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Looking at this answer (the link is now for 10K users, as the answer has been deleted), for example, I notice that it doesn't answer to the question because

  • The fact somebody uses a word doesn't mean it's the correct word to use.
  • The OP doesn't report to which English dialect he is referring; if there are any difference between American English and British English, for example, the answer doesn't evidence that.

Does saying "I have always used [X]" answer a question about which of two words to use?
In which cases is the answer really a comment, and in which cases does the answer really answer the question?

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If that is the answer in its entirety, then no - it is nothing more than an opinion.

The opinion may or may not be right, but it doesn't stand for much of anything alone; community members may well evaluate it as correct, and support via comments, but this still doesn't make it authoritative or properly informative.

Answers should be explained and backed up by references where possible, with substantial content from sources apparent within the body, and further reading linked appropriately. We're always looking for a because of sorts in there somewhere. Although, this effort doesn't necessarily turn the answer into a correct one, obviously - it is more expressive and therefore gaugeable.

  • I don't think because is always necessary. "I've always used X; so have the other 500 people in my workplace, and everyone I've ever met in Englishtown, capital of Englishland" might be not only a useful answer, but the only useful answer. – TimLymington Jul 26 '11 at 13:39
  • I think you misinterpreted that 'because of sorts' to take a literal because; in your example, there is a because, of sorts; it may not be explicit, and not from a 'notable' source, but you imply that it is right and give reasons (not just because everybody does it, but because everybody being these certain people use it.) There is a because in there, it is just implicit. It is expressing more than your own personal opinion. – Grant Thomas Jul 26 '11 at 15:01
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No. Those types of answers would make decent comments but there isn't any reason to keep them around as answers.

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