Some answers do not meet the desired quality standards. Frequently these quality problems are caused by a lack of citations and/or sources/references. Ideally these answers then get a "Citation needed" label attached to them that should encourage the poster to improve the answer. This is currently phrased in this form:

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

It seems that the language used is perhaps not clear enough, too easy to misunderstand or just triggering *bad – but bad learned – behaviour.
Some seem to stop reading the notice at arbitrary points, thinking that one or two links thrown in should rectify the situation almost unconditionally.
"Bad learned behaviour" would be for example a student that practices cargo-cult academic writing that consists of writing something and then slapping on a couple of citations to make it look like serious work, when in reality the citations may have not the explanatory power desired, are barely related to what they should reference or even plainly contradict what they should prove.

To improve some aspects of this situation I think we might need to change this post notice.

I do not know how many characters are allowed in such a notice. But I think a simplification and extension might work here, and if space allows we should not shy away from a certain redundancy.

@sempaiscuba suggested to rephrase the notice to

"Unsourced material, or assertions supported by only unreliable or dubious sources, may be disputed or deleted".

Using that alone would not constitute an improvement in my eyes. It does however focus slightly different and thereby emphasises the principle of abstaining from cargo-cult-citations.

Without knowing the character and format limits I am unsure to suggest a rewording myself here. That's why this meta post asks for further input.

In any case: To avoid too much discussion generated just by this "post notice", or even a rephrased notice, and to work around any character limit, I strongly suggest to include a link in the notice to another meta-post – that is still to be created – that gives a bit more explanation on the reasons why the notice appears and that would suggest possible solutions to get it removed.

Note that on meta-meta a very high rep user at least partially interprets the badge as:

They are, at least in a sense, a public badge of shame - so think good and hard about whether or not public shaming is really what you want to be going for.

As any user "suffering" from this badge might share this view to a certain degree, we should strive to avoid giving that impression as far as possible.

Already in its current form I tend to read the purpose of the badge differently: namely that it means primarily: "disagreement is widespread and more work needed". If we can add a link to the notice, at that link destination something along those lines should be explained.

1 Answer 1


The notice is meaningless and lacks all credibility without first establishing a procedure to review the efficacy of such a notice defacing an answer in the first instance.

Also, if the notice is based on opinion, no user or moderator involved in the placement of a defacing notice on an answer should be involved in the review process for removal of the defacing notice.

One option would be to select 9 random users, rotated randomly, to review whether citations are edited into the answer. While bearing in mind that citations edited into the answer does not reflect the same interpretation of the citation by the user and the moderator or group of users who placed the notice on the answer to begin with.

Don't put the cart before the horse. Develop the impartial review process before implementing this idea. Else you have zero credibility as to the notice itself and any review process for the notice - which currently does not exist outside of pure opinion.

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