In the meta post What are the citation expectations of answers on IPS SE I noticed that the post was not as friendly as I would have liked in the perspective of new users, and I wanted to improve the experience for new users who are learning about site policies and how to make a good answer and question.

I would like to propose adding more information about the history of the "Back It Up!" policy to the post, so that new users who are directed to the post can understand the history and understand better why they are being asked to read the meta post and how they can improve their answer.

What should we include in that history portion?

  • 1
    I don't think I've seen a FAQ post before that explained the whole history of a discussion... So I don't have any interesting examples to link. That said, maybe we shouldn't do this: FAQ posts are what we use to make users quickly aware of existing rules/functionality, not of a site policy's history as far as I know
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 6:07
  • 2
    I wasn't thinking of showing and explaining in detail an extensive history but at least showing where the context of that decision came from so that new users don't feel like users like them have been left out of that discussion.
    – ElizB
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 17:36

3 Answers 3


I do like the idea of giving a bit more background to that entry, especially after reading concerns that in its present state, it may look to newcomers like a single mod was dictating policy without community input.

At the same time, it's meant to serve as a FAQ entry, which means it should be clean and to the point, without extra "fluff", like a help center page.

Since there's already been a lot written on meta about the backup policy, I propose adding links to key posts in a "Further Reading" section at the end. That way, users who just want to know how to edit their answer get that info up front, but users who read the whole post and are still interested have some pointers.

Proposed text:

Further Reading

Although the text above was adapted from RPG's FAQ, the IPS community has had extensive discussions on our own meta which led to our policy of requiring backup in answers. If you'd like to learn more, the following posts give some more context:

There are of course many more discussions, please comment if you have suggestions for other/different posts to link! I'm aiming for a set that covers the main points, isn't overwhelmingly long, and is well-linked enough to be a good starting point for anyone interested in a Complete History of Backup Policy on IPS.

I'm not sure actually writing such a history would be of interest to anyone outside of us meta regulars, to be honest - if someone else thinks it would be a fun project, I won't stop you ;) but I think linking to past discussions is sufficient to demonstrate that this policy was indeed shaped by the community and the idea has been around in some form or another since the beginning. As a bonus, it also gives users good examples of how to start discussions about site policy in a constructive way (which is the main reason we locked it in the first place: so that people who want to argue that site policy should change do so in the correct way, making a meta post, instead of leaving comments on a FAQ entry).

  • I'm not sure about your fourth post: It carries a reference to the policy as it's enforced on The Workplace, but there's been plenty of Workplace users that go 'but my answer floats on Workplace' (And to be honest there is a great deal of difference between our back up policies, it seems). It might confuse people more than it helps, and even lead to more rules-lawyering from people that want to use that freer implementation to post their opinion and not put more effort into backup? What do you think? As for the rest, I think we can add those safely.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 16:28
  • @Tinkeringbell that's a good point - I was including it more for the historical value since it's one of the earliest metas about requiring backup, but we've definitely diverged from Workplace since. Maybe we could make that clear in the heading or a blurb after the link? Or it might not be worth the potential confusion?
    – Em C
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 16:36
  • How are we doing in the discussion for adding these "further reading" points to the end of the post for the back it up policy? Just following up here, I understand these things take time :)
    – ElizB
    Commented Jun 30, 2019 at 23:20
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    @ElizB Just waiting to see if anyone else chimes in / votes diverge really, since this is currently tied with Ælis' suggestion of making an entirely new post. Given the points about it looking like mods are controlling everything about that post I don't want to call it prematurely.
    – Em C
    Commented Jun 30, 2019 at 23:33

I know a lot of users (mostly new ones but also some old ones) are wondering why we have such a strict backup policy and what is the point of it. So, having a meta post that would explain why would definitively be a good idea to me.

However, I don't think adding it directly to the post you linked would be a good idea. This post is already really long and some users might not appreciate having to read this "unnecessary" information before getting to the part that really interests them (which is: "what kind of backup do I need to add to my answer").

What I would suggest doing instead is creating a separate meta question and answer about the reason and the history of our backup policy and linking it at the beginning of What are the citation expectations of answers on IPS Stack Exchange?. That way, if someone wants to know more, they can. And if they don't, they don't need to read through.

  • I was going to ask if we should make a separate meta for the history on these policies, but I didn't want to ask too many questions. Thanks for bringing this up.
    – ElizB
    Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 13:21

I'll chime in here, seeing as how I kicked this particular hornet's nest.

You could just unlock the post.

I know I may be a hopeless idealist, but it's been my impression that SE policy is almost never carved in stone. Being a user driven platform, user input ought to be valued. Rules can and should be challenged, and through those challenges come a sort of slow painful refining.

At this point someone is saying "well, those who want to challenge policy should just post a new question and do it that way" and, admittedly that's an option. But it's an option for those who are "in the know" about how things work these days. And... well... for some of us who've been kicking around the network for a few years, that's not the way it used to work.

I fully support the back-it-up policy. This isn't really about that specific piece of policy. It's more about the procedure of how policy is made, maintained, and refined over time.

To be blunt, a question written, answered, protected, and featured by a single person, doesn't say "community driven." Nor does it say that this policy is open to improvement over time.

I applaud Tinkeringbell's effort to create a resource when it was sorely needed. She does a lot of heavy lifting that ought to be done by the community. But, it creates an optics problem. And again, I may be completely mistaken about how the SE model is intended to work.

In my mind, one of the greatest things about SE, was that we didn't hide how the sausage was made. And because everyone knew how the sausage was made, they became familiar with the recipe and were invited to tweak adjust, or even suggest that the recipe be thrown out entirely for a better recipe.

I guess I miss the bad old days when anyone and everyone could make a big splash and improve this thing. There were no sacred cows. A blog post , a mod, or even an SE employee's opinion carried little if any more weight than a brand new user who did a little research on the issue.

The process of how you do the thing matters, as much, if not more, than the particular thing you're doing.

  • 1
    What do you suggest we do with the inevitable comments and "answers" on that post saying "disagree" and "but we should allow hypothetical ideas" and the like? That's the main reason we locked it - it's a drain on the community to keep rehashing those arguments, and just deleting the comments without responding is likely to lead to more frustration. I don't support unlocking it without a better solution to that problem.
    – Em C
    Commented Jun 30, 2019 at 23:56
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    @EmC what's wrong with handling it the way SE always has, with votes and rebuttals? You clearly attempted that here.
    – apaul
    Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 0:08
  • "It's a drain on the community to keep rehashing those arguments". The deleted comments on there were arguing about basic points for requiring backup (like, whether we should even ask for it at all) that we'd decided on as a community long ago. SE also has locks to stop people from having unproductive, drawn out arguments in comments.. really I'm not opposed to the idea of unlocking it in theory, but we did it to solve a problem.
    – Em C
    Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 0:52
  • If you think that's not a problem and we should keep entertaining those arguments in the comments then ok, I'll stand by my downvote and see how everyone else votes. If you're cool with something like a warning comment saying "this is current policy, post a new meta if you want to propose changes" and we delete other comments.. that I might support. But it honestly wasn't clear to me in your answer whether this problem was considered and how you think the community/mods should handle it if unlocked.
    – Em C
    Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 0:55
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    @EmC Handle it however you like. Just understand the tradeoff.
    – apaul
    Commented Jul 3, 2019 at 1:06

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