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Many people get their facts from this site. Many people also do not do properly read and understand the answers they read, but merely mindlessly look at the upvote count and figure it must be true.

Here's an example of an obviously false answer by user @user5341: https://skeptics.stackexchange.com/a/41526

Upvoted 21 times, yet it contains claims that are in no way supported by the provided articles and pictures (which I assume were provided in as confusing of a way as possible to make it harder to check the claim).

Why are there not any mechanisms in place to prevent such false answers, propagandaic even, from coming off as legitimate?

One idea could be to have a "approved" or "verified" marker which only moderators or otherwise high-rep posters can award to a post, if that moderator themselves checked the sources cited and can verify that the claims are indeed correct. This would then be an addition to the usual upvotes.

Then if any random reader sees a post with 50 upvotes but no "approved"-marker, that means that nobody trustworthy has yet to check the claims in the post, and so one should still remain suspicious.

  • Well, you can't fix stupid. Sorry, but as a cynic, I'd say most people are never going to want more than the quick yes or no. They want an answer, whether it's true or not, because it makes life easy. Pulling people out of that process can only be accomplished one-on-one, in my experience. A skeptics "approved" stamp isn't going to help. – fredsbend Dec 26 '18 at 20:17
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If

Many people also do not do properly read and understand the answers they read, but merely mindlessly look at the upvote count and figure it must be true.

and

One idea could be to have a "approved" or "verified" marker which only moderators or otherwise high-rep posters can award to a post, if that moderator themselves checked the sources cited and can verify that the claims are indeed correct.

then it seems absolutely counterproductive to encourage "not reading properly" by adding an authoritarian "approved" stamp. This would be yet another cognitive shortcut that undermines critical thinking.

How can such a badge improve the problem with reading comprehension?

In my opinion people coming to any site on StackExchange should be aware that it takes quite often a lot of time until "the best content rises to the top". A question being featured on the Hot Network Questions list is thankfully not always heavily distorted in how the answers are voted on. The only thing "obvious" to me in the mentioned thread is that the topic generates a lot of opinions.

Here, we expect to be able to independently check what you are saying — that is a key aspect of being a skeptic — as we want to chase down the evidence, rather than relying on authority or personal expertise. You should expect that people will actually follow up and check your references say what you claim they say.
Just the FAQs, ma'am.

No one should "come here to get her facts". People should come here to get inspiration to think for themselves and might be aided in that endeavour by good evidence presented to them.

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I think it's not an obviously "false" answer. It presents numbers backed by references. While not the best answer in the thread, I don't see why we should intervene beyond voting.

Often, there are going to be multiple, possibly diverging pieces of evidence and interpretations. It's important that we represent them all.

Remember: the point of this site is not "truth", but "evidence". Voting follows the quality of the evidence.

  • "Voting follows the quality of the evidence." Sometimes. I might even grant usually, but not always. The HNQ is the typical culprit here. – fredsbend Dec 26 '18 at 20:18
  • @fredsbend yeah, theory vs practice there :-) – Sklivvz Dec 28 '18 at 14:18
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If you look at the comments section, you can see lots of heavily upvoted comments criticising the answer. This is an easily visible indication that lots of other users have problems with this answer.

I'd rather have the community as a whole judge the quality of answers rather than moderators or high rep users when possible, and I think they've done an adequate job here.

Low-rep users aren't able to see the vote split: currently it's +64/-36. This may be useful information to display.

  • Well, in general that should be true. There often are very useful comments giving legitimate criticism, valuable suggestions and/or corrections. Unfortunately, in that thread prompting this exchange there are also many political opinion comments, just complaining about "no-likey", that are heavily upvoted. The overall quality and current state of the answer not withstanding, but there are comments and votes that I'd qualify as "off-topic"… – LangLangC Jun 24 '18 at 11:38
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    The problem with comments is that they are not permanent. Eg heavily upvoted comments pointing out the faults in this misleading answer were deleted. In the case of this question, the main problem is that it was a hnq, so bad answers that fit a specific political bias got a lot of upvotes (but less downvotes, because drive-by voters don't necessarily have enough rep to downvote). I think better solutions would be to try to fix the answers, for moderators to add the "not supported by sources" notification, or to just delete them. – tim Jun 24 '18 at 15:16
  • I have to concur whole heartedly that the vote distribution should be displayed to every visitor (& not only on click IMO). If there is no feature request for this thing, we need one! – LangLangC Jun 26 '18 at 21:23
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    Hey, you can view vote totals with a Chrome extension. @LangLangC – fredsbend Dec 26 '18 at 20:21
  • See also: “View Vote totals” without 1000 rep – fredsbend Dec 26 '18 at 20:23

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