There is plenty of current discussion on the back it up policy as we have started deleting answers that don't provide either personal experience or supporting research to back up their claims.

While both personal experience and supporting research are almost always going to improve an answer, I feel that limiting an answerers options to just these two choices is quite inhibiting.

I propose that we give answerers the option to explain any claims they make, analyse the situation and use logic and reason to justify why they have answered the way they did as an alternative option to backing it up with "personal experience" or "external references".

In my opinion, the issues we are seeing with answers that have not used personal experience/research to back themselves up is when they are entirely unsupported. When they have made bold claims in answering the question, often opposing OP's point of view and giving no reasoning or justification as to why their statement might be valid. Giving personal experiences or linking research certainly helps the post be more useful for OP and future viewers, but the way I see it... explaining the train of thought that lead to the answer, giving logical reasons and explaining why it is a helpful suggestion accomplishes this too.

Giving more flexibility to answers will benefit the site by allowing for a wider variety of answers.

I feel that by deleting answers that give a good explanation for all their suggestions but don't use personal experiences or researched articles we are actually discouraging what the back it up policy is supposed to be used for in the first place. To get answers to support the claims they make.

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    Previously, the policy had been only to delete answers that were unsupported. Recently, there was a decision to enforce a Back It Up policy as well. That's probably why you see comments about explanations. – Mithical Jun 4 '18 at 7:50
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    Honestly, while I admire the push to enforce and clean up the site, I think this "Back it up" ideal is flawed and just points out that Interpersonal issues are a bad fit for a Q/A site like StackExchange. – user10743 Jun 5 '18 at 17:13
  • I posted my related, but slightly-more-polarising, thoughts on the matter in an answer here. – NotThatGuy Jun 6 '18 at 22:19

Let's have conflicting answers for extra fun, shall we? I'm going to say yes, with caveats.

Take my answer to How to talk to a girl who's sitting next to me but wearing headphones? as an example.

  • It contains no personal experience (note: "if" is not experience, it's theoretical)
  • It lists no sources
  • It's the second-highest-upvoted answer on the site.

Some of that voting is certainly down to HNQ, but not all of it. That would be an upvoted answer without HNQ being involved.

Now maybe I'm biased, but I think that's a decent answer. Maybe it's not stellar, but it gives a clear, focused explanation of why the author's idea is not a good path to follow. Disallowing answers unless they contain personal experience or references will, like it or not, raise the barrier to entry and reduce the potential content pool the site has.

So, I'd say answers that are not based on personal experience or references should be allowed, as long as:

  • They're not overly subjective: answers based on highly personal beliefs that are unlikely to be shared by a majority of the specified culture are not acceptable.
  • The explanation they provide is clear and comprehensive: the answer must address a majority of the points exposed in the question with clear responses.
  • They're not a rant in disguise: "you're wrong, this question is wrong, you're a horrible person for thinking this way" is never an acceptable answer, even if it's nicely wrapped up and disguised with explanation. Even answers that criticise or oppose the question's author can't be written from a "you're stupid for not knowing this" POV.

Allowing answers like this does have the side effect of producing more moderation work. If it's to be done, then the community needs to take part in that moderation work to help the diamond moderators out. Quality control via voting must be exercised: good answers should be voted to the top, and bad answers dropped to the bottom and deleted.

