The original Back it up policy had a standard evaluation.

Does the answer completely answer the question and explain why?

This standard seems to have gone to the wayside. I would like to see this standard revived and applied to answers that do not address the question asked and especially those short answers that basically just express the opinion of the poster. Many times these short answers are popular with the drive by hot question visitors and end up highly voted. This, in my opinion, harms the site.

Can we increase the current minimum standard to every answer must be complete and address the question asked?

  • 1
    Can you cite some examples?
    – Jim G.
    Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 23:43
  • 4
    By what measure is the site being harmed? And do you think a "welcoming attitude" evidenced by calling people "lemmings" might harm the site even more? Commented Apr 23, 2016 at 1:28
  • @JimG Example 1 - Example 2 Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 14:35
  • @JoeStrazzere - Then why bother having the policy at all if we are not going to enforce it. Personally to me these types of answers reduce the usefulness of the site. Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 14:42
  • @Chad - I don't know why we have this policy. We seem to have many that aren't aggressively enforced. Personally, I think up/downvoting handles incomplete answers better than any other method and I don't see evidence that the site is suffering due to the current level of moderation. Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 22:02

1 Answer 1


You have a choice here. You can insist that all answers be fully documented ... Or you can accept that life experience is a valid source of data and insight.

The latter produces many more good answers at the cost of some mediocre or bad answers -- but the SE process means good answers get voted up, bad answers get voted down and a community consensus emerges.

I submit that being overly strict produces inferior results.

  • 1
    Very well said! Commented Apr 23, 2016 at 13:44
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    Life experience is an acceptable and oft-appropriate way to "back it up", though I do wish people would actually declare it more often. The one-liner "do X" answers without any explanation of why (I did this, I've seen this, such-and-source says this) really need to be improved. Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 17:36
  • I agree. Almost all my answers are based on life experience or common sense, mind you I get a lot of downvotes. But the downvotes just validate what Keshlam is saying.
    – Kilisi Mod
    Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 9:45
  • I agree that life experience is a valid source. I am not talking about answers that are complete and explain why using personal experience. I am talking about answers that are one or 2 lines, that do not make any attempt to explain why, but just play on the populism of the statement for votes. Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 14:25
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    @Chad, there are many different kinds of answers. Some of the longer mansplained answers are just as ineffectual as poorly-reasoned quips. If you think an answer is poor just provide your own and/or downvote or comment on the other. Why do you need more?
    – teego1967
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 1:01
  • Interestingly, one can't downvote comments, only flag them if they are really problematic. Another way/indication SE considers comments secondary and really wants Answers to the long-term data. I'd feel better if there was some organized way of summarizing comments and making sure the valuable ones were retained, beyond the "please edit this in" pleas... But there isn't. Nature of Stack Exchange. Sigh/shrug.
    – keshlam
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 1:35
  • @keshlam there is a meta post about them : meta.stackexchange.com/q/278859/163292 Commented May 10, 2016 at 15:00
  • @teego1967 - I have specified not talking about bad answers in general just really crappy short answers that say something popular like: "X is a stupid idea in the first place dont do that." They get tons of votes but are of no value to anyone. Commented May 10, 2016 at 15:02
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    @Chad, you should consider why the answers you're talking about get "tons of votes". It means there's a thread of value there regardless of what you may think. Perhaps it needs further elaboration, or perhaps its a fluke. It just doesn't seem like an egregious problem (your examples aren't particularly compelling). You still haven't spelled out exactly what you propose to do with such answers, anyway.
    – teego1967
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 10:39
  • And sometimes "you are asking the wrong question" really is the only right answer. SE has a long-establised concept of A/B questions referring to exactly that usage pattern. If you think it's not the right answer, you can already do something about that: downvote it and/or offer a better one. "No problem found; working as designed."
    – keshlam
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 11:01

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