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Inspired by the following comment by @Shog9, I'm proposing to delete all answers from early days of the site that have zero scriptural references and sound like plain opinions.

...the notion of what should be kept and what should be deleted gets adjusted and refined over and over again as the site grows and matures. Most of my early posts are long ago deleted; heck, there's one site where almost ALL of my posts are deleted, even though I earned over 7000 rep off of them. And that's good - that means the site didn't stagnate. So... Keep talking.

So no more reasons such as 'this answer was posted in the site's early days, before clear rules were established, so it's grandfathered in' to justify their existence and not do anything about them.

If those answers were written by users who are still active, then they simply need to update their answers, back them up with scriptural references using the following two meta posts as a reference and then flag the mods to undelete them.

What kind of references are valid in answers? Are modern works allowed?

Guidelines for new users answering questions

If users are no longer active, then we should nevertheless delete those answers first. Later any of the active high-rep users can revisit them to see if proper references can be added to salvage those answers.

While deleting such answers no concession should be made as to a) how many upvotes has the answer received, b) if the answer is accepted or c) if the answer is written by a current or previous moderator.

But we should remember that not all answers require citations; some questions could be just asking for the meaning of a certain Sanskrit verse or further clarification of a philosophical concept or the core message of a certain story or scripture. So need to use proper judgement regarding which answers could use scriptural references and which do not.

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    Interesting suggestion. If I recall there was some discussion of this long ago, but at that point it was unfeasible because the old answers made up a vast majority of the site's content. But I think it may be feasible now. Do you know if there's some way to calculate the number of answers that were posted before, say, December 31, 2014? (Of course not all old answers would be deleted, but that should at least give us an upper bound on how much content would be removed from the site.) – Keshav Srinivasan Jan 8 '17 at 21:23
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    Yes, this would help in making our site clean by removing low quality posts. – Pandya Jan 9 '17 at 3:25
  • Haha lol... "'this answer was posted in the site's early days, before clear rules were established, so it's grandfathered in '" 😀😀 – Tejaswee Jan 9 '17 at 3:50
  • This query would be useful for searching answers lacking references. – Pandya Jan 9 '17 at 4:58
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    I would suggest that if the answers are correct and detailed, you should search for references and add them. – Mr. Alien Jan 9 '17 at 7:31
  • @Mr.Alien Who's "you" in "you should search for references" :-) I already stated in my post: "Later any of the active high-rep users can revisit them to see if proper references can be added to salvage those answers." – sv. Jan 9 '17 at 23:29
  • @KeshavSrinivasan I just created this query. It says there are 1429 answers before 01-Jan-2015. – sv. Jan 9 '17 at 23:58
  • @sv. OK, so that's 27% of the total answers, or more than a quarter. So the upper bound of the damage would leave our site with 73% of the content it had before, and move our answer-to-question ratio from 1.24 to .9. That's the relevant data to be considered. – Keshav Srinivasan Jan 10 '17 at 0:16
  • @KeshavSrinivasan Ok. But only a few hundred of those may need references, not all 1400. – sv. Jan 10 '17 at 0:19
  • @sv. Yeah of course, I'm just calculating the upper bound. Another relevant variable, which came up the last time this issue was discussed, is how much of the site's traffic comes from the old answers. But I'm not sure how to quantify that. – Keshav Srinivasan Jan 10 '17 at 0:26
  • @sv. I should add that that second issue is not that big of a deal for me at least, because even if an outsized percentage of our site's traffic comes from old unsourced answers, that's just an indication that people visiting our site are not getting a good first impression of how good our content is. – Keshav Srinivasan Jan 10 '17 at 0:29
  • @KeshavSrinivasan Yes, in the longer run we should focus on quality than quantity. Before deleting probably make a note of all Questions with not a single Answer left after deletion and then someone can attempt to write a proper answer. When you see an accepted answer with no references still hanging around for whatever reason, what's the incentive to write a new one with references? – sv. Jan 10 '17 at 0:47
  • According to meta guidelines, user should +1/-1 a post based on agree/disagree, If it's a suggestion or feature request. This post (as it is) falls in that. Did you really mean to implement this feature or do you intend to ask a question? I.e. "Should we delete ...". Have upvoted @Mr.Allen's comment as I am against deletion, even though it's well known fact that adding sources to others' answers is plain impractical. BTW, you should also clarify in this post that, why you don't consider "quality banner" as a solution when it's a superior alternative? – iammilind Jan 10 '17 at 1:13
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    @iammilind It's both a question and suggestion ("I'm proposing to delete..." in first line), so, yes, people could vote up or down my post like any other meta post and also see if we can come up with an alternative if what I proposed is not agreeable to everyone. Re: "quality banner" - yes missed that in my post but your answer covers it, so no point in now editing my Qn to add that. But if I see a lot of votes to your answer I may accept it and see what the mods do about it. As such, on meta.Hinduism.SE, we don't know when a suggestion really gets implemented by mods :P – sv. Jan 10 '17 at 1:23
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I don't think all the unsourced answer should be deleted at this time.