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    Just keep in mind that at the time your answer was written, there wasn't a back-it up policy in place, and that at the time the question and the answers it got caused a great uproar on main and meta since it wasn't backed up (so people could 'disagree' with your opinion). I'd say it's one of the main things why the community would like a back up policy now :) – Tinkeringbell Mod Jun 4 '18 at 8:55
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    I respectfully disagree with this. Just because it seems like a good answer without any backup doesn't change the fact that it would be an excellent answer if the backup were provided. Nobody's effort is being invalidated, we're just asking people to add something to their answer. Answers are only deleted when their author does not update their answer to a state that complies with this stack's official policy. – Cronax Jun 4 '18 at 8:58
  • @Cronax referring to your last sentence; are those answers not deleted asap, only to be undeleted when updated? If not, how long should we wait until deleting them? – kscherrer Jun 4 '18 at 9:04
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    I think your first bullet point is, in itself, very subjective. How do you decide what are "highly personal beliefs"? Wouldn't that involve requiring the answerer to explain their experience in that culture and why they think those beliefs are shared by a majority? ... which is backing it up? (The example answer doesn't even say what culture you're from!) – Em C Mod Jun 4 '18 at 12:39
  • @Cashbee I think they are indeed, I wasn't thinking of that part of the process yet. I do think that the whole delete/undelete process can be a little opaque, I myself have been a user of StackExchange for years and I only 'grokked' that process in the last month. – Cronax Jun 4 '18 at 13:31
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    @Cronax The point of the Back it up rule is to have support for deleting answers. If this site prohibits answers that fail to meet the two guidelines of "personal experience" or "references", many very good answers will by necessity to uphold our own standards have to be removed. It could be used as a bludgeon instead of as a helpful guideline. We don't want "do this because I said so" answers, but I also don't think we need to be so draconian to delete answers that give some valid support to their reasoning, either. – Catija ModStaff Jun 4 '18 at 14:40
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    @Catija could you be more specific with what the rule currently is? From the sound of it, you are saying that the back it up policy is to help delete answers that don't give valid support to their reasoning (eg. logic)? If this is the case does that mean that my suggestion is already in effect? – Jesse Jun 5 '18 at 5:09
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    On a side note, I believe at least half of my content would be on the chopping block if this went through entirely @Catija. I wasn't in the habit of drawing parallels to personal experience in my first days on here ... as weren't many people. That doesn't mean our answers weren't actually based on experiences or facts, but we didn't spell that out back then. So if we were to delete these, I think we'd have to curb a good chunk of our content here. – magisch Jun 6 '18 at 9:29
  • @Magisch, Shog described a very nice process for backing up answers here which in no way suggests deleting without notifying people of the necessary changes first, or blocking undeletion once those changes are made... So, if they were and you didn't spell it out, you have a chance to incorporate it. And that's for a premise that this is even going to be enforced/enforced retroactively... – Tinkeringbell Mod Jun 6 '18 at 10:00
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    @Tinkeringbell You assume old contributors will put in the work to retroactively fit the policy and not just quit the site in disgust at the disrespect of their time. I'm not sure I believe that. – magisch Jun 6 '18 at 10:35
  • 'in disgust at the disrespect of their time'... I surely hope I didn't suggest anywhere to notify them in a disrespectful way. I'm also not sure where you get the idea that having something moderated equals a disrepect of time invested instead of an invitation to invest a little more. – Tinkeringbell Mod Jun 6 '18 at 11:03
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    @Tinkeringbell I was saying how it'll be percieved. You can be as nice as you want with this, but the essence of what you're saying is "Spend extra time bringing your old and then helpful answers to our new standard or watch your work be squandered" people won't take that well. – magisch Jun 6 '18 at 12:58
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    @Tinkeringbell What about the users that were active but no longer are? Some of the best answers I have seen are from no longer active users. – Jesse Jun 6 '18 at 23:12
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    @Jesse If you're talking about users and answers like this, then yeah, I agree, some of the best answers can come from one-time users... Oh, and hey, look! It's backed up! I guess we have a fundamental difference of 'best' here, you seem to suggest that answers that you find you can personally agree with very much are 'best'. – Tinkeringbell Mod Jun 7 '18 at 9:02
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    @ThorstenS. Given that the question is about what is considered sufficiently backed up enough to not be deleted, this question presuppose that questions must be backed up. To assume that because an answer saying that perhaps you don't need to cite a source or personal experience, provided you clearly back up your answer with with well explained reasoning was well received, implies that answers don't need to be backed up is a pretty big leap of logic. – sphennings Jun 9 '18 at 1:22

I'm answering primarily as a rebuttal to ArtOfCode's answer, because I believe it inadvertently spells out precisely why we need a "back it up" policy here:

Take my answer to How to talk to a girl who's sitting next to me but wearing headphones? as an example.

