In the meta question Can we let adequate explanation be an alternative to “Backing it up”?, Shogs answer explaining why we can't allow explanations as backups is now being outvoted by artofcodes answer, which states the opposite.

I am now a bit confused and quite unsure how to proceed. I have stopped with the reviewing since friday because I am unsure where we currently stand on the back-it-up issue.

I do not want to create just another discussion here about which solution is better. I am looking for facts about the decisions made, about policies currently in place.

I think the reason why I am so confused is that shog is a Community Manager and I believe that he has thought this through. I am unsure how much power and influence he has or should have on the voting in IPS Meta. I do not know how I should interpret the current voting status.

Further Uncertainty comes from the fact that in the beginning, shogs answer was highest voted for a long time.

  • Can you be clearer about what you mean by "Backing it up"? Do you mean that "answers should be more substantial than just saying 'Do this'" or that "Claims made in an answer that is already substantial enough should be backed up by citing sources or personal experience"? See my answer to that question for a more comprehensive explanation of what I mean.
    – sphennings
    Jun 11, 2018 at 11:57
  • @sphennings in this post, by backup I mean personal experience or references. I understand the name conflict, but nobody is trying to argue that try-this answers should be ok here ;)
    – kscherrer
    Jun 11, 2018 at 12:01

3 Answers 3


How you decide to proceed in regards to a feature-request meta where the top voted answer contradicts the answer of a diamond mod is still the same as how you decide with any other feature-request meta.

It is a judgement call

As explained quite nicely by shog, you need to determine the outcome of each post individually. The content of the answers and the discussion and response to those varying answers should all be considered when deciding what to do.

Votes are usually a good indication of what the communities attitude towards a specific answer is and an answer coming from a diamond mod is usually a good indication that they have an understanding of how the site works that they are basing their answer off. However, mods are not "all knowing" and as outlined with some of the other answers here there are other factors that can influence votes.

All you can do is read up and try to make as informed a decision as possible, at least until a clear consensus has been found. (But even then it is still subject to analysis)


Probably worth noting first that my answer was a response to Art's answer (I do say that right at the top), which was the top answer when I started writing it. IOW, my answer exists because Art's suggestion is the top answer. That it briefly out-ranked the answer it responded to is probably an anomaly.

Beyond that... It's just, like, my opinion, man. I don't think a site where the rule for what's allowed boils down to "is it popular?" is a particularly great resource... But, YMMV. I can't ignore the fact that a good bit of what makes up acceptable social behavior is what is popularly accepted - in other words, that matching the feelings of most voters here might be as good an indicator of "truth" as anything else when it comes to interpersonal advice (as long as the asker's culture happens to match that of the voters here).

This entire discussion arose from concern that folks are answering questions rooted in cultures they know nothing about. "Back it up" is one approach to solving that, but hardly the easiest. At the end of the day, which solution is chosen - or whether this is solved at all - is decided by the folks who use the site daily, not drive-by CMs.

  • 2
    Also, anybody who voted on Art's answer before seeing yours and perhaps reconsidering has that vote locked in now. Voting rules that work on main don't always work on meta, alas. Anybody who edits now to reverse a vote is effectively making that vote public. Jun 11, 2018 at 19:32
  • @MonicaCellio Don't think so. Shog's answer occured approximately 20 hours later and if I remember right, ArtOfCode had a sum of 3-4 upvotes at this time. So it does not explain the current 8 votes distance. Jun 12, 2018 at 18:41
  • 4
    Are you talking to me, @Jesse? You can interpret votes however you wish to. Generally I look at it as sort of a straw-poll: good for gauging the prevailing wind, but not a rigorous test. Some related reading: A, B
    – Shog9
    Jun 12, 2018 at 23:44
  • @Shog9 Yeah I was, and thankyou! B was very helpful! I might actually write a quick answer repeating a few key points
    – Jesse
    Jun 13, 2018 at 1:01

Something worth remembering as we move forward; this is still a Stack Exchange site. If we want the site to graduate or even remain open we probably need to raise standards somewhere.

I suspect that a lot of what we've been seeing in the voting on meta surrounding the back-it-up policy is simply blow back. When comments are left on unsupported answers directing them to meta, some of those users actually show up on meta and vote. Given that their answer was just downvoted, and that most folks don't like being downvoted, they're probably going to be inclined to vote for the perspective that allows them to continue to write unsupported answers without being downvoted.

This obviously isn't ideal...

In the specific case of artofcode's answer; most users are going to be inclined to think that their answers are perfectly well explained and that their ideas are widely shared. So, someone coming to meta after being freshly downvoted and commented is very likely to say "yes, this! This is obviously the way things should be done."

If we want IPS to survive as a site, we need to raise the bar. Back-it-up isn't a high standard, it's really not hard to support an answer. And I suspect that if we continue down the path of having 10 or more low quality answers per question, SE may eventually decide that what we're doing here doesn't jive with the standards of the rest of the network...

  • 1
    In this specific case, I think you mean to say "unsubstantiated" instead of "unsupported" because you can "support" your answer with explanation, arguments and worded justification but to "substantiate" it you must use experience/references. Usually I wouldn't be so picky but just for this topic it makes a significant difference and it might help avoid misinterpretations.
    – Jesse
    Jun 12, 2018 at 1:54
  • @Jesse how about both? Both is good.
    – apaul
    Jun 12, 2018 at 2:13
  • 2
    so artofcode's answer (which includes ensuring answers have given enough explanation to support their answer) is attracting votes from users who want to write unsupported answers???
    – Jesse
    Jun 12, 2018 at 2:58
  • @Jesse You're assuming that users who write these poor quality answers know the difference and don't assume that their answer/s fall into what art is talking about...
    – apaul
    Jun 12, 2018 at 3:03
  • 2
    There is much, too much we want, we need as replacement for I think we want/I think we need in this answer, suggesting a consent, a verifiable goal or an objective conclusion which actually is disputed. I am quite confident that people can actually point out a missing argumentation or ask a question in the comments as they can do for the older back-it up rule and this is reason that people decided that "backing it up" should be extended. Jun 12, 2018 at 18:20

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