Want to improve this post? Add citations from reputable sources by editing the post. Posts with unsourced content may be edited or deleted.

This message appeared on one of my answers. This is on a question which has many answers that do not include citations. I have never added citations to my answers in the past. Why am I seeing this message? I do not remember seeing it before.

I am looking for information about how this message is used and its purpose. I am not asking for feedback on this particular answer.

  • I didn't see it before, but now I see I also got a related message from the moderators, but I don't think that message answers this question. Jun 15, 2020 at 1:21
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    That message can be applied to so many answers on this stack - why isn't it? But perhaps it should not be used at all as so many of our answers are based on our experience...
    – Solar Mike
    Jun 15, 2020 at 5:33
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    The answer reads like it is based on some statistic (for which country?) In the comments, some person was named who was responsible (?) for the statistics. This is indeed a case where the statistics should be linked as it is not based on experience as in @SolarMike 's comment. I know, you have the strange policy "No references unless one pays my consultancy fee" - if this is the case (which I don't find appropriate for this site), please add how and how much one should pay into the answer -- maybe someone pays the fee..
    – user111388
    Jun 15, 2020 at 9:27
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    Re: "I have never added citations to my answers in the past." You seem to have provided references before, at least here, here and here. For what it's worth, I think those answers are better for it.
    – Anyon
    Jun 16, 2020 at 18:28
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    @Anyon I am not perfectly consistent. Those are far from being my best answers, and only one of those includes references I didn't have memorised before the question was asked. Jun 17, 2020 at 0:19

1 Answer 1


This message appeared on one of my answers.

That message is a post notice. I'm the one who added it. There are several types of post notices. The most used in our community is probably the controversial post notice, but it's not the only one existing.

This is on a question which has many answers that do not include citations.

The other answers actually cite personal experiences or make a reasoning around what it's written in the question. Your answer is quite different. It makes claims about correlations and probabilities of certain events without citing any source for these claims. For instance,

The probability of defaulting on student loans is inversely related to the amount of money borrowed.

Where does this analysis come from?

I have never added citations to my answers in the past.

This is an unfortunate attitude in a community dedicated to the academic world which, if too widespread, would put us exactly at the same level of anyone spreading fake news on Facebook. Many users do their best to provide citations for the claims contained in their answers, exactly as they would do in their professional capacity, because this allows everyone to analyse the origin of the claims, verify if there are issues in the way in which the claims were derived etc.

Indeed, we can do better. It's true, there are still many unsubstantiated claims around this site, but from what I observed along these years, many users respond positively when prompted, integrating their answers. When this does not happen, a post notice can warn the readers of the issues of the post. As I said in this comment, other sites, like Skeptics SE, are stricter about missing references and an answer like yours would be probably deleted without a second thought. We don't have such a strict policy and we usually don't delete such kind of answers, but I think that users have their right to demand citations when needed.

Why am I seeing this message?

You're seeing it because several users complained about the lack of citations in your answer, which even received a flag for this. It doesn't happen that frequently.

I do not remember seeing it before.

Yes, it was used before, for example attached to this question (italics mine):

Want to improve this post? Provide detailed answers to this question, including citations and an explanation of why your answer is correct. Answers without enough detail may be edited or deleted.

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    I don't see the point in making this site referenced like an academic journal or Wikipedia. If that's what users wanted, they would use those things. Jun 15, 2020 at 22:45
  • So is the line that anecdotes do not require a source, but evidence does? Jun 15, 2020 at 22:47
  • @AnonymousPhysicist: And if users wanted a site without references, they would use Facebook instead.;) But seriously, how could users ask in an academic journal or Wikipedia if one should recommend a student to drop out and pursue other careers? Both academic journals and Wikipedia are not Q&Asites for academic experts, but this site is. So users cannot use Wikipedia and journals instead IMO.
    – user111388
    Jun 16, 2020 at 7:38
  • @AnonymousPhysicist: I think everythink that can be sourced should be sourced. Anecdotes (as in "these are my experiences"), by their nature, mostly cannot. What you describe could and should be sourced.
    – user111388
    Jun 16, 2020 at 7:39
  • @user111388 "how could users ask in an academic journal or Wikipedia if one should recommend a student to drop out and pursue other careers?" You can at least answer that question in a journal: libguides.usc.edu.au/c.php?g=508261&p=3478734 And I know some of my colleagues are working on papers on that topic. Jun 16, 2020 at 7:56
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    @AnonymousPhysicist: But people come here to ask questions and want answers. Do you really think that there is no difference between this journal and questions here who are on topic in this journal? Can I ask in the journal my question and get 20 answers from experts? Can I just post "profs should never suggests students to drop out, here are references" in this journal and it gets published immediately? Isn't that too less for a reputed journal?
    – user111388
    Jun 16, 2020 at 10:13
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    @user111388 The difference between this site and a journal is that in a journal, people usually publish careful original research with citations. Here people usually post information they can provide with little effort. Journals answer hard questions. This site answers easy questions. On this site, the questions are not the important part; it is the answers. You can ask questions in a submission to a journal too, but they usually only get published if you also submit the answer(s) with the question. And you can have as many coauthors as you need to get all the answers you want. Jun 16, 2020 at 10:18
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    @AnonymousPhysicist: So you have the answer: People ask question on this site and get quick answers. So they cannot use the journal instead. Thus, it makes sense that they want references and cannot get the same value from the journal.
    – user111388
    Jun 16, 2020 at 11:29
  • @user111388 "People ask question on this site and get quick answers. So they cannot use the journal instead." This is not logical. We use both, but only need one at a time. Jun 16, 2020 at 13:30
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    @AnonymousPhysicist: At the time where I want to ask a question and want a good answer with references, I cannot use the journal. At the time where you want to give a good answer with references, you cannot use the journal (as it is maybe not hard enough for the journal and would take months to be peer-reviewed). So we both cannot use the journal you propose as an alternative. Thus, I don't see your argument "If people wanted references, they would use a journal instead."
    – user111388
    Jun 16, 2020 at 14:01
  • @user111388 That's just not true. I can always use a journal, and so can you (possibly with sci-hub). Of course both this site and a journal could be missing particular content. Jun 17, 2020 at 0:21
  • @AnonymousPhysicist: If I have a question and need an answer with references, I cannot use the journal to find an answer. If you have an answer with references, you can most likely not post it into the journal. So we still need the forum (and cannot use the journal instead, as you say in your first comment).
    – user111388
    Jun 17, 2020 at 19:29

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