  • It contains no personal experience (note: "if" is not experience, it's theoretical)
  • It lists no sources
  • It's the second-highest-upvoted answer on the site.


Now maybe I'm biased, but I think that's a decent answer.

Art is biased, of course; we all are. We all give a bit more weight to our own beliefs than we allow for those of others; heck, we'll give more weight to our own beliefs than well-supported facts from others if they come into conflict. Here's a fun webcomic on this very topic... Complete with supporting citations at the end

So why... Why is an answer that even its author admits has no basis in their own real-world experience much less support from the experiences of others... Why is such an answer the second-highest-scoring answer on the site?

Simple: lots and lots of people who can vote here already believe what Art wrote. We don't have to wrestle with any crisis of conscience triggered by a conflict between beliefs; we read the words, and they ring true. Nay, better than true - they ring truthy!

Facts matter not at all. Perception is everything. It's certainty. People love the president because he's certain of his choices as a leader, even if the facts that back him up don't seem to exist. It's the fact that he's certain that is very appealing to a certain section of the country. I really feel a dichotomy in the American populace. What is important? What you want to be true, or what is true?

-- Stephen Colbert on "Truthiness", interview with The A.V. Club, 2006-25-1

Facts often make us uncomfortable, and none so much as the facts of others' experiences which differ from our own (at least, those we wish to recall). But widely-shared personal beliefs? Why, those are just common sense!

I'll wager a good many of us read Art's answer nodding our heads the whole way through: "yep, that's exactly what I'm after when I wear headphones in public - respite from the constant interruptions and annoyances from the people around me. YES, I do consider it rude when someone interrupts me!"

But we're not the girl in the coffee shop. Art isn't the girl in the coffee shop. Perhaps in the past Art has been a girl in a coffee shop, wearing headphones to stave off interruption... Or perhaps the advice in the answer was drawn from other experiences wearing headphones in other situations, or from the experiences of others relayed to him in some form. But nothing in the answer suggests any of this, nor provides any compelling reason to view the situation this way for someone who doesn't already believe it. How do I know? Because there are 40 deleted comments under that answer, one argument after another between The Believers and The Unbelievers. Art preached a rousing sermon, but only the choir took heed.

And that's where this all falls apart. If answers here are nothing but assertions, clearly-written appeals to common sense and pats on the back for folks already confident in their mastery of the interpersonal interaction...

...then what's the point? Who is learning anything? It becomes a crowd-sourced agony aunt column, entertaining problems coupled with comforting advice that doesn't challenge the bored reader's dearly-held notions or offend their delicate sensibilities.

Truth can be hard to come by these days. Obtaining it - whether that means being honest about your own experiences and their limits, or listening carefully to others' - is time-consuming, humbling, and often leaves the writer exhausted and vulnerable. But if we're going to do some good here, we're gonna have to put the work in.

