First of all, I want to say that this question is not driven by bitterness on my part, but I know it might come across that way.

I had an answer deleted about 5 months ago because it wasn't supported by personal experience or by an outside reference. Link to now deleted answer

At the time, I was referred to the top answer at the following meta question. How do I write a good answer?

Since then, I haven't been answering any questions because I seldom have any personal experience with a given question. However, I often see answers that don't seem to conform to the backup requirement.

Today I saw an answer to How to get somebody's confirmation when they say “I'll check my schedule”? It is currently the accepted answer with 20 upvotes and 0 downvotes. The author has a reputation of over 36k on this site. As far as I can see, this answer has no external references or personal experience as backup.

So, I'm wondering which of the following might be true:

  1. No moderator has yet noticed the absence of backup in this answer?
  2. The enforcement of the answer backup requirement is selectively enforced?
  3. I have misunderstood the answer backup requirements?

1 Answer 1


The answer you mentioned is invalid indeed and should be edited/deleted accordingly. Now, you need to know that on IPS mods seldomly delete answers on their own (because our vote is binding and we can single-handedly delete them, and we want to act as a community rather than make decision as individuals). When we do delete answers it's because it has many upvotes and therefore needs a lot of delete votes and flags to get deleted by the community (and it seems that there isn't enough reviewers to achieve that, most of the time).

The citations expectations haven't changed for almost two years now. What probably happened here is that people who are unfamiliar with our requirements stumbled upon that question through the HNQ sidebar, thought it was good advice, and upvoted. That doesn't mean the answer meets the citation requirements, though. But it makes it harder for the community to review and act accordingly.

So, to answer your questions:

  1. I can't speak for the other mods, but I hadn't seen that question before you linked one of its answers. I'll leave a comment asking for backup once I'm done writing this answer.

  2. The enforcement of the backup policy isn't selective. It just ... needs work and people to do it. This work is done for free, on the sole basis of volunteering. Maybe people didn't have the time to review that 22-hours old question yet. Some people left the network/lowered their activity levels too because of the recent events that happened on the network. I've noticed a decrease in activity too (a few days ago our mod dashboard was empty for the first time in ... months, I think?).

  3. I think you understood the policy pretty well :) Feel free to engage and help us in moderating the stack if that's something you'd be interested in. There's never enough of us!

  • I tend to think of the moderators as a large all-knowing group. Thanks for the reminder that it is not always the case. And thank you for all the volunteer work you do to make Stack Exchange a better place!
    – James
    Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 15:36
  • 2
    Just to add, @James, if you feel that an answer isn't backed up enough, there's no harm in leaving a comment like "Can you explain why you feel this is the correct answer for OP? Do you have some personal experience that's directed you to answer like this and if so, can you [edit] your answer to include that experience?" In the worst case, they'll respond to you with a clarification of how they're already backing things up and hopefully clear up any misunderstandings with policy.
    – scohe001
    Commented Jan 30, 2020 at 17:23
  • I'd suspect there's some reluctance in the community to cite a requirement that is only posted in meta. I understand this is more of a 'stack exchange only allows very restricted help center updates' issue, but the reason for that issue doesn't change the issue. I know I've personally gone into review a few times, and then couldn't do the review because I didn't have the reference handy (mostly my own issue, but if I could just point to the help center how to write a good answer question it would be easier).
    – Ed Grimm
    Commented Feb 6, 2020 at 23:30
  • 1
    @EdG have you taken a look at our FAQ? That's usually my go to for meta links for the big stuff (like citation expectations).
    – scohe001
    Commented Feb 8, 2020 at 0:06
  • 1
    @scohe001 I have looked at the FAQ. That having been said, as you've provided that link, you've no doubt noticed it's in meta It would make a great sticky post, except SE doesn't have sticky posts. As such, it's fundamentally buried in all of the rest of meta. As such, it's a needle in a haystack that's filled with needles, and thus a lot harder to stumble across than the stuff in the help center.
    – Ed Grimm
    Commented Feb 8, 2020 at 1:16

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