I've noticed lately that we've been slacking off in backing up answers with sources. Eric's question about extending and curating answers got me thinking about it more.

It's a worrisome trend. If we want to attract more experts, encourage growth, and execute the Stack Exchange mission of making the internet better, we need to make sure that we're bringing outside knowledge to light. As Jason Fried said, "the more you send people away the more they’ll come back".

If we don't cite outside sources and data at least as often as we swap opinions and anecdotes with each other, I'm afraid we'll only contribute to the conception that UX can be done by just anyone.

Should we make an effort to encourage higher quality answers? If so, how?

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    The one discouraging thing I've noticed is if I cite 3-5 references I'll find someone has posted similar info in a shorter post (because they don't post or elaborate on research), so it's often not in my best interest to go too verbose, in other cases I don't have much direct research to go on--for instance in ux.stackexchange.com/questions/12881/column-header-alignment/… I knew there were guidelines out there are most places center col headers, but Sun's guidelines were all I could find
    – Ben Brocka
    Oct 18, 2011 at 13:45
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    Verbosity should always trump an answer with a reference and no summary.
    – Rahul
    Oct 18, 2011 at 13:49
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    The up/down vote buttons on answers are perhaps too blunt. The tool-tip just says "This answer is useful" and says nothing about references etc.
    – Erics
    Oct 19, 2011 at 0:05
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    I'd happily give over an extra +5 rep from my rep for answers that cite references. Similarly again for answers that address the entirety of the question (and not just excellently answers part of the question). Probably also again for an answer that was being actively curated. So, not a blunt up/down mechanism, but separate buttons for those three criteria. (Keep the up/down for the "this answer is useful"). Having separate buttons like that (and maybe an exposed score) would communicate what qualities of an answer get rewarded.
    – Erics
    Oct 19, 2011 at 0:11
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    bonus: if the bonus rep comes from the voter's own rep then the ppl that have lots of rep get to drive the type and qualities of answers and ppl with very little rep don't. That is, not a popularity contest.
    – Erics
    Oct 19, 2011 at 0:44
  • Doesn't this contradict the idea that answers are supposed to be self-contained, at least a little bit? Oct 19, 2011 at 17:49
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    Not a contradiction. See @rahul's comment - a reference link with no summary is a poor response. So I'd add another badge to vote on, making now {citations, completeness, curated, explains}
    – Erics
    Oct 19, 2011 at 23:12

2 Answers 2


The least we can do, given the current infrastructure, is be more diligent in posting a comment to any answers that have desired qualities and calling that quality out. Something like "+1 for citing references".

There's possibly also something at Designing Social Interfaces that could help, and tangentially also Yahoo Reputation Patterns. <insert here citations to social grooming/stroking psychology>

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    Those are some of the most obnoxious comments I see here. The only thing I see worse than those are -1 for not citing references Oct 19, 2011 at 17:47
  • and yet the approving social grooming goes on. Basic human psychology at work here, how can we leverage it?
    – Erics
    Oct 19, 2011 at 22:17
  • I've certainly noticed that I'll take another look at an answer when I noticed +1 for good references/whatever. I don't think -1 for not citing references is a helpful comment (though downvoters should at least leave comments) but I do believe comments encouraging voters and answerers like that can be useful.
    – Ben Brocka
    Oct 20, 2011 at 13:17

Simplify linking to authoritative sources. There have often been requests for simple ways to link to, e.g., a wikipedia article.

  • Wikipedia as authorative source?? They are good, but I won't call them as authorative as scientific citations.
    – giraff
    Nov 1, 2011 at 6:44

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