I recently answered a question and was told by several moderators that I need to add sources. Is this really an appropriate thing to require for a Q&A website? I think that you can assume that if no source is quoted, linked, or cited, that it is either opinion, original research, or wrong. A healthy Q&A website will have lots of good answers and a few bad (even wrong) answers. That's why we have voting, right?

Being told to cite my sources made me never want to answer a question on here again. It drives away people who aren't hardcore researchers, but who may be able to contribute. If that happens, people will stop asking questions that aren't at the level of an academic journal, and before long, the site will be exclusive to people with PhDs in astro-physics. That's fine if that's the goal, but I thought this site would be more than that.

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    $\begingroup$ Technically, sources aren't required, otherwise the moderators would have just deleted your answer. This is a question for which the community needs to reach an acceptable balance. On the one hand, we want to encourage participation by folks who aren't professional astronomers. On the other hand, we do want to encourage participation by people who are professional astronomers, and that may require higher standards for both questions and answers. But how much higher? $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 14, 2014 at 16:21
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    $\begingroup$ It may be that for (some) questions you do need a PhD in astrophysics to provide an authoritative answer. Whether it gets upvoted afterwards depends on how well you write that answer. I usually try to gauge the level of answer required from the way the question is posed. Dont always get it right. $\endgroup$
    – ProfRob
    Commented Feb 16, 2015 at 13:51

1 Answer 1


The purpose of this astronomy site is similar in scope to a lot of the other SE sites. It's purpose is to be a resource for professional level questions and answers.

Sources are therefore important to supply as it provides multiple uses for users of the site.

Firstly, it shows that there is evidence that agrees with your answer, it shows that it is more than just an opinion or a guess on what the answer might be.

Secondly it provides an alternate avenue for the question asker to further their own knowledge, providing sources means the asker is then able to look at the sources and read up more information on the subject at their own convenience

The purpose of this site is to provide (hopefully) canonical answers to professional level astronomy questions.

I hope this clears up any questions you have on why we require sources, if you have any more questions please feel free to ask, we will be happy to answer

For more information, view our help center.

See also: What is the exact meaning of a downvote/upvote?


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