One of the tools that diamond moderators have at their disposal is the post notice. We have several different types of post notice for example, this one, for posts that require additional citations:

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

These appear below a post and call to action that it needs improvement. You can see this post for an example.

Unfortunately, we currently don't have a post notice that handles the topic of subjective support well according to our principles of Good Subjective, Bad Subjective. Those principles are also covered in these related metas:

Currently, we are forced to use other notices, such as the one above, to handle flags on problematic answers with regards to subjective support.

Our main goal for this notice is that it helps to inform people about our requirement that all posts are to be backed up and gives them information on how best to achieve that specifically for subjective content.

With that in mind, the moderators have gotten together and put together a proposal which I have put below in the answers. Please vote on it as you deem fit and comment with any suggestions. Additionally, if you have a better proposal (or some sort of other major point to make), feel free to offer it up as your own answer as usual.

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    \$\begingroup\$ NB: We purposefully left this post open for answers which may challenge the premise of the question but the main purpose of this post is still to determine the proper wording of the notice itself. The reason we left it open to other responses is that we want to hear your views on this matter and thus far people have been reluctant to post on Meta about it. Better to hear those opinions in a suboptimal place than not at all! That being said, I intend to open some sort of dedicated post to discuss this issue very soon. So please focus your efforts on improving the notice for now. Thanks. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Oct 2 '19 at 21:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ Is my answer worth using or does it need more polish? \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 15 '19 at 20:51

I do not like the assumption that answers are not drawing on experience.

My experience with being pestered about explicitly certifying that my answer is drawn from my own experience is that I don't like it. That practice has mostly put me off answering questions. Additionally, it has not led to positive interactions with mods or other users.

Evidence of discord from being prodded exists in comments.

It's difficult to find previous cases (even from my own answers) of apparent discontent with answerers being prodded about this subject since it is usually in comments that get deleted.

One example I could find of a case where someone else was put off got recorded in the revisions.

Some examples of good answers that don't explicitly certify personal experience

Good answer without attesting personal experience:

GM Considerations for a Human Barbarian Toddler PC

The answer is essentially, "here's something to try and stuff to watch out for", but does not include that the answerer has done something similar or experienced something similar. It's a great answer without personal experience support explicitly stated.

Good answer without attesting personal experience citing questions that have good answers that do not attest personal experience

Can the dungeon master have a player character?

The best part of this answer is that the answerer has not personally tried it, and wouldn't attempt it.

For perspective, I've been running games for over 25 years, and I do not feel confident that I could pull off a DMPC successfully, even with all that experience.

The answer is neither something that happened to them personally, and the references are to questions with answers that also do not refer to direct personal experience. They're great answers even though they don't satisfy the good subjective answer criteria:

  • Something that happened to you personally
  • Something you can back up with a reference

I find the post notice particularly unappealing

Answer with example post notice

The comments requesting certifying personal experience with the threat of, "okay but your answer might get deleted..." to be sufficient to put me off answering questions as it is. The post label, to me, appears to be a sticker implying "this answer is bull****". I do not expect it will contribute significantly to better answers, but I do expect it will not be well received.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for the time and thought you've put into this. I'm not sure it really belongs here; I definitely think that the other metas that are linked in the question--the ones "establishing" our interpretation of GS/BS--would benefit from this being posted as an answer there, also. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Oct 1 '19 at 14:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Or, maybe even posting your own Meta Q&A "Should we be requiring that users provide subjective support explicitly in their answers?" (or whatever wording you would prefer). That way this issue can be fully explored. I know that this issue provides some friction and I'm sure other members would want to weigh in. The big issue for me with this here, upvotes on this answer won't really tell us much in the context of this particular question. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Oct 1 '19 at 15:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think this is assuming there isn't experience here, it's asking that the experience be stated. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 1 '19 at 17:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Another user (I forget whom) made mention of an "andecdote requirement" being new as compared to the first six or seven years of this site's existence. It may be in a comment that is now lost for all time, sorry, it's been over a month .. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 1 '19 at 19:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ In addition to what the others have said, this post notice is specifically for the kind of subjective answers that would be improved by citing evidence or experience, but fail to do so. As the other mods have said, the place to contest that subjective answers need to be backed up (or how to back them up) is in those linked metas, though I appreciate this perspective being acknowledged here as well. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Oct 1 '19 at 19:47
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    \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast good points, but I think it is still OK to challenge the frame of a question, which it appears to be what GcL is doing. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 1 '19 at 19:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast: Yep, which is why I said the bit at the end :) Just saying this shouldn't be the only/main place to do so. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Oct 1 '19 at 20:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ So, we're actually cool with you supporting your answers with whatever as long as it's legit. The second example you provide does that. It's just that experience and citations are the easiest ways to support something and people like to pretend they are the only ones because that's easy. As long as you have support, you won't get too much BS from users at present, in my experience. It's true the advice you get if you don't include support for something somebody wanted supported is usually mildly offensive garbage, but you can just ignore it and add whatever support you want. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Oct 2 '19 at 1:44
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast you probably mean a comment in response to this answer which is difficult to find because it was whisked away into private chat. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Oct 2 '19 at 4:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ I stand by that comment, by the way, and upvoted this answer, because the nigh-automatic hectoring for support/anecdata/details has gone so far, lately, that authors of perfectly good answers publicly contemplate taking them down, as happened in that thread. This is becoming counter-productive. \$\endgroup\$ – Novak Oct 2 '19 at 4:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Novak Yes, thanks, that's one of them. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 2 '19 at 11:17
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    \$\begingroup\$ FWIW we would be only attaching this post notice where additional citation is needed, like someone making a subjective suggestion with poor credibility. It would be attached by mods only. There's an example here. It's just that we have no such post notice when the style of citation needed is subjective instead of objective. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 2 '19 at 11:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've opened a new question here about how this community moderates GSBS. We'd love it if you could provide your thoughts on that post as well. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Oct 9 '19 at 13:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ I've been using SE for more than half a decade and this is exactly why I don't understand how to participate at this site. All I have to do is say, 'This worked for me.' ? and that makes it subjectively backed up? - "citations to reliable sources" - when did I become a reliable source? Some time after I BS my way past 1k and become, as has been mentioned, "creditable" ? - The notice tells me what I have to do but not how to do it.... \$\endgroup\$ – Mazura Nov 6 '19 at 5:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ See also my answer below, which parallels and supports this, but suggests my own reasons and suggestion. \$\endgroup\$ – Stilez May 27 at 23:54

