Specific example:

Does US Intelligence have built-in interfaces in major social networking sites that allow them to browse personal information at will?

Sklivvz objected to the answer (and someone - presumably him - downvoted it) based on:

This is not an answer, it's unreferenced and it's wrong. You can only access publicly available information on one site. This you can do by browsing facebook easily anyways. The claim is that IAs can get to publicly unavailable information on all major social networking sites - in a similar fashion as the NSA tapping of telcos


  • "publicly unavailable information" is a critical piece of info to how to answer this claim, and was missing BOTH from the quote source (the interview), AND from the posted question's clarification.

  • The question and the interview are 100% unspecific on what they mean by "major SN sites". I provided information to the one that has a lion's share (Facebooks - 600 million active users as of 2011 as per Wiki, compared to 35 million for MySpace).

Other than lack of the links (mostly since I was still editing the question), I feel that the rest of the objections to the answer were not warranted given what info was present in the question.

P.S. The question used as example is just that - an example. I am asking about generic concept of punishing the answer for lack of detail when said detail was not present in the question.

  • NOTE - upon discussing with Sklivvz, the question used as an example was not a good example because the reason for downvote (in the comment) was not clearly understood by me (e.g. had the comment been Sklivvz's usual "This answer is unreferenced" wording without "it's wrong", I would not have considered the Facebook question as a good example. I feel that the problem mentioned by me still exists (e.g. race-penis-size Q&A where the answer was downvoted presumably because the question assumed the concept of race without definig it), so I will leave the question open – user5341 May 6 '11 at 13:36

I downvoted the answer because it was completely unreferenced. I removed the downvote once you added references (and you reminded me - I had forgotten).

This was already discussed here, here and here.

In short - downvoting unreferenced answers is the correct behaviour on the site.

That said, I've (also) downvoted your question because it's redundant :-)

  • Gotcha. I will ask a separate meta question as far as grace periods for downvoting questions. I am not sure about others, but I work in StackOverflow mode, posting less perfect answer first and adding details/references/clarifications later (as was the case here). You can't know for sure whether a person merely posted a bad unreferenced answer or is working to edit in references, but I think that asking via a comment is a more user friendly policy than shooting first and asking an accompanying question as an explanation - though in your specific case you removed downvote so it's a bad example – user5341 May 2 '11 at 16:32
  • Don't worry about my downvotes, I vote a lot, both ways. – Sklivvz May 2 '11 at 16:34

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