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    Some solid points about ArtOfCode's answer. But can I just say that the most objective, and closest part of this answer to "truth" was your thorough explanation. Not the wikipedia definitions of odd words, not the very visually convincing but incredibly subjective reference to a tv entertainment interview and not even your amusing links to comic strips. In IPS its very tough but we do strive for more objectivity and truth in our answers. I just think that personal experience/links are not the only way. – Jesse Jun 5 '18 at 7:53
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    Of course, @Jess - stories and citations aren't an end goal here any more than a link to official documentation is on Stack Overflow... Their purpose is to let readers learn why the author believes what they profess, a trail of breadcrumbs to follow on the search for a solution. – Shog9 Jun 5 '18 at 12:04
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    Even if Art's answer was based on personal experience, the comments section would have been filled with the same arguments. "Just because that's what you feel like doesn't mean that's how she feels"... etc. "I only wear headphones because I want to listen to music, I'm not sending a signal to people to stay away"... And the reality is, only that one woman can speak for herself in any given situation. If you go down that rabbit hole, that question and half the questions here should be closed as unanswerable. – Catija ModStaff Jun 5 '18 at 15:10
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    Yeah - one person's experience is probably the weakest form of support one could muster, @Catija; ideally, you're able to do more than extrapolate your own preferences to an entire society. But so what? The argument that 1 data point isn't enough isn't an argument for no data points, for pure speculation. "I've never been in this situation nor similar situations, nor know of anyone in this or similar situations... But in my imagination, this is how it would go down..." – Shog9 Jun 5 '18 at 17:29
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    @Shog9 If the purpose is for readers to learn why the author believes what they profess, I only think that is yet another reason why a solid explanation detailing why the author answered the way they did is an acceptable alternative. Explanations can be a better breadcrumb than links and you might end up deleting answers with the better breadcrumbs – Jesse Jun 5 '18 at 21:57
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    So what's your definition for "solid explanation", @Jesse? Art's boiled down to "clear, polite beliefs that most people agree with", which is effectively the same as no standard at all. I gotta confess, I'm getting pretty confused here; no one's arguing for a Skeptics-style "no original research, list of credible sources" standard for answers; the old "a reference or personal experience" standard is pretty much the weakest possible criteria that I can imagine being applied fairly. – Shog9 Jun 5 '18 at 22:17
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    We based this policy largely on TWP policy... and maybe that's part of the problem because it doesn't seem to actually be enforced there (for example a two-day-old answer with +259 score and no support at all)... and they've been around for years. So I think where I'm lost is in deciding to what extent we actually follow through on deleting answers like Art's that fail to meet that "weakest possible criteria". I've written them, too... so call me equally biased... but I don't know how to avoid deleting half of the content on the site. – Catija ModStaff Jun 5 '18 at 22:59
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    @RandolphCarter Saying "in my experience" isn't actually sufficient for the site... we've got that written in a few places here on meta. That said, there's still nothing preventing someone from pulling a story out of thin air and passing it off as personal experience. – Catija ModStaff Jun 5 '18 at 23:03
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    @Shog9 That would be up to each user's discretion. It is precisely because we are not demanding credible sceptic style research that detailed explanations have the potential to exceed the objectivity of an answer including your "minimum standard", which is why we should include it as an alternative. – Jesse Jun 5 '18 at 23:10
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    @Shog9 If you answered questions based off how you thought people should work, we would call it bs at the same point as we have done in the past: based off user votes. Even if you happen to be wrong, if you have explained why you think what you said in a way that users can follow and understand your reasoning, it should not be delete worthy.. or at least that is the case I am trying to make – Jesse Jun 5 '18 at 23:15
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    You're imagining the laziest possible way of adding experience, and the most thorough way of adding reasoning, @Randolph. And at the same time arguing that the community will enforce an overly strict definition of experience, to the detriment of past contributions. So what makes you think that folks won't be over-strict when applying requirements for sound logical reasoning... or allow much less rigorous arguments than that which you envision? – Shog9 Jun 5 '18 at 23:59
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    @Shog9 It's... kinda unfair to classify my concerns that way and then to not even respond to the ones I actually voice... Yes, making stuff up is an issue but I'm not really interested in taking that path because it leads to nowhere. What I need/want is to understand how this policy is enacted without deleting a good chunk of the content posted here... the other sites that follow it (parenting/TWP) don't seem to actually delete this content consistently, particularly when highly upvoted... So if I'm going to have to manage this somehow, I need to know how/when to do so. – Catija ModStaff Jun 6 '18 at 0:45
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    We have such an explanation, here from a former Parenting mod... "If the answer instead provides what seems like sensible advice, backed with an explanation of why that advice seems applicable to the situation, fully answers the question, but doesn't explicitly state what parallel experiences happened to the author that they are basing their advice on, that's fine, too." So... All I'm left with is more confusion and arguments about "what is enough to back up an answer". – Catija ModStaff Jun 6 '18 at 1:13
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    You could have said that... somewhere. In response to apaul's ping, or my email... or on that question. In response to Beofett on your answer Jesse pointed out a bit ago, you said that the site was already doing most of the deleting of low quality answers without the moderators' help... but here you're saying that we're not so that leaves me somewhat confused. Would it be possible to get some sort of response that shows us what the actual data looks like comparing NAA flags with actual deletions in review and moderator deletions after a flag is disputed? – Catija ModStaff Jun 6 '18 at 3:25
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    Yeah, @Jesse... I'm definitely not suggesting that we can drop everything else and just throw in some charming anecdote or a link and call it an answer. As for skipping steps... interpersonal.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2995/… – Shog9 Jun 7 '18 at 0:50