Too Many Words for a post notice: be concise

Let's do some liposuction on the proposed post notice:

Answers should be supported using evidence and/or experience. See citation expectations for subjective answers and guidance for subjective answers. Please cite experience (your own or someone else's) to show how your solution worked out in practice. This lets users judge whether it fits their situation or not. Answers that recommend "try this" without support may be removed.

This may still be too many words, but you are trying to pack a lot into a post notice.

Here's a tighter version.

(thank you, @thedarkwanderer and @doppelgreener)

Answers should be supported. Please cite experience (your own or someone else's) to show how your solution worked out in practice. This lets users judge whether it fits their situation or not. Answers without support may be removed.

I hope that links can be embedded in these notes. Here's a slightly tighter version; thank you @daze413.

Answers should be supported - you can use your experience or someone else's to show how your solution worked in practice. This helps users judge whether it fits their situation or not. Answers without support may be removed.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I agree that the moderator proposal seems long, but both of these seem pretty similar in length. The existing banner is two and change lines on my screen, while yours is five and HeyICanChan’s is four-and-a-half, to the moderators’ five-and-a-half. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 1 '19 at 19:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Yes indeed, and as I noted we can probably make it more concise with a little more time and effort. Which at the moment I do not have. There will be an edit when I can think through the word smithing a bit. Additionally, if you have a better proposal (or some sort of other major point to make), feel free to offer it up as your own answer as usual We are encouraged to make an input, so I did. :-) \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 1 '19 at 19:26
  • \$\begingroup\$ Fair enough; sorry for being negative without something to offer of my own. \$\endgroup\$ – KRyan Oct 1 '19 at 19:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan no worries, I do intend to come back and make it shorter. :) \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 1 '19 at 19:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've edited the same two links from our proposal into your alternate proposal as you've worded it; please check to make sure it's formatted as you like. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Oct 1 '19 at 19:49
  • \$\begingroup\$ @V2Blast Thanks, and I added a bit more liposuction. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 1 '19 at 19:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would get rid of everything after 'supported' in the first sentence; it seems redundant given the links and other details. That makes yours three and a half lines, which isn't too bad. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Oct 2 '19 at 1:39
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    \$\begingroup\$ Posting HeyICanChan's version as a separate answer would improve the clarity of voting. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Oct 2 '19 at 2:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ I just want to check we're on the same page and haven't miscommunicated — this isn't going to be a flag. It's a notice we stick below your post to call for action on it. I've added an example here. Post notices have no connection to flags and won't show up in the flag menu. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 2 '19 at 9:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yes, we are on the same page. I actually like the tighter style of the example you posted, and think my revision could use more liposuction. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 2 '19 at 11:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @linksassin I think we'll need to ask HeyICanChan to do that. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 2 '19 at 11:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ @KorvinStarmast Ok. I've updated your post to say post notice instead of references to flags, since I want to avoid people getting confused and thinking this might show up in the flag menu or something. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 2 '19 at 11:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppel Good edit, thanks! Appreciate it. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 2 '19 at 13:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ How about “When citing experience (your own or someone else's) include how your solution worked out in practice.” --> “Please cite experience (your own or someone else's) to show how your solution worked out in practice.”? It's a little more direct about what's required (not "do this" but "when you do this") and it's the same length. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 2 '19 at 14:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @doppelgreener works for me. Done. Thanks for the word smithing assist. :) \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 2 '19 at 14:58

An advisory rather than a warning

This answer could be improved if you were able to cite experience (your own or someone else's) to help users judge whether it fits their situation or not. This post provides excellent advice on how to do so.


