I'm prompted to ask this question, by feedback on this answer of mine regarding a bit of every-day language (such as "It's raining today, isn't it?").
I'm familiar with StackExchange sites for which pragmatic answers suffice, and on the other hand with sites where supporting references are often preferred. My question is essentially this — which one is this site trying to be?
I am a native English speaker, and while I am not a linguist, nor have the skill with the language of a Stephen Fry, I fancy myself someone who is able to communicate distinctions in meaning of the sort that often come up on this site, and to explain those same distinctions in meaning. It's entirely possible that the way in which I understand some phrases (and the context which they suggest) is idiosyncratic, but I'm usually vaguely aware of when this is the case, and it is more often in corner cases of vocabulary (e.g. among words of five or more syllables).
On the linked answer, I found myself surprised by the comment left behind. I frankly do not know what precisely a "constant polarity tag" is. Though I might guess its meaning, and now knowing the phrase I could look it up, I found the objection strange, as I use these constructions extremely often (and successfully, to all outward appearances). But my question is not about the particular comment in this case, but the academic standards which they hint at. There seems to be a sense in which my answer is lacking; but that answer is likely to be typical of what I would contribute.
Question. Do we expect almost every answer here to be supportable in principle, at a moment's notice, by an appropriate decomposition into grammar trees, or citation of examples from literature / definitions from references — rather than merely practical and heuristic descriptions of how words and phrases are used?