We're having a namespace collision on the phrase "back it up policy" which is adding to the confusion that's happening with this topic.

Right now we are using the phrase "back it up" to refer to making sure answers are more substantial than someone just saying "do this". This is a discussion of whether we should back up answers at all. Until it got confused for the other form of the word this was a relatively uncontroversial position that most people agreed with.

Recently we have started talking about what it means for an answer to be sufficiently backed up. In particular whether a well written answer that clearly explains why the poster thinks that a course of action will address the OP's concerns, is considered sufficiently backed up even if all the claims made in explaining their reasoning are unsubstantiated, and not supported by citing sources or personal experience.

When people are talking about enforcing the "back it up policy" it's currently unclear whether they are talking only about removing one sentence answers that provide absolutely no back up whatsoever, or whether they're also talking about removing well written but unsubstantiated answers.

Answers saying "Do this." or "Say that" while technically answers are unhelpful, since there is nothing provided to assess their relative quality to each other besides a gut feeling that one looks legit to me... While it may help the OP in their exact situation since there is no explanation for why they work, it's impossible for someone else in a similar situation to know how to modify the answer to suit their needs. Such answers are definitely not backed up at all and should be deleted.

Now on to the OP's actual question:

Is an answer that provides a detailed explanation of the situation and then explains why someone should choose a particular course of action sufficiently backed up, even though the claims it makes are unsubstantiated, sufficiently backed up?

I'm not sure. Any answer backed enough to where this distinction matters will be improved by backing up the claims that are made with cited sources and personal experience. If we're taking about what makes the best answer it seems pretty obvious that claims should be substantiated. While I'm hesitant to dismiss well written answers the I find the arguments for requiring that claims be substantiated compelling.

Let's try to enforce the stricter policy on new questions and see how it affects the quality of the answers. If we find that there are certain questions that are difficult to answer well with this new policy we can always revise our policies in light of how things work in the real world instead of arguing over hypothetical.

  • Seems like there's also confusion over exactly what constitutes an unsubstantiated answer, e.g. I've seen the whole thing essentially condensed to requiring anecdotes. Collecting examples on a new question might be a good way to address a lot of this. – Cascabel Jun 9 '18 at 17:38
  • Ah, it seems you have already understood what I originally meant and added this clarification. +1 – Thorsten S. Jun 10 '18 at 0:23

Can we let adequate explanation be an alternative to “Backing it up”?

I'm sorry, but no. An adequate explanation on this site includes back up, and a good answer includes both an explanation of how things worked, why things worked and under which circumstances things worked. So, an explanation on its own as defined by your question is not a replacement for back up. The whole purpose of a back it up policy, as explained by SE here is:

Back It Up! means that your answers must be based on either:

Something that happened to you personally
Something you can back up with a reference

That's it. No Here's my opinion and here's some explanation of that opinion. It's important to know where an answer is coming from, otherwise it's just that, an opinion. We close questions that are only answerable with opinions as primarily opinion based. There is no such thing as an adequate explanation that does not include at least some research or a description of where your reasoning is coming from (Life experience/Expertise). If this site wants to keep existing, it's important that we invite answers to be more than mere opinion. Take a look at this picture from the same blogpost:

enter image description here

We're aiming for the stuff on the left and in the middle, and we need to avoid the stuff on the right. So, we want references (on the left) or personal experience (in the middle). Not opinions or beliefs on what should work in a given situation, however well reasoned.