↑ Just to demonstrate: I have marked this post with our current “citation needed” post notice. It currently covers objective citations perfectly well. The post notice we're asking about will be a sibling to this one, and will be applied by a moderator when a post strongly needs subjective citation added (for example: “here, try this to fix your social issues, I've never seen it used but I'm sure it will work” when there's no credibility).

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    \$\begingroup\$ ↑ That's the citation needed post notice. (The current one, we'll be adding another one like it.) \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 2 '19 at 9:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ Are we looking for something that pithy? I hope so, part of my response to this was that if we have a notice, I'd like to see it nice and tight like that one. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 2 '19 at 11:18
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    \$\begingroup\$ Pithy is a good quality, but it does not need to be quite this pithy. We just need it to be long enough to say all that's needed. \$\endgroup\$ – doppelgreener Oct 2 '19 at 11:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ I found your example post very helpful in trying to tighten up my proposed revision. Thanks. :-) \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 3 '19 at 13:48

Moderator proposal:

All answers must be supported by citing evidence or experience. Please review our citation expectations for subjective answers, as well as our guidance for asking and answering subjective questions. When recommending a course of action, you should cite experience (either your own, or someone else's) of how your recommended solution has worked out in actual practice so that users can judge whether it's an appropriate solution for their situation. Answers that recommend "try this" without any citation may be removed.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Would be nice try and find a way to integrate this answer into the links, but not sure how. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Oct 1 '19 at 17:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ Should rather than must would be my suggested improvement to sentence 1 \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Oct 1 '19 at 17:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ "evidence, for example experience" might be better. Experience is a kind of evidence, after all. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Oct 2 '19 at 1:37
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    \$\begingroup\$ @thedarkwanderer Perhaps "evidence (which can include experience)"? ...Though it doesn't solve the wordiness issue mentioned in Korvin's answer :P \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Oct 2 '19 at 11:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Too wordy. More importantly, there are better ways to support an answer than including a token anecdote. Don't confuse anecdotes and citations. \$\endgroup\$ – MikeQ Oct 10 '19 at 17:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ If an answer may be removed for failure to include a reference, then the correct phrase is "...you must include..." not "...you should include...". Should implies its best practice but not required. The subsequent wording says its required. They contradict. The correct word is "must" if removal may happen without it. \$\endgroup\$ – Stilez May 27 at 23:57

I propose a different style for explicit citation needed questions

Do you remember the Bête question? The one that moderators looked at 3 times in the first hours? Yes, I had put a note to it that demanded citations to books in the very beginning.

2 answers were deleted by mods after I had pointed out the lack of the required citations in them. In one case, the whole thing was a mix of interpretation (which I had explicitly asked not to do) and lacked citations. The answer idled around for a month and a half before it was tagged as citation-needed and at once deleted. With a +3/-3.

What to do?

I suggest having two variants of the back-it-up tag: the personal experience and the hard backup ones. Also, the hard backup one should possibly be worded harder - the requirement for hard backup is at times absolute and should be worded just as hard. There are good suggestions for the personal experience one up there.

This question requires citations. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.


To me this is a poor criterion, though well intended. We could do better by nuancing, creating explicit exceptions, or replacing it.

I've had a comparable answer deleted on another SE because, although I stated it stemmed from my own * general * experience over many years, it didn't stem from some, * single, identified, specific* experience that I could identify out of my past experiences, as a single reference.

I've then seen other answers - numerous - where no such reference was given, and nobody minded.

That has put me off answering such questions a great deal, because the requirement often seems unreasonably demanded, and capricious.

I feel that the users who up and downvote answers are perfectly capable of deciding whether the answer has merit or fits their experience.

For me, the statement that a reference * must * be cited in * all * cases is redundant. It inhibits good answers rather than helping filter them or ensure their quality.

If exceptions are allowed, then I feel it should be restated as something other than a "rule" or "necessity" leading to removal if not complied with. That's the SE reality.

  • I've seen it stated in other discussions on this point, that high ranking answers that don't meet this criterion are still accepted because "the community speaks".
  • I've seen it stated that answers discussing traumatic issues don't need referencing because its probably private and maybe retraumatising to expect them.

In all, this suggests that the need for subjective answers to contain cites or personal experience, is not an absolute or necessity. So we should not express it as an absolute or necessity.

At a minimum reword to state that "a subjective answer is best expressed by reference to personal experience. Not including some reference to your own personal experience, may lead to an answer being seen as lower quality."

That would be more honest, and representative, it guides the community how to view and assess such answers, but removes the automatic "it should lead to removal" with its unspoken arbitrary-seeming exceptions.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Good answer, and good perspective, but you are going to run into a core of "I need a rule with sharp edges" resistance to this approach. Unfortunately. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jun 7 at 15:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Its done that way because its been done that way? I hope we can do better. \$\endgroup\$ – Stilez Jun 7 at 15:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ My thought was more like "some people are not good with using judgment as a best practice" and thus harp on "policy" rather than exercise of good judgment. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Jun 7 at 15:21

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