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I know that this forum should not replace a good bibliographic research, but... It is quite useful to know which book or paper or tutorial or any other external source of information that people have in mind when they explain advanced physical concepts.

Moreover, having quickly a common background on a topic by giving explicit references may facilitate further constructive discussion or avoid "(apparently) stupid questions".

Contrary to others opinion, I think that giving explicit references and sources may help students to develop their autonomy. It gives them the example of what is a good source of information, incite them to read and show them the importance of references in research. It is always a good thing to enhance this culture, even among experienced researchers.

Thus, I think that Physics stack should promote explicit source citing. Users should be rewarded for giving explicit references and other should be able to vote for the pertinence of the given sources.

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    $\begingroup$ It seems to me most answers already give references. Do you have evidence that omitting references is a problem for the site? $\endgroup$ – John Rennie Apr 5 '15 at 12:29
  • $\begingroup$ I may be wrong. But I fell shocked by the negative feedbacks to this thread... I'll try to document the topic as you suggest John. The point here is not to criticize the forum. The StackExchanges are in my opinion the most effective forums for scientific and technical topics. I truly recommend it each time I can. But their is still place for improvement and I though validation of the references by the community would be a good idea... Couldn't we vote specifically for or against references given? $\endgroup$ – jvtrudel Apr 5 '15 at 13:44
  • $\begingroup$ You haven't got significantly negative feedback. You have one downvote, which in the meta just means someone disagrees with you views you express (presumably they don't think there's a problem since references are probably widely accepted as useful). David's answer is broadly supportive, and my comment just says I think we're already doing as you suggest i.e. I agree with your views that references are good. However I'm not going to downvotes a good answer just because it has no references, though I might edit the answer and add references. $\endgroup$ – John Rennie Apr 5 '15 at 13:47
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe should I rename the thread to better express my idea. "Community-based validation of references" or something like this. But I do not want to say that generally the references given are not good... What do you think? $\endgroup$ – jvtrudel Apr 5 '15 at 13:52
  • $\begingroup$ I downvoted because I don't think that we should promote citing sources in any way. Individual users who feel a reference is needed usually already comment "Could you please add a reference?". But, in general, I think a good, self-contained answer is not worth more or less depending on whether the author found a reference saying the same thing or not, and I would not like this community to take a general stance that says otherwise. $\endgroup$ – ACuriousMind Apr 5 '15 at 15:16
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think anybody would be grievously offended if, when they answer a question, you left a comment that said "Thanks, this is really interesting! Do you have a reference I could read for more details?" Most of us would gladly provide a link to whatever book/paper/etc we draw from. $\endgroup$ – tpg2114 Apr 5 '15 at 15:17
  • $\begingroup$ As a personal matter I tend to reference anything relating to reasonably recent research (the last 10 years or so) or that I had to look up. I certainly don't intend to run around finding references for things that I teach to my undergraduate classes on a regular basis (and we do get good questions---AKA not homeworky one---that are answered at that level). Nor do I reference cases where I show the mathematics explicitly unless I'm quoting someone's development. $\endgroup$ – dmckee Apr 5 '15 at 17:37
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We already do this: an answer which is referenced is, in general, more likely to receive more upvotes than one which is not. Voting is the incentive to reference sources as needed. Not to mention, an answer which has relevant links just feels like a better answer, even from the perspective of the one writing it.

However, we're not going to require references (or I should say, I strongly oppose doing so), the way Wikipedia or Skeptics SE does. For one thing, finding a good source for something you already know well takes a lot of time. Also, we care more about being right, and to a slightly lesser extent, being credible, than about having a trail of references that everyone can check. There are other ways to establish credibility besides referencing, and also, being referenced is not the same as being right.

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  • $\begingroup$ I agree. I do not request any obligation to give reference and a neat and clear explanation worth more than a list of references. But, the actual voting mechanism is not sufficient to promote citation. I am thinking about a parallel mechanism to evaluate sources citing and promote this behaviour. $\endgroup$ – jvtrudel Apr 5 '15 at 11:49
  • $\begingroup$ I guess the point of this answer is that I don't think it's necessary to have a parallel mechanism to encourage citing sources. (That being said, I don't think anyone here would complain about better support for footnotes, but that's surely already been considered by the SE overlords.) $\endgroup$ – David Z Apr 9 '15 at 13:19
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It is my vote, and I will vote as I please.
If I want to downvote your question/answer, I will. If I want to upvote your question/answer, I will. If I want to do nothing to your question/answer, I will. Same thing for everyone else.

Copying from my answer to this question,

  1. No matter how much you disagree with it, you cannot change our ways about how we will vote (there shouldn't be any reason for you to expect that we change to your whim anyways). We are free to vote entirely as we please, up or down and for whatever dumb reason we want (whether the post is obvious troll being obvious or because we simply don't like the person).

If you honestly feel that an answer without citations1 is not useful2, feel free to vote as you please. Just don't tell me that I should vote your way.



