sklivvz on biased answers. – user30557 May 2 '16 at 15:24
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    +1 when there is bad "evidence" out there that doesn't stand up to proper scrutiny, seems much better to point out why its wrong: challenge and disprove myths rather than ignore or delete them and let them fester unchallenged on dark corners of the internet that have lower standards (after all, isn't that what this site is for?) – user56reinstatemonica8 May 9 '16 at 11:09
  • Agreed. A bad answer is still an attempt at answering. Deletion is for things that aren't trying to be answers and present no learning opportunity. – Anko May 12 '16 at 11:55
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I agree that the answer is of poor quality.

However, I don't think mods should delete poor or wrong answers arbitrarily, as long as they attempt to answer the question and provide some form of evidence. Other steps can be taken to fix that answer (assuming the OP won't fix it):

  1. Try to edit the question and add better links
  2. Vote according to the quality of the links. I did.
  3. Vote to delete. I'll gladly add my vote to one or two community deletion votes.

However distasteful the links, the answer is not actually offensive, either. If you look at our worst voted answers I am sure you'll find more examples where we left really poor answers standing.

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