I am noticing that users are asking to cite sources for every answer posted without a relevant source.

We are actually encouraging users to write the answers on their own, please refer The copy-paste issue, Hinduism version for more information over this.

So let us not ask them to site the source every time if they don't do so, keep it optional.

The reason I started this discussion is because users tend to accept the answers which are quoted (referenced in a way), for example :-

  1. What is the meaning of the word "Shiva"?
  2. Why is it best if we light ghee lamp in the house while praying?

As we know, we have too many beliefs behind a single thing, so it's good to answer various versions of story, belief, cultural beliefs etc. So in the second post which I shared, it is nothing but a belief I heard before and it turns out that it was printed in some book which I don't remember the name of, with a link after user insisted that he was not satisfied with my answer which was the same as quoted by the other user in his answer.

So let the users post their stories, or beliefs they have heard about, but yes, it's good to have a source which supports his answer, but let us not make a compulsion.

I am sure the user will copy paste the answer next time he answers on any other question.

We should obviously mention in the help center that:

It will be good if you support your answers by providing a reference, either a link to a website which is an authentic source for the same, or refer to a respective scripture.

So it's not bad to accept the referenced answers but in a way, the other user is putting his efforts to explain on his own should be rewarded instead if he is correct.

Now how we can judge if he is correct?

Let the votes speak, down-vote answers which you think are not referenced but they are personal beliefs of the user, and up-vote the ones which you think are real or an alternate belief to the real one.

But in the end, it's good to have a reference to support your answer but don't enforce it by commenting every time.

  • @AwalGarg The fundamental issue here is that without sources, the reader has no way of independently verifying whether or not your answer is correct. On a site like Stack Overflow, independent verification entails running the code and seeing if it does what it's supposed to do. On Mathematics, independent verification entails following an argument and ensuring that it is formally correct. On this site? We have no choice but to turn to sources that are known to be correct in order to achieve independent verification.
    – senshin
    Commented Jul 9, 2014 at 14:57
  • "so it's good to answer various versions of story, belief, cultural beliefs etc." I agree. They should still be sourced, tho Commented Jun 9, 2018 at 20:19

2 Answers 2


I disagree with this.

We definitely don't want folks composing their answers entirely of someone else's work, but backing up their assertions should be considered normal.

These two ideals don't really conflict with each other either. You should be able to summarize a scripture and relate it to the asker's question in your own words, while still tying it back to a more canonical source.

In other words, answerers should strive to share their own interpretations but back them up by references to verifiable sources.

  • I agree with your opinion, but, inorder to find the references, people tend to copy paste the text from the source rather than answering on their own..
    – Mr. Alien
    Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 19:31
  • 1
    That's the problem to focus on then. Show folks how to back it up properly!
    – Shog9
    Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 19:32
  • 2
    I think you are correct, we should have scripture references with the answers we post
    – Mr. Alien
    Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 19:34
  • 5
    There should definitely be sources to back up assertions, especially assertions around the philosophy of "Hinduism." I find the quote "this is not a court that I have to prove everything" disturbing -- this is not a court, but it is more or less of an Q&A encyclopedia. Especially for a subject as touchy as religion, it is expected that sources should follow any declarative points. Not citing sources wouldn't work in the science SE sites - why should we change that here?
    – cheenbabes
    Commented Jul 8, 2014 at 20:42

[I know this is dated (over 5 years old) but I still feel like adding my response as I find this very important]

While I understand the concern here, I think we need to make sure people don't flood this with subjective opinions. A Q&A exchange can be purely exchange of opinions, or strictly facts, or based on some balance. So my way of driving a middle ground is as follows -

  1. Let the person who is posting the question, say if he or she wants sources or opinions.
  2. If the question asks for sources, it is important for others to respect it (as that's the question)
  3. If the nature of the question is something that can only be answered we can either point it out, or respond with opinions.

The nature of the subject matter here, brings the risk of people being carried away by subjective views, speculations, guesses, and opinions - it is important (at least to some extent) for the members of this community to preserve factual / intellectual integrity. So at minimum we should respect if the question explicitly asks for sources, and at least for those questions, one could refrain from posting purely personal opinions. If it becomes necessary to add personal interpretations, let us remember to qualify them / call them out as such, so that the reader understands that's an individual interpretation. This is not a very hard thing to do, and some of us do this in professional lives.

Just my two cents worth.

  • 1
    '1. Let the person who is posting the question, say if he or she wants sources or opinions' - there is a specific close-reason for such questions called "primarily opinion-based", also take a look at this MSE post. Commented Nov 28, 2019 at 0:19

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