I want this site to succeed. I want a site that attracts experts. Real experts. Not people like me, but scientists with 25 years of experience in a sub-field of atmospheric science.

I'm seeing some answers that appear to be based on speculation rather than on scientific findings, or at least where the answer does not make apparent where the knowledge is coming from. I appreciate peoples efforts nevertheless, but I'm not sure if it will attract experts. Some examples: ((1), (2), ((3)). I don't like to discourage anyone in such an early phase, but... shall we introduce a policy that answers should be properly referenced? This is a science Q&A, after all!

  • $\begingroup$ Good suggestion. Citations should certainly be strongly encouraged. There may be situations where citations are not possible though, and exceptions should be made. Extraordinary claims should require at least some citation. $\endgroup$ – naught101 Apr 15 '14 at 23:02
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    $\begingroup$ @naught101 Not only extraordinary claims, but also widely held but challengeable beliefs. Those are more at risk to seep through than extraordinary claims. $\endgroup$ – gerrit Apr 15 '14 at 23:08
  • $\begingroup$ Citations should certainly be encouraged, but do note that no other site on the network besides Skeptics strictly requires citations in answers. $\endgroup$ – senshin Apr 16 '14 at 0:50
  • $\begingroup$ Is there a syntax that can be used to cite properly, e.g. embedding bibtex in an answer? $\endgroup$ – foobarbecue Apr 16 '14 at 12:55
  • $\begingroup$ Looks like there isn't a syntax for citations, even on skeptics. I feel THIS IS OUTRAGE! How are we supposed to have an "experts" discussion site without the ability to cite? This needs to be fixed before the site goes public. $\endgroup$ – foobarbecue Apr 16 '14 at 13:05
  • $\begingroup$ While I'm definitely all in favour of citations, It should be borne in mind that most scientific papers are inaccessible (paywalled) for anyone outside of an academic institution with institutional access. So citations are only as good as the availability of a PDF. $\endgroup$ – Ben Brooks Apr 21 '14 at 18:17
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    $\begingroup$ @BenBrooks Although an open access citation is advantageous, I think an authoritative citation to a closed access source (for-pay paper, book, etc.) is still much better than none, even if many people can only judge its contents from the abstract (which is often enough to get the main idea). $\endgroup$ – gerrit Apr 21 '14 at 18:39
  • $\begingroup$ Ben Brooks, most people can use a public library to gain access. It is unfortunate that not all information is free, but that doesn't mean we can pretend it's not information. $\endgroup$ – foobarbecue May 16 '15 at 18:50

I believe it is impossible to do so for every post. Some of the questions posed are basic textbook level and a reference in that case would be to one of many text-books. It is clear as in all science that citing your sources is useful and necessary but clearly there is a fine line when it should be "common knowledge" and in such cases one can ask common to whom?

I suggest any response that lacks references, and where we deem such would be useful should be asked through a comment to add such references (rather than a quick down-vote) that way the answers can be built constructively. Also remember that answers are not set in stone. It is possible to add to the answers by editing and thus improve them. the ultimate goal is after all to have good answers to al questions.

  • $\begingroup$ I think that Wikipedia will usually contain such basic textbook-level information, and is a fine reference for basic questions (although the questioner should at least check over the citations on wikipedia). $\endgroup$ – naught101 Apr 16 '14 at 7:52
  • $\begingroup$ I agree. I would like to see citations for numerical quantities, where given, and for anything that may be controversial - and as you suggest, this is a perfectly reasonable thing to ask for in comments. I would not want to discourage experts from answering things that they consider simple, because they would have to go looking for a reference to cite. $\endgroup$ – Semidiurnal Simon Apr 16 '14 at 12:19

Yes, we should have citations on every answer. There are plenty of speculators and chancers in this family of subjects out there, and we'll do well to deter them.

And no, Wikipedia is not a reliable source. Any fool can edit Wikipedia to say what they want, when they want; and content disputes there sometimes get resolved by a loud obsessed fools over-ruling a few quietly-spoken experts who've got better things to do than spend hours arguing on talk pages and arb pages.

If it's a common text-book fact, then finding a citation should be easy.

And where possible please use DOIs when citing (rather than the publisher's deep linked page), via one of the long-standing reputable DOI linkers, such as dx.doi.org

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    $\begingroup$ -1: we're often compared to Wikipedia. I'm not saying that it's perfect, but, like SE, it usually works out. Also, most WP info is sourced, so you can verify that information. If an expert here sees something wrong, they can comment. Also, it it's a common knowledge thing, why should you have to spend ten minutes digging up a source for a one minute answer? $\endgroup$ – Anonymous Penguin Apr 16 '14 at 21:15
  • $\begingroup$ @AnnonomusPerson and if people were to cite wikipedia, do you think they should verify that information first, or just use whatever's there? $\endgroup$ – 410 gone Apr 17 '14 at 7:30
  • $\begingroup$ They should verify the source by using the included references if they don't know for sure, or just Google that fact. If it's a textbook level fact that they know, and want a little extra explination, you can quote a small portion of text from Wikipedia, as long as they know the information is correct themselves. $\endgroup$ – Anonymous Penguin Apr 17 '14 at 21:35

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