There have been quite a few questions on Good Subjective answers and their policy, and I would like this one to avoid discussing what moderators are or aren't doing to enforce the current policy. Instead I have found myself questioning said policy and wonder what changes (if any) should be made to it.

Perhaps I'm out of place opening a question like this and should leave this to the moderators, if that is the case I will have no arguments against this question being removed.

I already asked the question "Confusion regarding the “Good Subjective” post notice and the policy on backing up answers" which was answered and said answer contains the following quotes:

I meant to defer to human judgement of when the practices in that meta needed to [...] be followed [...]

[...] 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 [...]

[...] There's spaces where [...] 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 [...]

[...] 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 [...]

These show that there are levels of human judgement and subjectivity in determining whether a subjective answer is or is not "good". I believe this calls for a change to the policy to better show this. I believe my question linked above shows disconnect between when people think the policy/post-notice will be enforced and when it actually will be. A good way to fix this, would be to update the policy in some way.

Does the policy need to be updated? If it should be, how so?

For example, in the comments of this answer to the question "Request for feedback on Good Subjective moderation", the following was stated:

Can you vote? Can you understand the answer’s suggestions and judge whether they are helpful or not? Then it’s backed up. It’s that simple. That’s all it ever needs to be [...]

We don’t need a meta discussion about how to back things up. We don’t need a list of ways to do it. [...]

I (clearly) disagree with that (as I'm opening a meta discussion about how to back things up), and have provided my own answer to that point. I cannot provide a fair argument for the above quotes, but any answer in support of them would similarly be a suggested course of action.

  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ I haven't read all the relevant conversation from the last two days, but I wanted to weigh in quickly on one point: it definitely is your place to raise questions like these on meta, it's not just for the moderators to do. Thanks for attending to the site's well-being =) \$\endgroup\$
    – nitsua60 Mod
    Commented Oct 10, 2019 at 18:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ I understand your point - I don't understand what question you are asking. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dale M
    Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 6:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DaleM are there any changes to the current expectations that people want \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 7:51
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @DaleM I think the point may be that there are several meta questions stating what is required for good subjective support, but that the community doesn't seem to agree on the direction stated in those meta questions. However, no one is also providing another option beyond "it feels like they know what they're talking about, so it's supported", which is a pretty loose standard. I think Medix2 is looking for more direction on how to assess good subjective support because of that. \$\endgroup\$
    – NotArch
    Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 13:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch Yes, that sums my question up really well! But note I'm either looking for more direction or "less" direction, as my quotes at the end suggest \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 13:38

1 Answer 1


Explicitly state that what qualifies as "backed up" is subjective (up to human judgement), and provide examples of ways to back up an answer

I do believe that explicitly stating that "evidence" and what counts as "backed up" is subjective would help. This removes power from the sentence "You need to back up your answer!" because whether or not that is true would explicitly rely on human judgement.

Regardless of how the expectations of a Good Subjective answer might be being implemented/enforced right now, I do believe examples of "possible ways one might back up an answer" would be helpful. It provides a more tangible list and a way to better see if an answer meets the guidelines.

I am an individual who has great difficulty in understanding how others might interpret my writing, and my worries about whether my subjective answers are "backed up" (whatever that may mean) have lead me to primarily avoid answering subjectively. I do not do especially well with the vague notion of "needing to be backed up".

A list of examples or possible ways to provide evidence/support/experience, would provide go-tos for showing "Good Subjective" so long as the examples aren't set apart as the only ways to have a good subjective answer.

The policy here states that subjective answers should be backed up, but it's unclear to me how one can do/show this and something akin to a list of examples would help me immensely.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The problem is not letting the votes stack the answers. A comment encouraging "back it up" is all that is needed. Then let it be. That's my suggestion \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 15:34
  • \$\begingroup\$ @korvinstarmast Perhaps I'm wrong but I was very much under the impression that people felt moderators were enforcing current policy poorly/over-aggreesively. Which means the policy doesn't work, but I guess I was incorrect in that belief \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 17:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ My read is not that folks think that the mods are what people are upset about;, but my read may be off base a little bit. Flag as needed for exceptions. Mods are Exception handlers. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 17:10
  • \$\begingroup\$ @korvinstarmast I don't know... If people were upset with mods saying "you need to explicitly state that answers are backed up" then why not change the policy to say that they don't? Apologies, I'm not really sure what I'm trying to say anymore and mostly just feel like I've made an argument/point where I shouldn't have. Apologies \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 17:16
  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't care for the excluded middle, and I do not see why "must" is required language. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 15, 2019 at 20:23

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