I’ve been noticing an increase in answers that, essentially, consist of nothing but a suggestion or bald assertion and that are often lacking any apparent effort to even format, punctuate, or spell properly.

Since I’m only a recent convert to the pleasures of EL&U, I can readily recall the advice I was provided from more experienced and wiser users concerning the characteristics of a “good” answer – an answer which was likely to be helpful to, not only the OP but also to other users – aside from being accurate and coherent. I was advised to contribute at least a modicum of person advocacy derived from first-hand experience, to include links to supporting information from established authorities (when possible), with citations in plain, rather than hypertext (due to the ever-present threat of link-rot), and to use quote-blocks only for direct quotations.

Moderators and more experienced users explained how these components were what made a mediocre answer “good” and “useful.” They explained that including the above mentioned components assisted OPs and other users in their evaluation of the quality of my answers, as well as increasing the likelihood that my answers would garner positive votes, which in turn would enhance my reputation score and grant me access to features of EL&U that were currently unavailable to me. I have found all that advice, and gentle but persistent guidance, to be absolutely accurate and I appreciate and try hard to adhere to it.

From the EL&U Help Center Answering

When you find a useful resource that can help answer a question (from another site or in an answer on English Language & Usage Stack Exchange) make sure you do all of the following:

• Provide a link to the original page or answer

• Quote only the relevant portion

• Provide the name of the original author


According to Ernest Hemingway - Biographical on Nobelprize.org, Hemingway saw combat when he was a teenager. It says:

After the United States entered the First World War, he joined a volunteer ambulance unit in the Italian army. Serving at the front, he was wounded, was decorated by the Italian Government, and spent considerable time in hospitals....

[other sources, quotes, explanations, etc. necessary to complete the answer] Do not copy the complete text of external sources; instead, use their words and ideas to support your own. And always give proper credit to the author and site where you found the text, including a direct link to it.

What is our current position on these issues? What is the bottom line on citing to established authority, plain text source attribution, and links? How should I respond to what appears to me at times to be a flood of OP/Answers that fail to adhere to the site’s protocols?

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    "What should should be my response to ... [things] which fail to adhere to the site's protocols?" Downvote them. In the most egregious cases, flag or vote to delete. Personally, I find most established members of EL&U too shy in their downvoting. SE gives you this power for a reason: use it.
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 26, 2015 at 1:49
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    "Shoddy" and slapped on answers have always been around, the difference being if a user really enjoys the site they will, sooner or later, make an effort to comply with standards. They will inform themselves and ask for tips via meta and in comments.And, I suspect this behaviour is reflected in the offline world as well as online. Those who don't, and are deaf to kind words, never hang around for long. But there are exceptions, the "free spirits" or the "mavericks", and sometimes it's refreshing to see an answer that disobeys the ‘rules’. You can't change a leopard's spots etc.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 26, 2015 at 5:05
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    An example of a user who was repeatedly helped, given tips, and clear guidance but who remained stubbornly "deaf". You need to be aware of the user's track history, in this case, despite all the guidance, and detailed comments which explained WHY a certain protocol should/had to be followed, the user in question just blindly ignored everyone. meta.english.stackexchange.com/questions/5279/…
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 26, 2015 at 6:06
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    This is what happens when you've been here for while. :) You will see it from now on. There's no "official" response; do whatever you feel like doing at the moment, from ignoring or DVing, to helping with comments (canned comments help) or even edits. Don't feel bad about down voting, though, just because you were encouraged. Lots of people don't respond to encouragement. Jun 26, 2015 at 6:26
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    I've been threatened with bodily injury more than once. That's always fun. :-O I'm still here. They are gone. Not everyone is as nice as you. :-) Jun 26, 2015 at 6:50
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    There is much more down voting on questions (compared to views) than there is on answers, especially compared to the tech sites. Don't be afraid to dv when you see something bad.
    – Tim
    Jun 26, 2015 at 13:39
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    Well, we have the same issue with the questions and everyone acts like whatever they feel like... Human nature.
    – ermanen
    Jun 26, 2015 at 14:04
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    @Araucaria - sorry for the delay, I posted but neglected to "ping" ya - yes, of course, some references are better than others, however any reference is better then absolutely NO references, wouldn't you say. We can always dispute or affirm a given reference. The issue I've been noticing is simply a bald assertion passing as an answer i.e., "I think 'orange' is the correct answer." Period. But, as others have indicated, this is nothing new. But, then again, from my perspective, it's been happening much more than when I arrived on the scene 7 long months ago. Any thoughts?
    – user98990
    Jun 29, 2015 at 19:43
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    @LittleEva Well, sometimes, I reckon, it's not that bad to get people's intuitions about a topic - if they're insightful, but obviously it's better to get a ref. I'm not always sure whether just some ref is better than none - 'cuz some peeps will just keep looking for a link till they find some crazy person who agrees with them ;) I think everyone goes through phases on EL&U and ELL too, where things seem to have been much better before, but are now getting worse. I'm never sure if it's 'cuz things go in waves or because of the golden age myth we all had before our honeymoon ended! :D Jun 29, 2015 at 23:22
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    On many SE sites, a "bald" answer is often converted by mods into a comment, which seems the correct place for it until someone (possibly the original user) can develop it into a proper answer. There isn't much difference between an answer like "no that's wrong, read this link to see why" and "a good word to use is ephemeral". Neither are self-contained, or provide any commentary or analysis. Both are of little use to a later reader unless the follow the link/fire up the search engine (eg to see how "ephemeral" is used, or what shades of meaning it has). Both resemble comments not "answers".
    – Silverfish
    Jul 1, 2015 at 21:42
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    A cost of leaving "bald" answers hanging about, is either that somebody needs to extensively edit them to make them useful stand-alone answers (so the "answer" is mostly attributable to the editor rather than the author, which does not align well with the rep gamification system) or that they end up duplicated, with someone adding a fuller answer in later but covering exactly the same word or phrase (undesirable for a reader to have to wade through).
    – Silverfish
    Jul 1, 2015 at 21:45
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    {BTW as a funny curiosity .. the wikpedia entry for "prosumption" must be one of the worst wikipedia entries (and that's saying something). One of the "writers" muddled-it-up with "prosumer" (i.e., you know, high-end digital cameras, utterly no connection to Toffleresque "pro-sumption") I would click to edit but that's now pointless on wikiped.
    – Fattie
    Jul 5, 2015 at 18:07
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    "So then Toffler is using pro-sumption as the mirror concept of con-sumption, pro-sumer / con-sumer?" No, he's pointing out that (incredibly) there are now business models where the paying customer, actually does the work. This is .. astounding. it used to be that you went to a bank, and the teller would do all the work for you. Now, you yourself have to type in all the numbers. In the old days, magazines had to pay writers on staff, to make the content. Astoundingly, on this very site, we, the consumers, willingly spend hours making the content!!
    – Fattie
    Jul 5, 2015 at 18:09
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    It used to be that the Yellow Pages or whatever had armies of paid staff actually producing the content; today Zomato or whatver is a "pro-sumpotion" business. Incredibly, the consumers themselves (willingly!) provide all the content, for free. Many of the biggest businesses of our day are indeed pro-sumption businesses. Facebook, Pinterest, dozens of huge dotcoms like AirBnb, etc. The reviews aspect of Amazon is pro-sumption, as indeed is ebay, etc etc.
    – Fattie
    Jul 5, 2015 at 18:15


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