I feel like the tag is a little overused right now. Right now, out of 15 questions, one has an accepted answer and 8 have an answer at all. This makes an overall answer rate of more or less a half.

The tag info says the following:

Please avoid answering questions tagged [reference-request] without referencing a published journal.

In most cases, probably, before asking a question, previous research has been done. This means, if there was a good reference, it would have probably been found during the research.

Is this how it is intended to work?

I would address this problem, by:

Accepting personal experience as a reference

Writing a blog article out of my personal experience and linking it as a reference, won't improve the quality of my answer. Still, it would meet the requirement of linking a reference. So if a question is answerable by personal experience as a reference, it could be acceptable to answer with it.

By using the tag, OP could express his wish to have a reference. Logically argumented answers without a reference would still be acceptable in case it helped to solve the issue.

  • it's fun to see the votes going up and down (not that I care about votes) - at least that means we have a lot of different opinions about it. But it would be really great to hear some comment about why it's a bad thing.
    – Daniele D
    Apr 15, 2016 at 13:54
  • I'm not the downvoter, but perhaps allowing/encouraging people to simply cite "personal experience" may result in more subjective answers. "Well, that's what worked for me!"
    – Hatchet
    Apr 15, 2016 at 14:38

3 Answers 3


If I tag a question with , it means I want peer-reviewed evidence, and not personal opinions. And writing a blog post, then linking to it, would not satisfy this anyway (unless you've invented a peer-reviewed blog of some sort).

I don't think it's appropriate or fair to say that asking for high-quality evidence is off-topic, which is essentially how I read your proposal. If anything, we should be setting a high standard, not enforcing a low one.

What I think is a valid question to discuss on meta is whether we should require peer-reviewed evidence. This should probably be discussed on a separate post, though, as it's not really answering to your specific question.

  • 1
    The demand for a high standard is usually coupled with a previous research effort. If you weren't able to find an evidence that fits your standards, all references linked for you will probably be below your standards, too. On another down side, having a huge amount of unanswered questions via google will make research on this topic harder in general. The image of this site will also lose because of the high amount of unanswered questions. The whole tag sounds much like a please google it for me.
    – Daniele D
    Apr 15, 2016 at 21:13
  • So you're saying that we should be able to find high quality resources on Google, therefore we should not ask here, but that it's okay to ask for low quality information here, presumably because it's hard to find on Google? I'm sorry, but you have the purpose of SE completely backwards.
    – Flimzy
    Apr 15, 2016 at 21:59
  • Having a huge amount of unanswered questions indexed in Google is lower quality information than having a few questions answered without a reference.
    – Daniele D
    Apr 18, 2016 at 6:24
  • @DanieleD: That's an interesting opinion. One I strongly disagree with. But our opinions are beside the point. What you're proposing is simply counter to the way the SE network is designed to work.
    – Flimzy
    Apr 18, 2016 at 16:48
  • 1
    @DanieleD Questions tagged reference-request can not always be answered using a general search engine. That would assume that the OP knows the right linguistic terminology to find good results, and that is often not the case. Finding the right search terms is vital and often far from easy.
    – Tsundoku Mod
    Oct 5, 2016 at 10:51

Personal experience isn't much trusted as some official, high rep site that lists and uses multiple sources to create their articles. By using the said tag, it means that the OP wants a real, proven reference/source to back up the given answer, not some random facts that may be wrong.

Usually, the research done here usually needs to be proven or accurate as this site is for people trying to learn how to improve their teaching/learning skills and need evidence to take the right path. To add your personal experience only makes the question look like it is primarily opinion-based. Also, sometimes the references are really, really hard to find, needing ninja, Jon Skeet like Googling skills to find the right ones.

But adding references(mostly) mixed with a little personal experience shouldn't hurt. Answers with mostly references and facts are appreciated and some personal experience could also help as well. Not answers with mostly if not entirely made from your personal experience.


I'll try to break down your concern.

  1. Are the questions with the tag low quality?
    I have skimmed through the question list in the tag, and I see most of them are highly upvoted. The lowest-positive-in-number-of-vote questions (namely some questions with 3 or 4 votes) have enough detail to safely say that they have good quality. If we can keep this attitude when the site comes to public beta, I don't think we have to worry anything.

  2. Should personal experience be allowed in answers?
    This has been discussed in a separate question: Should I use my own experience as answer?. In short, yes.

  3. If non-peer-reviewed sources are allowed, will questions only allowed for answers with reference hurt the process of transferring knowledge?
    I think yes. Peer-reviewed studies obviously have more quality in personal experience. As in the answer of mine in the above question, when we talk about knowledge, any opinion should be allowed to speak. After all, what is said in a highly cited and peer-reviewed paper from a reputable in-field researchers is opinion.

  4. But we don't want to have low quality post, nor the OP only wants to have answer with reference!
    That's fine. If the OP only want to have referenced answers, let they show their choice by their accept tick and votes. They can even say this in the question that "answers with scientific evidence are preferred". If the community wants to get rid the low quality answers, let they show their choice by their votes.

  5. So, do we need to keep the tag?
    I don't have a strong objection to the tag, so either ways are fine for me. I even think that having a tag is convenience, we can click on it to find questions that really have peer-reviewed resources, quite handy for linguists I guess. However, I don't think any restriction in answer is good in any how.

It's the question that the OP asks, so they have the right to choose the answers they want. However, don't forget that once it shows up in the internet, it also belongs to the knowledge, and we should not prohibit the flow of transferring knowledge.

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