To add a real life example: 'Adequate explanation' means little on its own. When I was just starting university, we had to write an essay to practice academic writing. I wrote mine on the existence of ancient aliens. I adequately explained why Ancient Aliens must exist, and got full marks on that essay. Yet, had the essay not been solely for academic writing skills I'd probably have been marked down heavily and failed the course for not practicing due diligence and spouting academic nonsense.

So, now that we've agreed to enforce a back-it up policy, let's stick to it, please. Or we risk this site becoming not a good fit for SE and being shut down. There's a reason SE employees are shouting 'Finally' when it comes to enforcing the back-it up policy.

Giving more flexibility to answers will benefit the site by allowing for a wider variety of answers.

On a side note, I don't think enforcing a back-it up policy will damage the site, there's a huge number of questions that get over 15 answers, especially once they hit HNQ. I'd rather see 2 or 3 answers that back themselves up with Expertise, than 15 with only 'adequate explanation'.

We really don't need a wider variety of answers.

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    There's a reason SE employees are shouting 'Finally' when it comes to enforcing the back-it up policy. I feel this is the key part to the whole discussion. This is not some vocal minority of the community trying to have their way, this is what we have to do if we want this stack to succeed. – Cronax Jun 4 '18 at 8:53
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    @Tinkeringbell I can't help but disagree. Recent references to random biased articles found from simply googling the already held opinion have been far less objective than if answerers had tried to explain using their own logic. At least that way users can see the thought process that led to the answer. – Jesse Jun 4 '18 at 8:58
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    @Jesse, so in that case, why not leave a comment and asking? Further back up is always better :) If you can find articles or other sources, you can ask in a comment as well, state that you've found opposing evidence, link to it, and ask the answerer to explain why they chose their sources the way they did. That's how you make the site better, not by lifting the requirement that answers should be backed up. – Tinkeringbell Mod Jun 4 '18 at 9:02
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    I have - believe it or not - deleted a conversation about comment deletion; that's not what we're discussing here. If you do have questions about comment deletion on IPS, see here, here, here, here . . . and, well, honestly most of IPS meta. – HDE 226868 Jun 4 '18 at 21:21
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    Some people expressed worries about me dismissing explanation as part of an answer, I just meant to say it can't be the only thing an answer consists of, like the question suggests, because that defeats the whole purpose of the back it up policy. – Tinkeringbell Mod Jun 5 '18 at 8:23

"Analyse the situation and use logic and reason to justify why they have answered the way they did..."

I would be in favour of allowing answers based on this approach as it may encourage answers from those who do not have similar experiences to the OPs but would like to help with other pools of knowledge.

There are many questions on here that involve situations so rare and unusual that the chances of previous documented cases or users with similar personal experiences finding the posts are slim. There are those from - for example - a psychological or anthropological professional background who may want to provide answers, but their knowledge is only loosely related from - for example - case studies or research accumulated throughout their careers. Not easy to back up with references, but answers that can be given clearly and concisely.

I would also add that some users on various StackExchange sites appear to use their real names / pictures on their profiles. If personal experience is their only knowledge base for answering a question, some might be reluctant to answer if they have to divulge too much about a sensitive personal experience. Offering a less personal answer but one with sufficient explanation that allows the OP to understand may encourage users to answer questions they might now not with these new rules.

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    We don't need people with the exact same experience, that's never been the standard. We just want people to actually explain what their background is, so that OP/voters can judge for themselves how useful that is to answer the question. For example a recent question was about a parent and daycare provider, and someone answered "as a businessman": maybe that's relevant, maybe it's not, but by enforcing "back it up" we now have context to judge if the advice is well-grounded or not. – Em C Mod Jun 4 '18 at 19:21

I have to express dissent with the supposition people need to 'back up' a personal experience on an interpersonal site given a number of huge flaws:

Studies are not real life experiences

Taking polling data, asking a group of people if they would do XYZ, referring to some scientific citation or claim (which may be absent other citations or claims due to funding, etc) are often very poor indicators to real world experience, especially across broad gaps in culture.

