Firstly, I'd like to thank the entire moderator team for creating this post in order to encourage more participation from the community in our site, rather than taking the decisions in the backdoor moderation private rooms.
There are 3 ways in which we, as a community, can show our dissatisfaction with a post:
- Down vote
Moderators, on the other hand, can:
- add a notice to a particular post where in which they can mention that the post is not upto the mark.
- convert a post to a comment.
That said, we all need to remember that Moderators are human exception handlers.
I would like to propose a middle path between the two ends of whether to keep or not to keep a post:
When there is a new post without sources
Let the community handle it:
- The community downvotes the post and adds a comment
- If the answerer remains stubborn and mentions that he does not want to add sources, then the community flags the post for moderator attention (assuming that the flag queue is quite low).
- Once the post is flagged, the moderator can:
- Add a post notice asking for improvements, if the answer is salvagable through edits by other community members. (and convert the post to community wiki after it is salvaged, if the effort needed to salvage the post is high)
- Delete it, if it is unsalvagable.
- If the answerer mentions that they will be adding sources soon, then
- a moderator will add a post notice asking for valid sources and references. The community needs to wait till the edit, and then remove the downvote.
- if the user does not edit within 60 days, flag the post for moderator attention, asking for deletion. The 60 day period is the cut off for holding the reputation gained on the post.
Let moderators chip in when an answer is very poorly worded:
- If there is an un-cited answer that is both poorly worded and unsalvagable through edits, then a moderator deletes it then and there.
- Convert the post to a comment if there is there is any merit in keeping the post on site. (There is a workaround to convert long posts to comments as well).
In the case of old posts
This again boils down to whether the answer is salvagable or not. Let us not go on a hunt to find out old answers that do not cite references. Instead, when we see such a post,
- Comment asking for sources and informing the user that the site now emphasizes on a "must cite" rule.
- If there is no reply, then flag the post asking for a moderator to lock it for historical purposes. (This is a bold proposal as, 1. we won't be able to vote on it 2. We won't be losing the answer).
One of the use cases which Keshav mentions is:
Now one of the most important rules which I think ought to be enforced by moderation is the rule that answers should be backed up with sources. Why shouldn't this just be enforced by voting? Because suppose an answer says "Ganesha is the supreme god. In battle defeated Vishnu, Indra and other Gods. This is what my mother told me once." Such an answer may be heavily upvoted by Ganesha devotees, even though it cannot be verified by readers, unless they get the phone number of the user's Mom :-)
In this particular case it is to be noted that:
If a particular post without any valid sources is getting a lot of upvotes, then it is clear case where there is vote manipulation going on. "heavily upvoted by Ganesha devotees" implies that the "Ganesha devotees" are forming a voting ring and voting the posts. This must be escalated to the community managers.
We must also note that "Ganesha devotees" are not the only ones who visit that particular post. We, community, must understand that our individual downvotes do matter! This does provide a platform to inform the users that they need to vote more. Though the reputation, might not be reversed by downvotes, but the post score can be reduced. I would not like to seem like a rude user, but I'd certainly like to call it out loudly here:
Dear community, please downvote the bad posts.
Taking a philosophical approach, it is clear that the "Ganesha devotees" are doing an immoral act here, they should be voting on the authenticity of a post and not because the answer has praised their deity.
Even then: I'm for the deletion of that post, adding an answer like:
"Ganesha is the supreme god. In battle defeated Vishnu, Indra and other Gods. This is what my mother told me once"
is indeed equivalent to cruft and is just noise. It would be the best to remove those from the site immediately. However, if the answer does have a proper structure, like:
"Ganesha in battle defeated Indra and other gods by doing <explanation of an act>"
and does not cite sources, then let us not delete those immediately. Instead let us downvote and comment.
The question that arises now is, Where do we draw the line between a poorly structured answer and a good answer without citations? Here, I feel that we need to use our common sense. It is not rocket science to differentiate between a good answer and a bad one.
It all boils down to:
We need answers, not opinions