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Note: this is not a duplicate of any of these meta questions but a reminder that on the basis of those discussions we had agreed to include references/citations whenever possible:

Do we want references in our answers?

What is the site recommendation for citations and references when we post an answer here?


Reading many answers at Interpersonal.SE including my own, I was surprised at the lack of references/citations even where it would have been easy to include them.

When I had raised the question of citations in meta a month ago, it had already been asked and the consensus reply was:

Citations are best included wherever possible. If impossible to cite references, personal experience is a valid substitute. [summary / paraphrase]

Sure, we know that many answers here are based on personal experience, and not all can possibly include references, but the situation at present is that users get the message "you don't need to include citations in your questions or answers" which goes against the grain of the StackExchange ethos.

Example of a recent well referenced answer:https://interpersonal.stackexchange.com/a/1762/381

This answer was written by a member who can be seen to have cited useful articles to support certain points in most of the answers on the profile page.

Even if some users argue that there are not many authoritative published resources for interpersonal skills (which I am not really convinced about) the whole Stack Exchange experience shows that well-chosen citations do inprove credibility.

I am not asking for every statement to be backed up by citations. That is not possible here. But why not include credible citations to establish points whenever there is published material that supports the specific statement?

No need to debate this issue too much, and I have neglected to include citations myself, so let's simply remember to include citations in future Q and A whenever possible.

OR ELSE... OPTION 2:

This is a site that gives major importance to personal experience, while the Stack Exchange network generally encourages the practice of citing references. However, if the Interpersonal.SE community consensus decides that no references are required and experience based answers are good enough then we should adopt the official or unofficial policy that

we don't need any references or citations.


Related meta questions:

Why doesn't this site have a back it up rule?

Against the evidence or experience requirement

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    Re Option 2: why would we want to say "if you can't do it everywhere don't try it anywhere"? Some answers benefit from citations; some benefit from personal experience; some benefit from both. The most important thing is for an answer to show the reader why it's a good answer, whether that's journal articles or clear reasoning or relevant experience. Leave out the support and all we have is personal opinions, which are useless. – Monica Cellio Aug 16 '17 at 13:20
  • OPTION 2 'We don't need any citations' would not be to say that users should not post citations at all, @Monica Cellio, but it would make it so optional as to say "this site goes almost exclusively by personal experience and does not care whether you post any citations." I am concerned that users might dispense with references altogether and answers will become purely subjective as a result. Again, what is to stop anybody from presenting a speculative answer as 'personal experience' if that is the only criterion for a valid answer? A lot more energy would be spent in downvoting bad answers. – English Student Aug 16 '17 at 13:34
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When I had raised the question of citations in meta a month ago, it had already been asked and the consensus reply was:

Citations are best included wherever possible. If impossible to cite references, personal experience is a valid substitute. [summary / paraphrase]

No. If you read the top voted answer, you'll see that it begins with "personal experience is cool here." It does not say that citations are better than personal experience.

Besides, unlike subjects such as history and economics, reputable sources don't really exist for questions about basic social skills. It would be nice if they did, but they don't. So telling people to use citations is bad advice because you're telling people to look for something that doesn't exist.

Instead of sending people on a fool's errand, let's learn how to write good experience based answers instead. See Why doesn't this site have a back it up rule? for information about how to write a good experience based answers.

  • Your point is well noted. I might have misunderstood the consensus, but if I change that part of the question by editing now, your answer will become confusing. So are you categorically saying that unlike other StackExchange sites, we don't need any references? If the other answers to this meta question agree, I shall take that as the authoritative community consensus on references. – English Student Aug 16 '17 at 9:17
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    @EnglishStudent unlike other Stack Exchange sites, you don't have references. It doesn't matter if you need them or want them; they don't exist. So you need to learn other ways of answering questions. – user288 Aug 16 '17 at 9:20

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