Citations are for skeptics, not socialites

The indication for 'sources' or 'citations' is more an attitude I'd expect on skeptics. Bearing in mind these are engagements that often involve heavily opinionated, heavily nuanced social manouverings, asking for a citation for that one time you managed to write a convincing letter that got a person to stop doing a thing seems capricious and overly burdensome. A 'your mileage may vary' disclaimer applies to all suggestions, and none will work always no matter how many sources.

Citations have zero bearing in opinionated subjective interactions

Can you imagine how social interactions would sound so weird if they were citation centric: 'I know I'm right because I can cite Webners 1978 study into the social interactions of mice'. I'm sure the very angry burly dude understands and isn't going to get narked off.

Extrapolation is not accuracy or credibility (AKA they can just lie further)

Asking for a further explanation, especially of an intrinsically logical or 'self-evident' thing, doesn't guarantee any further accuracy or probability of success. For example, if I'm evil troll(tm), I will spin whatever tale I need to 'back up' my dubious claim. Heck, I could probably misquote, miscite, or acquire cherry picked studies to backup whatever I'm going to say.

Back it up is a solution to a not very clearly defined problem

It's unclear to me what the 'back it up' policy is trying to solve problem wise. Is it to stop trolls? You're always going to have trolls. Is there some massive problem of people giving out bad advice that doesn't work (why the large number of upvotes?)? Genuine, but bad advice, is still going to be based on in-world experiences (and thus, citable); trolling and bad advice can be twisted to fit whatever paradigm.

All things are subjective anyway

Perhaps instead, a different policy: a disclaimer on why a set of advice is bad? Deleting the advice only merely means others under the same illusions will see that it's missing and then proceed to recreate it.

It doesn't set a positive tone

I've had a bad experience of the back it up policy so far: my first contribution on a question riddled with variations of people suggesting the person 'accept' or 'comply' with something they weren't inclined to do, was based on my personal experience of 'politely declining' something. Surprisingly enough, I was asked to back it up, which then promptly entailed downvotes. I'm baffled no-one on IPS is familiar with the concept of making a polite declination to an offer, which included an explanation on how to make one.

I was asked what experience I have with declining the absolutely specific item on the question (business card). This seems a bit strange to me, given there's no evidence of declining one thing (a business card) is any different from, say, a flier, or a gift. I could pick any number of examples of politely declining something, as could anyone: why is it even necessary? What does one hope to gain if I re-explain my suggestion for a second time in an anecdote?

Authority isn't sociability

The ability to navigate the social waters isn't predicated on one's authority, job title or position, but one's own interactions and experiences. What do you call a highly qualified socialite? You don't.

If this is about 'context' of the situation (male, female, old, young, country, culture, etc), then the message of 'back it up' is the wrong message. Backing something up implies adding credibility, with the implication you're not trustworthy. Where-as asking for context asks for a user to expand on additional details.

I'm going to be ironic here and cite a few studies why studies are bad:

Psychology studies generally not reproducible: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/08/28/landmark-study-suggests-most-psychology-studies-dont-yield-reproducible-results

Why scientific studies are often wrong: http://discovermagazine.com/2010/jul-aug/29-why-scientific-studies-often-wrong-streetlight-effect

Fraud and misconduct in studies: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2012/sep/13/scientific-research-fraud-bad-practice

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    Have you read any of the related meta discussion yet? We've had some problems with people posting pure speculation, and having that speculation voted up. Yes, back-it-up is a very low bar, but you'd be surprised how many folks trip over it. Asking that answers be ever so slightly more than speculation isn't asking for very much. All it does is weed out some of the worst answers. – apaul Jun 7 '18 at 23:42
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    Your answer is somewhat about the back it up policy overall, might be best if you posted your answer here instead. If you can throw in some more about why explanation and justification is enough it might fit on both questions though – Jesse Jun 7 '18 at 23:47

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