This is a common problem (it seems) across social related SE (gaming, workplace, interpersonal etc).

The criteria for an answer require either an objective citation, or that the answer is based on a personal experience, which is described (along with what happened).

That said, very often some answers are called out for failure to provide this, others aren't. Its very inconsistent.

Two quick examples from rpg SE:

To be clear, I feel that this requirement to be able to cite a comparable or illuminating experience is low value. Many good answers just won't arise from some specific similar experience, where the same action was appropriate and comparable. Instead users' judgement is a good guide whether a suggested answer is a good fit for the problem. I feel we may lose more good answers than filter/remove bad ones, with that criterion.

So TL;DR two reasons for this question - that the criterion is inconsistently applied, and honestly, I don't think its that good a criterion in the first place.


  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Related: Does a high score on an answer excuse the requirement to back up the answer? \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov May 27 at 15:46
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Related: "What are the citation expectations of answers on RPG Stack Exchange?" and "How do we ask and answer subjective questions?" and "Request for feedback on Good Subjective moderation" in particular, with that last one, the most upvoted answer states: "don’t waste everyone’s time with “This all seems like great advice that really would help in this situation, but you have to explicitly say you’ve actually done this.” That isn’t improving the site." \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 May 27 at 15:53
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 - and that's the reason for the question. The criterion: "you should only answer based on: Something that happened to you personally [or] Something you can back up with a reference." with that as context, hence the question as asked. \$\endgroup\$ – Stilez May 27 at 15:58
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Also related, and perhaps in some ways a dupe: "Confusion regarding the "Good Subjective" post notice and the policy on backing up answers" \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 May 27 at 15:59
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ As I'm the author of the top answer to "How to stop myself from interrupting", feel free to discount my view somewhat, but there are quite a few mentions in the answer regarding personal experience. Could you expand on what you feel is lacking there with regard to answer criteria, so that I can better understand your position? \$\endgroup\$ – Upper_Case May 27 at 16:56
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ You should also find this question and it's most upvoted answer extremely helpful: "Please give your feedback on a new "Subjective Citation Needed" post notice" \$\endgroup\$ – Medix2 May 27 at 17:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ It is worth pointing out that at the time I write this comment, the answer from Upper_Case to the Interruption question is the highest voted answer, the accepted answer, and has no downvotes at all. No one-- not even you-- thought to take the simple action of downvoting it. Seems like the community has decided it's a pretty good answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak May 27 at 23:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, bearing in mind that comments are ephemeral and can be deleted, I am not seeing the comment you reference in GMJoe's answer asking for a personal reference. Perhaps this meta caused that. Either way, Axoren's answer has 41 upvotes and an accept, to a single downvote. Again, this is evidence that the community thinks it's a good answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak May 27 at 23:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 - thanks, added an answer and upvote on that one as well. \$\endgroup\$ – Stilez May 27 at 23:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Novak I don't have any issue at all with the community deciding its a good answer. I think so too. Which says to me, the requirement for personal experience of a similar/comparable situation is not needed, to identify or know, what's a good answer. And, it inhibits other good answers. \$\endgroup\$ – Stilez May 28 at 0:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ And as a post-script, the stack has gone in previous cycles of going and asking every single answer for every single (non-conforming) good-subjective question, "Have you personally tried this? Did it work?" Sometimes referred to as the anecdote-tax. Other opinions will vary, but I found it generally unhelpful at best (except to quench really problematic brainstorming sessions.) \$\endgroup\$ – Novak May 28 at 0:22
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Novak We generally still implement the anecdote tax when it comes to house rules and homebrew solutions to rules problems. \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Markov May 28 at 6:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov I think of anecdote taxes (as a term) as applying mostly to the interpersonal, problem-player, problem-GM type questions because that's often all experience is: a relevant anecdote. But for house rules, homebrew, and adjacent spaces, the anecdotes are coupled to the rest of the rules. I think backing up with experience is much more vital in those situations. Those are questions that would often degenerate into forum-style brainstorming without that rules. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak May 28 at 9:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ThomasMarkov put more simply: I think we agree, but were just using different phrases. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak May 28 at 9:26
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ This answer about citations is much clearer about what I'm trying to say than I am. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 28 at 14:06

Answers aren't useful if they just tell you what to do. They're useful if they help you understand what you're doing.

Or: a supported answer is an answer you can put your weight on.

Even if an answer contains a block of rules text, it could still be removed for being unsupported. If nobody who reads the answer understands how to apply the rules text to the problem at hand and you can't or don't clarify it, then as far as everybody but you is concerned you've provided something completely irrelevant.

A stack-worthy answer is one that says not just "what should I do" but "why will this help solve the problem I'm having". Not everybody's got, like, degrees or done studies in human interaction to the same kind of defined extent that they can cite a rulebook, so for questions about the human-interaction part of play, thoughtfully analyzing a scenario where you did the thing can help fulfill the "why will this help solve the problem I'm having" expectation of the answer.

But that's not the only way to fulfill that expectation. A good analysis of the problem can also provide that "why does it work" component to an answer.

So maybe the criteria need to be simplified or bullet-pointed at the top: when we say that we want an answer to be supported, what that means is not you must provide specific component X, but in our judgement, you've said what to do, but we don't know why it would work.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Makes sense. If that was the amended rule, I think it would be fine. \$\endgroup\$ – Stilez May 29 at 6:28
  • How to stop myself from interrupting the session to correct the DM's mistakes? top answer includes references to personal experiences. Sure, it is not 100% identical situation, but it's backed up, at least somewhat.

  • Dealing with a Repeatedly Cheating Friend top answer could use some references, but what author wrote is standard advice for people stuck in relationship with pathological liar, or more generally codependent. Personal experiences from such situations can be very personal, painful things. I have a bit of them. Enough to agree with the answer. I won't share. I won't ask anyone to share.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Some kinds of interpersonal advice are "standard advice" enough to skip a personal reference? \$\endgroup\$ – Stilez May 27 at 22:21
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Some topics are difficult enough that we should be a bit more elastic about the rules. Especially when answer is detailed enough that we can be pretty certain author really knows what he is talking about. \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot May 27 at 22:32
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Stilez when you've been GMing for 35 years, and playing for even longer-- yeah, some of the problem-player, problem-GM, and similar questions start looking like "general expertise" problems. Not always. It's a judgment call and it's possible to get the judgment call wrong. It's also possible to have an entire question inundated with low-quality bad-subjective answers, but it's been my experience that those threads start to look like brainstorming-parties and get shut down (or at least quenched by pointed reminders) fairly quickly. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak May 27 at 23:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Novak,as I commented above, I don't have any issue at all with the community deciding its a good answer. I agree. Its the requirement for personal experience of a similar/comparable situation is not needed, which is problematic. Because, as you rightly say, you don't need a specific personal comparable reference, to have good general expertise. We shouldn't kill off otherwise-good answers because they're based on general expertise rather than a specific comparable experience. That's my point too. \$\endgroup\$ – Stilez May 28 at 0:07

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .