I am looking for SE or SE ELU answer writing guide. Recently, my (accepted) answer was edited – screenshots removed – with this comment.

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

I want to know, what are reliable sources and how to use so-called reliable sources while writing an answer on SE ELU. Normally, I do share hyperlink related to words for citation.

I was accessing SE ELU on my mobile device and thought to share a screenshot of Babylon dictionary (translator & dictionary) for citation, it was quite easy for me and described the words with greater detail, but now it is removed.

So, to avoid a similar situation in the future, I want to learn more about proper guidelines by Stack Exchange or EL&U.

Thank you in advance!

  • 5
    It might be nice, supposing another hapless but intrepid contributor stumbles across this your question, if you included that the ELU Help Center's "How Do I Write a Good Answer", which you of course studied avidly before presuming to post your question here, doesn't seem to cover your case.
    – JEL
    Aug 24, 2018 at 16:52
  • 4
    By vandalized do you mean "subject[ed] to vandalism [itself defined as 'willful or malicious destruction or defacement of public or private property'] : DAMAGE[D]" (Merriam-Webster's definition) or something closer to "edited without [your] approval"? Note that the dictionary definition rather strongly implies an attempt to harm, whereas the motivation for editing may in some cases be to improve the text.
    – Sven Yargs
    Aug 24, 2018 at 17:03
  • 1
    @SvenYargs, one person's vandal is another's freedom fighter, to paraphrase a recent ELU question.
    – JEL
    Aug 24, 2018 at 17:05
  • 1
    @JEL: Yes, I'd much rather think of my profession as manuscript freedom fighter than as manuscript vandal. But it's a relative universe.
    – Sven Yargs
    Aug 24, 2018 at 17:09
  • @JEL thanks for the link. I was exactly looking for this one :)
    – Ubi.B
    Aug 24, 2018 at 17:22
  • 2
    Next time, please copy and paste the definitions, instead of posting screenshots. Images are not searchable using the SE search bar.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 24, 2018 at 19:20
  • 3
    You may be a new contributer but you're coming off as a bit rude and over melodramatic. I'd tone done the accusatory claim in your question if I were you.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 24, 2018 at 19:22
  • Relevant: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/240839/…
    – Lumberjack
    Aug 24, 2018 at 19:24
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    Please try avoid Subtle Putdowns. english.stackexchange.com/conduct
    – Lumberjack
    Aug 24, 2018 at 19:32
  • 2
    This bit here is good too! "If you’re here to help others, be patient and welcoming. Learning how to participate in our community can be hard. Offer support if you see someone struggling or otherwise in need of help."
    – Lumberjack
    Aug 24, 2018 at 19:38
  • 1
    I didn't respond to your previous comment which said an answer of mine was basically a copy paste answer, and had no original content. So nothing there to delete. The comment I did post listed the sources from the screenshot and provided the links to those sources so that you could improve your answer. I thought that was me being helpful, but you took umbrage with that and left a sarcastic reply. My response was to show you that I was not mistaken. So. No. I won't delete either of those comments. Flag them if you think they are not needed.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 25, 2018 at 5:32
  • P.S I never downvoted any of your answers or questions, not even this meta post. PPS sometimes a "sorry" works wonders.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 25, 2018 at 5:35
  • 1
    EDITED There is little use in posting an answer (see link) which repeats somebody else's. Besides, I didn't know the word "kludge", your answer taught me that. There is little point in posting an answer here on meta for the same reason. I could not add anything new to the two answers already posted here.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 25, 2018 at 6:14
  • 1
    Where did I question the originality? I never did. I also suggested that you tone down your reaction, using the term "vandalize" comes across as being very angry. I get that you were upset which is why I suggested you copy and pasted the definitions. Twice I suggested that. I even went out my way to post those links. This is my last reply.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 25, 2018 at 6:38

2 Answers 2


As to what are reliable resources, the meta question What good reference works on English are Available gives many resources, often with some comment about their reliability and quality.

Note that it is only a list of suggested resources and is not like an official Scrabble dictionary-like 'only accepted' authority. Even if not in doubt it is often good practice to check more than one resource in order to corroborate a claim.

As to what is good practice for presentation of an answer, it of course depends on the particular kind of question. The general strategy is to answer with data that is possible to be confirmed. For example, for an SWR, quote some dictionary definition for which one can check against other dictionaries and avoid link rot, give a link (to confirm), and give explanation why this definition and its connotations apply to the request (because reading a definition is not self-explanatory, the OP doesn't necessarily know enough to recognize all the implications/connotations/collocations of the word, otherwise a link to a thesaurus would be the 'answer').

But a template for each kind of question, I don't think there is one or necessarily should be one, but common sense, deeper thought, and looking at other good answers will help.


Accessibility vs Discrimination

I removed your pictures of text and requested an actual citation in their stead because text should be represented as text, not as pictures. It all comes down to accessibility. We’re trying to be accessible to as broad an audience as possible here.

To that end, please do not post pictures of textual citations. Those cannot be searched. They also are useless to people who because of visual impairment or other hindrance are using screen readers and the like.

From the W3C’s Web Accessibility initiative:

Images of Text

Images of text display text that is intended to be read. With the current CSS capabilities in most web browsers, it is good design practice to use actual text that is styled with CSS rather than image-based text presentation. Genuine text is much more flexible than images: It can be resized without losing clarity, and background and text colors can be modified to suit the reading preferences of users. Images are more likely to distort and pixelate when resized. In those rare situations where images of text must be used, the text alternative must contain the same text presented in the image.

Why is this important?

Images and graphics make content more pleasant and easier to understand for many people, and in particular for those with cognitive and learning disabilities. They serve as cues that are used by people with visual impairments, including people with low vision, to orient themselves in the content.

However, images are used extensively on websites and can create major barriers when they are not accessible. Accessible images are beneficial in many situations, such as:

  • People using screen readers: The text alternative can be read aloud or rendered as Braille
  • People using speech input software: Users can put the focus onto a button or linked image with a single voice command
  • People browsing speech-enabled websites: The text alternative can be read aloud
  • Mobile web users: Images can be turned off, especially for data-roaming
  • Search engine optimization: Images become indexable by search engines

We do not wish to discriminate against the types of users and uses which that list enumerates. But your images said only this:

[![enter image description here][1]][1]
[![enter image description here][2]][2]

That unedited enter image description here template bit is not acceptable alternate text: you must write in what it really says.

Better yet, do not use pictures of text in the first place: use real text only, not pictures of it.

  • this is a good to know information. I am not interested in technical intricacies. Visually impaired example is also very narrow. SEO, really? You want answerer to worry about SEO? But yeah, I can understand that some devices are blocked to process images. Thanks for that info.
    – Ubi.B
    Aug 24, 2018 at 15:58
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    @ubihatt Yes, searchability is critical. We're a text site.
    – tchrist Mod
    Aug 24, 2018 at 16:03
  • this link is exactly what I was looking for. I am surprised that you never pointed out being an moderator. I will follow guidelines provided by SE ELU.
    – Ubi.B
    Aug 24, 2018 at 17:32
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    @ubihatt I am surprised you didn’t look at the help before you posted. Are you primarily connecting through the mobile site? The link is all the way at the bottom of the page and hard to find if so. However, that help is very general and won’t answer questions like “what is considered a reliable source?” or explain why a post notice was added to your specific question.
    – ColleenV
    Aug 24, 2018 at 20:09
  • @ubihatt if you see any users with a black diamond next to their username they are moderators. Here is a page listing all the mods english.stackexchange.com/users?tab=moderators
    – Mari-Lou A
    Aug 25, 2018 at 5:27

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