However if a question contains at least one sourced/scripture based answer, then all the other unsourced answers of that question should be deleted.

Example:

There is a question:
Why is Lord Vishnu called Aravamudhan?

I have answered it and it is accepted also. But I haven't cited any sources (actually it was during that time when I first joined the site).

Now, if someone comes and answers that question citing the scriptures, then my answer there serves no purpose at all. Actually it misguides the readers at that time as it is accepted. So, my answer must be deleted.

Objector:

What is the problem in letting those answers remain as they are? It's fine if there are other scripture based answer also.

We reply:

It misguides the readers. There are more than 6000 visitors per day in our site and those readers are misguided by such answers. Some answer are just based on folktales, Wikipedia, quora etc.. and it is making joke of our site.

Objector:

What is the proof that visitors are misguided by such answers?

I reply:

I give example of this question:
Reference to the 7 chakras in Hinduism

The accepted answer is with 15 upvotes but it is not citing any sources.

So a new user Prakash K has commented there

I am wondering why is this the actual answer, since it does not even answer the first question - "where in hindu scriptures?", it just says in yoga and tantra but does not give specific about which are the actual scriptures or books. – Prakash K Dec 26 '16 at 9:52

I have also answered the same question fully based on scripture. In that answer same user Prakash K has commented as:

Thank You. This should be the marked answer. Wonderful detailed explanation with also the specific books/scriptures containing information about it. But the word Mythology does not mean History, the Britishers were shrewd in using Mythology instead of History (itihAsa) or Ancient history (purANa) for our scriptures, and it is unfortunate that we also use it. Mythology is a study of myth (I know you already know it) and these are not myth but true histories. – Prakash K Dec 26 '16 at 11:00

So, it's clear that these type of answers are just misguiding the visitors. So if a question contains at least one sourced answer then all the unsourced answer from that question should be deleted.

Another example:

In this question
The story behind Pashupatinath temple in Nepal

The accepted answer is based on wikipedia, I have also answered the same question citing scripture.

Now, that accepted answer doesn't serve any purpose remaining there. Is the purpose of our site to redirect the visitors to Wikipedia? Hinduism SE is not needed to redirect the visitors to Wikipedia, Google search does it well. There are other many many examples like this.

Fate of the deleted answer:

1) If the user is active then he can edit his deleted answer to add scriptural sources to it and then again flag moderator to undelete it.

2) Other high reputation user who can view deleted answers may edit and add sources if they want.

Why all unsourced answer shouldn't be deleted?

I'm here proposing to delete only the old unsourced answers from the question which contains at least one sourced answers. I'm not proposing to delete all old unsourced answers simultaneously because:

Our site is near to Graduation phase. The answered percentage is only about 74%. If we delete all those unsourced old answers it heavily affects our data. But if we go on deleting those unsourced answers of those question which contains at least one sourced answer then it doesn't affect data of site.

Using quality banner:

For those answer which are unsourced and which also do not contain other sourced answers in that question, we can use quality banners to such answers. Quality banner may remain until that question gets answered by some sourced answer. If that answer isn't improved upto this time also then it can be deleted.

Other things needed to implement it:

There are also other things necessary for the users (specially active users) to implement this rule:

1) Active users should change their accepted answer if they get another better answer. I rarely see users changing their accepted answer in this site. One shouldn't hesitate to change accepted answer. The owner of the previously accepted answer also shouldn't feel and take it odd. In this way best answer remains accepted and quality of the site is enhanced.

2) Users / Especially active users should accept answers to their questions if they are answered properly. I'm seeing here some active users who ask questions, make edits regularly but aren't accepting answers to their own question.

3) Active users should upvote answers which show effort and which are sourced. Even if the answer is not accepted if it is upvoted it counts as answered. Thus it helps to make our site data healthy. Users should keep their own philosophy away and should see the efforts of answer and scriptural references of answer while voting.

How to Implement:

If this proposal is accepted by community it's also very easy to implement:
Flag those answers to those question which contains at least 1 sourced answer. We can flag it as "Question already contains sourced answer so there is no need of this answer."

And based on those flags moderators can delete those answers.

This is just my Proposal. I don't know how the members of Community take this proposal. I suggest to give view through votes and comments.

