The problem that this site currently has is that the answers are mostly suggestions. What this means is that answers will simply suggest suggestions to the problem, but there is no way for anyone reading the answer to know if the suggestion will work unless they actually try it. This leads to problems; if someone uses a suggestion found on this site and the suggestion didn't work, well, they're just one more person who's been tricked by the internet.
The mission of Stack Exchange is to make the internet a better place. (Or rather, this should be the mission of Stack Exchange; whether that actually happens is a different question.) If the only thing that answers on this site do is spam suggestions that may or may not be right, well, then the Interpersonal Skills Stack Exchange will be making the internet a worse place, not a better one.
So how can this problem be solved. How can this community teach its members to write answers that aren't suggestions but rather solutions? How can this community write answers that are helpful and that people can trust?
In most cases, answers on this site will be written from experience. This makes sense; there aren't academic sources for basic social skills. But it's not easy to write a good experience-based answers. Many people believe that an experience-based answer simply means changing "do x" to "From my experience, doing x is best". But if you think about it, there's no difference between the two quotes. Both are ultimately suggestions; the difference is the second quote attempts to gain the reader's trust by claiming an identity. Since anyone can lie on the internet without repercussion, it's a poor attempt indeed.
After some thought, some frustration, and a lot of conversation on chat, I've come up with a way of thinking about the issue that is helpful and easy to understand.
answer = information + argument
A good answer has two components: information and an argument. Both components are crucial to ensuring that an answer is more than a list of suggestions. To explain why, let me go through each component one by one.
What information should answers include?
When someone receives advice, the first thing they need to know is whether the advice is applicable to them. "Divorce your spouse" might be good advice if you are in an abusive relationship, and it might be bad advice if you're having an argument about what tv show to watch. As has been discussed elsewhere on this site, good advice for one culture might be bad advice for another culture. When someone reads an answer, they need to be able to know that the answer applies to their situation.
To fix this, provide information about the specific context your experience comes from. For example, in a question about retail etiquette, including a statement such as "as someone who has both worked in retail and enjoys shopping, I can understand both sides" contains enough information that a reader will be able to tell whether the subsequent advice will apply to them.
It's important to understand that since this is the internet, it's impossible to verify whether the information is true. So the only critique one can realistically make of information is that an answer doesn't have enough of it. But trust is not the function of the information portion of an answer. Trust is where the second portion of the answer, the argument, comes into play.
Arguments transform information into solutions people can trust.
So once a reader knows that an answer is applicable, how does a reader know that the ultimate conclusion of the answer (e.g. "do [x]") is a good one? The answer: it's the job of the answer to convince the reader that the answer's advice is good. How do you convince someone? You give an argument.
Here's what a good argument might look like: "I was in an abusive relationship. Nothing I did improved things. I later found out from a psychologist that this is normal. Meeting with the psychologist helped give me courage to walk away. The very act of talking about the issue with someone face to face helped my organize my thoughts and feelings. I suggest that you meet with a psychologist, or someone who is a professional who can offer advice." Of course, this argument is missing the first part of the equation: information.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do we need a consensus to enact this as a policy?
You don't need a consensus to downvote and/or leave constructive comments. Don't underestimate the power of downvotes and comments to change people's behavior! At the same time, downvoting and leaving constructive comments are perhaps the only way to build grassroots support for establishing a consensus about requirements for answers. So the answer to this question is: downvote and leave constructive comments!
Here are some examples of constructive comments:
What country is your answer applicable to? I ask because different countries have very different social conventions.
Answers shouldn't just list suggestions, but should explain why each suggestion would be beneficial to the reader. If I use your suggestions, how can I be sure that they will make my situation better?
There's no need to worry about answer quality; the votes take care of that on their own
I'm going to redirect you to this answer by Shog, which does an excellent job of breaking down some of the philosophy of Stack Exchange with regard to voting, answer quality, and closing questions.
Where can I read more about this?