This is a question for moderators as I'm not sure how else to ask this.

There have been the following posts recently: "Please give your feedback on a new “Subjective Citation Needed” post notice " and "Request for feedback on Good Subjective moderation" and some of the things mentioned there seem to clash with the policy on citing in an answer.

In the first linked question and its answers the following comments were made by moderators

FWIW we would be only attaching this post notice where additional citation is needed, like someone making a subjective suggestion with poor credibility [...]

[...] 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 [...]

However the question from that same post states (emphasis mine):

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.

The section "What are the citation expectations for Subjective answers?" from the question "What are the citation expectations of answers on RPG Stack Exchange?" states (emphasis mine):

This means when you provide a subjective solution you believe will resolve the situation, we expect that you cite analogous experience of how it has worked out in actual practice — your own experience or someone else's [...]

Finally another comment by a moderator states (emphasis mine):

Something I've been thinking I missed in the citation expectations meta is that it should be clear from reading it the user has experience, and sometimes, that's evident without explicit citation of "here's how this has worked out in practice." It's hard to sift truth from truthiness sometimes but we've historically considered this scenario okay.

This seems to showcase a disconnect between what is theoretically accepted as evidence and what is actually accepted as evidence. Another example is answers that say "Talk to your GM". It (I sincerely hope) is not necessary to say "Talk to your GM, trust me, I've talked to a GM before". That said, I am unsure when exactly it is recommended that answers be backed up because the comments and policy statements above clash (or at least I see them as clashing).

I believe guidelines on the post notice's intended use-cases would be helpful in allowing others (including myself) to form a proper opinion of it. When would the Good Subjective post notice be used? When/How is a question deemed needing of citation/experience or likely to be improved by citation/experience?

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ So, first thing, this is definitely the correct place for this question :) Second, this is actually one of the topics that I had hoped that your second link would help shed some light on. There is indeed some kind of disconnect in some places and we're working to figure it out. That being said, this is still a very good question and should be left separate. I personally will wait on answering it until the other one is settled though. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 0:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is actually incredibly interesting and think it does/should preclude some of these other discussions we're having. It is really why I had asked this question, but it was closed as a duplicate and the answer was rehash with more information about the previous statements. I've been moving forward with those when looking at subjective answers, but if that lens is wrong, then I think that question should be reopened not as a duplicate and answered with fresh insight. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 13:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch That's a lot of the reason I've now provided this answer to the citation expectations post. Though I'm unsure if that should've gone elsewhere, perhaps as (yet another) new meta question stating "should we provide examples of good subjective answers in the citation expectations post?" \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 13:24
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ While I know i'm one of the hard-liners on support for good subjective, I also have been doing my best to follow the direction provided here in Meta which has been reiiterated several times. I can absolutely adjust my views, expectations, and measuring stick, but there needs to be a lot of changes in direction from here on Meta because there does seem to be a big disconnect between what we've said in the past and what we're saying now. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 13:26

1 Answer 1


Speaking for the citation expectations meta I wrote, something seems to have gotten lost in communication. That's on me, I should've made it clearer. Specifically in the second paragraph I say this:

You do not need to cite every sentence, but citation of various statements and positions may be expected and requested by your fellow community members.

By this I meant to defer to human judgement of when the practices in that meta needed to be followed. I didn't intend the post to establish comprehensive policy for every post ever. I expected it to be an explanation assistant conveying some of our practices: maybe someone will request you back up your post better, and if they do, they can link that meta to help explain what's missing.

There were going to be plenty of posts to which these exact citation expectations didn't apply because they already seemed very adequately backed up, so nobody would request the post follow those citation rules.

But, y'know, looking at it with fresh eyes, I can totally see why it being non-comprehensive is a problem. D'oh. I need to revise it to acknowledge there's spaces where that exact subjective guidance isn't needed, and that the best way to determine if subjective advice is sufficiently backed up is, itself, subjective to human judgement, not whether an exact procedure and set of requirements has been fulfilled.

Our primary target is historically stuff like Is homebrew an acceptable answer to a question? (TLDR: not if you just made it up on the spot without testing it does anything useful), or someone wandering into a social question advising to fix the problem with abusive behaviour, and stuff like that.

We also expect the truthfulness and expertise of answers to be verifiable: none of us should expect to be taken purely at our word. Sometimes that means it needs citation, sometimes it's obvious just from reading the thing that you've done the thing (usually because you're able to get into the grit of the situation in a way only someone with experience can do), and that needs to be accounted for. Hence my intention that human judgement would come into whether a post needed to follow those guidelines or not: if nobody would ask such a post for citation, it probably doesn't need it.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for this. It's helped with a lot of my concerns that came from reading this answer which seems to say that explicit statement of personal experience is often claimed to be the only way to back up an answer, a thing I very much hoped (and am glad) was not the case. Though that may be how the policy is enforced I'm glad to see it is not how some moderators (or at least you) interpret the policy. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 16:06
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ This may be a quibble of phrasing, but I don't think the problem is that the meta is non-comprehensive. I think the problem is that it's being treated as comprehensive when it isn't-- and in fact when it can't be. Maybe we are using "comprehensive" in different ways. \$\endgroup\$
    – Novak
    Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 18:00

You must log in to answer this question.

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