10

In this answer, the user has decided to provide a evidence for what makes him qualified for answering the question. While I can see it as potentially useful, I am not sure it is needed or desirable. Has the practice of prefacing answers with qualifications been discussed?

My concern is that providing qualifications could intimidate junior people. It seems like such statements are saying "I am so important that my answers should be given extra weight". I think our site rep (and past question/answers) should give the indication of the type of person who submitted the answer and how much extra weight the answer should be given (if any).

11

As a person who has answered many questions in the past ... (ok I'm kidding)

But seriously I think this example seems perfectly fine. Many of the questions on academia.se are the kind where there's no right answer per se, but there are answers that differ based on experience. So explaining the nature of that experience is helpful. It's much like how we often clarify which area we have experience in when we answer a question. This is different from questions on technical sites like cs.se where the answer usually can be evaluated and discussed independent of the credentials of the participants.

5

I think that for this particular answer, it's quite similar to many other ones, where the answerer starts with "I've been doing this in the past", and since many questions bring subjective answers (based on personal experience), I guess it's helpful to have a better idea of what kind of persons submitted this answer. So, as long as the qualifications are directly relevant to the answer, then I see no problem with it.

EDIT: Concerning the fact that junior people might be intimated, it sounds like a reasonable concern, but somehow, not relevant to the particular question you pointed out. Somehow, there are not so many "junior" people (i.e. students, postdocs) who could understand perfectly how an undergraduate committee work, and those who can shouldn't be intimated.

I guess that would be different in a more "scientific" topic. Like, I can imagine that if on cs.SE, if there was a question like "How to do that in Java", and someone would answer with "I've been a Java programmer for the last 20 years, and this is the way to do it", it could intimidate some junior people. But I can't really see the same problem for Academia (or at least, not on this particular question, but I understand that you want to generalize it).

EDIT2: Just to make things clear, my position on this question is that I don't see any problem with people stating their qualifications, as long as it is directly relevant to the question and it's not blatant bragging, even though it can intimidate junior people (I actually think that junior people should not be intimated, in general, even if they're speaking against a Nobel Prize winner). However, I'd be happy to look into any particular case where the qualifications are borderline.

  • See my edit to the question. I am concerned about junior people feeling intimidated about answering. – StrongBad Jul 23 '12 at 9:13
5

As a somewhat junior person (PhD student), I am not intimidated, but encouraged by the observation that senior scientists participate in this website. For a forum like this one, it really does make an important difference who answers the question. I've found myself several times clicking on peoples' nametags to see if they provide any relevant background information there.

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