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    1)Deleting other answers if there is a better and accepted answer is not good. 2) We cannot force a user to accept our answer. Votes show how good your answer is. 3) I think it is better to quote some website or wiki than not quoting nothing.(But I don't like quoting from wiki) 4) We should concentrate on deleting spam / low quality answers. – Sarvabhouma Jan 17 '17 at 5:06
  • "a question contains at least one sourced/scripture based answer, then all the other unsourced answers of that question should be deleted." sounds better suggestion than that of proposed in question! let's see what community (active users & moderators)'s thought on this. – Pandya Jan 17 '17 at 5:12
  • @Sree Charan 1) I'm not saying to delete answer if the latter answer is better.. I'm just saying to delete if the answer is unsourced... 3) That's why they shouldn't be deleted until there is sourced answer. – Tejaswee Jan 17 '17 at 5:14
  • ... those readers are misguided by such answers. seems to be the central theme for deleting unsourced answer. But in such case you should also clarify that if Mods put the "quality banners" under unsourced answer then will there be such high possibility of misguidance? Personally I am not 'against' or 'for' deletion. Rather, it has to be discrete. If we set "source" as the main criteria for deletion, then it seems to be bit high. This may end up becoming a community for elites. See my y'day's Qn in main SO. The criteria there is quite low. – iammilind Jan 17 '17 at 7:45
  • @iammilind Thank You!... I just edited my answer to include quality banners also... "If we set "source" as the main criteria for deletion, then it seems to be bit high." I agree with you but I think as it is Hinduism SE site at least some scriptual sources is needed for most of the answer (except in rare cases).. – Tejaswee Jan 17 '17 at 7:59
  • Agree with @SreeCharan. if there's at least one scripture based answer, then delete all other unsourced answers - I think this can create a lot of confusion on how to handle new answers? Also, unfair to first allow users to write unsourced answers and then force them to update later. Even if they update, don't they all become exact lookalikes? – sv. Jan 17 '17 at 18:36
  • @iammilind "If we set source as the main criteria for deletion..." - it appears that this site started with the Back It Up rule. I don't think we can go back on it now. Looking at the URL, the very first post on Meta.Hinduism.SE is: meta.hinduism.stackexchange.com/q/1 and it's answer is the 2nd post (the Back It Up rule). – sv. Jan 17 '17 at 18:41
  • @iammilind Interestingly, Back It Up rule allows: "Something that happened to you personally" .. so I agree that we should allow personal opinions when you specifically call that out in answers. – sv. Jan 17 '17 at 18:46
  • "Reference to the 7 chakras in Hinduism. The accepted answer is with 15 upvotes but it is not citing any sources." - the accepted answer actually cites 3-4 websites incl. Wikipedia but not any Hindu scriptures. – sv. Jan 18 '17 at 3:48
  • @sv. By sources I mean those sources which question is asking "Where in the Hindu scripture?"... It doesn't cite any Hindu scripture where chakras are mentioned... actually even the sources (links) given in that answer also doesn't contain information about in which Hindu scripture are the Chakras mentioned... – Tejaswee Jan 18 '17 at 4:27
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Deleting all the un-sourced answer is a bad idea.
The main criteria for SE to delete a post is -- when it's Not an answer as listed below:

  • Ask a new question
  • Clarify the existing question
  • Communicate with another user
  • Say "thanks," or confirm that another posted answer worked for him.
  • "Bump" the question, as in "I have the same problem, have you found a solution?"

and also ...

What are the criteria for deletion?

For questions, a post that no longer adds anything to the site should be deleted. Basically, this includes most closed questions that cannot be improved and reopened. However, it may be beneficial to keep duplicates to aid future users in finding the canonical question.

For answers, any post that is not an answer (should be a comment, doesn't answer the question, etc.) should be deleted. Answers that are wrong or that dispense poor advice should be downvoted, not deleted.

Our child meta also suggests the same. BTW, an accepted answer also should Not be deleted.

In past, I have used similar query to Mods by saying "delete these first". But its intention was to protect the existing answers, which are well written &/or sourced. Didn't intend to delete those unsourced answer, unless they are indeed ill formed or spam.
Deleting a post is an extreme step and it requires proper discretion.

Solution

Moderators may want to opt for adding a quality banner into the posts which are with grey area of quality. It's discussed here: Support for banners?. Only diamond Moderators can confirm its availability.

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    Yes, moderators are already using such notice/banner – Pandya Jan 9 '17 at 13:08
  • @Pandya avoid tiny/trivial edits. :-) – iammilind Jan 9 '17 at 13:53
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    "BTW, an accepted answer also should Not be deleted" -- Say both you & me have a prior agreement that you ask something and I write a bogus answer and you accept it nevertheless so that I get points. Then people will take advantage of such a rule :P Probably, case by case makes more sense than hard-&-fast rules. – sv. Jan 10 '17 at 0:41
  • @sv. Yes that logic I do understand. See the 3rd para in this answer. Hence I used the word "should". Any user by site rules cannot delete an accepted answer. A Mod can, but should not, unless it's highly suscpicious & genuinely bogus. IMK in this site 2 accepted answers were deleted. They were not bogus. One of them was even marked as spam! The reason I used word 'discretion' is because, it will allow a Mod to think beyond rules when required. No such activity of "internal agreement of bad answer" has been come in light so far in this site. – iammilind Jan 10 '17 at 1:04
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    Solution sound quite good, we can enforce quality standard to new posts but deleting all old one seems bit extreme, so we should either help them fixed by edit or flag them for comment conversion or banner addition. WE have a banner specifically for more details and citation already. +1 – Ankit Sharma Jan 10 '17 at 6:17
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I disagree. Even if they are opinion-based, the answers likely are rooted in scripture that the posters have heard / read in the past. Current and future users may be discerning enough after all to know the difference between a genuine answer and hogwash.

Secondly, we should not be messing with history (even if it is merely of the site).

The compromise we can come to here is having a banner/marquee on such answers stating that they do not contain references from scripture.

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