I would that it is not. I think we ought to view it as we view Wikipedia: a good starting point. First of all, there is no certitude that the answer is indeed correct. Secondly, by using the answer only as a starting point, there is a high likelihood we will improve it even if only slightly so.
I'll take the highest rate answer to Does wearing headphones ...
Is snopes a valid primary source? Well, no of course not. It is by definition a secondary source because it is an accumulation and summary of primary sources. (except in rare cases in which they do original research - like mythbusters do). But that doesn't mean it shouldn't be considered a valid reference for Skeptics.SE.
I would suggest that it's fair game ...
The following are sources that are accepted as valid sources to justify your statements, sorted by category. It is by no means an exhaustive list of the accepted sources.
The Cochrane Collaboration: Systematic reviews across a broad range of topics.
Environmental Science & Technology: Peer-reviewed journal in ...
No doubts whatsoever here. At the very least, citing a high-school level textbook is an easy way of supporting the answer, and of proving that the answer is high-school level.
Supporting this kind of answers with references has a low cost to the answerer. On the other hand, answers that dismiss a claim because "it's obvious", are not beneficial to the ...
However, my answer was downvoted 2x because two people didn't like that I used a non "scientific sources" and/or chose to link to Livestrong. (All of the articles I provided, however, reference university and medical journals.)
Livestrong is well known for claiming a lot of unscientific stuff. We have many questions about their various outlandish claims.
I think this is an example of a very bad answer. In my opinion, this questions is important and hard, so it requires hard data to back up the answer. I have seen no such data.
This is why I criticize this answer:
First of all it answers completely different question. OP asked Are illegal immigrants more likely to commit crimes. The first citation of the ...
There are several questions here:
Are some references required, or else the answer will likely be deleted?
Are peer-reviewed sources required, or else the answer will be deleted?
Are "scientific" sources required, or else the answer will be deleted?
Are sources containing empirical evidence required, or else the answer will be ...
There's no such thing as a 100% reliable source - Skeptics.SE cannot hope to only present correct answers, but we can aim at minimum level of accuracy which is much, much higher than the typical sources on the web and newspapers.
So, the following guidelines are merely heuristics - every single one is fallible.
Look for sources that explain how they know ...
Books are possibly valid references but:
They are quite possibly not primary sources. We like verifiable primary sources;
They need to be cited appropriately;
Simply pointing to a book and saying it supports an answer is not enough for this site.
The answer you cite is a good example of why we want properly cited books and ...
(I am giving a response out of obligation, because the question was originally directed at me. I don't feel I have a special insight here.)
There are two issues combined here.
Should all answers require empirical evidence to support them?
I think the community agrees with this, when worded this way. Does anyone object?
Is original research an acceptable ...
As agreed in that answer, it is essential that a claim be notable. It is important, but not essential, that the claim be represented with an example.
For all the reasons you give, and more, it is important to have a notable reference:
Makes the question more specific, which in some cases it's necessary
Helps identify strawmen, where the OP has ...
Communication with others relies on sharing a certain level of a common understanding.
Even just looking at Stack Exchanges, different sites have a different base-level expectation of what a typical user will understand. For example, compare English Language & Usage versus English Language Learners, or Math Overflow versus Mathematics. They have similar ...
There is no such limit, for example we accepted the following questions which are skeptical of basic, well supported science:
Is the Earth 6000 years old?
Demonstrable and repeatable examples of evolution
Has man walked on the Moon?
The wording in the FAQ is a bit misleading. The claims do not need to be referenced, but they also do not need to be ...
Ooh, tricky one!
Let's go back to our motivations for the rule here, to see if they help.
One reason for asking for notability references is to demonstrate it isn't just a speculative idea of the poster from the equivalent of a drunk discussion in a bar. The problem with those types of questions is:
(a) there is an infinite supply of them. If we accepted ...
I'm not certain that I agree that being strict on requiring references translates into a close-minded community.
Regarding original research... I think in theory, the idea of allowing answers based off of logic and deduction sounds good.
In practice, though, I think there are some serious downsides and potential pitfalls.
Let's take some actual ...
There was never an issue with citing offline sources, they are certainly allowed. There was occasionally an issue though with users citing books in a very, very broad way.
Especially for long resources like books, answers should refer to specific parts when citing and ideally quote an appropriate excerpt.
What is problematic is if a user writes a long ...
I'm going to answer a slightly different question. Not "Is this acceptable?" but "Why haven't I taken any moderator action to delete it?"
The general policy on references is that they are required, they should be relevant.
However, there is no policy on moderator action whether the references are "good" or "reliable". That is appropriate, because the mods ...
Personal contact might be more effective: less alienating, more explanatory - criticism, but constructive criticism.
Personal contact (interaction with peers) is a reason why people post on the site.
Personal contact lets you:
Explain why a reference is necessary
Hint at what sort of reference, or reference to what sort of fact, you want to see, for this ...
There is a common misunderstanding that patents have to work to be patented.
This is not true.
United States patent laws do not require you to have a prototype in order to apply for a patent, all that is required is that you be able to describe the invention so that others could both make and use it.
So people can make claims about how their invention ...
I do not have an opinion on the question that triggered this meta question. Or, I do not wish to express an opinion on that here. I really do not have an opinion on the verity of the answer that triggered this question. I do have a slight opinion on the quality of the answer to that specific question, and that is being discussed well in some other answers ...
The better way to solve this in my opinion would be to enable the community to add and remove post notices themselves instead of relying on us diamond moderators. I have proposed a review queue for post notices already a while ago, and a similar queue for addition of post notices is the way I would solve this issue.
What we could do automatically would be ...
One of the abilities Stack Exchange has as a platform is to raise informational banners for a given set of criteria, right? Similarly, we could probably do the check for links and pop up the informational banner then of "You have no links indicating references for your answer. We require references for answers here. If you have non-link references present, ...
Wikipedia also has a large citation needed banner. Our banners are styled after those.
The idea behind using this banner, instead of single  call outs, is that we have much shorter articles with generally a single thesis. This thesis is either referenced or it isn't. Therefore, the ...
Questions on this website need a notable claim. The misunderstanding by a person who writes a question on this website by itself isn't notable.
Editing the editing so that it addresses an interesting and notable claim improves the question.
The distortion of the original article by the media, or even the authors themselves, is part of the question, and we can't just remove that aspect. When a question asks about a recent study mentioned in the media, there are actually several questions that have to be answered:
Is the paper represented correctly in the media?
Is the paper itself reliable?
You should still be able to access a deleted answer that is yours in order to edit it and add the lacking references. I deleted it more for your protection than anything. Due to the fact that it was essentially a good answer, but had no references, I was afraid you would get a lot of downvotes on the answer which psychologically causes a ganging up effect ...
Requiring references is just a first rough way to filter out the worst answers. It can't ensure good answers, it can only reduce the amount of bad ones. You can create bad answers even with references, but hopefully some users here would recoginze that and comment on the answer.
An ideal answer should do everything you mention, but examining the papers in ...
Health.SE was heavily modeled on Skeptics. We do have a page of suggested acceptable sites to draw information from. Livestrong was not one of them. Nor was Web.MD, or any personal blog site, any site which was for profit (usually selling a product to help cure an illness), etc. But to list every possible website which is not a good source would be much too ...
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 ...
It's important to reference key points, regardless of their assumed level as to do otherwise invites original research.
There's a big difference between something being 'high school level' and being correct, relevant and applied in an appropriate situation. By taking the extra few minutes to find appropriate the references, it makes it much easier ...