This was already sort-of discussed here:
The general outcome there seems to be:
- Personal experience is 'a reference'
- References are perfect if they can be found, but we can't 'require' them.
This is from the Help Center of Parenting SE:
Please note that opinions shared here should be backed up either with a reference, or experiences that happened to you personally. Also, posts that primarily exist to push a specific agenda (propaganda), and soap-boxing, are not welcome.
I agree with that: posting something like 'I think you should do this to resolve your problem' without backing it up by explaining why and how that works isn't a good answer there, and won't work here.
From the Workplace SE Meta:
Please note that answers should be backed up either with a reference, or experiences that happened to you personally. You should always include in your answer information about why you think your answer is correct.
See also this Workplace Meta post:
It is never sufficient to simply say what you think the answer is. You must always include in your answer information about why you think your answer is correct.
So, Workplace does allow 'solid reasoning' as a back-it-up to opinions on why a proposed solution is a good answer for a specific problem.
I agree with @Catija's answer here. One of the most important points to keep in mind is this:
Spitballing possible solutions if you've never been in the situation yourself is not helpful and is potentially disastrous for the person asking for help. If you do not know your solution works because you've used it yourself or you've seen it recommended by a reputable* source, do not supply the answer. Answers that do not cite a source or note that it was the solution they used in a similar situation should be marked with an appropriate post notice requesting sourced information.
Even though something may very well make 'common sense', unless somebody can confirm it actually worked, the answer isn't really useful.
I agree with Hamlet that the second answer and third answer fall into this category. The OP admits never having been in the situation, so we can't tell the OP if this will really work or not. Basically, the OP of that answer is using the answer to 'soapbox' his opinion about what would be the right thing to do in such situations, without ever having been in a similar situation.
If we don't want the 'negative' soapboxing here, we should also not allow the 'positive' soapboxing. Giving your opinion on what's best in these matters should be not done.
The answers might not be bad enough to be worthy of a downvote, but they also aren't upvote-worthy in my opinion. See also the link at the bottom of this post.
Since I'm a bit late to this meta, 2 other answers have been written since.
This one is written from personal experience, but didn't have any upvotes! Although the personal experiences the OP shares here might be of much more use than the opinions on how the world should work in other answers... This is definitely one of those upvote-worthy answers.
This one is a lot more extreme: it tells the OP to do something that goes against the wishes of the birth mom, while the OP specifically stated in the question that 'their mom doesn't want contact, and they want to respect that wish'. This is what happens when we allow people to 'share their opinions' as a solution without having them relate these 'solutions' to personal experience explaining how things have worked out for them in the past!
This does definitely not deserve an upvote. In fact, this might even be flagged as NAA because 'it doesn't honor the premise of the question'
I played an interesting mind game with Shog9 in chat last night.
Pretend you're a passing reader
With Many Opinions
But no special training/experience on the subject matter of the question.
You see a question... Can you answer it?
Will that answer touch on some area of your personal experience?
How do you determine these things?
I've seen users say in chat 'Oh, it's easy to gain rep here, it's easy to rep cap each day'.
That's probably because we have been allowing people to post their opinions, instead of requiring them to back these up with personal experiences that explain how the solution worked for them, and why they think it might work for the OP as well. This has two problems:
- If we allow soapboxing of opinions that are 'nice', we must also allow soapboxing of opinions that aren't, otherwise, we'd be censoring people. Passing users with Many Opinions will come by, see other users that are allowed to post their opinions (because those are considered okay) and use that to stave their thought of 'Oh, so I can do that as well'.
- It will be detrimental to the quality of our answers if we allow opinions. Because an opinion on how something should be handles isn't really an answer, it's just what you think will work in your own perfect world.
There is one other meta post that should be in this discussion:
Why doesn't this site have a back it up rule?
There's a really good answer there:
We need a back it up rule. But not for the reasons you would think.