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Disclaimer: I asked this question a long time ago, but since I now have higher rep and more experience with this site - I longer support the opinion I express in this question.


Currently, I am a member of the Writing, History, and ELU Stack Exchanges. What I've noticed in History and ELU, is that the general guideline is to provide evidence when you answer a question. That makes sense, you can't just go around answering questions with zero evidence, facts, links, etc, It would cause bursts of users trying to gain mass reputation points by giving half credible answers.

Why, in Writing Stack Exchange, is there not this rule? Not that I am seeing half credible answers all over the place, but I am seeing answers based on opinion without any evidence to support their answer. Obviously, this can be a case by case scenario, some questions are more opinionated than others.

To stop these open-ended answers, like what has been pointed out by other Writing Meta users, we need to cut back open-ended questions that do not require an answer with facts, like opinion questions.

How can we support answers that give credible links, include facts, and have evidence of research and support of their answer?

I do understand that Writing is different than History, as there can be multiple right answers. But this is no excuse for answers like yes/no, only supported by opinion.

However, I do understand that there are some good answers that can be supported by things like personal experience, and more of a broader point of view rather than specific facts and evidence.

Like I said before, how can we improve the community to support answers with credible facts and evidence, not just an open ended opinion.

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    There are several SE sites where concrete evidence cannot be provided. All of these welcome answers based on experience. Provided that the experience is explained in the answer, as opposed to a one-line yes/no, this has to be acceptable. – Chenmunka Nov 25 '20 at 12:05
  • @Chenmunka I don't think this question is discounting experience as a form of support. But supporting an answer based on experience is more than just stating your opinion. – linksassin Nov 25 '20 at 22:59
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The are two main factors

There isn't really a straightforward question to answer. In a simplistic view, Writing.SE doesn't support opinion-based answers. We have the same quality standards and guidelines as other sites on the network and expect our questions and answer to conform to the Good Subjective/Bad Subjective Guidelines.

However, what you are seeing (and I have questioned as well) is that as a community we have a slightly higher tolerance for bad-subjective/opinion-based answers and that we tend to receive quite a few of them. I believe there are two main reasons for this and there isn't a simple solution to resolve it.

Writing is an inherently subjective topic

The very nature of our topic is more subjective and opinion-based than most other sites on the network. For a lot of questions it is difficult to craft and answer that is objectively true simply because the support for your view doesn't exists. That doesn't mean your answer is wrong however, simply that nobody has ever written about it in a way to provide a good source.

It is also true that by nature of our topic we attract users who are more likely to write answers that are persuasive than factual. This is really to be expected from a community of professional writers.

We lack the userbase to do otherwise

Unfortunately our site suffers from a distinct lack of activity from experience and knowledgeable users. This has two side-effects; a lack of experienced users voting on posts mean unsupported posts do not get downvoted/deleted, and a lack of high quality posts to be an example for newer users.

Until we gain a larger experience userbase who can help guide the community, this will unfortunately be a recurring issue.

So what can you do about it?

The best way for you to help us tackle this issue is to use the tools the site makes available to you. I.e.:

  • Downvote unsupported answers.
  • Use comments to encourage users to improve their posts.
  • Edit posts to add sources when appropriate
  • Flag the worst offending answers for moderator attention
  • Best of all: Set an example of high quality content

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