There are some things that are common sense. For example, it's pretty clear that if someone licenses a software program with a free license, then a person using the software has certain freedoms involving the use and modification of the software. Other facts are not commonly known, however, and may require some (extensive) referencing. I've seen at least one or two cases where users were downvoted for lack of sources.

What should be our policy on references? Should we even have a set reference policy, or should it just be one or two quite informal ideas? I'm not looking for anything firm or strict, but we should, I think, have some structure to our policy.

Other ways of describing this policy are "Evidence policy" or "Back it up policy" (to help future searchers).

  • I've added a hopefully unobtrusive line including the words "evidence" and "back it up", following a longer than expected search to find this question, and hopefully to reduce the risk of duplicates being posting unwittingly. Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 0:36

1 Answer 1


We don't need to be too strict about it (here's looking at you, Skeptics), but if controversial, new, or contested information comes up then it should be referenced.

For example, if we have a disagreement in comments about the accuracy and/or correctness of an answer, then someone needs to show why they're right. This should be done by editing references into the answer.

  • 4
    I agree with this. We don't need to essentially just link to other things to stop us from being down voted. People should have trust, if something isn't right, then comment. If something is disputed, then prove it. This makes the most sense by far... :)
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Jun 24, 2015 at 21:15

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