1 I would say that for many of the questions posted here, it would be entirely unnecessary to need one in an answer
2 The alt-text over the up and down buttons for answers say This answer is useful. and This answer is not useful, respectively, so my language there matches

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  • $\begingroup$ I can see that I'm not the only one that can feel shocked by other's feedback :-) I do not ask anybody to change their vote, sorry if its want you understood. Feedback are among the most valuable mechanism of science even it can hurt me... That said, I just want to understand and I received interesting comment. Thx all. $\endgroup$ – jvtrudel Apr 5 '15 at 18:46
  • $\begingroup$ Your comment here contradict the statements I think that Physics stack should promote explicit source citing. Users should be rewarded for giving explicit references and other should be able to vote for the pertinence of the given sources. and I am thinking about a parallel mechanism to evaluate sources citing and promote this behaviour. You want us to change our voting behavior due to the presence of citations; if that was not your intent then, in my opinion, you've chosen the poorest of words to express what you actually want. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Apr 6 '15 at 12:34
  • $\begingroup$ Multi-context evaluation matters. If reference is important for you, it should be possible to vote for that specific point. If something else is interesting (or not) on another aspect of your question, it could be useful to vote on that specific point. Having only a binary evaluation mechanism is the ground zero, but it should be expanded. If you don't want to use this more involved mechanism, fine. But it could avoid a lot of frustration, misunderstanding and too long discussions (but extremely useful!) about "why exactly you disagree with my idea". $\endgroup$ – jvtrudel Apr 6 '15 at 17:49
  • $\begingroup$ Binary is rule because it's not complicated like yours. Competitor sites do something like what you want (non-binary voting) and is entirely arbitrary and biased (how many are willing to upvote the Q but downvote the accuracy, or vice versa?). When in doubt, follow the KISS principle. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Apr 6 '15 at 19:37
  • $\begingroup$ And, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Apr 6 '15 at 19:38
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    $\begingroup$ Binary thinking may be detrimental. Seeing others as opponents and other sites as competitor, for example, may not be useful. And by the way, thank you: I was not aware of physicsOverflow. It seems to be an interesting complement to that forum and people are very kind there. $\endgroup$ – jvtrudel Apr 6 '15 at 19:59
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    $\begingroup$ Multi-context evaluation with upvote and downvote on the same question is neither arbitrary, nor biased. It allows to be more precise and nuanced. On the contrary 0/I answers are ambiguous because we do not know with which aspect of the question you disagree. This may be a problem especially for new users as this one. $\endgroup$ – jvtrudel Apr 6 '15 at 20:05
  • $\begingroup$ NB: Calling PhysicsOverflow a competitor is overly generous considering (a) 90+% of their material is taken from this site (b) like 6 people in the world use it and (c) it was created based on three people who've been periodically banned on SE sites for disobeying the "Be Nice" rule; so forgive me if I think your last sentence (2 comments up) is a load of horse manure. $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Apr 6 '15 at 23:52
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    $\begingroup$ Your comment is clearly off-topic. What is the point of insulting people? $\endgroup$ – jvtrudel Apr 6 '15 at 23:58
  • $\begingroup$ Which of the objectively true statements about their content, their user-base, or its origins are you considering an insult? $\endgroup$ – Kyle Kanos Apr 7 '15 at 0:14
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    $\begingroup$ @KyleKanos That's just factually incorrect. I just checked the last 10 questions posted on the site, and only 10% of them are actually imported. A lot of the imported questions are actually answered there. I checked the same stats around the time you posted your comment, none of the past 20 questions then were imports at all. There are about 25+ users contributing at the moment, at least by votes. The moderator elections alone, which was only accessible to 500+ rep users (the PO-equivalent of SE's 2000+) had at least 12, and about 15+ probably, voters. The last part of your comment, (c) is ad $\endgroup$ – Abhimanyu Pallavi Sudhir Apr 22 '15 at 16:02
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    $\begingroup$ hominem, and also quite ironic (what you're saying is - "PO is bad because it's made by bad guys, and they're are bad guys because they violate "be nice", also you speak a lot of horse poop by the way"). It would be good if you could stop spreading propaganda (in completely off-topic situations) against PO, there's hardly an hard feelings against SE on PO's side, we'd really like to have a neutral or even friendly relationship with SE. $\endgroup$ – Abhimanyu Pallavi Sudhir Apr 22 '15 at 16:03
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    $\begingroup$ @jvtrudel I'd like to say that the binary voting on PO is only on "submissions", which is basically an "open peer review" platform intended to complement or maybe even replace standard peer reviewing in journals. This is necessary, because originality and accuracy are exactly the kind of parameters based on which peer review is supposed to work. Kyle Kanos is right that PO is not a competitor to SE, but his reasons are wrong, and it's not "overly generous", rather just "factually incorrect" to claim that it is - PO is completely from SE, it's a platform for free and open academic communities. $\endgroup$ – Abhimanyu Pallavi Sudhir Apr 22 '15 at 16:08

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